Tuesday, September 24, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Firing range seeks leader

Jacksonville is still looking for a manager to run its $3 million Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex on Graham Road that is set to open in a little more than a month.

The 160-acre sport-shooting and archery range is being built near the intersection of Loop and Graham roads.

A parks and recreation department employee had been given the job, but officials this week said he resigned for personal reasons and no longer works for the city.

Applications are available at Jacksonville’s human resources department at city hall and on the city’s website. The position will pay up to $16.47 per hour.

The city has taken a low-profile approach to the hiring effort for a position that will be at the center of what is perhaps the city’s most important recreational project ever.

Whomever the city hires, the manager must be experienced in trap and skeet shooting. For advice, the city should turn to someone like Bronson Castleberry, the longtime manager of Remington Gun Club in Lonoke, who is as collegial as he is an expert shooter. He’s had a hand in teaching hundreds of shooters over the years to enjoy the sport and to do it well.

Castleberry has also been deeply involved with the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, which holds its tournaments at Remington Gun Club, but those events will be coming to Jacksonville next spring.

Another good way to recruit a manager would be to contact the Arkansas State Trapshooting Federation’s board members, who in addition to Castleberry, include James H. Kiddy of Cabot, Renae Chambless of Lonoke, Jerry M. Hill and Robert Pennock Jr., both of Ward.

In June 2012, Leader sports editor Ray Benton wrote about Chambless’ youth trap shooting team. “We’ve been able to build a large membership of (Academics Integrity Marksmanship) shooters because of the AYSSP program. The AYSSP is a fantastic program. This year it had 5,600 kids and 800 volunteer coaches. It’s a phenomenal program for kids in Arkansas,” she told us.

Jerry M. Hill and his wife, Kim, whose trap shooting teams at Cabot High School have also been featured in The Leader’s sports section, could also help Jacksonville select a manager for Jacksonville’s shooting complex.

Kim Hill told us after a youth shooting tournament last year, “We had 50 kids compete and 25 of them are going to state. We’re very proud of that. The kids work hard at it and the parents are very dedicated.”

Jerry Hill said, “They’re a very dedicated bunch. We practice three days a week and the ones who qualified have been at every one of them. Some of them even come out on Sunday too and practice on their own.”

The city should hire a manager who can continue the area’s top-notch tradition of sport shooting and help to ensure an Olympic gold medal for Jacksonville.