One night a week, the banquet room at Mason-Dixon American Legion Post 194 turns into a shooting range.
The hall becomes a training ground for young shooters who use air rifles rather than firearms.
That suits Destiny Trefethen just fine.
Trefethen, 14, has been shooting with the program for four years.
"Barry [Brown, the program's coordinator] told me about it when I took hunter's safety," she said. "It's fun and it teaches me how to shoot."
Most of the participants are girls, Brown said. On Tuesday night, October 28, the majority of the shooters were female. One even brought her own air rifle, complete with a pink stock.
The program is nearly two decades old, said founder Jim Richardson.
"I started it when I was still with the DNR [Department of Natural Resources] Police," Richardson said.'''
Originally a DNR outreach for children, it is now sponsored by the local legion post as part of their Americanism program.
"It's more than marksmanship," Richardson said. "We teach gun safety and, depending on the skill level and desire, also work on marksmanship."
That can lead to competitions with other children's teams.
"We have gone to Quarryville to compete and also to Salisbury. We also do postal matches," Richardson said. That type of competition allows participants to shoot at their own range. The finished targets are then mailed in to be scored and rated against a competing team.
The novice shooters use air rifles while the more experienced marksmen practice with guns that are powered by compressed CO2. All are .177 caliber and shoot pellets.
The targets are mounted on backstops, with a row of folded tables standing on end behind the backstops.
"That's in case we have a new shooter and one of the pellets gets past the backstop," Brown said.
The program runs all year, Brown said, and is open to children of school age.
"Most kids stay with it until they get their drivers' licenses, start dating, and get jobs. A few have stayed until they go to college and then they come back and help," Richardson said.
The American Legion and the Friends of the NRA provide all the materials, including air rifles, pellets, safety glasses, and targets.
"It's totally and completely free [for the children]," Richardson said. "We furnish everything."
It is held at the legion post, E. Main St., Rising Sun, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.
"Anyone who is interested should just show up on one of those nights," Brown said. "We encourage kids to come and try it and ask parents to come, at least on the first night, to see what we do,” he added.
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