Outdoors in Whitehall with Gene Terry: Rifle Club teaches kids to treat guns with respect

D id you know, and it’s a sure thing that you didn’t, along with thousands of other residents in New York State, that the shooting in Sandy Hook was not done by an assault rifle. It was done by the nut with four pistols. The assault rifle was found in his trunk unfired.

This whole process is such an insult to any intelligent person. It’s a shame to say some of these people are actually running our government.

The antis and the tree huggers love it. They finally got some fuel to put on the fire and they’re really making it burn. All at the expense of 26 innocent kids and teachers who perished because of a mentally deprived person.

And out of this, not only the gun laws took a beating, but the mentally went to the dogs also. According to the new laws any one who in the past or present has had depression issues—stress, anxiety, etc.—cannot own a firearm either. Hell, that takes in everyone. Name one person in your lifetime that hasn’t experienced some sort of one of the above. You can’t.

Many years ago, 65 to be exact, I joined the junior rifle club when I was 11 years old. Yes, I knew how to shoot as my whole family did but dad said it was a good thing to get into. Heck, back then there was no TV, video games, Ipod, etc. and any kid that wanted to shoot, this was the place to go.

Under the supervision of men like Fred Rondeau, Ray Saladine, Iri Chaplin, Charlie Fountaine, Bill Williams, and several others, we soon learned this was no play house and any kid who thought so was soon show the door. God bless these guys for starting a program like this.

The program was sponsored by the senior rifle club and the Department of Civilian Marksmanship. What a program for the kids.

The senior club supplied the building, DCM supplied the 22s and shells, vests, targets, etc. You had four positions to shoot in: prone, sitting, kneeling and the difficult off hand. You had to qualify in each position before you could advance to the next position.

You received a medal for each position that you passed. Believe me, these guys didn’t give you any breaks either. This was wonderful for the youngsters then and would you believe, it’s still going on today. Yup.

Over the years as I became older, I still went down to help out. After marrying and three children who joined, I took it over the next 25 years. I had a lot of help from those who were in it as kids, who now had their own in it.

We even had the parents shoot against their kids to see who bought the ice cream afterwards. The kids usually won. This was done in the winter months at the Senior Club’s ranges on Lower Main Street. Some years we had 60 to 65 kids in it, both boys and girls. The girls were more than a match for the boys.

During the winter we would have a raffle to raise more, to buy components to load shotgun shells; DCM did not supply these. I would load shotgun shells all winter and when spring broke we would all go out to the skeet range and shoot until the shells ran out. Many of these kids got pretty darn good at skeet shooting.

As the weather turned warmer we would go up the fish and game club’s rifle range and shoot high power rifles. DCM supplied M1 rounds and M1 carbines, plus shells and targets. This was one of the best programs to come down the pike. Again parents were allowed to shoot also. What matches we had.

As the years went by, the antis got into it and DCM was forced to cancel their wonderful programs. The rifles were ordered back as was all of the equipment. John Hollister and several senior rifle club members built a rifle range on Hollister Road and the first item they did was start up a junior rifle club, all being donations of rifles, ammo, etc. To date, it is one of the best programs the kids have today.

Where am I going with this? Of all the thousands of kids we had over the years, yes, they came from Fair Haven, Granville, Fort Ann, etc., not one that I know of had any problems through their lifetimes with issues about guns.

Oh, yes some of them went the other way, no one is perfect but whatever some of the issues they had it was never with firearms.

I see lots of them today as grown-up men and women and many remember when they were youngsters down at the range. Thank god there were no was TV, Ipod, or videos then.

I’m pretty proud of the way many turned out. It’s too bad many of these same people will have their weapons taken away by a tragic incident like Sandy Hook. How do you prevent something like this from happening again? I certainly haven’t the answer. But if one of those teachers who when they were growing up knew how to handle firearms and had one in their possession, maybe it would have a made a difference. Taking away all firearms is not the answer.

Got carried away with this one.





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