A group of Colorado middle schoolers was given what is becoming a rare opportunity to handle and fire guns as part of a classroom-taught gun safety program with help from the NRA and Project Appleseed. As part of the program, the students were also given a history lesson on firearms in the U.S. and why we have them.
“We’re teaching them about the firearms so they are familiar with them, they can be safe with them,” said the program’s coordinator Jim Heath to KOAA news. “I think that it’s better for them to have a respect for it [and] know how to handle it,” Heath said. “Not that they should, but that they are aware about the firearm. It’s not, ‘Oh, what’s this? What can we do with this?'”
The firearms safety program was held at Craver Middle School in Colorado City, Colo.
Heath is a Project Appleseed volunteer and state-level event coordinator. An outgrowth of the Revolutionary War Veteran’s Association, Project Appleseed teaches shooters of all ages traditional marksmanship through multiple-day workshops across the country. The middle schoolers were given a day in firearms history and safety instruction then treated to a two-day shooting event.
“We are teaching them how to hold and aim the rifle, how to fire a shot correctly, how to be safe in their handling and how to think about what they’re doing so they can tell they’re doing it right and know they’re being safe,” said Appleseed instructor Pete Lessler to KOAA at the shoot. Lessler stressed that above all Appleseed is focused on safety.
Many students were excited about the program, although not all were new to shooting. “I feel OK, because I’ve been shooting a lot when I was younger with my parents,” said 8th-grader Courtney Proctor.
“I think it’s pretty cool, it’s something that you don’t get to see everyday. It’s something that you just get to come in and say ‘Wow, look at all these just nice, awesome firearms,'” said 7th-grader Tristin Baker. “You should never be afraid of a gun, never, ever.”
“You should have confidence around the guns, you should say, ‘this is a gun, we’ve gotta be careful with them,'” said Baker, adding “It’s kind of hard but pretty easy as long as you know what you’re doing.”
Several parents attended the Appleseed event to watch their kids shoot. “It is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of kids,” said one mom, Brandi McKinney. “I’m actually very excited, we are new to the area so this is kind of new but our son is very, very interested and I’m actually very encouraged that the school has decided to teach these kids how to do this type of stuff.”
McKinney admitted that she was a little apprehensive about the event, but knew that it was essential for kids to learn gun handling and safety, saying “Knowledge is important, and for the kids to be able to learn how to properly deal with them is definitely important.”
Of course, you don’t have to be a kid attending Craver Middle School to attend an Appleseed event on your own. For more information about the program and its history visit the Project Appleseed website and see if they have an upcoming shoot near you.