More than 20 community members packed the room at the Cole County R-5 school board meeting Feb. 28 to request the shooting sports program be added as a lettered sport.
“We are requesting that shooting sports become a sport in which the participants can earn a letter,” parent Karen Koetting wrote in a letter to the board.
The district has offered shooting sports for 10 years, adding middle school students in the last two years. Currently, 26 students participate in the activity.
“We have had two kids go all the way to state and win — and it’s sad for them that they didn’t get a letter for that because, my God, what an accomplishment,” Koetting said.
Eugene’s volleyball, softball, baseball, basketball, cheerleader, pom-team, track and golf players can receive letters. Officials said the only other school activity that is not lettered is scholar bowl.
Ed Hager, Eugene’s FFA shooting sports coach, said the students follow the rules to earn a letter and should receive that recognition.
“I think it’s been our goal all along to get it to this point,” Hager said. “By earning that letter, it shows colleges on applications that they’re not going to just try something and quit when the going gets tough — you’re going to stick with it all the way through.”
At Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City, students who participate in archery and shotgun club receive letter recognition.
Blair Oaks archery students also receive letters. Due to staffing, six Blair Oaks trap-shooting students currently shoot with Eugene in a co-op team.
“My son and other children involved in shooting sports learn confidence, safety, knowledge, skills educational values, sportsmanship and school spirit by participating in shooting sports,” Koetting said.
She said some had believed the Missouri State High School Activities Association regulated what could be lettered.
In an email to Koetting, Associate Executive Director Stacy Schroeder said “MSHSAA plays no role in school letters.”
Hager said MSHSAA considers shooting sports an emerging activity, which means the activity does not have 50 schools registered to represent at least three of the eight board districts.
Superintendent Dawna Burrow said the school board will discuss the change in the future.