By John Paul Radcliffe, Special to the Press-Tribune
“This is a great opportunity for our deputies to interact with the youth of the parish and to teach them how to properly handle a firearm,” Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said about his new program that kicked off last month.
The Bossier Sheriff’s Shooting Sports Program allows children ages 10 to 14 to have the opportunity to obtain their hunter’s education card while learning how to handle a firearm through hands-on interaction with a shotgun, bow, and pellet gun. All under the gaze of trained professional.
“Our mission is to make sure these children know how to practice safe firearms technique, but more importantly to respect firearms and to ultimately be comfortable handling them,” said Deputy James Lonadier.
He said the participants come from different backgrounds, where some may have experience in shooting and others are new to everything.
“The main reason why we chose this age group is because this is one of the earliest stages children take an interest in shooting sports,” Lonadier said.
Lonadier’s 11-year-old niece Carmen Cunningham spoke about her interest in the camp when she said, “What I wanted to learn was how to shoot skeet. We don’t usually get to use shotguns at home, so this was a great opportunity to learn a new discipline.”
She went on to explain her favorite moments from the program involve shotgun shooting, archery practice, and specifically learning how to scope with a pellet gun.
Many other students showed much growth and skill through this program, like 14-year-old Jordan Curley who shot six-for-six using a shotgun on his first round of the day.
After rounds of shooting, each student had one shared problem — no matter if they were a first-time shooter or someone as technical as Curley, 4-H Shooting Instructor Rusty Lombardino reminded the class to bend at the knees.
Something as simple as the correct stance can keep any shooter positioned upright instead of being knocked back by the kickback of the gun, which is why it is important that they learn fire safety in a safe setting surrounded by certified instructors.
The Bossier Sheriff’s Shooting Sports program has received much positive feedback from their last two sessions and will continue on into the school year as the program plans to break ground on their own site for all the activities that take place.