I attended the League of Kentucky Sportsman’s Fifth District Youth-Fest at Lloyd’s Wildlife Management Area with my nephew, Broghan. Every year the Fifth District holds this event to introduce kids to hunting and fishing. I wanted to make sure I got Broghan involved since he’s at that pre-teen age to see if it was something he liked before he got much older. Since I came into hunting later in life, around 25 or so, I thought it would be great for him to experience it now. Like most soon to be teenagers, he pretty much concerns himself with sports and video games, but I think this expanded his interests for sure. He has mentioned that he wants to shoot with me more often, which I’ll probably do with him at my gun club.
The day started pleasantly with us arriving at Lloyd’s around 8:30 in the morning. We quickly met all of the volunteers there and a few other nice people who were attending as well. They had provided breakfast for us, and even though we had ate, we grabbed a few snacks. After kicking off the event with the pledge of allegiance, they broke us off into 4 groups. My group started with archery.
Broghan took to archery almost immediately. Some volunteers there from the local archery club commented on how well he took instruction and how well he shot. Broghan is a big strong boy, and nose tackle for his football team, so he has the strength to pull back the bow and stick the target. I was pretty impressed.
It was from here though where things got a little hairy. Unfortunately one of the volunteers went into cardiac arrest and I had to start CPR. Luckily some conservation officers were close by and were able to take over while I cleared the kids out of the area, had them say a prayer, and took them out of the way and back to the lake to fish. I have heard that he is in better condition so I’m glad things worked out. Notably, my nephew watched me during the whole ordeal and is evidently still impressed, so I got to be a hero in his eyes for a day.
After the adrenaline wore out we settled into fishing at Leary Lake. My club, the Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers, was volunteering time there to help kids with hooks, bobbers, and had supplied the fishing rods. It was fun seeing them and watching the kids cast out into the water. Some try desperately to fling it across the lake, while others get it wrapped around themselves. Luckily the NKFF volunteers were there to help out so nobody got hurt. We didn’t catch anything unfortunately although we had a few small bites. After an hour or so we left and went back to the lodge house for lunch.
Lunch was great and Broghan and I saw how many hot dogs we could eat. Afterwards we went to the rifle range where Broghan shot 22s and a blackpowder rifle that he really, really liked. My view of shooting is that you tend to like 1 of 3 variants of the sport. The first are the long range shooters who like rifles and scopes and go for distance. I tend to fall into this category and I think Broghan does too. The second category are the tactical shooters, who like the ARs and have a few pistols and burn through lots of ammo. They tend to want to see how fast they can unload a clip. I don’t fall into this category much, it’s just too expensive. The third are the trap shooters, which is a world of its own from what I’ve experienced. I do trap shoot, but I’m not one of those guys who blows through 200 shells every meet. I’m lucky if I get through 50.
From the rifle range we moved over to the trap range where Broghan seemed to enjoy it, probably not as much as the rifle shooting, but he mentally stood in the game and tried hard to break clays. He got a few on the backside of the round, so he was definitely learning and improving. Once that was over, we went back to the lodge where they gave away a ton of gifts via a raffle for the kids. Everyone walked out with something. Some got BB guns, fishing rods, flashlights, you name it, they had it.
I think what I’ve learned most, and goes in line with what Ron K, a big supporter of the Fifth District and youth shooting told me, is that not every kid needs to be a jock. I believe that in today’s world the preferred recipe for building character in kids is sports, sports, and sports. There’s nothing wrong with that but sometimes I wonder if we’re missing something. What about the kids who don’t play sports, what are we teaching them? Are we just letting them rot themselves away in front of the TV? Or what about kids that do play sports, are we teaching them how to be good people? Could they benefit from learning about the outdoor as well? You better believe it!
I fervently believe that the outdoors is a good place to get young people involved. One of the biggest benefits is that they can learn how to be good at something. Shooting offers immediate feedback, either you hit the target or you miss, and kids who want to get better learn how to refine their technique. This leads to them being more patient, paying more attention, and listening to others. Those are not bad things. Plus, it gives them something they can spend their lives enjoying. That’s not a bad thing either.
I encourage anyone with young kids to get them out and show them the outdoors. Whether it be shooting, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, or whatever. It’s important they get outside and away from that television so their little brains working. Once they start taking in the sites and sounds they start thinking more. Even something as simple as camping, where they can learn all the little skills from building a fire, making dinner outside, reading the instruction on how to properly put up a particular model of a tent, gets them thinking. And in today’s day and age, that’s not a bad thing either.