LAMOILLE – Last month, the Bureau County 4-H Shooting Sports kicked-off its first program in the discipline of shotgun.
Youth involved in the program meet with trained adult shotgun instructors and learn about the safe and responsible use of firearms and marksmanship skills.
Jennifer Caldwell, coordinator for 4-H Youth Development Programs, said the discipline also allows youth to focus on life skills.
“They are learning about building self respect, listening and respecting the instructor, how to be responsible with the equipment and to make positive choices,” she said.
The program is taught by shotgun instructor Rex Biggs and his assistants, Roger Krueger and John Gorman. The shotgun program meets at the A2 Firearm and Tactical Training near LaMoille, which is owned by certified instructor Jay Irizarry. All instructors have been certified through the Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports volunteer training program.
The 4-H Shooting Sports also includes the disciplines of rifle and archery. Program coordinator Cyndi Olson explained Bureau County 4-H is currently just focusing on the disciplines of shotgun and archery, due in part by the lack of a certified instructor to teach the discipline of rifle. The discipline of archery program will begin in September.
Caldwell listed the four focuses of each 4-H program: Belonging, independence, mastery and generosity.
“With the Shooting Sports program they’re getting the belonging aspect in that they’re belonging to a group with youth that have similar interests and instructors who are skilled and able to work with them … They’re getting independent decision-making in terms of choosing what types of shooting sports discipline and how they progress through the program,” she said. “The generosity will come in the next phase where we’ll see some of the kids who are more experienced giving advice to those who are newer and helping them out … Of course, mastery, they are learning to master a new skill.”
Students who attended the shotgun program’s last meeting on Sunday were asked why they wanted to participant in the program. Answers varied, but one participant said he wanted to learn the skill of shotgun. Another participant said he just wanted to try something new, and a third participant said he wanted to do more shooting and “hopefully get into competitive shooting.”
Caldwell said national 4-H Shooting Sports began in the 1970s in Texas and has since spread to other states. Illinois got the approval for the Shooting Sports program in 2009. Currently about 84 of the 102 Illinois counties provide the opportunity for their youth.
“It’s something that has been going on for a long time national, but just a short time in Illinois,” she said.
Olsen said the state is currently working on setting up 4-H Shooting Sports competitions between counties.
The shotgun program will continue to meet throughout the summer. New members are welcome to attend the shotgun program, which is open to all youth who were 10-18 years old as of Sept. 1, 2012. There is a $65 fee for the shotgun program. Youth who are not already part of the 4-H community club, may also be required to pay the $20 annual 4-H program fee. Youth do not need to own their own shotgun to participate but should bring their own eye protection and hearing protection. To register, contact the University of Illinois Extension office at 815-875-2878.
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