The Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Club trap range was a busy place Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, as it played host to the annual Firearms Safety Field Day.

The Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Club trap range was a busy place Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, as it played host to the annual Firearms Safety Field Day, for youth completing their DNR Firearms Safety Certification. Sleepy Eye has a dedicated team of certified firearms safety training instructors who volunteer their time for this event each fall.

To receive a Firearms Safety Certificate, youth, ages 11 and up, must take part in a Field Day after completing the 12-hour classroom firearms safety course. Sleepy Eye youth take the course on-line, an option the DNR offers.

On Sunday there were 52 firearms safety students in Sleepy Eye, including one adult. While many were from the Sleepy Eye area, some came from as far as the metro area.

At the Field Day, the youth get hands-on experience through required scenario-based training opportunities. They rotate through stations that include: a .22 rifle range, handgun, shotgun, nature walk, boat safety, tree stand safety and compound and cross bow safety. The event started with DNR Conservation Officer Thor Nelson reviewing hunting laws for the students and many parents.

One long-time Sleepy Eye firearms safety instructor, Tom Pelzel, summed up his involvement this way: “I don’t even care if these kids do go hunting. I just want them to be safe.” This sentiment for safety above all else, was clear in the dedication of all the instructors who gave up a Sunday afternoon . . . it was all for the kids.

Dean Ibberson, Sleepy Eye’s head instructor, said the day went perfectly, with pleasant weather and good experiences all around. Ibberson has been involved with firearms safety training in Sleepy Eye since he first helped out in 1976. “Then I got certified in 1977,” he said. “We used to have training, including the classroom part, in the spring and fall. But there just aren’t as many kids now and their schedules are packed with other activities.” Now the kids can take the on-line course and attend Sleepy Eye’s Field Day in the fall.

Ibberson said they were able to purchase some new items for training, due to much appreciated donations from the VFW, Brown County REA and Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Club. As part of the training, the students shoot .22 caliber rifles. Ibberson said they were able to buy eight new rifles, to replace old ones, and also got a new cross bow.