Sarasota Sportsmens Association’s Youth Expo a success

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National Skeet Shooting Association-certified instructor Dennis Bosch coaches eleven year old Micah Rademacher on the proper fundamentals of trap shooting. Micah, who had never fired a shotgun before Saturday learned to appreciate the sport. Sarasota Sportsmens Association one day Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight"s Trail range complex that featured four learning stations: trap shooting, BB-gun marksmanship, archery and turkey call 101. May 11, 2013 Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

National Skeet Shooting Association-certified instructor Dennis Bosch coaches eleven year old Micah Rademacher on the proper fundamentals of trap shooting. Micah, who had never fired a shotgun before Saturday learned to appreciate the sport. Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The smiles on the young faces said it all.

Sarasota Sportsmens Association’s annual Youth Expo, held Saturday at Knight’s Trail was a resounding success.

The SSA’s mission is to “insure that our children will be able to enjoy fishing, hunting and outdoor natural resources in the future.”

On Saturday, they got their point across in a fun way.

The 40-plus kids that attended had a great time.

Here’s the story I wrote for the newspaper, and a link to Carla’s photo gallery.

There were three reasons for the event’s success: the largesse of the donors, the hard work of the SSA volunteers, and the high quality of the instructors.

Denis Bosch, NRA, NSSA and ATA-certified trap/skeet instructor was one of the finest

Don Jackson, Lekatchka Archery Club instructor, coaches ten year old Mary Jane Fortenberry on basic archery fundamentals as she releases her arrow at Sarasota Sportsmens Association"s Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight"s Trail range complex. The event featured four learning stations: trap shooting, BB-gun marksmanship, archery and turkey call 101. May 11, 2013 Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

Don Jackson, Lekatchka Archery Club instructor, coaches ten year old Mary Jane Fortenberry on basic archery fundamentals as she releases her arrow at Sarasota Sportsmens Association”s Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight”s Trail range complex. Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

wing-shooting coaches I’ve ever seen.

Bosch has this way about him, a casualness around kids that’s non-threatening but very professional. He keeps it safe and fun. He’s been coaching for more than a dozen years. He took brand new shooters, many of whom had never even fired a .22, and had them busting clay after a couple rounds.

Likewise Don Jackson and Jim Adam, archery masters from Lekatchka Archery Club, where an annual membership is only $50.

Adam told me he hasn’t picked up a gun in years. He shoots geese with a bow – from the air – with flu-flu arrows. True Zen, that. Once that becomes boring, I’m sure he’ll take to stalking grizzly with a handful of dry leaves.

Mike Cash, a former military firearms instructor, and Rick Martin, led the BB-gun course, which consisted of clay pigeons on plywood. Reactive targets are the way to go, especially for new shooters. There’s nothing better.

Their one-on-one instruction kept it fun and safe.

Keith Pittenger taught the kids how to make a turkey tote, and how to use a slate call. Then each of the kids got a new slate call to take home, for free.

A few years ago, they gave away crow calls.

“We won’t do that again,” Pittenger said.

In case you don’t know, the Sarasota Sportsmens Association is hyper-local.

An empty shells ejects as Alyssa Martin, 15 of Venice, shoots trap at Sarasota Sportsmens Association"s Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight"s Trail range complex. The event featured four learning stations: trap shooting, BB-gun marksmanship, archery and turkey call 101. May 11, 2013 Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

An empty shells ejects as Alyssa Martin, 15 of Venice, shoots trap at Sarasota Sportsmens Association”s Youth Expo. Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

All the funds they raise go to local projects. Nothing is sent off to a national organization.

The group has created an artificial reef of the Venice inlet. It’s a boon to fishing and scuba diving. It also adds vital habitat.

It’s a great project, but the SSA’s primary mission is youth education.

They have given away more than $20,000 in scholarships, using funds raised primarily through Spring and Fall banquets.

It’s hard to believe they can be so active, succeeding at so many viable projects without one paid staffer.

Everyone at the nonprofit is an unpaid volunteer.

For more information about the Sarasota Sportsmen Association, visit their website or call Keith Pittenger at (941) 366-4450.

Sarasota Sportsmens Association held a one day Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight"s Trail range complex that featured four learning stations: trap shooting, BB-gun marksmanship, archery and turkey call 101. May 11, 2013 Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

Sarasota Sportsmens Association held a one day Youth Expo on Saturday at Knight”s Trail range complex. Photo by Carla Varisco-Williams

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

1 Comment

  1. Im from Minnesota and have beed a gun safety instructor for 10+ years. Is there room for more gun safety instructors here? I live in Bradenton in the Mill Creek division off state rd 64. Im 62 years old with a squeaky clean record. I am new to the Florida Laws and all but willing to help out. Thank you Dan Eli

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