Teenager with gun…

Teenager with gun…

When most people read this headline, they would expect the following story to be about injury, death and loss. They may also be prepared to bemoan the Young Offenders Act and its ineffectiveness at controlling young members of our community. This is a very different story.

Leandra is a 17-year-old high school student in Lethbridge. She is a very nice young lady. She is not the top of her class academically. She is not allowed to participate in the highly competitive sports activities at her school because she didn’t make the “cut”. Leandra is a very nice young lady who is now actively involved in the safe, responsible use of guns.

Leandra and her parents have taken a firearm safety course called the “Black Badge” course. This course is specifically designed for teaching people to shoot International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) matches. The course is intense and for safety’s sake the format is very rigid. However, once the safety and responsible use aspects are adopted fully, participating is all just fun and exciting!

Leandra, and her parents, now enjoy participating in IPSC matches. There are no “cuts” in shooting. Everyone can participate and compete to the level of their ability. From a competitive aspect, Leandra is really competing against herself. On the firing line, from a responsibility aspect, she is equal to every other participant. No titles, (Doctor, lawyer, etc) have any use or validity at the shooting range.

A firearm is often thought of as an implement of destruction, which can only render heartache, injury and death. In Leandra’s case, her firearm is a tool to personal development, responsibility, growth and fun.

As an added bonus, her high school is willing to give her credit towards her high-school diploma for participating and successfully mastering the safe, responsible use of firearms. Perhaps this is the sort of proactive approach which would eliminate those negative stories of inappropriate firearm use.

All Alberta high schools allow students to apply for special credits. If the course of studies meets the high school’s criteria, the student receives five credits towards her high school diploma. In Leandra’s case, her proposal was as follows;

Instruction in the safe use of a handgun during practices held once a week. This includes the setting up of a course of fire, scoring and the practice of improving her marksmanship. Time commitment – Approximately 50 hours.

The Successful completion of the IPSC Black Badge Course. Time commitment – Approximately 20 hours.

The successful completion of both non-restricted and restricted Canadian Firearms Safety Courses. Time commitment – Approximately 14 hours.

The hosting of the IPSC booth at the Firearms trade show held Feb. 14 and 15, 2004 in Lethbridge. Time commitment – Approximately 12 hours.

Instruction on reloading ammunition, firearm care and firearm maintenance. Time commitment – Approximately 5 hours.

Participating in 3 IPSC qualifier matches: March 7, 2004 at the Shooting Edge in Calgary, April 4, 2004 at Phoenix Range in Edmonton and May 1 and 2, 2004 at the Lethbridge Fish and Game range In Lethbridge. Time commitment – Approximately 24 hours.

The Documenting of her progress by use of still photos and video. Time commitment – Approximately 3 hours

Three shooting groups assisted Leandra in achieving her extra high school credits and in her education of how to use firearms safely. One individual in particular, Walter Hornby, Section Coordinator of IPSC Alberta, played the key role in bringing the “Aiming for Credits” program to reality. Thank-you Walter! IPSC Alberta, Chinook Country Shooters Club and Southern Alberta Firearms Education Society (SAFE Society) are interested in helping more people like Leandra adopt safe and responsible practices and attitudes about firearms.

We encourage other shooting clubs to follow this format with their younger members. Although this program was successfully achieved through training, instruction and use of a pistol, there is no reason why shotgun or rifle clubs couldn’t achieve the same result.

For more information contact Allan Friesen, President of SAFE Society www.safesociety.info by e-mail at alfriesen@gmail.com or by calling 403-320-5860 (home) or 403-382-3593 (business).

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