Shooting helps build self-esteem

Article submitted By Cameron Rodriguez
Shooting helps build self-esteem
NICE DONATION — From the left, Conrad Lions Club president, John McFarland presents a check in the amount of $3,500 to Chris Berg, treasurer of the Pondera Shooting Sports Club. The funds will be used to build an enclosed entrance addition to the front of the Pondera Shooting Sports Complex indoor shooting range. Photo courtesy of Christy Stubbs
   Spring is upon us and many of us are enjoying our hobbies or doing an ongoing spring project.
   One of the ongoing spring projects, that some of you may know of is the building of the Pondera Shooting Complex west of the baseball fields. Some may have seen the complex, but for those who haven’t, it is a sight to behold.
   The complex, upon completion, will not only be home to 4-H shooting sports and a variety of other clubs such as the trap, small bore, and archery leagues, but it will be one of the largest indoor ranges in the state.
   I have been in the shooting sports program since I was nine years old. I remember my first day as if it were yesterday. Paul Jones was always helping me and pushing me to give it my all, and Dusty was either betting milkshakes or racing me to see who could get done the fastest.
   Then there were the famous Offerdahl sisters who were so scary deadly with their air pistols that to this day if they wielded a pistol, I’m pretty sure I would be running for my life if I made them mad. 
   We started out with a handful of kids shooting old Daisy™ multi-pump air rifles in the Ledger Hall basement. Eventually we got single-pump Daisy™ 753’s, which were top of the line at the time. Since that time the 4-H Shooting Sports program has expanded and become the largest 4-H project in our county and in the state.
   You may wonder what the 4-H shooting sports entail. 4-Hers may participate in archery, air rifle, air pistol shotgun and precision air rifle. 4-H stresses safety first and foremost importantly before anyone is allowed to handle or fire a weapon.
   After learning proper range etiquette and handling of equipment, the kids are taught the proper shooting form and technique. Also they are taught the three positions of prone, standing, and kneeling, if shooting in the air rifle discipline.
   Qualified shooting instructors are always present to help the kids out and make sure safety is the number one priority. Shooting sports does so much more than just teach kids how to shoot - it teaches everyday life skills such as leadership, perseverance, maintaining a positive self-esteem, and helping others.
   The 4-H shooting sports program has made a profound impact on my life. It has taught me patience and to respect others, regardless of age. I will admit, I have learned some of the greatest things from kids younger than me and from dedicated shooting coaches who are many years older than me. I have had some really bad days and after a few hours shooting with my fellow 4-Her’s, I forget my problems and remember what 4-H stands for, “making the best better.”
   So next time your out and about, check out the new complex. It’s coming along but it’s far from complete and we need all the help we can get. If you would like to help with the building of complex contact the Pondera County Extension Office to find out when work sessions are, or drive out on a Thursday or Sunday afternoon, and you will likely find a session in progress after 1 p.m.
    You can also help out by purchasing raffle tickets to win the beautifully hand engraved rifle by world renowned engraver Jerome Glimm, to help fund our building material needs.
   This complex is for a good cause - it will help the growth and success of tomorrow’s future.