Teaching youth that weapons such as a bow, rifle and slingshot are not toys is a top priority for the Oceola Fish and Game Club.
The organization held a youth day event today (Sept. 30), which had 18 young adults learn safety skills and how to properly handle the equipment.
For Julia Day, 11, firing arrows into the side of a deer-shaped target is “fun.”
Day enjoyed learning about the bow and arrow and said her younger sister might follow in her footsteps when she’s old enough.
The youth events are held every few months and the club also hosts day camps in the summer.
Sam Badminton, co-chair of the youth programs, said it’s about teaching the kids the proper skills as they’re the future of conservation and need to learn proper techniques.
“If we don’t raise these kids with knowledge of conversation and habitats, who’s going to take care of our streams, wildlife and respect our nature? Which is why we try and get the kids outdoors as much as possible,” she said.
Her two sons have been through the program and are now instructors.
“I find our youth listen better and respect our older youth, so it’s nice they come back and volunteer.”
The youth, ages nine to 12, got a taste of a variety of outdoor sports, including learning how to shoot a bow, to handle a .22 rifle and slingshot.
“Then they grow up with rules and safety and the respect… we use these for various reasons, for hunting purposes that they’re not toys,” said Badminton.
The Fish and Game Club is a non-profit organization of hunters and anglers who aim to protect the environment.