If you go
What: JBLM Youth Shotgun Fun Shoot
When: Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: JBLM Skeet and Trap Range, 3969 2nd Division Range Road, Lewis Main
The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Skeet and Trap Range will host the annual JBLM Youth Shotgun Fun Shoot Saturday — an opportunity for youngsters to take a shot at the sport.
The event has been popular over the years, and the all-volunteer staff is expecting approximately 90 children to attend this year’s fun shoot. Bill Ostrander, president of Washington state’s JBLM Pheasant Releasers, said the historically-high turnout is a positive sign for the future of the hunting and shooting as recreational sports.
“We have a lot of older people (participating), and we need the younger generation to come in and take our places,” Ostrander said.
The event is organized by the Pheasants Forever Chapter 257 and is supported by volunteers from the Western Washington Pheasant Release program and JBLM’s Northwest Adventure Center. Kids ages 15 and younger will be given a chance to shoot three different types of shotguns: .410 gauge, 20 gauge and 12 gauge.
Pellet and BB guns will be available for the youngest participants who might not be completely comfortable holding a shotgun. Each station will have certified hunter education safety instructors to provide guidance for the new and inexperienced shooters.
“This is a great opportunity to try out shotguns shooting trap at clay targets in a safe, controlled environment,” said Ken Welsh, youth director for Pheasants Forever Chapter 257.
All firearms and ammunition will be provided at the firing stations. Families will also be able to enjoy a free lunch made by the volunteers, including hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and beverages.
Free is the key word. Ostrander said there are similar events hosted outside the installation that will charge admission for kids to get the same introduction to shooting.
“All kids should be able to get into this sport,” Ostrander said. “So many kids out there do not understand gun safety; they should know at an early age.”
Ostrander said it is common to see many of the first time shooters return to try their hand at hunting during the annual JBLM Youth Pheasant Hunt, which is expected to take place in September. It’s a tradition that started about seven years ago, according to Ostrander.
He will be retiring from organizing both the fun shoot and the pheasant hunt after this year. Ostrander is hoping the tradition continues because of the JBLM community’s stance on the activity.
“The military families want their kids to understand what (shooting and hunting is) all about,” he said.