If you’re like me and thousands of other kids in their youth who learned to shoot with a Daisy BB rifle, then you could make an effort to perpetuate the sport by checking out SAR, the Student Air Rifle Program.
SAR was developed by the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance in 2013 as a non-profit organization, and is ready to launch the program nationally according to Jake Hindman, SAR founder. It was patterned after the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) of which there are a few Lehigh Valley area participating schools and to date has over 2.2 million students involved in the school-based program each year. Since its inception in 2002, it has had over 10 million participants nationwide, and in 14,000 schools in 47 states and four countries.
Used properly, air rifles are safe, offer universal fun and is a method to introduce youths in grades 4-12 to target shooting.
According to their curriculum, SAR uses aligned units of study, teacher training, universal whistle commands, positive language and standardized equipment in the program. And let’s face it. Not every youngster may want to play in the ball sports or wrestling, so SAR offers an alternative.
“It’s the philosophy of SAR, says Hindman, that more kids can be introduced to target shooting and the shooting sports by incorporating the program in the school setting. Though this presents some unique challenges, the outcome will be a higher number of youth participating in the shooting sports.” He goes on to say, “Traditionally, shooting sports programs have been pursued outside the school setting and are often attended by participants who are already interested in the sport. But by incorporating the program with school curriculum, a greater number can be exposed as well as greater non-traditional involvement.
While a few local high schools have a center-fire rifle team, that medium requires a traditional range. Air rifles are less powerful and a safe range could be set up within a gym or other large room.
“Air rifle and small-bore target shooting is a sanctioned activity with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and is also recognized as an Olympic sport. As such, SAR can provide the foundation to feed other shooting sports programs taught outside of school as well as collegiate and Olympic level participation,” opines Hindman
SAR use standardized equipment so there’s a level playing field and it erodes the potential for financial background or social status that would have an impact on the participation of any student. The equipment list ranges from 10 Embark air rifles, 12 Solt air rifle cases, 2 collapsible rifle racks, 25 SAR pellets per student, 1 lockable pellet storage container, 30 pairs of universal fit safety glasses and 10 pairs of small frame safety glasses, 3 reactive targets per student, 5 target holders and several more kit pieces that are all obtained from SAR as they receive special pricing that would have a cost outlay of $3,000 per school. Aside from Cabela’s, Hindman indicates that this cost if often picked up through grants from local volunteer organizations such as Pheasants/Quail Forever, Quality Deer Management, Whitetails Unlimited, NRA Foundation and others.
So how would a volunteer get a program like this started? SAR says to first contact a SAR coordinator or SAR directly. From there (the most difficult in this day and age) would be to gain permission from your school district or principal and a determination made where the unit would be conducted. For further information on the program, check firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit, www.studentairrifleprogram.org.