Shooting Sports Instructor Training

Published 11:34 am Monday, July 28, 2014

Mike Phelps, a supervisor with probation and parole in Washington and St. Tammany parishes in the Covington District, is conducting the Washington Parish 4H Shooting Sports Program at Bowling Green School Aug. 9.

Phelps, who earned his instructor certification two years ago, has been a firearms instructor for a few years.

Participants attending this class must be at least 21 years old.

The program will train instructors and prepare them to work with students in the shooting sports program for the upcoming school year in four disciplines, including shotgun, rifle, pistol and archery.

The class allows participants to become instructors in the 4H program.

Phelps said this is the only rifle instruction program in Washington Parish.

He said to teach this, one needs to be certified through the program and know that safety is the most important part of the program.

“My goal for this class is to get quality, responsible adults to pass on their knowledge of either firearms or archery to young people,” Phelps said. “We’re dealing with young people ages 9-18 or 19, roughly.”

Phelps said that nationwide in the 4H shooting program, there have been only five injuries and no fatalities in shooting instruction, competition and related activities since the 4H program started in 1980.

Phelps said the No. 1 goal with this is to teach proper firearms safety and the fundamentals of shooting. He said it could lead to competition for the young people involved with the 4H program, but added that competition is not the focus.

“Competition is available if that’s something that our young people want to do,” Phelps said. “I would never and I don’t think our 4H agent here and or any 4H program for that matter is going to force someone into competition.”

Phelps said even if it doesn’t lead to competitions, he can still teach how to handle a firearm safely and enjoy a sport that can be played for the rest of one’s life.

“This is the only sport that I can think of where you’ve had national champions, who were teenagers and 60, maybe 70-years old in different shooting disciplines,” Phelps said. “Certainly, you’re probably not going to be playing in the NFL at age 60 or age 14. I don’t see either one of those happening, but this is something that you can enjoy throughout your life from a young age to an old age and still get something out of it.”

Phelps, who said he’s been shooting since he could hold a firearm, said 9 is the earliest participants can start competing.

“In order for a young person to compete in one of the competitions, 4H requires that they attend at least eight hours of practice training sessions and complete the hunter safety class. We would like for them to have as much training as possible,” Phelps said.

Phelps hasn’t won a national competition, but said he did make the Governor’s 20 with the military in the state of Louisiana a couple of times, which means he was a top 20 shooter in the state.

“It’s a pretty prestigious deal,” Phelps said.

Phelps said usually the top 12 shooters from all 50 states and a couple of U.S. Territories show up at this competition.

“Just to be in the presence of some of those guys is an honor,” Phelps said. “But to actually be able to compete and hold a candle to some of them is a huge deal. The last national competition I did was in Little Rock and I just wanted to be in the top 100. I accomplished that, barely. I really wanted to make top 50, didn’t do that, but it was an experience.”

Phelps was in the military for more than 20 years with the Air National Guard. His first 17 years was as a C130 Engine Mechanic and he finished his military career with the security forces.

Anyone interested in becoming an instructor or coordinator will need to fill out an application prior to attending the training. For more information, call Beth Blackwell at the LSU AgCenter Extension Service office at 985- 839-7855, or contact Phelps at 985-966-6453.