WARRENS - Attracting youngsters to outdoors activities and shooting sports isn’t easy, especially on an April day when the thermometer fails to crack 40 degrees.
The Tomah FFA, however, defied the odds Saturday by drawing 70 youth from around Wisconsin to the state FFA shoot at the Tomah-Warrens Sportsmen’s Alliance.
The shoot was organized by a pair of local FFA veterans, 19-year-old Mitch Linehan and 18-year-old Jon Greeno, both of whom competed in the meet.
“They did all the work and setup,” TWSA member LaVerne Nelson said. “We just sat back and advised.”
The event included 14 teams from Medford, Seneca, Albany, Owen-Withee, Arcadia and Boscobel. Shooters competed in 5-stand, trap and skeet.
Shooters paid an entry fee of $8 that included lunch.
“We provided everyone with their birds and shells,” said Greeno, a Tomah High School senior and Tomah FFA president. “We’re giving them $30 worth of stuff, plus a lunch.”
Greeno and Linehan were around for the first FFA shoot in 2010, which included just two teams.
“I come to the club on Tuesdays, and I’m a member of FFA, and I thought it would be a good idea to get a (youth) shoot going here,” said Linehan, a 2012 Tomah graduate and immediate past vice-president of Tomah FFA.
Greeno and Linehan made the event grow by aggressively seeking volunteers and sponsors.
“It’s a lot of work,” Greeno said. “We went around to many local businesses to get sponsorships ... To keep it going takes people.”
Mike Brown, president of TWSA, said one of the club’s priorities is to extend shooting opportunities to as many young people as possible. The club provides free rounds for youth shooters accompanied by an adult.
“It’s hard to introduce kids into shooting if their parents don’t shoot,” Brown said. “If mom and dad aren’t interested, a lot of times the kids don’t get introduced to it.
“Even if their parents aren’t interested and they want to come out and shoot, we’ve got a bunch of great people who will work with them — explain to them how to stand and where to hold the gun,” Brown said.
Greeno said TWSA offers an excellent facility for such a large event.
“It’s set up really good,” Greeno said. “We can keep two teams shooting at all times.”
Brown believes many of the FFA shooters will embrace the sport and make it a lifelong pursuit.
“Once they get to that point where they’re breaking targets, you can see the smiles on their faces,” Brown said. “It’s a fun sport.”
“Numbers are going down,” he said. “Something like this keeps people interested.”