By Rachel Jackson, THE BAYONETOctober 30, 2009
Fort Benning, Ga. - Around 100 children gathered at Hook Range Saturday to shoot shotguns, archery, BB guns and watch a hunting dog demonstration and shotgun demonstration by 2008 Olympic gold medalist SPC Vincent Hancock as part of Youth Sportsman Day.
The annual event, sponsored by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, was hosted by Outdoor Recreation and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.
"We want to put today's youth in touch with today's Army and this event is a way to do that," said SFC Bill Keever, who is a double trap team leader with USAMU. "Some kids are new to these sports, but all of them are excited. Half of them have never shot a shotgun. I really enjoy seeing the excitement on the kids' faces - it's priceless."
After lunch, which was provided by Outdoor Recreation, children gathered to watch Hancock's shotgun demonstration. After telling the kids not to try it at home, Hancock wowed the crowd with shooting clay discs in mid-air with the shotgun over his head, behind his back and under his legs. Hancock made "salad" for the crowd. His targets - lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber and cabbage - disintegrated as he shot each one. And for dessert, it was apples, oranges and grapes. To end the show, Hancock shot a can of shaving cream that was tossed in the air.
"That show was awesome," said 10-year-old Kaeleib Patterson, who attended for the third year. "I have never seen anyone throw targets in the air and shoot them really fast. My favorite part was when he shot over his head and under his legs without looking through the site."
"I like Youth Sportsman Day," he said. "A lot of kids can have fun here, and shoot guns if they haven't shot before."
After the shotgun demonstration, Hancock and Olympic gold medalist SPC Glenn Eller signed autographs.
"I've never met an Olympian before," said 7-year-old Bictor Gurrero. "It was pretty cool getting to meet them."
Bictor said he enjoyed shooting a BB gun for the first time because he liked shooting the targets.
Tanya Williams, who was at the event with her children, Jazmyne, 8, and Kalyb, 5, said the day was for the children to have fun but learn too.
"It's a good opportunity for my kids to try some things we would never normally let them do," she said. "This is an educational way for them to learn about shooting and archery and learn the dangers too."