Women take aim for "Shooting 101" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Women take aim for "Shooting 101"

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A growing number of women are picking up a traditionally male sport. According to a 2005 survey from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, female participation in shotgun sports is up more than a tenth from 1997 to 2004. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports more than one million women called themselves hunters in 2006. However, women still accounted for less than ten percent of all hunters.

A weekend class aimed to remove some of the fear people have over firearms. The Hartman Reserve Nature Center offered basic instruction and practice in a new course -- Shooting 101.

"I'm an urban girl. I live and work in Waterloo," said student Sindee Kleckner.

Kleckner is not what you would call, a trained markswoman. But then again, that's why she signed up for the Sunday morning class.

"I happened to see this online, and I thought -- really? They're just going to teach me how to use a gun and let me practice with one?" she commented.

That's exactly what instructor Chelsie Thompson did, in a safe, controlled environment.

"It just comes down to the knowledge. If people know how to use the equipment, the fear of firearms goes down. I know BB guns aren't very loud, have no recoil, but it's a start," said Thompson.

Thompson got her start behind a barrel at the wise old age of five years old.

"By the time I was eleven, I was shooting a muzzleloader," Thompson noted.

And by the time she hit high school, Thompson was a national champ. Quite a feat for a young girl in a sport dominated by men.

"At nationals, there was only five girls in the nation that were shooting, and a girl won, and I placed third," she explained.

Thompson doesn't expect that caliber of performance from her trainees -- at least not today. But the hope is, armed with a little knowledge, a few more women will take aim again in the future.

Kleckner said now that she can cross "shooting" off her list of things to learn, she's ready for more. She wants to try trapshooting, and asked Thompson to offer an archery class at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center.

To check out upcoming courses, including "How to take a kid fishing" and a "Frog and Toad Hunt", click here.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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