(WY) 4-H teaches firearms safety


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Drizzt
March 29, 2005, 01:19 AM
4-H teaches firearms safety - By CAROLE CLOUDWALKER

Safety in handling firearms is the biggest lesson members of the Cody Sharpshooters 4-H club can learn, leader Joe Desson says.

The club usually draws about 40 youth ages 8-19, and there's still room for many more, Desson adds. County-wide, as many as 175 young people take part in 4-H shooting programs involving rifles, pistols and shotguns.

The season for 4-H shooting sports is beginning now, and sign-ups continue through April.

Desson said his aim is to promote a "learning environment where kids can participate safely, learn safety and be more responsible."

In addition, Desson says, the sport "is a way to link parents and families," because he encourages parents to either shoot or oversee events in which their children take part.

The club's shotgun shooters meet at 5:30 p.m. Mondays at the Cody Shooting Complex west of the Belfry Highway, about two miles from Cody. Indoor air rifle and pistol and .22 rifle and pistol competitors meet there at 4 p.m. Thursdays.

The complex, 4-H and others sponsor Desson's clubs, providing ammunition and other support.

"We shoot as much as we want," thanks to this backing, Desson says. And it pays off - last year his club had a state champion shooter, Katie Payseno, and members won 18 of 21 possible medals in competition.

Children can participate with a $10 4-H sign-up fee. Desson said shotgun shooters who participate in trap shoots using clay targets pay an additional $10 fee for supplies.

Financial help is available, and guns are available for use by anyone who does not own one. Shooters also need eye and ear protection, but that also is available for those who do not have it.

"So you can just show up and shoot," once you are signed up, Desson says.

He said this time, after a school shooting incident captured national attention, is a good time to begin shooting sports, because the emphasis is on safety and maturity in gun handling.

"Columbine made me sick to the point of almost crying," Desson recalls. He called a meeting of club members and parents and they spent several hours discussing the situation.

"More than 50 percent of the Wyoming population hunts, and 90 percent have firearms in their homes," he said. With that kind of interest in firearms in the state, young people should learn the right way to handle guns and care for them. And shooting sports can earn money for young people, too, Desson adds.

"We've had kids get full college scholarships for shooting," he said.

For more information about Cody Sharpshooters call Desson, 899-1575.

http://www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2005/03/28/sports/sports1.txt

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