Headline: Mom hits bullseye with kids’ gun sports

Recently, Fremont's News-Messenger published an excellent article documenting the hard work one mom has put in to make sure that her kids (and many others) can enjoy the shooting sports.

From the article:

When Mary Ann Miller’s children became interested in 4-H shooting sports several years ago, the closest shooting club was in Ottawa County. Miller, of Fremont, talked with the local extension office about starting a group in Sandusky County and was told she would need to find a shooting sports coordinator.

So she did: herself.

In 2009, Miller formed Sandusky County 4-H Shooting Sports, which welcomes 4-H members from all over the area. She also created, and became the adviser for, Target Masters 4-H Club.

Since then, Miller has invested countless volunteer hours into building 4-H Shooting Sports of Sandusky County. She has recruited volunteer instructors, obtained thousands of dollars in grant money, acquired a large amount of equipment, and expanded the program to include rifle, shotgun, pistol, archery, muzzleloading, living history and hunting.

According to the article, what started with her and a handful of members has grown into a program that includes 133 kids and 21 instructors.

“We got a group together, and we all went to training. We literally started with a notebook and some paper,” Miller said. “We didn’t have anything. We had no equipment. I started asking questions, writing letters and asking for donations.”

Since the group’s formation in 2009, Miller has raised more than $84,000.

“The first year, we received $50 checks and $100 checks. Now we receive $7,000 grants and $14,000 grants,” she said. “We started with a few borrowed arrows, and now we have a trailer full of equipment.”

Miller told the News-Messenger that sparking interest in shooting sports is a main goal of the program, so much so that she tries to find ways to include adults as well.

Miller is quoted as saying “We try to branch out, to educate everyone in Sandusky County, even adults. We don’t want only 9 to 18-year-olds to benefit from the program.”

One way to accomplish that goal is through the Family Field & Stream Adventure that will take place on Sept. 26 at the 4-County Conservation League in Bellevue. The event will be hosted by Sandusky County 4-H Shooting Sports and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Families are invited to try fishing, shooting and archery for free, and participants can enter a drawing to win one of 50 guided pheasant hunts at WR Hunt Club in Clyde. The event is geared toward adults and kids with little or no experience in the shooting sports.

Later this month, members of Sandusky County 4-H Shooting Sports will enter about 150 projects in the Sandusky County Fair. For the first time, the group will bring an archery trailer so fairgoers can try their hand at archery for free.

Since forming the group in 2009, the article notes that Miller has built one of the largest shooting programs in the state and brought the joy of shooting sports to hundreds of local kids. That is quite an accomplishment for someone who never shot a gun until college.

“I took a rifle class as an elective at Ohio State University and fell in love with it. I got a rifle as a graduation gift,” she said.

Ironically, that passion for shooting has taken her down a road that allows little time behind the barrel. She is so busy with the paperwork required to run the group and apply for grants that she rarely shoots a gun anymore.

“I love to shoot, but I never shoot. I’m always doing paperwork," Miller is quoted as saying. "I’m just in it for the kids.”

Bravo Mrs. Miller!

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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