Reg Wiebe watches Rhett Bryant shoot a clay target at the second annual junior clays clinic at the Brandon Gun Club on Saturday. (ROBIN BOOKER/BRANDON SUN)
Twelve boys were getting lessons on how to shoot shotguns at the Brandon Gun Club during the second annual junior clays clinic on Saturday.
Reg Wiebe, of Portage la Prairie, who has been involved in hunter education since 1984, was helping instruct the boys. He thinks it is important to offer shooting lessons for youth.
"Some kids don’t have much opportunity to practice shooting prior to a hunt," Wiebe said. "They might be the only person in the family interested in hunting, so here we’re able to give them some coaching about how to handle a firearm safely. Many of them will be shooting fairly proficiently by the time the day is done."
Some of the participants in the clinic will also be taking part in a mentored hunt this fall.
The mentored hunts, pair an experienced hunter with a youth who wants to learn how to hunt animals effectively. This year there are twelve hunts planned, while there used to be up to 17 hunts at different locations throughout Manitoba.
The amount of hunts depend on the availability of experienced people to take the youth out, said Wiebe.
Tom Kennedy is on the board of the Brandon Gun Club and was volunteering his time to help the boys.
"It’s important for the kids to learn how to shoot at this age because when they start getting into more hunting they’ll have a background in safety and be more comfortable shooting," Kennedy said.
With his 28 years of experience as a hunter safety instructor, Mike Bonner was also helping teach the boys how to use a shotgun. Bonner said the participants are under strict control — there is always an adult within arms length and they are only given one shot at a time.
"The whole thing is someone taught me how to shoot and they did a bloody good job of it. And I’m just trying to pass my skills on to these youngsters — I mean that’s what it’s all about," Bonner said.
Rhett Bryant, 12, of Brandon said he likes shooting because of the challenge and he is grateful the instructors are willing to help him learn how to shoot.
"I learned that when your leading something you should be just a little below it so you hit it better," Bryant said.
Jeremy Fisher, 14, of Brandon said he got two ducks in the mentored hunt last year and that he hopes to go on the hunt again this year.
"I’ve learned to make sure to follow through after taking the shot to string the bullets a bit more," Fisher said.
Fourteen-year-old Jordan Willey is hoping to take part of the mentored hunt in Minnedosa and he said he is grateful for the practice.
"If you get to know what your doing it does come to you pretty easily. Some shots are still challenging though," Willey said.
Kennedy encourages anyone who wants to learn how to shoot to come out to the Gun Club Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., or on Sunday mornings.
The Alexander/Brandon mentored hunt will take place Sept. 2-3.
For more information on the mentored hunts in the Brandon area, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 20, 2012