Children learn shooting, archery skills

CORTLAND — Shooting a BB gun or a bow and arrow are just two of the skills naturalist Mike Mainhart teaches kids at Mosquito Lake State Park.

“BB guns are something we came up with here,” Mainhart said.

The park had to get special permission through the Columbus State Parks office to offer the activity, which in its first weeks has proved extremely popular, he said. Mosquito Lake State Park is the first in Ohio to offer the youth activity.

Children were invited to shoot a Daisy Red Rider or a Daisy Buck BB gun at a small range set up near the park volleyball court. Mainhart taught them how to aim by lining up two sights on the gun. Children had the option of shooting at a paper target, which recorded their hits, or tin cans on a string.

Sophia Dye, 11, of Howland, said she came to Friday’s Naturalist BB gun program because she enjoys shooting. Dye said she often shoots with her father at her uncle’s house and said it’s their “family time.”

Dye’s family plays a shooting version of tic-tac-toe, and part of the reason she practices is to improve her aim so she can better compete against her father.

“I want to beat him,” she said with a smile.

On Friday, five kids turned out at 6 p.m. to shoot BB guns, but Mainhart said the first few weeks, the program had as many as 50 kids.

“It’s a nice quiet night,” Mainhart said. “It’s good to have a smaller group, so I can spend time and actually show them.”

A not-so-small group of about 20 kids showed up at 7 p.m. for the archery lessons immediately following BB gun slesson.

Mainhart said the kids learn to shoot Mathews bows at seven-yard targets — which are national standards for youth archery. Those who pursue archery competitively or in school would use the same equipment, he said.

Mainhart said the shooting programs will continue on Friday evenings until the weather gets too cold, likely ending in mid to late October.

Other naturalist programs offered at Mosquito Lake State Park are youth fishing on Sundays at 10 a.m. and paddle boats and kayaks, which will be today at 4 p.m. Information on the free events can be found on Mosquito Lake State Park’s Facebook Page.