Extension service hosts hunter safety camp

Published 12:56 am Sunday, August 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — The temperature outside the Adams County Sheriff’s range on Tuesday was just above 90 degrees, and there wasn’t much relief indoors.

Packed into the small building on the range were an instructor and roughly 40 kids as his audience. As the instructor passed around rifle tools, some of the kids began to play with them, causing the instructor to tell the kids to pay attention.

It might be natural to expect a group of kids crammed into a hot building to goof off to help take their mind off of the room temperature. Ask them about the importance of what they were being taught, however, and the answers given reflected just how seriously they took it.

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This past Tuesday, the Adams County Extension Service hosted a hunter safety camp from children ages 10 to 18, teaching these kids the importance of safety and responsibility when handling firearms.

“(We’re learning) how to hold a shotgun and not to point it at people while they’re beside you,” Tylon Moore, one of the kids attending the camp, said.

David Carter, the county extension director, said the camp takes place annually and stresses getting the kids who participate are hunter safety certified.

“We cover all the major disciplines of shooting,” Carter said. “They get actual hands-on disciplined shooting training (ranging) from shotgun, archery, rifle and muzzle-loader. They (also) get live time on the range with safety instructions.”

Carter went on to say that the kids also receive 10 hours of safety training in the classroom from a wide variety of topics. This training enables the kids to conveniently meet the certification requirements.

“There’s not many places that offer them this,” Carter said. “The Miss-Lou is one of the few places that offers that to kids at no charge.”

John Kerwin, a rifle instructor who has been helping with the camp since it started six years ago, said the vision of the camp was to create summer activities that stressed hands-on hunter safety teaching.

“Other hunter safety courses given in the state usually do not have the hands-on (instruction) that we give here, which is really good because then you can see if they (really) are safe,” Kerwin said.

Kerwin stressed that the instruction the kids receive at the camp serves not only to help with hunter safety, but with all aspects of life.

“It’s an education program teaching responsibility, teamwork and enjoyment,” Kerwin said.

Sarah Garrity, a camper that has attended the past two years, said that she has enjoyed the camp very much each year. She also stressed how important all of the lessons she has taken from it are.

“You need to learn this stuff so that you don’t hurt other people or yourself,” Garrity said.