The North Carolina Youth Shooting Foundation, which began meeting in March, now has 37 members and is growing.
The season ends in July, so if you know a child who wants to learn how to shoot sporting clays with a shotgun, they can learn weapon safety and sportsmanship, according to founder Rick Mitchell.
“The NCYSF is partly about shooting sporting clays with shotguns,” said Mitchell, “but it’s mostly about teaching these young boys and girls about the importance of discipline, safety, respect, courtesy, building friendships that could last a lifetime, being a helpful team player and supporting other young people older and younger while building a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and having fun in a good family oriented environment that can be enjoyed by them and their relatives.”
The youngest member is 10 years old. Bryan Norris has been shooting guns since he was six. He said his mother and brother taught him to shoot, and he has his own shotgun. He hunts for deer, rabbits, squirrels, turkey and birds, he said.
According to Norris, his favorite thing to shoot is skeet. He’s not intimidated by the older kids, though.
“I try to be as good as them sometimes,” said Norris. “It makes it kind of fun. It feels good to win.”
His gun is nearly taller than he is, and his satchel of shotgun slugs hangs to his calf, but he hits as many targets as the older children.
Savannah Pettet is 16 years old, and the only girl at the practice session on Monday at DeWitt’s Outdoor Sports in Ellerbe. She shoots the targets back to back, quickly.
“It’s just a habit I picked up when I first started,” she explained. She began shooting sporting clays when she was 13, and she was taught by her daddy and Chris DeWitt, owner of the range that offers a 5-stand for shooting clays, a rifle range and a pistol range. She has her own shotgun and she hunts deer and turkey as well.
“It’s kind of competitive,” she said about shooting with boys. “I want to beat them just so I can say I can shoot. The guys get a little jealous and they like to tease me about it.”
Some kids get into one thing and stick with it, while others try a variety of things. Jared Lucky, 16, said he is enjoying the sport.
“I’ve been shooting since I was a little kid but the clays I started this year,” he said. “I love to be outdoors and I do a little bit of everything. I came out here with friends and I did well so I thought I would try it out.”
The fourth shooting event will happen at DeWitt’s on May 12. On May 26, the fifth event will happen at the Fork Farm and Stable in Norwood, just outside Mt. Gilead. On June 16 and July 14, shooting events will take place at DeWitt’s in Ellerbe.
“Right now they are shooting 50 birds,” said Mitchell. “In June they will shoot 100 birds. They have asked to shoot more.”
Mitchell said the first shooting event left everyone feeling confident because each child walked away having hit at least one target.
“We will end in July because it’s just too hot in August,” said Mitchell. “We will start again at the end of deer season.”
Mitchell wants to give the youth a chance to hunt with their families on weekends.
If you are interested in joining the North Carolina Youth Shooting Foundation, contact Mitchell at 910-691-2644.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.