Shooting For Success

By: Natalie Eaton

Reload. Aim. Shoot. The Jenks Shooting team fires. As many Jenks students and alumni know, Jenks prides themselves in our very successful athletic department, as well as the variety of uncommon sports teams like, The Shooting Team.

The Jenks shooting team is FFA sanctioned and split into senior and junior groups. Originally, the team was founded by Taylor Tillinghast, who taught it at Fletcher High School. When she moved to Jenks, there were some students interested in the program, so Tillinghast put together a team. She had been doing it until Cody Nichols took over her position. 

Cody Nichols is a first year teacher at the highschool, and instructs the shooting team, FFA, and agricultural science. Under his first few months coaching, the Varsity team placed 15th overall in the northeast region of Oklahoma. 

Now gearing up for the spring season, Nichols is shifting his students from sporting clay competitions to trap shooting. 

The Jenks Shooting Team practicing outside at the Ag Barn. Photo credit: Jenks FFA Instagram

“The shooting that we do through FFA is just shotgun sports,” said Nichols. In the fall competitions we do sporting clays, so there will be six different clay throwers, and four people per team go down a line each time and throw the clay in a certain direction and will shoot up the clays one or two at a time.”

Clay shooting, (or 5 stand) is where a person shoots at a flying clay target. If you hit the target, the clay will explode. Trap shooting is another similar form of clay shooting, but the targets are moving away from the person. 

To prepare for competitions held in Coweta, Nichols requires his students to practice twice a week. The team practices outside of the agricultural barn on campus, and uses shotguns of any brand during routines. 12 or 20 gauge shotguns, over or unders, and semi automatics are all different types used. For over/under, you can have two barrels to break open and load, and you can load multiple rounds with semi automatics. According to Nichols, the maximum allowed in competitions is two in the fall, and in the spring it’s only one because it is a different competition. 

“It’s just pure shotguns,” said Nichols. “It can be anything from a remington, franchi, or whatever you are comfortable with or can provide.”

Luke Ackerly, (11), is a new member of the Jenks Shooting Team. He is experienced with shooting and bird hunting, but had never thought of shooting at the competition level. During a typical practice, Ackerly gets to work on his skills, but also does it with good company. 

“Pracities are a lot of fun and hanging out with the guys for 2 hours and just shooting is the best part,” said Ackelry. “We show up and go to the field across from the ag barn, put up the stands and all the throwers and fill them up with clay. The first four guys go up and shoot and do a whole round, and then the next people go and shoot. You end up shooting up to 50 rounds in practice.”

Jenks senior and junior shooting teams practicing for the area shoot in Coweta. Photo credit: Jenks FFA Instagram

With practice, comes learning how to properly handle guns. Nichols expresses the importance of gun handling, and how the team is more than just practicing for competitions. 

“I grew up with firearms since I was a child, and I want to pass that on to generations and let them know that these are safe as long as you know how to properly handle them and use them,” says Nichols.  After we train them with those core things, that’s when it’s time to have fun with them as long as we are using them correctly.”

The Jenks Shooting Team only allows tryouts to students in FFA or students enrolled in agricultural science. Interested students are required to go to a minimum amount of practices to be able to try out for the team, and usually do them about a week before the competition. 

For more information about Oklahoma high school shooting, visit the official website. Also, make sure to check out the Jenks FFA Instagram for posts and updates on the shooting team. To learn more about joining, visit Cody Nichols in room 6104. 

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