published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Youth shooting club debuts in Highlands County
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Local youth are now able to be a part of one of the newest sports clubs in Highlands County thanks to the hard work of the Highlands County 4-H and Shooting Sports coordinator Chanae Turner.
The Highlands County Shooting Sports Club was developed by Turner, who is a long-time National Rifle Association member and gun rights and safety advocate.
The new program features a number of courses for young students wishing to learn the ins and outs of safety and techniques of many firearms.
"We are so excited to finally have this program available to our youth," Turner said.
The program is the only shooting sports club of its type in Highlands County. Turner got the idea from a similar program that is up and running in Texas.
"I contacted our state coordinator and found out that there has never been (a shooting club) in Highlands County," Turner said.
Work began in the spring setting up ideas and brainstorming, as well as getting interested volunteers and parents involved in the project.
"It has been a long process ... we already have about 35 kids as members in the club so far," Turner said.
The basic premise behind the Highlands County Shooting Sports Club is to teach members, the youth, safety and shooting techniques for shotgun, rifle, air rifle, pistol and archery. The club is partnered with the local 4-H chapter and has gained a lot of momentum recently.
"We are basically promoting the NRA to raise funds for grants ... We currently aren't able to provide the bows, firearms, ammunition, targets and all that to all of the members. We are working on getting a grant through the NRA," Turner said.
Turner said the club has members who already have their own equipment, but many do not, which makes practice somewhat difficult.
According to Turner, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office has gotten on board to provide some support for the newly-formed club.
"The sheriff's office has said that they will let us use their range for practice," Turner said. "They'll even have their range master out there to provide us with more support for our instructors."
The club's top concern is safety. Turner is focused on promoting and teaching safety across the board for each of the different disciplines of the shooting club as well as other useful safety tips and skills.
"We have state certified instructors. Each of them goes through a two-day course in their desired discipline. They become certified in one discipline at a time and come back to help out and teach in our community," Turner explained.
Turner is actively seeking more adults who wish to work with the club as volunteers and instructors for the youth members. Instructors may sign up for courses for a $75 fee.
Members are able to choose from a handful of sports during the first few months of the program. So far, Turner and the club are offering:
-- archery and air rifle (ages 8 and up)
-- shotgun and .22 rifle (ages 10 and up)
-- muzzle loader (ages 12 and up)
"For the first year we are just taking it a little easy. We start practices twice a month this month. We will have the opportunity to participate in local matches and compete against other counties, state and national matches and even Olympic training. Some of them may get that far and there are a lot of these sport events in the Olympics," Turner said.
As for the taboo and touchy subject of gun safety and laws, Turner feels it's all about what the person knows.
"I think a lot of the problem is lack of education. The more educated, the more knowledge these kids have the better. They aren't likely to be picking up a gun and yielding it around like it's cool. The ones with exposure to it and training will know that it isn't something to be played with," Turner said.
Many safety lessons will be taught to members of the program including gun safety, hunter safety, outdoor survival skills and much more.
The Highlands County Shooting Club meets the first Wednesday of each month at the Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center Lab, 4509 George Blvd., at 6 p.m. The Shooting Sports Club has no membership fee but volunteers and donations are welcomed. Youth from ages 8-18 are welcome to join the program.
Contact Lauren Hrncirik at the 4-H office at 402-6540 or call Turner at 381-1313.
4-H Shooting Sports (by: A. B. Graham - 9/13/2012)
I think that this is great for our community. 4-H programs which include the Shooting Sports Program place their focus on youth development. In Shooting Sports, the youth learn marksmanship, safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, getting along with each other and much more.
Legal shootings? (by: foodforthought - 9/12/2012)
Oh come on now. That's all we needed, kids legally allowed to learn to shoot. Is this all Mr Turner can think up for our youth? I'm glad Mr Turner isn't running for office anytime soon.
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