Ah, spring is here – now what?

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May 7th, 2008

Ah, spring is here – now what?

For the 26,000 attendees of the 2008 Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo wanting more outdoor activities, here are some ideas.

If the fishing tank at the Expo was your kid’s favorite, then take the next step. There are 21 city park lakes currently participating in the department’s Urban Fishing Program. Waters are stocked with fish every couple of weeks, and right now we are loading them up with hard-fighting, great-tasting catfish. Fishing with a simple rod and reel and some dough bait is all it takes to hook “Mr. Whiskers”. Children 13 years and under do not require a license and can fish for free. A license for those 14 and older is only $18.50 for the year. Visit www.azgfd.gov/fish and click on the “urban fishing” link for more details about the program.

If target shooting piques your interests, a great place to start is with BB guns. BB guns are very affordable and teach the foundations of gun safety, responsibility, aiming, marksmanship, calming breathing techniques, patience, respect and self focus. This is also a great way for experienced sportsmen to introduce a neighbor to target shooting.

Need a bigger bang? Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned shooting sports enthusiast, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility has several fun programs available to suit your interest. Some of the programs offered are:

Introduction to shooting: Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association offers a one-night, basic course on firearm safety and how to shoot, including firing a .22-rimfire rifle. The free class is offered typically every Thursday evening at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. To register, contact Richard at mersman442@yahoo.com.

Ladies shotgun 101: Ladies, sign up for our free introductory shotgun shooting program called the Desert Roses. This hands-on program is offered the first and third Thursday of every month. Participants will be taught how to shoot a shotgun and learn three clay target games – trap, skeet and sporting clays. Space is limited and registration is required. Contact Fred Jeffers at fjeffers@azgfd.gov or (623) 262-4623. Did we mention it‘s free?

Ladies handgun/rifle 101: The Annie Oakley Sure Shots was designed by women and is hosted by women. It’s held on the second and fourth Thursday evening of every month. It’s free and it’s fun. You do not need to have a firearm to participate, nor do you need any knowledge of firearms. Join us and learn! Preregistration is required. Click here for the online application. www.annieoakleysureshots.com/registration_form2008.htm

Rimfire rifle leagues: Come and join us for some friendly competition, make new friends, and introduce someone new to match shooting. Scoped and open sights are permitted, and distances are 25, 50 and/or 100 yards. Leagues run for eight weeks and there is a nominal fee. Loaner guns are available. The next league starts June 10. To register, call (623) 582-8313.

Archery leagues: Come and join us for some friendly competition, make new friends, and introduce someone new to match archery. There are brackets for men’s and women’s compound unlimited, compound bowhunter and recurve/ longbow. There is also a junior class (8-17 years old). Leagues run for eight weeks and there is a nominal fee. Loaner bows are available. The next league starts June 11. Contact Mike Raum at mraum@azgfd.gov.

Sporting clays organized shoots: A shotgun shooter’s version of golf, sporting clays offers challenging clay target presentations, exercise and fresh air. From May through the end of the year, the Ben Avery Clay Target Center will be hosting one event a month. Each shoot will offer multiple classes for all skill and interest levels, are very sociable, and are very welcoming to new shooters. For a listing of events, dates and contact, visit www.azgfd.gov/ctc or call (623) 434-8119.

Are you already a shooter and want to get more hunting knowledge? Then go online and take the department’s Internet hunter education class. It’s one of the best in the country, and you’ll learn about gun safety, wildlife identification, carrying capacity, survival and more. If you have a youngster between the ages of 10 and 14 who’s interested in hunting big game – this course is mandatory. Right now is a great time before the next draw for the fall hunts takes place. The Web site is www.hunter-ed.com/az.

Speaking of hunting, now is a great time to take a youngster afield for some rabbit hunting. The season runs year-round and the springtime is a great time to be in the field while the weather is still beautiful. Rabbits, cottontail and jacks are abundant statewide, challenging to hunt, and make great table fare. Rabbit hunting teaches many of the same skills needed for pursuing big game, including locating game, stalking, shot placement, harvesting, field dressing and game meat preparation. All that is needed is a modest rimfire rifle (.22s and the new .17s), or for very young beginners a small-gauged shotgun is perfect. Youth 13 years and under (2 max.) accompanied by a licensed adult can hunt for free and without a hunting license. A general hunting license is required for those 14 and older. (Hunter Ed is not required for small game – but it is encouraged.)

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located on 1,650 acres near the northwest corner of I-17 and Carefree Highway in north Phoenix,  and is one of the largest government-operated recreational shooting complexes in the world. It averages more than 120,000 shooters per year and is home to a number of regional- and national-class competitions and other major events. Offering a wide array of target-shooting opportunities, the facility has 67 covered stations at the main range (all handicap accessible), and over 25 additional rifle, pistol, and archery ranges for recreational and competitive shooting. The Clay Target Center offers 18 lighted trap / skeet overlay fields and two sporting clays courses. For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/basf or www.azgfd.gov/ctc.

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