CEDAR FALLS — The 140th Iowa State Trapshoot is underway at the Cedar Falls Gun Club and this year more than ever, the participants plan to serve as examples of what is good about firearms.
While a small number of ill-willed gun-toters are making the news these days for all the wrong reasons, something entirely different is taking place just north of Cedar Falls this week.
“It is very sad when you watch the news and see the misconception about guns,” said veteran trapshooter Lori Wickman of Clear Lake. “I think some people see the terrible things that are going on and they just don’t understand everything.
“They need to come out here and see with their own two eyes how guns in responsible people’s hands are for fun and enjoyment. The violence you see on television today, especially that towards the police, is coming from a small few with evil on their minds, and they will carry out their evil attempts in any way they can ... not just with guns.
“Out here you have hundreds of people from different states and even countries that gather for friendly competition,” continued Wickman. “There are people from junior high to 90 years old out here, all with guns, that treat each other with respect and form lasting friendships.”
With opening day largely serving as a tune-up for the week, there were shooters of all ages practicing their skills and sharpening their games.
Local resident Brayden Carlson already had the taste of victory going into Tuesday’s warm-ups as he out-shot the field in Sunday’s Harry Bruhn tournament, walking away with the prize belt buckle at the ripe young age of 14.
Carlson began shooting as an 8-year-old with the encouragement of his father, Joe.
“My dad got me started and I have loved it ever since,” Carlson said. “This is just my second year shooting ATA and it felt good just to be in the shoot-offs that day. It is so awesome out here because everybody loves to shoot and it is like family. You have all these people with guns and they all get along and help each other.
“It makes me really mad to turn on TV and see bad people with guns,” Carlson continued. “Using a gun is a privilege and some people don’t understand that you cannot abuse the right to fire a gun. It makes me feel like the world is just not right when we only show the bad stuff.”
Gun safety, handling and responsibility is taught to most of the participants of the state shoot at a young age. Longtime coach and trainer Ray Dentlinger believes the right coaching is a huge factor in the proper possession of weapons.
“Education about our sport is so very important, as is any type of education,” Dentlinger said. “Unfortunately, there are some people out there that form an opinion about guns without understanding what really happens with proper gun rules.”
Dentlinger has been a longtime coach at Storm Lake and is a certified instructor for the Iowa DNR.
“We practice safety first,” Dentlinger said. “There needs to be a lot of respect and responsibility when handling a gun. Having a good family core is very important and that helps mold these young adults into becoming responsible people in their communities. It teaches them about life.
“All our coaches in Iowa are certified and they go through a weekend of training with safety being the number one priority.”
More than 1,000 participants could take part in this week’s state shoot. Historically, the sport’s safety record is nearly flawless.
“I really do encourage everyone to come out and watch what goes on out here,” Wickman said.
The scoring competition begins today with three Hall of Fame Day events — the Dale Stockdale HOF Singles, Dennis Bigelow HOF Handicap and the Tim Quade HOF Doubles.