By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Shooting sports have long been a staple for youth programs, teaching them many disciplines like responsibility and safety. Kay County 4-Hers now have an opportunity to learn those disciplines, as the organization is launching a program of their own.
The program will be led by Kay County 4-H Educator Liz Nicholson and Tonkawa 4-H volunteer David Arent. Students in all Kay County clubs can participate, which also includes the Newkirk Go-Getters, Blackwell OK-Okies and Ponca City.
Arent is immersed in 4-H himself, having two kids in the Tonkawa club, and spends a lot of time volunteering with the organization. He also has a background of coaching shooting sports outside the organization.
“When I was younger, and not part of 4-H, I coached a few young children,” he said. “I eventually stepped away from it until I had my own kids, and I coached them and some of their friends.”
The Tonkawa chapter had an interest once they learned of his experience.
“They found out I coached a lot of youth shooting sports, and asked if I would be interested,” he said. “I went to shooting sports certification a few weeks after.”
There are many shooting sports disciplines promoted by 4-H, and all coaches must be certified to coach it, as well have a separate license to host events.
“4-H requires you to get certified in each of the shooting sports disciplines, and the primary disciplines are shotgun shooting, pistol and rifle and archery,” he said. “You have to go to a different class to get certified to host any event.”
Arent currently has shotgun certification, and will soon take classes for pistol and rifle, which are earned simultaneously.
No hunting will be discussed, only shooting sports, with participants competing individually to win the event.
“One of the things I like about it is that it is one of the most independent of sports, when it comes to competing,” he said. “They get up there, and they stand on their own. They get to enjoy the sport without someone standing there, telling them how to do it.”
Students interested in the program must be 10 years of age or older, and be a Kay County 4-H member. No firearm experience is required.
“They can learn and experience as much as they want to,” Arent said. “For students and parents new to the program, the parents will have to meet with me and I hope to explain to them what is going on and what es expected.”
Safety will be of the utmost importance in their education.
“They’ll have to learn the workings of whatever firearms they are going to load, and how to load it,” he said.“They will also go through when to carry it, and how to carry it. There will be classes, not just practice in the field.”
Students who do have some level of experience will have to show how much they know about firearms and may be able to use their own equipment.
“They can use their own, but my request is to have it inspected annually. I’ll take a look at it every six months to make sure they are deemed as well-maintained,” he said.
Firearms will be provided, but some equipment will have to be obtained by students, including eye and ear protection.
Community supporters are also sought for donations of clay targets, which can be tax-deductible, he said.
Regardless of experience, the ultimate goal is the education of the students.
“We’re not trying to coach champion shooters, we’re trying to coach champion kids,” Arent said.
Nicholson is also excited about bringing in a new program into Kay County 4-H.
“This is a program I had in (Canadian County 4-H). The kids gained a lot of useful skills, like discipline, responsibility, safety, and these are really important concepts to have no matter what,” she said.
For more information, contact Nicholson, at (580) 362-3194, Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Arent, at (580) 628-0844, David.email@example.com.