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Mississippi U.S. Senators fight for...

Mississippi U.S. Senators fight for archery, hunting class funding

By: Jeremy Pittari - September 13, 2023

The Biden Administration’s interpretation of gun control law cuts funding to programs that teach students weapon safety.

The interpretation of wording that led to the reduction in funding for a school sponsored sport has a number of United States Senators up in arms, including the two from Mississippi.

Based on an interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by the federal Department of Education, funds allotted for archery and hunting classes as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will be blocked. 

Late last week, U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker cosponsored the Allowing for Recreational Resources for Outdoor Wellness Act, (ARROW), in an effort to ensure those schools still receive the funding. Their colleague U.S. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming introduced the act, the Senators say, after the Biden Administration misrepresented a gun control law that allowed the funds to be blocked. 

“It is outrageous that the Biden administration would cut hunting and archery programs that help decrease gun-related hunting accidents,” Wicker said in a statement. “The ARROW Act would preserve these important programs, which train students how to practice their Constitutional right responsibly.”

A number of schools across the Magnolia State offer archery and hunting classes. The courses teach the students teamwork, discipline and helps with a student’s behavior, said Dorsey Attendance Center Principal Carson Cook with the Fulton School District.

The Itawamba County-based school district has been offering archery for the past 12 years, of which Cook coached the team for five. Three of those years Cook was the head coach. He said he noticed that the students did their best to keep their grades up so they could continue to participate. 

Cook also noticed that even though the sport is co-ed, scores are competitive between all teammates. 

Before a student can pick up a bow, they are taught how to use it safely, and that involves performing safety drills and learning whistle commands.

Interest in the archery team in the Fulton School District is high. Cook said the team can only accommodate 24 archers, but 50 to 60 students apply annually. The program is offered to students in the district’s junior high and high school.

“It’s a very good program that needs to be funded. It teaches them a skill, safety and how to be successful,” Cook said. 

Nationwide, nearly half a million students participate and/or are certified from a hunter education course. That training has led to a 50 percent reduction in hunting related accidents, Senators argue.

According to the National Archery in Schools Program, the United States has about 1.3 million students who participate in archery programs across about 8,000 schools. 

“The Biden Education Department’s kneejerk liberal anti-gun policy demonstrates just how much it does not understand or appreciate the valuable lessons instilled in youth who take part in hunter education and archery programs,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement.  “I fully support this legislation to protect these programs and to stop these misguided threats to withhold funding to schools that offer them.”

About the Author(s)
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Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics. Email Jeremy: