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AGFC To Partner With City, UofO To Build Shooting Sports Facility

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Director Austin Booth announced the formation of a new branch within the AGFC’s ranks to focus on recreational shooting and the development of shooting ranges and programs throughout The Natural State at the July 21 regularly scheduled Commission meeting.

“The connection between conservation and shooting is as old, at least, as (the Pittman-Robertson Act), which ensures that hunters and recreational shooters are the most passionate and impactful conservationists in the country,” Booth said. “One of the biggest things that we hear from communities around Arkansas that they want more of is support around recreational shooting.”

Booth said the Recreational Shooting Division will be headed up by Interim Chief Grant Tomlin, who has overseen this aspect of AGFC business for the last 10 years as a member of the agency’s Education Division. Many of the AGFC’s popular shooting sports programs, such as Archery in the Schools and the Youth Shooting Sports Program, have flourished with the help of education leadership and support and will comprise the foundation of the new division. Establishing facilities through partnerships with local municipalities and entities also will be a major focus of the new direction.

To solidify his resolve toward the agency’s new direction, Booth introduced the AGFC’s desire to pursue a partnership with the city of Clarksville and the University of the Ozarks.

In his first presentation as chief of the new division, Tomlin said this partnership will help grow the university’s nationally recognized Clay Target Shooting Program by building an Olympic-level shooting sports facility in Clarksville for students as well as the general public. The facility will be the first in the state where college shooters can compete on an Olympic level.  Renderings include skeet, trap, pistol, rifle, archery, sporting clays course and Olympic bunker trap with the possibility of RV hookups as well.  Tomlin stated that a finalized memorandum of understanding is still being completed for commissioner review and is expected to be presented next month.

According to Tomlin, the AGFC hopes to provide up to $2 million in matching funds to help the university construct the proposed $12 million facility. If approved, the match would be contingent on the university raising the remainder of the required funding. Rich Dunsworth, President of the University of the Ozarks, addressed the Commission and stated that the university has been working on this project for about five years and is ready to raise the remaining funds to get the facility off the ground and running because of its potential positive impact on youth sports.

Both the creation of the new division and the pending partnership with the university are key contributors to accomplishing goals set by the agency and director in The Natural State Tomorrow, the AGFC’s five-year strategic plan.

A recording of the meeting can be found on the AGFC YouTube channel.




Photo: AGFC Chief of Recreational Shooting Grant Tomlin (left) welcomed Richard L. Dunsworth, University of the Ozarks president, to speak about the opportunity to partner with the college’s successful shooting sports program.

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