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4H Shooting Sports Return to Jefferson County Ohio

October 13, 2014
By Travis R. Hunt - OVO Pro Staff , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Dale Carnegie, the American author and motivational speaker, often discussed attitude. In his sixth book, published in 1948, he penned a chapter titled "If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade." My 14-year-old daughter Leia was born with a lemon in the form of a malignant eye tumor that rendered her virtually blind in her left eye. However, you only need one eye to look through a scope. This obvious fact became stunningly apparent early in the spring of 2014.

As a father of five, hunter, and aspiring marksman, I am passionate about my four daughters, my son, and my arsenal. My arsenal includes a Modern Sporting Rifle chambered in 22LR. Leia took an interest and after receiving basic instructions in marksmanship and safety, she was soon connecting with a plate target positioned 40 yards off the back deck at our home. Later, the 100 yard swinging steel plate swung to and fro as round after round maintained the momentum. The bottom line - Leia was a natural marksman. She expressed a desire to run with this new sport and I sought to oblige her fledgling interest.

My search for a youth shooting organization resulted in a referral to the Jefferson County 4H. I spoke with Janine Yeske (740-264-1112) and she shared with me that once Leia was affiliated with one of the many local 4H clubs, she would be granted access to 4H shooting sport activities. She directed me to an old friend Tom Perrin (740-765-4602). Tom explained to me that he was taking the first steps down the path of reintroducing 4H shooting sport opportunities in the area. He invited Leia and I to the second 4H shooting sports event. On June 14, 2014, Leia and I joined Perrin, five youth participants, and 4H shooting sport instructors Dave Hendricks and Bob Hickle at the Steubenville Rifle and Pistol Club (SRPC), located in Richmond, Ohio.

Article Photos

The author's daughter, Leia (standing, right) and five other youth participants, take a moment for a photo during the first 4H shooting sport activities session held at the Steubenville Rifle and Pistol Club (SRPC), in Richmond, Ohio.

The day began with an overview of gun safety, including the understanding that a gun is a machine and that all machines can fail. This understanding naturally progressed into a discussion about the four rules of gun safety. I will take this opportunity to regurgitate these rules: 1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded; 2. Always point the barrel down range; 3. Always know the target and what is beyond the target; and 4. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. As a safety practitioner, I appreciated the demonstration of range safety including a demonstration of the range horn and range lights.

The participants and attending parents adsorbed the safety briefing as well as the explanation of traditional buck horn and iron and peep sight usage and target acquisition. However, the smiles formed on the faces of the shooters when the instructors retrieved the bolt action Winchesters from their cases and placed them, bolt open, on each of four SPRC shooting benches. After donning hearing and eye protection, each shooter was handed 22LR cartridges. Shooting began in earnest and instructors tweaked performance. The first round of shooting occurred with buck horn sights at 25 yards. Shooting and education continued for the next hour until Perrin announced that lunch was served. The SPRC not only supplied the ammunition but the sloppy joes as well.

Lunch was consumed, all were full, and the targets were moved to 50 yards. Leia worked with the instructors to become not only accustomed to but proficient with fixed sights. Then the stops were pulled out and the targets were moved to 100 yards. A longer distance resulted in the need for bolt actions dressed with peep sights. Once again the instructors provided the participants with an explanation of the dynamics of target acquisition with peep sights. The shots continued to ring out for the next few hours and ultimately hundreds of rounds were thrown down range. Before the afternoon concluded, instructors and students alike nodded in satisfaction as they acknowledged the return of 4H shooting sports. The questions began to swirl. The participants and instructors decided to meet and shoot on a monthly basis. Perrin acknowledged that the SPRC will continue to host and sponsor the event. Instruction and practice will continue but Leia wanted to know where this will lead. She questioned if a 4H shooting sports team will emerge. Tom and I looked at each other and almost in unison uttered "maybe."

Fact Box

"The shots continued to ring out for the next few hours and ultimately hundreds of rounds were thrown down range. Before the afternoon concluded, instructors and students alike nodded in satisfaction as they acknowledged the return of 4H shooting sports."



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