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'The Gun'

Basketball campers at Oasis High School utilize new device to help improve their shooting skills

June 14, 2013
By PETE SISK - Special to the Breeze , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

When you get right down to it, the idea in basketball is to put the ball into the basket.

Coaches at Oasis High School and Oasis Middle School decided to help area players put balls into baskets more often. So last week the school held a shot camp at the high school gym.

While the first week of June might seem an odd time to be inside a gym shooting hoops, between 50 and 60 players a day were doing just that.

Article Photos


Nik Lyons, 16, uses “The Gun” shooting machine as Oasis High School varsity girls basketball coach Sam Wood, center, talks during the Shark Shootout basketball shooting camp at Oasis last week. More photos are available online at:

Besides, with all the rain that was falling, why not?

Oasis High had held an all-around basketball camp, Shark Week, last year. And that will be coming up again this summer.

But Sharks girls coach Sam Wood said parents had been asking for extra help with their youngsters' shooting skills.

"This is not going to be a day care camp," Wood said he told parents. "This is a camp for kids who want to learn."

Despite not advertising, kids who wanted to learn were at the gym all week. More joined as the camp went along, Wood said, all on word of mouth from family to family. Players from various high and middle schools in Cape Coral took part.

One feature of the camp is Oasis' new Gun, a mechanical device designed to help players put a better arc on their shots.

Wood said the Gun helps players shoot at a 45-degree angle rather than shooting along a straight line. The idea is the ball is more likely to drop into the basket that way.

The Gun shoots out a ball to the player at a set pace, anywhere from one to 10 seconds between balls. The player then has to get enough arc on his or her shot to get over the netting on the Gun and into the basket.

"They love the Gun," Oasis Middle girls coach Greg Smith said. "Actually, I love the Gun even more than they do. It's going to help us, but they really love it. It lets them know exactly the type of arc they need on their shot.

"The younger kids, you think it would be a little tough on them, but once they figure that arc out they get better and better at it."

"The shooting Gun has definitely helped me," sophomore-to-be Allie Fornal said. "It has improved my arc because I have to shoot over the net instead of shooting flat."

One thing more of an arced shot has brought back to a player's game is returning to the idea of using the backboard. An era of "nothing but net" is giving way to realizing that shots off the board can add to a player's scoring totals.

"The backboard's your friend," Fornal said.

Wood said Oasis High principal Kim Lunger agreed to let coaches use income from the school's camps to purchase the Gun.

As of last Thursday, more than 5,000 shots had been taken at the Gun by campers.

There's more to a shot than just the arc. Wood said that when players' shots come up short, it's usually a problem with their legs and footwork. So that's something campers were trying to improve, getting squared up to the basket and going straight up to shoot rather than leaning toward or away from the hoop.

Rising junior Brooks Pratt, a Sharks team captain a year ago, had experience with a Gun at a school up north before coming to Cape Coral. For him, the footwork and squaring up for his shot are the things he's improved upon thanks to this week's camp.

"Before my shot was kind of off to the side, but now it's actually straight," Pratt said. "It's helping a lot."

"It has definitely helped me improve my shot a lot," Fornal said. "The footwork definitely helps. My feet are actually now straight where they bent before, so now my shot is straight."

Eight coaches were working at the camp, providing enough instructors for players to get one-on-one time to work on their skills.

Smith said, "I see hard work. I see that they want to learn, want to get better. We're here to help them hone their skills and they're doing really well.

"While it's a shooting camp, we alternate ball handling and other skills to make sure everybody's doing something."

One more skill the coaches tried to impart this past week was summed up in a motto on their shirts: "Find your own Oasis."

Wood said the idea is that players find their own comfort zone on the court, to use the fundamentals they learn to develop a game they can play without worrying about this or that.

"Don't over-think things," Wood said. "Just go out and start playing. Focus on your skills and don't worry about scoring or anything else."

Wood related a story about his own daughter, Samantha, who got off to a slow start last season after coming over from volleyball. She had seen a preseason article calling her a double-digit scorer and was feeling pressure to live up to that. Once she let that concern go, her game and her shot improved.

"Our goal at the end of the day is for the kids to be able to say they learned something," Wood said. "I've always said that if a kid wants to be better, they'll be better if they'll work for it."

The players got a bonus from the fact that camp week was so rainy.

"I'm not missing out on any beach days," Pratt said.



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