our club sponsored a Monday night youth shooting
program. Under the capable leadership of Gary Lonstein and Tom Zeider, many
of our youth were taught how to shoot and the program enjoyed several
moments of greatness as well as some low points, but always Gary and Tom
stayed with the program whether there were ten or just one that showed up to
shoot. Even through bitter winter nights backed by a roaring wood stove,
the shooters stuck their guns through the ports and blasted away.
At the inception of the program the club, then known as the WSA, purchased
seven match Remington rifles complete with jackets, scopes, gloves, pads
etc., a considerable outlay at that time. In 1997, Gary and and Tom decided
to hang up their tutelage and retire. Even though the club
acknowledged their vital contribution to the youth of the area, everyone
also thought, "What do we do now?"
Fortunately for the club, a well known local resident, Donald Mekulik became
an active member and almost immediately voiced a concern to help the youth
of the community. Since he was also a Boy Scout leader, he felt the program
of shooting would work well within that organization since some of the merit
badge awards included shooting. From that moment the Junior Shooting Program
was given a shot in the arm and interest began all over again. Soon Don had
them shooting trap and skeet. Numbers jumped to twenty at times and after a
winter hiatus, Don announced plans to include bow shooting and.22 rifle
shooting as well. An appeal went out to club members for used or new
shooting arms and the response was terrific. The Ulster County Trappers
donated a brand new shotgun, the club purchased another plus the purchase of
ammunition. New.22 rifles, bows, financial contributions began to pour in.
The highlight of the year was a grant for $1500 given by the NRA for the
Junior program. These funds will be used to purchase audio-visual aids and
other equipment necessary for a successful and safe program. Other donations
continue to come in from generous sportsmen and we thank them all.
Together with additional staff to assist him and a committee to coordinate
the finances and spending, Don has expressed his personal thanks to any and
all who have contributed. He states that the response continues to be beyond
his original aspirations.
The Wawarsing Rod and Gun Club fully supports this program that has all the
earmarks of lasting a long time.