News and Tribune


February 27, 2012

Safe shooting: NAHS rifle team helps revived 4-H shooting club

NEW ALBANY — Their instructions were simple — load and close the action, shoulder the rifle, aim downrange and squeeze the trigger.

But for some of them, they’d never fired a gun.

New Albany High School’s Junior Officer Reserve Training Corp. rifle team members taught gun safety and basic shooting procedures to children interested in the Floyd County 4-H shooting club with air rifles.

After two years without the club and new leadership, 4-H instructor Melissa Merida said she’s glad to see the program come back with support from NAHS faculty and students.

“We’re pleased to see the kids are teaching other kids about this,” Merida said. “It really shows what 4-H is all about.”

The session brought in 62 students, most of whom Merida said were between third and seventh grade.

Mike Aven, the co-leader for the shooting club, said he contacted the rifle team coaches to see if they could help with getting used air rifles for the club.

The rifle team helped, but they also offered instruction.

Steve Harris, one of the rifle team’s coaches, said he’s glad his students could get children interested in the 4-H club.

“First and foremost, this is here for 4-H to get some youth in their shooting sports,” Harris said. “But we also show them what it’s like if they want to continue with the sport as they get older.”

Jimmy Cummins brought his son, Colin, on Saturday after he said he was interested in checking it out.

Though Jimmy hunts turkey, deer and duck, he said teaching his son about gun safety is something he wanted to reinforce in another way with another instructor.

“Just like being a parent, you teach your children right from wrong,” Cummins said. “Sometimes, if someone else is teaching them that, it might get through to them a little better.”

Colin, 9, said he was glad to learn a little more about shooting and safety.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to shoot because my dad deer hunts,” Colin said. “I have a BB gun, and I shoot that a lot.”

The Elks Lodge EPOE 270 donated money to help feed the children who participated after their instruction ended.

Keith Jant, leading knight at the lodge, said he was glad his organization could offer some financial support.

“It ties in with many other things we do with our club,” Jant said. “We’re happy to have taken this opportunity to support them financially.”

Merida said along with getting the word out about the revived club to the community, she thought the instruction showed people that 4-H is more than raising farm animals.

“The number one thing is that 4-H is often mistaken for just showcasing animals, or that you have to live on a farm to participate,” Merida said. “This really exemplifies that one of the big ideas behind the program is learning by doing.”

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