Youth Trap Shooting

Thirteen-year-old Shaeffer Smolko and 11-year-old Sunny Scruggs play a sport, like many other kids their age.

"Whenever I come out here, it kind of clears my head," Smolko said.

Scruggs adds,"All the worries go away for that one hour."

The only difference for the pair - while most kids play football, basketball or soccer, they're shooting shotguns.

The two kids are part of a Youth Trap Shooting Certification Course provided by Wichita County 4-H and the Northwest Texas Field & Stream Association. The course runs for seven weeks for boys and girls ages 8 to 18. More than 20 kids receive one-on-one, hands-on training about gun safety and proper techniques every Tuesday and Thursday.

"Once the kids leave here, they know how to respect a shotgun, how to handle it safely," 4-H Trap Shooting Coordinator Lonnie Culley said.

But maybe most importantly, as 4-H Wichita County Extension Agent Maranda Revell says, the course provides a different outlet for kids with different needs.

"Some of them are not excited about playing team sports," she said.

Both Smolko and Scruggs grew up around guns; for the pair, it's just as common as growing up playing catch. Both are participating in their first class, and both hope to compete in the future.

And, both have improved, like most of the kids who've participated in the course.

"That first day when they come in and they go through the safety class, they all look scared. They don't know what they're doing. Some of them have never handled a gun before," Revell said. "Now, we're almost at the end of the course, and they have no problem telling you which gun is their favorite, why, what each part is, parts of the shell, parts of the pigeon. They know exactly what they're doing, and they'll tell you how to do it."

This year's class concludes with graduation Thursday, March 22nd.

To learn more about the Youth Trap Shooting Course, please contact Northwest the Texas Field & Stream Association at (940) 692-1141 or the Wichita County 4-H Extension Office at (940) 716-8610.