YARMOUTH, N.S. – The Scotia Sportsmen’s Association hopes to get more people interested in the sport of target shooting.
The club has an indoor range at 97 Forest St. in Yarmouth where they will teach and guide new shooters. The emphasis is on safety and fun.
“We’re very safety conscious, that’s the number one thing, but also to enjoy it and share it with more people,” explains Peter Wright, one of the club’s directors. “We’re trying to get more use out of the club and expose it to people. It’s a fun sport, kind of addictive, and we have had nothing but good response from the people who have tried it.”
On April 3, the club held a monthly ladies night, as it hopes to attract more women to the sport of target shooting. Years ago these nights were very popular and the club is looking to rebuild interest.
Samantha LeBlanc, one of the women who came out, had done target shooting here before but said it was about a year ago.
“It’s a good outing,” she said, explaining her first outing was to try something new. As she progressed, she said, the distances to the targets increased.
Deborah Duke was a newcomer to the sport of target shooting when she came out for ladies night. “I was surprised it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” she said. Asked why she decided to give it a try, she said, “I’ve always enjoyed shooting at midways. It’s a fun pastime. It’s a way to develop a skill, it builds confidence and it was a great way to socialize.”
Safety is paramount at the club. Before anyone was taken into the range – both newcomers and returnees – they were given instruction on firearm usage and safety from Eric Arsenault, a member of the club. Inside the range each participant also had a coach to guide them along the way.
“The guides, we’re well trained and we’re here to help you so you’re going to shoot safely and you’re going to have fun,” Arsenault said.
But he also stressed three important things:
• Always keep the gun pointed downrange when handling it and always treat it as if it is loaded.
• Don’t put your finger in the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.
• And he gave instruction on how to hold the firearms properly with a firm, two-handed grip.
The club has about 130 members (but you don’t have to be a member to come out). In the shooting range there are 10 lanes with targets. Some nights it’s full, says Peter Wright, other nights there’s only a few shooters.
The club has been around since the 1970s. Wright says there used to be a lot of shooting competitions, but that seemed to lag off around the time of the gun registry.
The club has been making improvements to its location as well, updating its kitchen and flooring and installing a heat pump.
Simone Pothier, a director of the club, says the goal is to get more people using the facility, both for target shooting or for other events. She says there are many groups and organizations that come out – Boy Scouts, businesses, RCMP, fisheries officers, etc. – and they’d love to see more.
Wright notes that every Monday night is a supervised open shoot night for people who want to fire a pistol or rifle. He says the majority of communication about their events is done through their Scotia Sportsmen’s Association and Indoor Range page on Facebook.
Jennifer Cunningham, another one who came out for ladies night, is no stranger to firearms, saying her father had them when they were growing up and they always knew to respect and never touch them. She’s come out before to do target shooting at the club and says it is a fun activity. She also feels it is a good opportunity for young people who may be pursuing careers where firearm knowledge will be required to come and get comfortable with shooting. That worked well for her son, she said.
A sign on a wall at the club lists various uses of the club, one of which reads weddings.
“Do you have weddings here?” they’re asked by this reporter.
“We got an engagement out of it,” says Pothier, as Cunningham explains she had brought a friend out to try out shooting. Her friend met a man who she dated and became engaged to.
“I had asked her, do you want to go to ladies night and she said I’m not into the bar scene and I said, no, at the gun range,” laughs Cunningham.
GUN SHOW AND SALE
An upcoming fundraiser for the Scotia Sportsmen’s Association is their second annual gun show and sale happening at the club house at 97 Forest St.
The dates and times of the show are Friday, April 20, 3 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For general inquires or to rent a table contact Kevin Gavel at 902-837-8295 or Peter Wright at 902-649-3192.
NOTE: There will be no shooting at the indoor range until Monday April 23 due to set and the running of the gun show