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Wild Turkey Federation boasts shooting education range

By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer

CENTREVILLE, MI -- The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has been on the move this year with recruitment efforts that have included close to 170 events. One of the visits was to the St. Joseph County Grange Fair in Centreville, MI. A presentation was given along with the opportunity to appreciate the mobile shooting education range.

“We have been to state parks and presented programs at fairs and trade shows,” Steve Sharp said. Sharp is currently working as a Hunter Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) Coordinator. “There are a lot of volunteers who help us at these events.”

The organization exposes the public to outdoor activities and the variety of benefits that accompany this type of exercise. They are also concerned about the current turkey population which has been showing signs of trouble with a decrease of 15 percent. Through their efforts, they are concentrating on slowing the loss of wildlife habitats and encouraging hunters.

One of the ways that the group is trying to build the community of hunters is by offering the mobile shooting education range. The unit is set up as an inflatable and easily transferred to the events. The experienced marksmen work with beginners, instructing them in gun safety and marksmanship skills. On the side of the range is a list of ten shooting safety rules. The young hunter is expected to know and understand the reason behind each of the rules.

The shooter is allowed to sit in a booth with a netted slit in front of them to shoot through as they aim the BB gun toward a target. Naturally the bull’s eye features a turkey and the young person receives points for how well they shoot. That said, young people are not the only ones who are benefitting from the extra initiatives sponsored by the NWTF.

“Mentor hunts are a training program that we have,” Sharp said. “Parents are being trained as well as they come along with the children.” Another program they have is a local Learn to Hunt Day.

Thanks to the support of Daisy Outdoor Products, the NWTF has been encouraging hunters young and old to continue to enjoy the sport of hunting.