Warner Robins Police Dept. aims to give people a place to practice shooting


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Drizzt
February 17, 2003, 05:16 PM
The Macon Telegraph


February 16, 2003 Sunday HO EDITION

SECTION: B; Pg. 1

LENGTH: 538 words

HEADLINE: Fun within range;
Warner Robins Police Dept. aims to give people a place to practice shooting

BYLINE: By Sharon E. Crawford; Telegraph Staff Writer

DATELINE: HOUSTON COUNTY

BODY:
Todd Lyons joined a family tradition of shooting his grandfather's 1907 Winchester slide-action rifle Saturday.

It was what his father did as a child and something his grandfather started after getting the weapon as a small boy.

Todd, 12, hit the paper and metal targets at the Warner Robins Police Department's shooting range almost every time, surprising his father, Mike Lyons, and WRPD Sgt. Mike Earl. "He's a natural at this, you can tell ... there are officers who would be jealous over how well he's shooting," Earl, a WRPD training officer, said.

Each month, the department opens its firing range to the public, allowing people to practice using their weapons on the same targets officers use in training. It's something the department has done for years, Earl said.

"There's nowhere else in the city for people to go," Earl said. "This is just one of the services we offer to the public. It's a way for people who own guns to get out and practice using them in a safe environment."

Mike Lyons can remember when he practiced shooting his father's rifle in the woods, hitting tin cans and anything he could get his hands on. Lyons wanted his two sons to follow in his footsteps after getting the antique weapon from his brother in December.

"(My brother) knew the boys were old enough to be interested in guns," Lyons said. "We've been waiting to get out here and start practicing."

The elder Lyons practiced a few shots himself Saturday, before turning the rifle over to his oldest son. Todd handled the gun like a pro and hit the target more than 90 percent of the time.

"I think it's cool," said Todd, who had only fired a pellet gun and a handmade "potato gun" before handling the rifle. "It's not as hard as I thought it would be."

Malcolm Cadenhead, 59, routinely comes out to the department's firing range to shoot his 9 mm Beretta handgun. Cadenhead, who has been shooting guns for several years, said it's like any other hobby - practice makes perfect.

"I don't play golf, I don't play pool, I just like to shoot," Cadenhead said. "It's like anything else - if you don't keep practicing, you tend to lose your edge on it."

When Cadenhead moved to Warner Robins from California several years ago, he couldn't find a place to shoot his guns. A local gun shop owner told him about the WRPD's monthly practice day, and he's been hooked ever since.

Earl said it's important that any person who owns a gun knows the proper way to handle and shoot it, especially if there are children in the house. He spent a lot of time teaching Todd the proper way to handle the weapon before allowing him to shoot it Saturday.

"You have to always treat a weapon like it's loaded and ready to go until you can prove to yourself it's not," Earl said. "No firearm is a toy ... we're not going to pick it up and play with it."

The firing range is open to the public from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. The fee is $5, and participants must bring their own weapon, ammunition and ear and eye protection.

For more information, contact the training center at 929-6979 or 929-7252.

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