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Shooting Sports Club on hunt for youth and 4H adult leaders

Saturday, February 25, 2012

David Gibson, left, of Razorback Archery works with members of the Fulton County 4-H Shooting Sports Club on how to safely use a bow and arrow. The club is seeking children interested in archery and firearms, and club leaders.
"Whatever you've got it aimed at is in danger. So never draw back and point - it's sort of like a gun -- (never point) at somebody or something you're not intending to injure," said David Gibson, as he demonstrated how to shoot a bow and arrow to a group of children and their parents.

Gibson, owner of Razorback Archery on Highway 62 at Agnos, was giving a lesson to the Fulton County 4-H Shooting Sports Club.

While 4-H is known for its livestock, horse and photography programs, shooting sports is a newer project club, which teaches youth the basics of archery and using fire arms -- pistols, rifles and shotguns -- with an emphasis on safety.

"We began our shooting sports club four or five years ago," said MaLinda Gray, County Extension Specialist. "We have had wonderful interest in it from both boys and girls."

The club stopped its archery activities at the fairgrounds last fall, when the weather turned colder and it began getting dark earlier.

"We would shoot until it got so dark that we couldn't find our arrows, and decided to stop until spring." club leader Gary Phillips said. After learning about Razorback Archery and its indoor shooting range, the club was able to resume meetings. Eight children and their parents attended the January meeting at the facility.

"The (Razorback Archery) indoor range gives us a lot more flexibility," said Phillips, who also scheduled a 5:30 p.m. meeting for Feb. 28. Any interested children and parents are invited to attend to try archery and learn more about the Shooting Sports Club. Razorback Archery is in the Gibson Box Company building on Highway 62.

"We had a real good response to archery last fall," Phillips said. "Archery seems to be where the interest is right now."

"My eight year old son, Garrett, came with me to the January meeting, but he didn't want to shoot," said Gray. "But, after seeing the other kids, he decided to try it, and now he's excited about archery."

The club has purchased some bows and arrows, and receives money through 4-H for equipment and activities.

The only problem with the shooting sports club is a lack of adults to help run it. In 2008, four Fulton County parents traveled to Little Rock to be trained to teach children how to shoot firearms and bows and arrows. But, over the past three years, their children have gotten older and left the club. Phillips is the only trained leader still actively involved.

"We have two people signed up to attend a March shooting sports training session, and have two slots still available," said Gray. "Anyone who is interested in getting involved is invited to sign up for the training. We need more leaders."

"4-H teaches people to shoot and teach others the 4-H way," Phillips said. "Safety is the big thing. They show you how to aim, and how to teach kids to do that. But the first thing is, how do you teach shooting so nobody gets hurt?"

As club members moved from Gibson's archery lesson to the indoor shooting range, Phillips explained, as they were getting their bows and arrows and setting up targets, the range was "cold," meaning no one was to put an arrow on a bow.

As the time to shoot neared, all members were instructed to stand behind the shooting line. Two youth at a time were called to the line, and the range was declared, "hot" - everyone was to stay behind the shooters, out of the line of fire.

"With the methods 4-H teaches, leaders can direct a shooting period, while insuring no one gets hurt," Phillips explained. "When 4-H holds a big shooting competition in Little Rock, 600 kids are involved and no one gets hurt because safety is the big issue."

When spring arrives, shooting activities will move back outdoors.

"For archery, we have four Genesis (starting) bows and five dozen arrows, along with outdoor targets," said Phillips. "We also have pellet guns and pellet rifles, and two .22 target pistols. What we're looking for is kids that want to be members (of the club), and adults that want to help out."

For more information on the 4-H Shooting Sports Club, contact MaLinda Gray, at the County Extension Office. The number is 895-3301.

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