BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local group looking to start a conversation around guns and children by showing another side of how firearms can be used. James Pettis Jr., President of the Shooting Sports Committee for Saratoga County, said the 4-H Shooting Sports Course aims to promote the athletic side of firearms while teaching another very important lesson.
“One, what a firearm will do. Responsibility while you’re handling a firearm. And safety while you’re using a firearm,” he said.
Organizers say that this recreational activity has led to other opportunities for many students. Leland Bunting, 4-H Resource Educator at the Cornell Cooperative Extension for Saratoga County, said that many of their students become hunters or shoot recreationally at competitions.
“It’s really important for these kids to get this training upfront so that they’re not left to what they learn online or what they learn from video games or movies,” Bunting said.
Their classes, which are offered twice a year, are usually sold out. Charles Rydzak, Team Leader for 4-H SharpShooters Club, is a parent and said his 17-year-old daughter has the chance to receive college scholarships and benefits beyond the club.
“It exposes them to things that may or may not intimidate them and lets them know they can conquer things and absolutely lets them build some confidence, builds maturity, it builds leadership,” he said.
His daughter, Andy Rydzak, has been a part of the sport for nine years and started in archery.
“It’s been great,” she said. “I definitely moved away from archery and got to shotgun because I’ve had so many opportunities to open up and find out new things, but I’m loving it.”
And James Pettis Jr. wants more rod and gun clubs in the area to teach young people about responsible gun ownership and safety.
“More people need to get their kids involved with a safety program,” he said. “Where they learn about firearm safety and what to do.”