Children learn about firearm safety at 4-H camp last week

Published 12:22 am Sunday, July 4, 2010

NATCHEZ — Natalie Russell had already taken a gun safety class, but the Adams County 4-H Hunter Safety Camp still offered her something unique to offered her.

Russell, 11, said the camp, which took place at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office’s shooting range, allowed her to get more practical experience than the previous class.

“The two (classes) were pretty much the same, but we did more hands-on activities here,” said Russell, the daughter of Jason and Danielle Russell.

“Sometimes you can learn more about what you’re doing with hands-on stuff, so it was good (that we got to use the range).”

The camp, which was offered to children ages 8 to 18, was geared toward teaching firearm safety and allowing its 10-and-up campers a chance to get their hunter certification licenses. In addition to classroom work, the campers spent several hours each day on the shooting range with their firearms and bows.

“A lot of these kids got their license last year, but they wanted to come back and get more acclimated with gun safety. They also wanted to have fellowship with other people interested in firearms,” said Jason Jones, Adams County 4-H’s youth agent.

“Even the kids who aren’t eligible still wanted to come, because it’s a fun time. It’s pretty easy for all ages, and we have some good instructors that tell them the dos and don’ts of safety. Safety is the No. 1 key to all shooting sports, so we always preach safety.”

On Wednesday, the test for hunter certification was offered to campers who hadn’t taken it before.

“I took the test, and the questions were mostly easy, but there were a couple of them that were hard. I felt like the camp prepared me well for the test,” Russell.

For Summer Thompson, this year’s camp marked the first year she attended, after hearing about it from family friends.

“I liked it. They taught me things like pointing my gun in a safe direction, and treating all guns as if they’re loaded,” said Thompson, 13.

And those are things that hunter education instructor Stephen Smith really focused on with all the campers, he said.

“The three major things about gun safety are treating every firearm with the same respect you do a loaded firearm, always pointing the muzzle in a safe direction and knowing your target and being sure what’s beyond it,” Smith said.

And for hunters, Smith said knowing about deer stands was just as important as how to handle a gun safely.

“We teach them about having a safety harness and pulling your equipment up with a hard rope. More people are injured on a deer stand each year than they are with firearms,” Smith said.

Jones said Adams County 4-H has also been using the sheriff’s range since the beginning of the year for shooting sports.

“(The ACSO) is our main sponsor, and they let us use this place free of charge and practice out here. They also helped us get donations from the Donut Shop and Miss-Lou Welding. We couldn’t have this event without them,” Smith said.