Shooter aims for indoor arena
At a time where the legislative docket is clotted with bills geared to keep youth from guns, a proposal that combines the two using government funding might have been frowned upon. But it wasn’t.
Giving youth the opportunity to learn to use guns safely and responsibly in a restricted setting was touted as an opportunity for area youth.
“What you’re doing here is extremely important to what I see four our youth in this community because not every kid is going to be a football player,” Mayor Dave DeRose said.
Nationally-ranked shooter Laura Tyler wants to build an indoor shooting arena to train youth and junior Olympic air rifle and air pistol shooters in recreational and competitive shooting sports.
She’s been charged by an Olympic committee to start a youth shooting program in a small community. Her program will then be the pattern for similar ones nationwide.
“I’m documenting all it takes to get a program like this started,” Tyler said. “I need my community to support this program.”
She needs two things: a place to shoot and the money to fund the program. She has also asked local governments and businesses for letters of support.
Tyler has been shooting competitively for about nine years. She is a National Rifle Association (NRA) certified firearms instructor and a certified range officer. In the fall of 1999, she started coaching junior Olympics and was hooked on coaching.
“This program develops discipline. It develops goal setting,” she said. “You don’t have to be the biggest, strongest, fastest or most beautiful. You just need to be dedicated.”
Boys and girls ages 10 to 20 will be able to participate in the program.
Tyler has found the support she needs. Vicky Hall, manager of the Centennial Mall, has donated a room at the mall. Tyler can use it for the cost of utilities. And once construction of the facility is complete, Tyler and her young guns will be able to use space at the Public Safety Center on a permanent/temporary basis.
The Bear’s Ears Sportsman’s Club has offered to help Tyler and lend her some of the equipment she needs to get the program started. She has also requested funding from the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). DOW officials will support the program if Tyler can garner enough community support and matching funds.
Tyler pitched her program to the Craig City Council Tuesday night and plans to approach the commissioners, the Craig Chamber of Commerce Economic development committee and the Craig Parks and Recreation Department. Tyler also plans to hold several fund-raisers for the program.
She told the Council she would return during budget deliberations with a request for funds. She anticipates asking for $2,000 if she needs it, but has high hopes of having the money she needs before that. It is estimated the program will cost nearly $1,400 in the first year for the bare minimum in equipment, $6,442 in the second year and $3,322 in the third year. Costs not included are travel to competitions, training for coaches and rent and utilities. Including those costs brings to total needed to more than $4,000 in the first year.
Tyler said she will try to accommodate as many youth as the program has trained adults to supervise safety. She estimates 20 to 40 students could participate in the first year with the number doubling in year two and again in year three.
Bears Ears Sportsman Club members and other qualified local volunteers will provide the adult supervision and leadership for the program.
Tyler stressed that safety is the first thing students learn when participating in the program. All students must complete a safety course before they begin shooting.
“This is highly controlled,” she said. “It’s a classy operation. We teach safety as the top most priority and we teach respect.”
Moffat County has several youth who are already proficient with firearms. The 4-H shooting program earned the title as state champions this year and seven shooters ranked in the top ten for .22-caliber individual target shooting.
Tyler’s request was well-received by the Council and one of the only things preventing her from receiving money Tuesday night was the no-growth budget the Council adopted in November. She was urged to return during the next budget process with her request.
“All youth need to have the opportunity to be coached by people who care,” DeRose said.
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When Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 nearly a decade ago to establish new rules for the growth and sales of recreational cannabis, much of Moffat County’s populace was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.