By Kevin Tate
The number 13 may be unlucky for some folks, but organizers of an upcoming youth event expect it to result in one of the most positive things they’ll witness all year.
Called a J.A.K.E.S. event and set for Oct. 26 at the Jackson Camp Recreation Area at Bay Springs, youngsters 7 to 15 years old can get hands-on instruction in safety, shooting and conservation free of charge. The past 12 years have seen countless youngsters introduced to the shooting sports, and this year’s event makes a smooth bakers’ dozen.
“I run into kids now that are 16, 18, 20 years old who remember coming to the J.A.K.E.S. Day years and years ago,” Terry Farris, J.A.K.E.S. coordinator with the Hill Country Strutters chapter of the NWTF and long-time co-organizer of the annual event said. “In many cases, they enjoyed the event so much as kids they’re helping put it on now as adults.”
Sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, similar activities are carried out nationwide through the effort of the NWTF’s members and the support of the national organization. J.A.K.E.S. stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship, and has long been the youth outreach division of the NWTF.
Youngsters attending the event Oct. 26 will receive hands-on instruction in rifle, shotgun, air rifle and archery shooting, with relevant safety techniques carefully stressed in each.
There will also be stations introducing practical conservation lessons and more. There is no fee, but organizers ask that each child be pre-registered by calling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at 662-423-1287 and asking about the J.A.K.E.S. day so they may have an accurate head count for lunch, which is also provided free of charge. On the morning of the event participants should arrive by 8:15 and things will get underway by 9. Participants must be accompanied throughout the day by a parent or guardian 21 years old or older.
“When you see how much fun the kids have, how much they enjoy it and how their faces light up, it’s obvious why we do this,” Farris said.
To get there, travel about 12 miles east from Booneville on Highway 30, then follow signs that will lead along country roads south onto the Jackson Camp peninsula.