PPISD gives students a new shot at sports
By Abigail Allen
Spent shotgun shells and broken clay pigeons dot the ground at the Pilot Point ISD property on Pelzel Road.
The debris is the byproduct of PPISD's newest team—the competitive shooting team.
"The easiest way to start was with the skeet shooting, and then hopefully next year we can morph it into skeet shooting, pistol, rifle—the whole thing," PPISD Student Resource Officer Jason Peacock said. "A lot of colleges have these teams, too, so it's another avenue for kids to play college sports."
When Peacock came to Pilot Point ISD, he wanted to find a way to add value to the district by way of bolstering school spirit and offering an alternative to students who otherwise might not participate in any school-sponsored activities.
"I want to try to add a sport that's maybe not the normal," he said. "Not all kids like … cheer, basketball or football."
Unlike in traditional UIL competitions, the team will go up against schools of all sizes through the Scholastic Clay Target Program. However, like the other sports and competitions, eligibility rules still apply.
This inaugural team features 28 students, nine coaches and 12 adult volunteers.
"We're going to have about 15 to 18 kids at every event," Peacock said.
All of the adults who are working with students have to go through an extensive background check, and there are safeguards in place for both the gun safety as well as the student safety at every turn of the program.
Gun safety is also the first focus of instruction for the students who participate in the club.
"Same thing as with other sports—I want them to get involved and work hard in school and work hard just being good people," Peacock said. "And again, guns aren't going away anytime soon, so the more gun safety I can teach the kids, the better."
The coaches received training by the coaches of Allen ISD, which has a 10-year-old program with at least 70 participants.
"They were surprised when we told them we have 28 kids," Peacock said. "They were like, 'Wow, that's a lot of kids to start for the first year.'"
Pilot Point's students face their first competition on Monday at the Ellis County Sportmans Club in Waxahachie.
The students are excited about the opportunity to do something a little different.
Roman Funck spoke about being excited to try something new and to be part of a new team.
"It's just a new experience," Funck said. "I'm all about stepping out of my comfort zone, no matter what I'm doing, and this is something to get me out of it."
Kate Pool is excited about the prospect of participating until she is a senior if she continues to enjoy the sport.
"It's scary, but it's fun," Kate said.
Her father, Jason Pool, is one of the parent coaches who's helping, as is Chris Krouskup.
The coaches ensured that the people at the practice wore protective ear coverings and eye gear, and they clearly communicated with the students when to clear the gun's chamber and when to hold the unloaded guns with their muzzles either pointed to the sky or the ground.
They also provided instruction on how to improve if the students missed the clay and celebrated when they hit.
Another dad of a club member, Superintendent Todd Southard, said he's been really impressed with the progress the students have made in only a few weeks.
"I like that our PD has come up with something to interact with kids in a positive way," he said. "… It's different. It's not something a lot of schools have."
He added that he's seen an improvement already in his son Cooper Southard's accuracy.
"I know Cooper loves it," he said.
Peacock is working to get the team included as a way to qualify for letter jackets.
The sport can get pricey, Peacock said, so he's grateful for the four sponsors the program has so far—PointBank, Old World Granite, Texas New Mexico Power and Aire Serv. If anyone is interested in also being a sponsor, they can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm working on getting more funds built up to where we can actually help sponsor kids," he said.