Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 2, 2014

MARTINO: Volunteers are key for youth shooting sports

Kids Fishing Clinic Benefit Concert is coming up March 8


Kokomo Tribune

---- — One of the best-kept secrets in Howard County is the 4-H Shooting Sports program. 4-H has been educating youth for generations and its shooting sports programs have been exemplary in teaching youth about archery and firearms safety in a hands-on, regulated environment.

The focus of all 4-H programs is the development of youth as individuals and as responsible and productive citizens. The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program stands out as a prime example. Youth learn marksmanship, safe and responsible use of firearms, principles of hunting and archery and much more. The activities of the program and the support of caring adult leaders provide young people with the opportunities to develop life skills, self-worth and conservation ethics.

The 4-H Shooting Sports program is by far one of the most popular programs offered by the national organization. Instruction is not theoretical. This program provides hands-on skill development and practice that teaches individual and group responsibility, leadership and competency that students can use for a lifetime.

National studies have shown that youth who are instructed in the safe handling of archery and firearms are far less likely to become involved in delinquent or criminal behaviors. These types of professional instruction also are responsible for a decline in firearms-related accidents.

In Howard County, we are fortunate to have a thriving 4-H Shooting Sports program. Our local program accepts youth from third through twelfth grade.

Last year, with 10 certified instructors and seven additional adult volunteers, Howard County’s program provided in-depth instruction in archery, muzzle loading, pistol, rifle and shotgun. The program had an adult volunteer-to-youth ratio of two adults for every seven students.

Nearly 70 youth took part in the program in 2013, up 23 percent from 2012. This year promises to be even higher. At the Howard County fair, 44 Shooting Sports members created a poster describing what they had learned through this program. Amazingly, all of them received a blue ribbon or higher. In addition to generous grants and individual contributions, the program is strongly supported by the Howard County Izaak Walton League through use of its many ranges and equipment.

The continued growth and popularity of this class has led to one major concern. Our county’s shooting sports program is in need of more adult volunteers. Instructors are needed in the areas of archery, pistol and rifle. In an effort to maintain complete safety, a course will not be offered unless a certified 4-H instructor is present. Adult volunteers serving as assistant instructors do not have to be certified. The program also has an opening for a range safety officer.

If you have experience or training in these important roles and want to do your part in educating children while helping provide a safe learning environment, you are encouraged to contact the 4-H Shooting Sports Program. Here is an opportunity to do what’s right.

Becoming an adult volunteer is a true opportunity to help preserve shooting sports though proper training for our next generation. If you are interested in playing an important role in this worthwhile program, you can contact the Purdue Extension Office at 765-456-2313 or local shooting sports coordinator Ron Carter at 765-453-9577.

BENEFIT CONCERT

Bobby Jones and the Rendition Band will headline this year’s 11th annual Kids Fishing Clinic Benefit Concert. The event will take place March 8 beginning at 7 p.m. at Celebrations Banquet and Conference Facility.

In addition to the sounds of classic rock and country, patrons will also be eligible for door prizes. A silent auction featuring numerous outdoor related items will also be available.

Funds from the concert will be used to purchase fishing equipment and safety related items for the 135 children who will take part in this summer’s popular youth event.

Tickets are modestly priced at only $5 and can be purchased at the door or in advance by contacting Craig Carter at 765-438-1193.

HUNTER ED. CLASS

Ivy Tech will be sponsoring a certified IDNR Hunter Ed. Class. The program will take place at the Kokomo Event Center. The class will be held March 15 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again March 16 from noon to 4 p.m.

The Hunter Ed program is open to everyone but is recommended for those above the age of 10. It is important to note the program is mandatory for everyone born after Dec. 31, 1986 before purchasing a regular Indiana hunting license. Hunter Ed is suitable for everyone with an outdoor interest whether or not you engage in hunting activities.

Registrations are required. To sign up go to www.ivytech.edu/kokomo/ and click on the hunter ed. link.

PASSING OF A GOOD MAN

It’s always hard to learn of the passing of a good friend. It was just several days ago when I found out Curt Reed had succumbed to cancer. He fought a gallant battle, but in the end it was just too much. Curt was well known for his fishing knowledge and tournament successes. He was even more known and respected for his gentle demeanor and pleasant personality. He was a fixture at the Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic. He loved children and passing his knowledge on to our next generation.

Last summer, he served as a boat captain even though the ravages of the disease had taken a toll on his body. You could tell he was in pain although he never admitted it.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” I said to him, as he pulled his boat up to the bank before the start of the graduation tournament. “Why wouldn’t I be?” was all he said as he walked towards the kids.

He was someone everyone enjoyed being around. At the young age of 53, he was much too young to leave this earth. Saying goodbye hurts. It’s made even worse when you know you’ll never get the chance to say “hello” again in person. For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to know Curt, I am sorry for your loss. Rest in peace Curt and know you’ve touched the lives of many.

John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.