Pennsylvania Game News Magazine
Lehighton Club Stresses Safety in Mixing Hunting and Youth"The child is the father of the man" is the poetic philosophy that the Leighton Sportsman's Association nurses into a reality for ten weeks at the beginning of each year, building safe hunting habits into the youngsters who will form the nucleus of tomorrow's adult hunting population in and around Carbon County.
The hunting-oriented club, incorporated in 1924, has been conducting both rifle training (ages 12 to 19( and hunter safety programs (11 years on up) annually for the past three years under the guidance of the Pennsylvania Game Commission in cooperation with the National Rifle Association.The basics of hunted safety are stressed throughout the 10-week course, which totals about 20 hours for each youngster, some 16 hours above-and-beyond the usual length.
Ervin Schlecht, president of the club, said that a few of the club's graduates have been assigned to firearms instruction once they have entered the Armed Services.The club, which has claim to spearheading the campaign to make the white-tailed deer the state animal, had 84 youngsters in its hunter safety program for 1969, and found it necessary to break the instruction sessions on Thursday and Friday nights into two groups, one instructor handling one phase of the program with half of the group, while the other instructor handled another phase with the group, switching groups halfway through the evening in order to assure that all of the students received equal attention.The group has raised money over the years by conducting paper drives, by chancing off sporting goods, and from contributions. The money raised has been used to purchase firearms used in the training program. It is estimated that the club has fired some 30,000 rounds of ammunition over the 10-week training period.The programs are not all study. The pupils compete for NRA achievement citations and shooting matches are held with neighboring clubs periodically.The course is climaxed by a banquet at the club grounds, where the presentation of the achievement awards is made, where Game Commission representative take part in the festivities, and where the parents of the youngsters can see how their children have spend some 20 hours of their time.The 1969 edition of the end-of-the-course banquet featured an added highlight: the Lehighton Sportsman's Association was presented with a plaque from the National Parks and Recreation Association for its service to the community and to the area in general.