Prairie Post (West Edition)
Fish and Game highlight upgrades on National Range Day
Lethbridge Fish and Game (LFG) celebrated the inaugural National Range Day and the facility’s grand re-opening on June 4.
The day saw range programs conducted such as archery, a steel challenge, centre fire rifle, .22 rim fire, three-gun league, shotgun sports and a pistol course/International Practical Shooting Confederation demonstration.
A special lunch time program was conducted at noon with a president’s welcome and VIP introductions.
“What today was about was coming together as a community, a sporting community, which is always really important for communities and particularly those in sports,” said Scott Sweetman, LFG community relations chair.
“This is a symbolic re-opening for us because the upgrade project took a little longer than expected and COVID restrictions kept us from meeting as a community. We’ve been in the community now, next year will be our 100th anniversary, so we’ll be celebrating that. So you probably saw a number of our life members were here and it’s unusual for them to all get together now. So it was really special in that way for lots of generations – you shot with one of the kids – and there’s four generations here today of Lethbridge shooters.”
National Range Day was being celebrated across Canada to recognize our place in Canadian sport culture, says Sweetman.
“With the politics and media and sort of the negative focus that’s been attached to shooting sports, we really wanted to take a day where we celebrated the positive relationship we have with firearms as tools, and the same way my firearms are equipment that I use,” he said.
“They’re not something I will covet, they’re not something I sit around and think ‘Oh what can I do with this.’ I use it for the sports that I enjoy. I take my friends out, I connect with my friends and my family using those tools in sports that challenge me and encourage me to grow as a person and as an athlete.”
LFG was awarded a Community Initiatives Program grant from the city and had sponsorship from the community to make the upgrade project happen.
Sweetman said when you go around the range, you can see a lot of the safety upgrades, which equal usability upgrades too.
“Because the more safe something is, the more you can you use it and it’s allowed us to have larger events, it’s allowed us to bring more people and more people into the community because of the tournaments and things we can hold here,” said Sweetman.
“We’re really proud of this. But we’re also proud of what it means for the community around us.”
One of the more notable upgrades was a no blue-sky upgrade.
“If you notice some of our ranges, like 2S, we’ve put special baffles in place and they had to be counter sunk in the ground using some pretty interesting technology to anchor them into the ground,” he said.
“But they’re placed in such a way, that when you’re on the range and shooting, there’s no way for a projectile to leave that range. So, that means that the projectiles that we use in our sports will stay inside the contained area where it’s safe.”
Michelle Sylvestre wears multiple hats for LFG and has expertise in firearm safety through Southern Alberta
Firearms Education (S.A.F.E).
“We train mostly youth, sometimes adults as well and usually the sport we get into is IPSC,” she said.
“And that is a sport that we really like because it involves a lot of skills and it’s also a lot of safety brought into it. But what we like is the critical thinking that happens. So, you have to think about a stage that might be able to be shot a few different ways and you have to problem solve to figure out what’s the best way to shoot the stage.”
S.A.F.E will often go to other clubs and teach how to bring youth into the shooting sports, says Sylvestre.
“We’ve been known to have large youth groups involved with us and other ranges really want to get that back into their range as well,” she said.