PILOT MOUNTAIN — Members of the Pilot Mountain Shooters completed a successful fundraiser recently and now plan to use those funds to make hunter safety training available to more young people in the area.
According to group President Steve Bottoms, the Pilot Mountain Shooters are a North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission hunter safety team. The group received its non-profit status earlier this year and boasts 15 members ranging in age from 9 to 18.
Team members meet regularly, usually on Sunday afternoons, during a season which coincides with the school year. Meetings consist of book and field training in areas including firearm safety with .22-calbre rifles, sport clay shooting, archery, wildlife conservation and compass.
Four adult leaders with the team have been certified to teach the commission’s Hunter Safety Education program. After completing a prescribed course, team members receive certification in hunter education safety.
Youths also take part in several “scrimmages” throughout the team season in preparation for organized competition with other teams. The PM Shooters were one of some 66 teams taking part in the NCWRC district competition in March. Winning teams advance to state and national competitions.
“There are several teams in the area,” Bottoms said. “A lot of people still don’t know about this but it’s fast-growing. We’re doing this to help our community and as word spreads we’re seeing that it’s wanted and needed by a lot of people.”
Plans are under way for a team training course which youths will navigate in order to learn survival skills. According to Bottoms, kids will use a compass to find targets. Once the target is identified, participants will select the proper firearm or bow to shoot the target and gain points. Accumulated points will be used to earn food for the participant’s evening meal.
According to PM Shooters Treasurer Donna Marion, team membership is open to any school-age youth in the East Surry district that is old enough to safely handle a firearm and to pass a certification test.
“We’re about teaching kids hunter safety,” Bottoms explained. “We want them to know that a gun is not something to play with and, if a kid picks up a gun, we want them to know how to handle it whether it’s loaded or unloaded. We want them to be safe and responsible, to learn safety while they’re having fun.”
Team members gathered at Pilot Mountain Guns and Ammo Saturday to announce the winner of a drawing for a Remington 1100 Sporting 12-gauge shotgun. The winning name selected was John Purdy of Pilot Mountain.
Proceeds from the fundraiser, Bottoms said, will go toward the purchase of equipment and ammunition for team use.
“Some kids don’t have access to a gun or a bow and can’t afford ammunition,” team leader Shane Spencer said. “We want any kid to be able to take part. Some kids don’t get to be a part of some of the sports teams and we don’t want to turn anyone away. We’re here to be a help to the community, helping kids to learn about gun safety and to have fun learning.”
Bottoms voiced appreciation to all who participated in the fundraiser, including those who purchased tickets and team members and parents who sold tickets. Thanks also went out to Pilot Mountain Guns and Ammo, Red Oak Outfitters, Guns and Archery, Robby’s Sales, Tim Lemon of the NCWRC and all who supported the effort in any way.
Additional information about Pilot Mountain Shooters can be found on the team’s Facebook page or by calling Bottoms after 2 p.m. at 325-8981 or Spencer at 710-8153 after 5 p.m.
Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or [email protected]