Members of the 4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports club compete in a shotgun competition Wednesday at Craig Trap Club. Five shooters, ages 11 to 14, used a voice-activated system to fire traps in random directions in a 30-degree arc.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Members of the 4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports club compete in a shotgun competition Wednesday at Craig Trap Club. Five shooters, ages 11 to 14, used a voice-activated system to fire traps in random directions in a 30-degree arc.

4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports club learns gun safety

photo

Members of the 4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports are, front row from left, Trevor Johnson, Tyler Gerber, Tanner Snyder, Jesse Kurz and Wyatt Oberwitte. Back row from left are Friends of the National Rifle Association chair Craig Rummel, 4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports leaders Wade Gerber and Richard Oberwitte.

— With a shout of "pull," a bright orange trap exploded up from the grass.

With a calculating eye and a steady gun, members of the 4-H Shotgun Shooting Sports club made sure the discs never made it to the ground in one piece.

That's the way they plan on keeping it.

Now, with a grant from the Friends of the National Rifle Association, more young shooters will have a chance to set their sights on a new sport, club leader Wade Gerber said.

"The Friends of the NRA donated $5,150 to the club for shotguns, ammo and targets," he said. "We were able to purchase four shotguns and enough ammo and birds to last beyond this year."

Craig Rummel, Friends of the National Rifle Association chairman, said all the money donated came from the community.

"The money we raised will be used for conservation and education," he said. "The money is returned to the communities where it was raised for those two purposes."

Along with gun safety and education, introducing young sportsmen to the sport is one of the most important facets of the club, Gerber said.

"This affords us an opportunity to show the boys that trapshooting isn't just a rich man's sport," he said. "They might be used to seeing shotguns that cost $4,000 or $5,000, but now we have guns here that they can use."

Gerber said the club's main goal is education.

"I want to be the person to teach them gun safety," he said. "If you remove the curiosity, you remove the danger.

"I want kids to come here, so they can see the right way to try it."

Every Wednesday night, the club takes aim at a new lesson.

"We started in early May with three nights of safety training in the classroom," Gerber said.

On Wednesday, the club competed against each other at Craig Trap Club, taking turns knocking down the orange discs.

Wyatt Oberwitte, 14, is a 4-H veteran.

Now in his sixth year with the organization, Oberwitte has moved from air pistols to shotguns.

"I originally joined 4-H so I could stay busy in the summer," he said. "If I wasn't here, I would probably be fishing."

Each shooter must turn in a project July 28 as part of 4-H requirements.

For his project, Oberwitte will make a shooting box to hold his shells and other supplies.

Last year, he made a rifle case with silver metal.

"I want to have a matching set," he said.

Tyler Gerber, 13, likes trapshooting as a way to sharpen his hunting skills.

"I just like hunting birds, and I want to get better at it," he said. "I know I can score better."

For his project, Gerber will make a display board showing the different parts of a shotgun shell.

Jesse Kurz, 11, plays baseball and will play football in the fall, but trapshooting is more of a social opportunity.

"I like to be with my friends and just shoot," he said. "It's just a lot of fun."

Trevor Johnson, 12, prefers a 20-gauge shotgun and blasting clay pigeons out of the sky.

Like Kurz, he was drawn to the club because of friends.

"I was staying at a friends house, and he brought me here and gave me a chance to shoot," he said. "I thought it was fun."

A friend introduced Tanner Snyder, 12, to the sport.

"I started because my friend joined, and I thought I would give it a shot," he said. "You just get to shoot, so it's fun."

With a summer's worth of trapshooting worn into his collarbones, Snyder said he would try hunting this fall.

And nights at the Trap Club move Snyder toward his goal.

"It helps with your aim," he said. "You get used to your gun, too."

Unlike Johnson, Snyder said he prefers a 12-gauge shotgun.

"Because it's more powerful than a 20-gauge," he said. "And it can really knock down the pigeons."

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