Cavalier County Gun Club looking to the future

The Cavalier County Gun Club has been improving and updating the shooting range and clubhouse that they practice on after receiving substantial grants from the North Dakota Game and Fish. 

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Posted on 7/11/15

By Melissa Anderson

Each year the Game and Fish Department accepts applications for shooting range enhancements such as those that the Cavalier County Gun Club is doing. The grants require a 25 percent cost-share which the gun club is going to be doing in the form of donated labor working on the remodeling and updates.

“The Game and Fish wants to keep these clubs open. That’s why they are doing these [grants],” Rodney Howatt, President of the Cavalier County Gun Club stated.

The grant, which amounted to around $25,000, was put to good use by purchasing a new automatic trap thrower for the club as well as building a new housing for the trap and remodeling and updating to the clubhouse.

Previously the club had hired high schoolers to load and launch the pigeons. This practice did have some dangers that the club felt was necessary to get away from.

“There was always a threat of the kids getting hurt and with these pat traps, there is nobody in there. You can put 500 pigeons in there and it’s way safer than the old ones,” Howatt stated.

The automatic traps used by the gun club are especially designed to launch the different types of targets in singles or pairs at distances of up to 100 meters.

These machines are highly sophisticated and fully automatic, holding up to 600 targets. The targets or clay pigeons are released by an acoustic system activated by the shooter’s voice.

The speed of the target and trajectories can be easily modified and varied to suit the shooter’s ability as required. The new traps reduce mistakes as well.

“All the new shoots have to have the electronic pullers,” Howatt said.

The Cavalier County Gun Club will be hosting a local shoot on July 19, and clubs from Rugby, Bottineau, Rolla, and Munich will be present.

“It’s our turn this year, and we get between 40 and 80 shooters at these events,” Howatt said.

Shotguns are the only guns allowed on the range. The gauge doesn’t matter but the safety protocols do as three of the members are certified hunter safety instructors.

The club offers a hunter safety instruction course, usually during the second or third week in March, once the high school basketball seasons are done and the kids have more free time.

The club has a youth program in place to encourage the younger generations to learn the safety protocols as well as gain an interest in the sport. Kids 16 and under can practice their shooting skills over the summer under the supervision of an instructor.

“We get some participation but would like to get more,” Howatt said.

Those who choose to utilize the program get one free round of trap and a box of shells. Don’t have a shotgun? No problem. The instructors can provide you with one. It should be noted that a parent or guardian must be present while the youth is on the range.

“You don’t have to come out and help us. You just have to be here in case something happens,” Lee Miller, a member of the club,said.

Much of the funding for the youth program comes from area businesses who donate funds to pay for the shells and pigeons.

The club also offers private sessions with one of the instructors for not only the youth but for anyone who would like to try shooting.

“We can do this with anyone as a one-on-one when it’s a little quieter out here,” Howatt stated.

The club is also looking to start a youth shooting team as popularity of the sport in North Dakota is picking up. The club will be approaching the Langdon Area School Board in the near future on the subject. Howatt referenced that in Minnesota, there were over 8,000 youth present at their state tournament last year.

Devil Lake, Larimore, and Fargo are just a few of the communities that have started their high school shooting teams and are already holding competitions. Devils Lake actually won the tournament last year according to Howatt.

“It’s really picking up in North Dakota. We are just getting started,” Howatt said.

While there is no official roster for the gun club, one of the certified hunter safety instructors must be present at the range in order for it to be used. The club has no membership fee and the age range for those who currently participate is from 10 to 80 years old.

“You just have to be willing to come out and participate,” Howatt said.

The shooting season at the range usually begins in the first weeks of June and ends near harvest time in August. The club meets every Thursday night beginning at about 6:30 p.m. during the shooting season.

To request a private shooting lesson or for more information please contact one of the following individuals: Rod Howatt: 701-370-9988; Leon Hiltner: 701-256-2188; Lynn Miller: 701-370-8300.

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