CANTON — The popular 4-H Shooting Sports formation returns to Norfolk Rod and Gun Club this spring after a two-year hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic.
“This is a program that’s been around since the 1980s,” said Maureen A. Ring, 4-H program educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension. “We work closely with the Norfolk Rod and Gun Club and their volunteers.”
The Norfolk club, which has hosted the scheme throughout its history, is ideal for the scheme, Ms Ring said
“They have everything. They have indoor archery range, outdoor archery range. They have shotgun, pistol, rifle ranges. They have areas where we can do our muzzleloaders,” she said.
The program begins with an orientation on April 27, when participants will learn safety rules and be introduced to instructors.
“The whole filming schedule revolves around safety,” Ms. Ring said.
The instructors are all volunteers and are certified by the National 4-H Shooting Sports program. Instructors receive 12 to 15 hours of in-depth training on each discipline they teach.
“Most of our instructors are well-rounded,” Ms. Ring said. “They can run any of the different ranges.”
“Our goal is to have students up within 30 minutes and using whatever firearm or bow they’re using,” she said.
Instruction begins May 1 and will continue every Sunday except Memorial Day weekend until June 12. The program is intended for ages 8 to 18.
“8-year-olds do archery, 9-10-year-olds do archery and air rifles, 12-year-olds do shotguns, and 14-year-olds can do pistols, but must have had at least one year in the 4-H program,” Ms. Ring said.
The idea, she says, is to familiarize children with firearms so they know how to handle them safely.
Ms Ring said she had six students on a waiting list for the course program of up to 30 students.
Students who complete the program earn a 4-H certification.
“It’s not to replace the (state Department of Environmental Conservation) hunting safety course,” Ms Ring said. “It does not allow them to obtain a license to hunt.”
The course, Ms Ring said, is not just for kids who hunt.
“There’s trap shooting and archery,” she said. “It’s about learning to handle firearms, handle bows, safety of everything, and having fun while learning.”