“I teach kids to shoot guns,” Greg Aholt, owner of the Quail Creek Game Farm, said to me Saturday. Raising his eyebrows, “even big kids,” he added with a smile.
I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but in case you’re new to my column, I would say I’m pretty much as far away from a “country girl” as you can get. That’s not to say I don’t like the great outdoors, but I don’t shoot guns.
Or — I hadn’t, ever, that I recall — until this past weekend when Mr. Aholt was brave enough to show me the ropes. In fact, I don’t recall ever having even touched a real firearm unless you count a marshmallow gun.
I do remember going “hunting” once, in which I yelled loudly for all the animals to run away. “They’re going to shoot you,” I sobbed. From then on, I stuck to mushroom hunting and eating meat that I purchase from the grocery store.
I remember being fascinated talking to Aholt’s daughter, Catrielle, who was in the Franklin County Fair Queen court in 2017, and now I got to see firsthand how a “farm girl” lives. And it was beautiful.
The farm is on 300 acres in Neier, between Union and Beaufort. The space is unblemished by humans and even has a natural sinkhole.
I went to cover a Quail Forever youth hunt sponsored by the Missouri River Valley Chapter. Aholt also is the youth director and a Quail Forever officer.
About 40 children from age 8 to 18 learned about gun safety and got to try their hand at trapshooting and hunting quail with bird dogs. They learned about patterning and how to dress the bird to prepare for cooking.
The event was part of the “No Child Left Indoors” movement, which reconnects children to nature.
After taking me to each station to observe and snap some photos (my normal “shooting” mechanism), it was my turn.
I was terrified.
But I got a lesson on gun safety and mechanics, some eye and ear protection and was guided through a practice shot. “Click.”
. . . that wasn’t so bad.
Then it was time for the real deal. Aholt loaded a 12-gauge shotgun and we went through the motions again. When I pulled the trigger this time, though, it wasn’t a click, it was a BOOM. It was startling and exhilarating.
After that, I got to go look at what was a blank piece of paper covered in holes. I hit the target!
Despite the ear protection, my ears were ringing and my shoulder was protesting. But I gave it one more shot and hit the target again. I think they started me with a nice, big, stationary target to build confidence that I could hit something, but it worked.
I saw youth doing each of the stations and having a blast, pun intended.
I passed on clay bird shooting, but maybe next time.
Thanks to the Quail Forever Chapter and Aholt for teaching me that even old dogs can learn new tricks.