Eight years ago, Jim Samlow wanted to find a place for his daughters to learn to shoot, so he and a friend put their heads together and started the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club’s Kids Winter League.
From those humble beginnings — there were just 15 kids in that inaugural class — the youth league has grown in leaps and bounds.
On Saturday, at the year-end banquet, the more than 100 youngsters who took part in this year’s NORGC Winter Youth League were honored.
The league involves everything from BB guns to archery to trap and skeet.
“It starts the first Saturday in January and lasts 10 weeks,” said Samlow, who’s still directly involved in the program. “The big thing we focus on is safety.
“I have some kids who were here when they started to shoot trap and I’d hand them one bullet at a time. Now they’re out there and I shoot a round with them.
“Eight years later, some of these kids have gone from not knowing how to shoot a BB gun to hitting an 8x8 (inch) target and shooting arrows to within four inches.”
Samlow has seen three daughters go through the program, including 15-year-old Brooklyn, who competed trap and archery in this, her eighth year.
“I like helping the kids, and I like trying to beat my sisters at trap,” Brooklyn said with a laugh.
She almost reached that goal, finishing just three points behind 20-year-old Katie. Hannah, 16, also competes.
Brooklyn has taken the skills she’s learned at the NORGC and put them to work in the field.
“This is the first year I bow hunted and gun hunted,” she said. “We went out two days before opening day and saw a nice 6-point about 20 yards away. Then we didn’t see anything the rest of the way.”
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