By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Youngsters 8 to 15 years old can get hands-on instruction in safety, shooting and conservation free of charge Oct. 13 through an event sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation at Bay Springs Lake.
Called a J.A.K.E.S. Event, 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 next Saturday 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 Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks 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 under way by 9.
Each discipline will be taught at a well-defined station, and participants will be grouped by age and divided among the lot, rotating stations every 30 to 45 minutes or so.
Participants must be accompanied throughout the day by a parent or guardian 21 years old or older.
‘faces light up’
“Lots of the kids who come have never shot at all before, and most of them will be getting instruction in one shooting method or another they’ve never tried,” Terry Farris, president of the North Waterway Chapter of the NWTF and long-time co-organizer of the annual J.A.K.E.S. event said. “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. The kids are learning safety, shooting and conservation, and many of the kids who come to the event once come back again and again.”
Farris said the event is a real team effort that depends, in large part, on the work of the MDWFP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“There’s no way we could do this without their help,” he said. “They’re the ones who put a lot of this together.”
Founded in 1973 with a mission to protect and restore wild turkey populations, the NWTF has more than 250,000 members worldwide today and touches every branch of outdoor heritage.
Where is it?
Take Hwy. 30 east of Booneville, then follow signs to the Jackson Camp Recreation Area at Bay Springs Lake.