Local conservation and sportsman club hosts championship shooting event

STURGIS — More than 300 young shooters from the Great Lakes region gathered at the St. Joseph County Conservation and Sportsman Club in Sturgis over the weekend to compete in the 2019 State Championships for the Michigan Scholastic Action Shooting Program.
The two-day event featured a collection of more than a dozen teams from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, and it is the fourth time the state championships have been held at the Club.
“This club is awesome and everybody loves the facility,” Scott Poet, the state director for the Michigan SASP and the coach of the Manchester, Mich. based Pistol Prodigies team, said. “You can’t beat the staff, they bend over backwards for us.”
The competition works by having each team divide into four-person squads. They then compete together in six different shooting disciplines. The shooters, one at a time, go up to each of the four different stages and shoot the stage five times. The slowest run is thrown out, and the remaining four runs’ times are added together. The combined times of the other three stages are added together to give the individual shooter’s final time, and the times from the other three shooters are combined to give the squad’s final time. They are then sorted by age division, and the placings are made. The top three teams in each division get a gold, silver or bronze medal.
The SASP program, Poet said, started in 2012 and is open to kids and young adults from fifth grade to full-time college students, and teaches them valuable life skills.
“We use shooting sports to teach life skills, such as responsibility and teamwork,” Poet said. “We’re a team sport. We shoot in four-person squads, so everybody’s got to work together for the success of the team.”
One of the most important lessons taught by the program is sportsmanship, and Poet said it’s ingrained in the culture of the SASP from the very beginning.
“Sportsmanship is a huge thing here, and every athlete and parent signs a sportsmanship contract when they sign up,” Poet said. “So, that’s basically saying, ‘If you win, great, congratulations. Enjoy it, don’t gloat, and don’t brag about it. If you lose, sorry, suck it up and move on.’”
Those who participate in the program also learn about the guns themselves, starting with the safe use of a gun and how the guns function. Finally, coaches teach how to shoot a gun accurately, and finally how to shoot with speed.

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