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DeWinton hunters ed range invites public to try shooting sports

The Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association will give beginners and newcomers to try the sport safely at its annual Youth/Novice Fall Shoot on Sept. 25
NEWS-Fall Novice Shoot BWC 9878 web
Kristyn Yopyk takes aim under the guidance of instructor Bob Gruszecki at the Youth/Novice Fall Shoot at the Calgary Firearms Centre in 2017. The educational shooting event was operated by the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors' Association and Pheasants Forever.

Those curious about hunting and target shooting will be able to take a shot at the sport next weekend.

The Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association is hosting its annual Youth/Novice Fall Shoot on Sept. 25 at its Calgary Firearms Centre facility north of Okotoks near DeWinton to give beginners and newcomers a chance to try the sport safely.

“It’s for anyone interested in finding out what other activities they can do outdoors,” said David Dolph, executive director of AHEIA, a non-profit organization dedicated to hunting and conservation education.

“It's for anyone who’s interested in coming and finding out if they want to experience shooting a gun, shooting a crossbow, or building a survival kit.”

The experience is intended to offer a safe environment, in which those aged 12 and up can participate and will be personally guided through the experience by trained shooting instructors.

“At every station where there is a shotgun or archery, we have certified instructors there to coach, help ensure safety, and make sure everything is running smoothly and properly,” Dolph added.

“People can come out, they’ll be able to talk to a certified instructor and get tips and pointers and feel safe doing it.”

The event, now in its 12th year, also marks the 15th annual Provincial Hunting Day.

“It’s to celebrate Alberta’s hunting heritage and the importance of securing a future for wildlife and wild places in our province,” said Dolph, who added the event is held in conjunction with habitat conservation organization Pheasants Forever.

Available to try at the range will be trap, skeet, and sporting clay shooting.

Trap shooting involves clay targets being launched from one spot away from the shooter, but in varying directions, where skeet shooting uses two opposing launchers that send the targets in a crisscrossing path.

Sporting clays, taking place on a natural area similar to a golf course, more closely simulates bird hunting with the clay discs being set up from brush to mimic birds taking flight.

“We also have hanging targets for little kids, with quite lightweight shotguns,” Dolph said.

The facility’s archery range will also be open to try, and Dolph added a long-sleeved shirt is recommended for those interested in trying their hand at a bow, as the strings can sometimes catch the wrist.

While visitors should dress for the weather, AHEIA will provide the safety equipment for the day, including hearing protection and eye protection, as well as a free lunch.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will go forward rain or shine, Dolph said, recalling the inclement weather of past years.

As 10 is the minimum age for hunting, that will be the minimum age for participation in the event, he added.

AHEIA is limiting the numbers to 100 people for the event due to COVID-19, and participants must pre-register by Sept. 15.

For more information or to register, go to

Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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