Fort Stewart youths, ages 10-16, are invited to sign up for a shotgun-orientation class from 8 a.m-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at Holbrook Outdoor Recreation Center
According to Outdoor Recreation Manager Susan Chipple at Stewart’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, interested youths must register at the Outdoor Recreation Center, building 8325, or the Shooting Sports Office, building 8323, by Jan. 10. The cost is $30 per youth.
Chipple said 20-gauge shotguns and ammunition will be provided. Students also are allowed to bring their own 20-gauge shotgun, she said. The class will focus on firearm safety with an emphasis on shotguns. The classroom portion of the course will be followed by an opportunity to shoot a shotgun at the Skeet and Trap Range, she said.
“We’ve had one other class like this for youths,” Chipple said. “This class is designed for a maximum of 15 students, so the first 15 to sign up will be allowed to take the class. We will continue to give this class periodically.”
She said the lead instructor for the class is certified by the National Rifle Association. Although the class will give a thorough overview of weapon safety, she admitted the class does not meet the standards required by the Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s Hunter Education Course.
Nonetheless, she said the course would introduce youths to the exciting sport of target shooting and could lead them to the lifelong sport of hunting.
According to the Georgia DNR, residents and nonresidents born after Jan. 1, 1961 are required to take the Hunter Safety Course before they can buy a hunting license. The website notes that youths under age 12 can hunt without the course with a licensed adult hunter. Chipple added an approved state hunter-education course is required to purchase a hunting permit at Fort Stewart or Hunter Army, regardless the hunter’s age.
She said the Outdoor Recreation Center staff hopes to eventually expand the orientation class to include adults and other types of hunting firearms. Because such classes are MWR events and therefore operate on non-appropriated funds, Chipple explained that each event must pay for itself. She said the $30 registration fee pays for the materials, time and labor to teach the class. Other outdoor events can generate revenue while some depend on corporate and community sponsorships.
“(Despite federal government cutbacks), we have not seen cuts in fishing events,” Chipple said. “Our bass tournaments are actually revenue-generators. We even added one more tournament this year. Kids fishing events depend on contributions from corporations and the community. We try to have at least one kids’ fishing derby each year at Stewart and one at Hunter (Army Airfield).”
She said the cost to stock a pond with 2,000 pounds of catfish for a kids’ fishing event ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. She reiterated there must be enough sponsors to support a kids’ fishing event, including the cost for the fish.
Chipple also noted a managed deer/wild hog hunt is slated for Saturday on Fort Stewart. Soldiers and military retirees bought raffle tickets for a drawing in which 50 hunters were selected. Ninety percent of the hunters are active-duty soldiers, and 10 percent are retirees.
“We do one or two managed deer and hog hunts a year,” Chipple said. “They say there is a large population of wild hogs in some areas the public doesn’t normally hunt. We’d like to one day do a hunt in some of these areas.”
For more information about the youth shotgun orientation class, call 435-8205 or 435-9303. For information about Fort Stewart’s outdoor recreation opportunities and shooting sports, call 767-4316.