WEST ALEXANDRIA — The Twin Valley Rod & Gun Club conducted its annual Youth Night outdoor event on Tuesday, July 19.
Dozens of families brought their youth to the event held for those aged 17 and under, to participate in shooting BB guns, shotguns in clay bird shooting, archery, and fishing pole casting in a safe environment.
These activities were under the close and professional supervision of club members who are all licensed instructors. In addition, conservation officers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources volunteered to participate.
This event has been held for as long as anyone in the TVR&G Club can remember, going back to the late 1970s. Its purpose is to expose area youth to the various outdoor sports and activities, along with exposure to nature and the importance of hunting — along with the preservation of nature while engaging in fishing, hunting and sport shooting.
Each of the four hosted activities offered prizes for kids who performed, including medals and certificates. Each station had at least two TVR&G club members to monitor and offer instruction, with assistance from DNR agents.
Floyd Weimer is the Rod & Club president.
“It’s been an event going on for decades,” Weimer said. “The club was here since 1935 and is still going strong. We make sure it’s done safely. We really stress safety first and foremost. We have CPR and hunter’s safety events held all year round, so we are not just about shooting and hunting.
“For hunter’s safety, the final examinations are held here,” Weimer explained, “So we do a lot here. We do this event to help kids learn how to shoot guns, bows and fishing. We feed them and give them prizes. Gun hunting and bowhunting is big here in Preble County. We are a rural county, so farming and hunting go hand-in-hand. There seems to be more and more bowhunters getting involved as time goes on. People hunt regardless if they bag any game or not — it’s just the joy of being outdoors and away from video games.”
Alice Forte has taken part in club events for many years.
“We are fortunate to have this every year,” she said. “I wish we could do it more, but the kids enjoy it very much. Just having people coming to the event is helpful for everyone. I bring my grandkids out here every year and they just have so much fun.”
Curtis Early, the vice president of the club, was in charge of teaching kids the fundamentals of fishing pole casting.
“The goal at this station was to cast a wooden bait into a tire lying on the ground facing up,” Early said. “They are learning how to cast, so when they go fishing, they know what’s going on. They learn safety on things like how to cast, how to hold the pole and how to reel the bait in. It’s not as popular as the guns are with the older kids, but it’s still fun.”
Some of the DNR employees were on hand to assist in the event. Chris Mangum, a young DNR member, helped at the fishing station.
“I’ve been in this position for about a year and a half, but about five years with the ODNR,” Mangum said. “We want to help the tradition of getting kids involved in outdoor field sports. Almost every conservation club does something like this in every county. We have three division employees here, including myself.”
“I like the work, but it’s a process,” Mangum said of working with the ODNR. “To be a DNR agent, one should take a bunch of science classes in high school to learn about nature. Volunteering is a very big thing in our organization — getting out and being exposed to a large amount of different skills. A college education helps refine your specific area in fishing or education for example. A four-year degree or more is pretty much required these days. Anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to get involved can do it.”
Harold Steiner, a club member, talked about the annual event and how the Ohio DNR’s help made this event happen.
“A lot of this was thanks in part of the Ohio DNR. We have two shotguns, a pair of .22-caliber rifles and the archery trailer all come from the state,” Steiner explained.
“The Division of Wildlife has what’s called the Conservation Grant. They like to fund activities in which the youth participate, and today’s event is exactly that. It’s not to make youth become proficient, but more of an introduction to the shooting sports. Some have already had experience and others have never had it before. We provide a safe environment for everyone.”
“The shooting tube belongs to the club,” Steiner said. “We used to allow trap shooting but the residents complained about us being too close to his property and rightfully so. But the residents agreed to allow one night per year for the youth to participate in this event. Without the help of the state, we probably wouldn’t be able to do this because we would have to come up with money on our own so we are very fortunate.”
The funding is from a competitive grant and there is a limited amount of money passed down from the government, according to Steiner. “This fund is not just for shooting clubs. The states get money from the federal government — the money comes through the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Pittman-Robertson Act is where anyone who buys field sports equipment — guns, archery, ammunition, fishing, etc. — all have an excise tax collected by the government. It is given back to the states, usually on a 75-25 ratio where the federal government gets roughly 75 percent and the rest goes to the states. Then the states allocate the money on a competitive basis as they see fit.”
Preble County Commissioner Chris Day was in attendance to help promote the event.
“It’s a great event to expose the children to safety and to outdoor sports,” Day said. “If you start them out at a young age, they learn to respect the equipment and how to appreciate the sports. This doesn’t costs anyone anything to come here, and it’s a great thing to see people come out.”
There are a large number of people who participate in field sports in Preble County. Anyone interested in starting out in hunting or other fields sports should contact the Twin Valley Rod & Gun Club for information on safety courses, awareness, and where to obtain proper equipment. They can be reached from the website at www.tvrgclub.org. Several important contacts also include Jeff Weimer, 937-833-6754 or firstname.lastname@example.org; President Floyd Weimer at 937-456-1184; Vice President Early at 937-839-4017, or Secretary Mike Weimer at 937-456-7120.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH