Crawford County has a rich history of being one of the best places in the country for harvesting various wild game. The Wisconsin DNR provides excellent hunter safety training to youth in the area as well, but is currently unable to provide hands-on marksmanship skills. The harvesting of animals and target practice can be enjoyable activities that people of all ages and abilities can safely participate in throughout their lifespan. Lonnie Achenbach, of Eastman, has been doing an excellent job coaching youth in the Crawford County 4-H Shooting Sports Project every spring for the past several years. Youth in the county have expressed a desire to participate in year-round target practice in addition to 4-H Shooting Sports. This desire will soon become a reality for Crawford County youths eight to 18. Youth in neighboring counties are also encouraged to check it out, but preference will be given to Crawford County residents.
Ron Hayden, a certified hunters safety instructor and owner of Broken Arrow Arms and Ammo of Soldiers Grove, has teamed up with Krista Heinz, owner of On Track Financial Coaching of Mt. Sterling to bring American Legion Junior Shooting Sports to Crawford County. American Legion Junior Shooting Sports will promote firearm safety, Americanism, marksmanship and serve as an extracurricular activity that promotes equality, self-esteem, and goal setting. Shooting sports is an activity that marksman/markswoman.
Shooting sports activities will consist of at least one practice most months, where accuracy is the goal and safety is the most important aspect. Competitions may also be entered and/or hosted, as feasible. This program is open to all boys and girls ages eight to 18. There is no American Legion or Sons of the American Legion membership status requirement. American Legion Junior Shooting Sports will be free of charge and all equipment and instruction will be provided. Youth are encouraged to participate with a positive attitude and safe firearm handling. Practices are tentatively going to begin in May and will be held at the old community building in downtown Gays Mills across from the Village Greenhouse. Space is limited, so sign up today.
The American Legion Junior Shooting Sports sponsored by the Soldiers Grove American Legion, Gays Mills American Legion, and through a National Rifle Association Foundation grant awarded to Krista Heinz.
Interested adult volunteers should contact Ron Hayden at 624-5419. Information for the Sons of the American Legion can contact Steve Meyer at 634-3782. Signing up for shooting sports or tax-deductible donations can contact Krista Heinz at 734-3037. Those interested in joining 4-H Shooting Sports may contact the Crawford County Extension office at 326-0223.
The Soldiers Grove American Legion meets the first Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. and the Gays Mills American Legion meets every second Tuesday at 7 p.m. and is always accepting new members.