As a lifetime resident of this state, I grew up with North Dakota's strong hunting heritage. I can still remember my first shotgun and shooting my first sharptailed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, goose and deer.
I remember my dad and grandfather giving me a few firearms safety lessons as they knew them. Walking the fields and prairie in the fall with one or both of them always yielded some darned good information for a young hunter, too. Those were wonderful days.
My dad enjoyed enjoyed shooting shotguns, rifles and handguns. Sometimes he'd take me to a shooting range where he would practice or participate in a competition. It was fun, especially watching and listening to all the shooters get together and discuss techniques and equipment. Even at a young age I was impressed with the camaraderie.
Today I remain an avid hunter and a shooting sports enthusiast and today I am even more impressed with others actively involved in shooting. I've come to know that shooting sports participants are some of the most friendly, knowledgeable and helpful people to be found anywhere. They are good company, always willing to share what they know about their sport.
Too often today, I think, all shooting sports participants are lumped in with those who commit crimes with firearms. It's not fair or just or right. The firearms enthusiasts that I know from organizations like the Minot Rifle and Pistol Club and the Minot Gun Club are universally appalled when firearms are misused, perhaps even more so than those who don't own a firearm.
I've spent enough time at the local indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, sometimes in the capacity as a Range Officer, to witness firsthand how newcomers to shooting are eager to learn the lessons of firearms safety and handling. Attitudes and perspective and awareness all change for the better. With the continuing increase in firearms sales, it is a good thing to see.
My hope is that more and more men, women and juniors will join local shooting clubs, where they'll have the opportunity to meet others who enjoy safely participating in the shooting sports. Minot has great opportunities and facilities for shooting and an abundance of individuals who are more than willing to welcome newcomers to the line.