What do you get when you cross 105 girls and their parents with a whole host of volunteers at
the San Angelo Gun Club? You get a lot of smiles and a great educational experience during
the Daughters at the Range event that was designed to introduce young ladies and their
families to firearms safety and the shooting sports.
“The idea and initial drive began with Lynne Finch, who read Julie Golob’s book “Shoot” that
detailed Julie’s experiences of going to the range with her dad,” said local event organizer
Janette Story. “Our local event began as (part of) a “National Take Your Daughter to the
Range Day” event in 2012; and we had 60 participants, 105 in 2013 and 105 this year.”
The event was structured so that there were 90-minute rounds of pistol or rifle instruction —
with a new class starting as the other one ends. It was one-on-one training on the range.
Let me take you through the first round — as I guided 10-year-old Aaliyah Ramirez, daughter
of Cassandra Moreno, through her DATR outdoor classroom. First, she and her stepdad, Neil
Brown, signed up at registration, which automatically included her in a drawing for a door
prize and the parent for a new rifle.
Everything was laid out in stages, and Stage 2 was to make sure everyone had safety glasses
and ear protection. Aaliyah was good there so we moved over to the bleachers — where Stage
3 was a firearms safety class taught by Gary and Kathy Glass.
Story opened by introducing herself and welcoming the participants. She then introduced
Charles Ditmore, the rifle range officer, and Brian Baxter, the pistol range officer, and
explained where the rifle and pistol instruction would take place.
She then introduced the Glass couple, a pair of Hunter Ed instructors and very versed in
firearm safety rules.
The couple covered the following: Always point the muzzle of a firearm in a safe direction.
Treat every gun as though it was loaded. Be sure of your target — and what is in front of and
beyond it. Unload any firearm when not in use, and handle them carefully. Control your
emotions, wear hearing and eye protection, don’t drink alcohol or take drugs when handling a
firearm, and always be aware of everything around you when you are using or shooting guns.
They reiterated several times the three main NRA rules for safe gun handling — to always
keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until you are
ready to shoot, and always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
“What is your dominant eye? Do you know which it is?” asked Gary Glass near the end of the
class. He explained that one eye is dominant and that you need to view the scope or sights and
target with that eye. He showed the group how to hold their hands straight out, crossing the
fingers so that only a small hole was left in the middle. Then he said, “Look at my nose?” He
said the eye that was viewing his nose was the dominant eye — and he pointed to each stating
left or right.
“Wear proper eyewear and hearing protectors at all times. If you don’t have them, we’ll get
them for you,” said Kathy Glass. “You need to protect your eyes and ears because they are
the only set that God gave you.”
“What is a safety on a gun?” asked Gary. One answer was that it was a mechanical device
which keeps the gun from firing. But then he asked, “What is the best safety on a gun?” before
he added, “The person who handles the firearm. The handler is the best safety on the
“Have you ever shot a gun before?” I asked. “Only a BB gun and a .22 once,” said Aaliyah.
The Rifle Range
Stage 3 took us to the rifle range where Charles Ditmore again went over the NRA safety
procedures and explained how the shooting would take place — mostly single shot. Safety was
paramount in his instructions. Every student had an experienced mentor to guide them.
Parents stood back in a designated place behind their children. He finally gave out shooting
bench assignments; Aaliyah and I drew bench 16.
The first thing we noticed was the bench was too high for our student. This Crockett
Elementary third-grader, who attends Concho Valley gymnastics and participates in
competitive cheerleading, could not get in a comfortable position so she could properly handle
the scoped .22 rifle. So it wasn’t long before the range officer sent us to another range built just
for the occasion.
Range personnel raised her seat there and first brought sandbags, though we ended up using
my camera bag as a rifle rest. I talked her through the sighting process — of peering through a
peep sight at the back of the rifle and lining up the front sight with the center circle on the
target. Then we discussed the loading procedure — one at a time. Another range officer told
her how to use the tip of the finger to s-q-u-e-e-z-e the trigger, and soon enough she was
putting the rim-fire cartridges into the rifle, pulling the slide firing-pin back, and squeezing the
Over the next 30 minutes, she put about 18 of the 20 bullets
in the target. The first few went a little wide right. Then she started putting them in a group —
to the right a little — but such that, after watching her hold her breath and squeeze, holding
the rifle really steady, it made me realize the sights on the rifle, for her, were set to the right.
The smile on her face told the whole story.
Afterward, she went to a tent where she was awarded a certificate of completion. Door prizes
were awarded and a picture was taken of the whole first group.
“Today reinforced firearms safety for me and it helped me learn to focus (on my shooting),”
said 12-year-old Amy Nicole Harper after she completed the rifle shooting stage. Her 11-yearold
sister, Julia, who said she is into gymnastics and sports, also said that shooting sports were
going to be part of her life.
Margie Rodriquez’s daughters, Gabriella, 14, and her sister, Isabella, 11, were given
instruction in the pistol course. “It was really fun. I learned to hold a pistol and how to aim,”
“It was a lot different than I expected, educational but fun — but I’m really into volleyball and
acting,” said Isabella.
Rosie Bakurza took her two daughters, Alexis and Anastasia, 8 and 12, respectively, to the
event. Each was beaming as they were awarded their certificates. So was their mother when
she was told she’d need to go to Field and Stream Sporting Goods to fill out the paperwork on
the Remington rifle she won in the parent’s drawing. “I saw it on television and thought, “Let’s
try this,” said Mrs. Bakurza.
Want to take your child hunting? The Texas Youth Hunting Program had a booth that seemed
pretty popular with kids and their parents. Sponsored by the Texas Wildlife Association,
TPWD and others, the organization is designed to provide hunting opportunities for young
The San Angelo Police Department recruiting team was there as well as Mason Lemons who
was representing the Texas Brigades, which offer five types of outdoor camps that teach
youth about wildlife conservation and leadership skills, including public speaking and
The San Angelo Bulldog Association had a food booth there. While I enjoyed a hamburger, I
asked, “What is the association about?” I learned that it is a nonprofit organization, made up of
Marines from our area, with the intent to preserve the heritage and tradition of the Marine
Corps. “We’re also trying to raise funds for three more scholarships,” said one of their
members, who added, “We already have one scholarship that is administered through the San
Angelo Area Foundation in the name of Lance Corporal Elias Torrez III, who was killed in the
line of duty on January 5, 2010.” Check out SABA on Facebook or contact the SAAF (325-
947-7071) if you want to help.
The San Angelo Gun Club also had several booths designed to educate students and parents
about the shooting sports, including bench-rest and combat competitions. For more
information about the SAGC, check out www.sanangelogunclub.org or contact The
Outdoorsman or Field and Streams Sporting Goods.
First Event Date Rained Out
Heavy rains canceled the event on June 21 and the event was moved to Aug. 16. Drizzle and
light rain didn’t keep participants away this time, as 105 of the 144 registrants showed up, and
the covered shooting stations kept them dry. But I heard several parents say, “Let’s do this
more often if it’s going to rain every time.
Story is to be commended for all her hard work, but she quickly said the event would not be
possible without the volunteers and sponsors who helped make it a “free event” for those who
participate. I commend them all — including the large group of Marines that worked in many
areas and especially the parents who took the time to do something with their children.
If you missed it, maybe you can take your child next year. They are planning for more than
Terry and Riddle Experience South Carolina
There is a saying that “the dog days of summer can be some of the toughest in which to catch
fish.” Tough was the report as I watched Austin Terry’s Facebook page after each day of
practice for the FLWs Forrest Wood Cup — the biggest payday in professional bass fishing.
Austin and many others had a hard time figuring out those finicky bass on Lake Murray.
He finished 40th, with a two-day catch of just over nine pounds. He brought home a $10,000
check for his effort, and, as he wrote on his Facebook page, “Didn’t catch them like I wanted. …
It was a great experience and I’m so ready to try and qualify for next year.”
Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, who lives on the lake, won the event with a four-day total of 51
pounds, 9 ounces. The win was really remarkable after Gagliardi was disqualified during an
Okeechobee tournament in Florida earlier in the year, yet he came back and his win garnered
Tristin Riddle, son of Brandon and Tracey Riddle, was a short distance away fishing at the
National Guard Junior World Championship on Lake Wateree in South Columbia while Austin
Terry was on Lake Murray. The high school student ended up fifth in his high school division
and 22nd overall out of 76 of the top high school anglers in the country. “We had a great time
and it was a learning experience for Tristin,” said his dad. The talented Grape Creek High
School senior got to walk across the stage with a big bass and have his picture taken with
television host Hank Parker.
Congratulations to Austin Terry and Tristin Riddle, and Riddle’s team partner Sterlyn Wood,
son of Tuffy and Candi Wood, for having a great year in competitive fishing!
Russell Smith may be contacted at email@example.com.
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What do you get when you cross 105 girls and their parents with a whole host of volunteers at