By: Coral Minchey
For 10 Albany Students, a day of firearm training was the perfect way to fill a Friday morning and afternoon. On March 31st, Albany State University students and Coach Dan Land joined me for a day of shotgun training to prepare for future hunting events in the Fall semester. The first part of the day was spent at Mike Commander WMA Shooting Range in Albany, GA. Joseph Ashley Ricketson, Mike Commander Range Manager, along with the range safety officers made sure that the event was safe and informative. Many of the students had never shot a firearm before, and we were about to introduce them to shooting with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun.
After watching the introductory safety video and reviewing general firearm safety and range etiquette, we moved to the immaculately kept shooting range. Three lanes were reserved for the Academics Afield students and we quickly made use of them. While the more experienced students practiced their stance, technique, and aim, the other students were given one-on-one guidance on parts of the shotgun, loading and unloading, parts of the ammunition, and ways to be successful. Those stationary targets didn’t stand a chance.
One of the best parts of the initial training was the support that each student showed each other. They were taking pictures and videos and cheering each other on when they were successful. Any and all improvements were acknowledged. A morning at a shooting range can make a person work up quite an appetite, so it was into the city for a quick pick me up. Food. Food is always the answer. Lunch was spent decompressing from the morning training and gaining a little energy for what lay ahead: clay shooting.
Advancing from stationary targets to moving targets in one day is a steep curve, but the students were up for the challenge. Members of Flint Skeet & Trap Club welcomed us that afternoon and they were ready for action. The group of students was split into two, each with a club member to teach them and the clays started flying. All the students started competing with each other to see who could have the best numbers. We started getting more clays being hit mid flight and then one of the new shooters stepped up her game and managed to hit 4 clays in a row. Boom boom boom boom. The group was ecstatic for their peer. The day ended with Coach Dan Land taking a turn and a hush fell amongst the students. A clay was fired but no shot was taken. Little did we know that he was focused on tracking the path of flight. A second clay was fired and BAM. It was a direct hit. Coach said “Pull” one more time and down went another clay. The success of the day was obvious on the faces of everyone around.
This event was a chance for the students to get accustomed to using a firearm, but also in preparation for hunting workshops that will be hosted in Fall. I couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next.
The Georgia R3 Initiative is a cooperative effort between Georgia Wildlife Federation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, National Wild Turkey Federation, the Georgia Chapter of Safari Club International, and Ducks Unlimited.
Academics Afield is supported by a grant (#F22AP00937) from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Academics Afield: gwf.org/academicsafield
Georgia R3 Initiative: https://gwf.org/r3/
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About Georgia Wildlife Federation
Georgia Wildlife Federation was founded as a sportsman’s organization in 1936 and is Georgia’s oldest conservation organization. Today, members include hunters, anglers, bird watchers, hikers, educators, and all Georgians who are interested in preserving our natural resources and outdoor heritage.