4-H members learn hunter safety

Published 12:40 am Sunday, July 1, 2007

NATCHEZ — Gunfire filled the air at Adams County Sheriff’s Range for five mornings strait and no handguns or uniformed officers were in sight.

Monday to Friday 32 kids shot muzzleloaders, shotguns, rifles and bows for two hours a day and spend two more hours in the classroom.

The Adams County Sheriff’s range hosted the week long Adams County 4-H Hunters’ Safety Camp. The event was free of charge because 11 local businesses sponsored the event and all 12 of the instructors were volunteers.

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“The kids have to complete 10 hours training to be certified,” said David Carter, director of Adams County Extension Services. “It’s hard to get kids to sit down for 10 hours in one week so we break it up with the shooting, that actually makes the program 20 hours but that way they don’t have to sit still the whole time.”

The program participants were divided into groups by age and each group had equal training at each one of the weapons training stations during the week.

Volunteer John Kerwin was the instructor of the archery stations. He has been shooting bows for over 15 years. At the archery station campers shot arrows at balloons suspend from carpet backdrops.

“To make it interesting for the kids every once and a while we would tape a dollar to the balloon and if they hit it they got to keep it,” Carter said.

Nolan Voss, 11, wasn’t shooting for dollars but he was still having fun and gaining experience.

“This is the first time I have ever shot bow,” Voss said. “I like it but I am a better shot with a gun.”

Over at the .20 gauge shotgun station Walter Harrison was one of the volunteers who taught the groups how to shoot skeet.

Chisum Mardis just turned 10-years-old and was already shooting like a pro.

“You nailed that one, if that were a real bird there’d be nothing left to cook,” Harrison said after Mardis annihilated a skeet. But after Mardis shared his hunting record his accuracy was no surprise.

“I’ve killed five does, two bucks and a 5-point,” Mardis said.

Almost every kid in Madris’s group had a hunting history as impressive.

“I killed an 8 point and a doe last year,” 10 -year-old Chandler Russ said.

The shotgun station seemed to be a hit with all the groups and it showed.

“We used around 500 skeet,” Carter said Thursday.

Colton Farmer, 12, and his cousin Trevor Farmer, 13, shot .22 caliber rifles together under the direction of volunteer instructor J.J. Whitehead.

“I like shooting the rifles but I really like the muzzleloader,” Colton Farmer said. “I am just used to shooting higher powered guns.”

All of the campers were taught to shoot the rifle from the sitting, prone, standing and kneeling positions at the rifle station. They also had to load and fire their guns properly at the muzzleloader station, Carter said.

At the end of each weapons training portion of the day there was a break before the campers became students and for at least two hours of hunter safety training.

“Shooting is actually one of the safest sports you can do, there are a lot less injures in shooting than in football and other sports,” Carter said adding that he would like to start an Adams County shooting team.