Midvale educator founds 4-H Shooting Sports project

The Washington County 4-H Club’s new Shooting Sports project brought in 10 area youth who took time this past year to learn all about firearms safety and how to handle and fire a gun. Above, Michael Sprinkel observes as younger brother, Ethan, lines up for a shot at the range. Courtesy photo
Philip A. Janquart
by Philip A. Janquart
 Washington County 4-H has successfully wrapped up a new project available to youth ages nine and over.
 In its first year, the 4-H Shooting Sports project was a success, according to program founder and Midvale math teacher Eddie Sprinkel.
 “It really went fairly well; there were some challenges because I didn’t grow up in 4-H, but my wife did and she helped me along,” Sprinkel told the Signal American. “Shooting Sports is kind of a special project within 4-H; you are dealing with firearms, so they have to make sure everything is done safely.” 
 Sprinkel started with 15 youth signing up and ended with 10 completing the project.
 Seeing a potential need in an area where guns are a way of life, Sprinkel decided to initiate the project (through the University of Idaho Extension Office in Weiser) in order to familiarize youth in a supervised and safe environment, teaching them the dos and don’ts of handling a firearm.
 “I wanted to do this, to introduce them to firearms, so they can start learning what they are and what they can do, so they aren’t scared of them,” noted Sprinkel who said that most youth in Washington County will likely handle a gun at some point in their lives and that education will go a long way in helping to keep them safe.
 “If they have a friend that says, ‘Hey, come shooting with us,’ they can go and know what they are doing, or if they happen to be at a friend’s house and that friend says, ‘Hey, check this out,’ and hands them a gun, they know what  The project uses .22-caliber rifles and pistols only and kids must learn applicable skills, complete a presentation, and enter a customized project into the Washington County Fair to fully complete the project.
 Sprinkel got a jump start through a gift of ammunition from his dad, a grant for eye and ear protection equipment from the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance in addition to two other grants: one from the Weiser Elks Lodge for $2,500 and the second from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for $2,200.
 “I started out thinking I needed some specific things, but there were so many others I didn’t think about; it was definitely a learning curve,” he said. “I found that I needed tables, targets, and even a staple gun to put those targets up. There were so many little things, but we also wanted to buy some firearms so that if a kid doesn’t have one, we have something available for them to use.”
 Sprinkel attributed his project’s initial success to several individuals and groups, including the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, which generously allowed the use of its firing range located in the hills north of Weiser, off Highway 95. 
 The agency was required to have a deputy on site during all shooting sessions.
 “We all worked together to help make this first year a success,” Sprinkel added. 
 He noted Lt. Anderson from the Sheriff’s Office, who also offered his knowledge in addition to overseeing the firing range, and Tyler O’Donnell at the UofI Extension Office, as well as Terry Wilkinson, Jessica Moser, and Sarah Saterlee.
 “I also want to recognize all the parents for their support and, especially, my wife who was patient with me and helped me navigate 4-H,” Sprinkel said, adding that despite the public’s opinion regarding guns, education must be part of the equation.
 “Whether someone agrees with them or not, guns are a part of our society and we want to make them as safe as we can,” he said. “So many things in this world, whatever that may be, would be better if people were educated, and weapons is one of those things.”
 Sprinkel said he will be hosting some meetings in January or February in preparation for next season and said that shotgun and archery projects are currently being considered.
 For more information, email Eddie Sprinkel at 21stcenturyfarmkids@gmail.com.


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