- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GAUTIER, Miss. (AP) - The city of Gautier hopes to have its Archery in Mississippi Schools program in place by the end of September.

The Mississippi Press reports (http://bit.ly/1peGSMq) that initially the Gautier program will include a 28-target public range at Shepard State Park and a four-target range at each school serving grades 4-12.

City Manager Samantha Abell said the city is seeking corporate and business sponsors at $250 each for the 28 target lanes at Shepard Park.

Waldo Cleland, AIMS director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, told city officials this week that Shepard State Park was a key draw for the program.

“When school is out, Shepard State Park will provide practice opportunity,” Cleland said.

He said more than 400 schools in the state have an AIMS program.

Cleland said 2,700 students participated in the state championship held this year.

“A host site could expect to draw thousands of visitors to come watch the tournaments,” he said.

Four state tournaments are scheduled to be held annually.

“Archery is a safe sport,” Cleland said. “Of 57,000 students participating last year there was not one injury.”

Cleland said while not every student will play football or basketball, archery is available to everyone regardless of age, size or physical ability.

“We have people in their mid-eighties down to grade four participating,” he said. “Forty-three percent of adult archers are women.”

Cleland said the program teaches safety, mental concentration, physical fitness and self-improvement.

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Information from: The Mississippi Press, http://www.gulflive.com