attendees are first-time shooters who haven’t had the opportunity to develop their skills. For example, the hunting and shooting skills of youth might be limited by parents who don’t have the knowledge to teach them. However, many parents of aspiring young shooters often rise to the challenge of developing their own skills to help their children.
“We have a lot of opportunities for current hunters to take advantage of, but we also tailor many programs and events to youth and families,” Brooks said. Targeting both youth and their families opens hunting and shooting fun to multiple generations. Each staffed range has its own Web page that lists information and upcoming programs.
“These programs mentor children as well as parents, who can develop their own shooting skills while learning how to help their kids develop theirs,” Cockerham said.
Family sharing in the shooting sports is not limited to parents and children. Jack Nicholson, who has shot trap at Jay Henges Shooting Range for six years, recently began going with his wife, who enjoys shooting small-caliber pistols and throwing targets for her husband.
“I taught her to shoot years ago, but she got out of it. She got to a point where she didn’t shoot regularly like I did,” Nicholson said. “It’s enjoyable to go shooting with her. We’re both retired, and it’s something we like to do together.”
Hunting and shooting sports are fun for friends, too. Len Hoffmeister and Jim Crowe met at Jay Henges Shooting Range while Len was an employee. They began shooting together and eventually formed a weekly retired men’s shooting group, which meets every Thursday morning at the range. While practicing with friends, Hoffmeister also recognizes the importance of sharing the shooting sports among families.
“It gives people a chance to pass the shooting ability on to their children, both through the programs and by just being able to take them to the range to show them how to use a firearm properly,” Hoffmeister said.
Aiming for the Future
“We have a rich heritage in Missouri of hunters and shooters, and that’s a tradition that should be maintained,” Legg said.
As the state’s population becomes more urbanized, hunters and shooters must consider how residential and commercial development could affect open-land areas and the opportunities they provide. Missouri’s five staffed shooting ranges are located near urban areas, which offsets this threat.
However, for hunting and shooting sports to continue thriving in Missouri, the role of family and tradition cannot be underestimated.
“I think these skills need to be passed on to other generations; otherwise they’re going to die out,” Haley said. New hunters and shooters need to discover the sport to maintain both hunting heritage and the health of Missouri’s wildlife.
“Hunting is the most economical and most humane way to manage wildlife populations and avoid conflicts between animals and humans,” Legg said.
Properly managing wildlife involves preventing overpopulation and subsequent disease. It also means using ethical and humane hunting methods to do so.
“The public expects hunters to be able to make quick, clean kills on the animals they pursue. The Department of Conservation sets up hunting seasons to allow us to harvest the excess of any given population of animals. Because the public expects us to be proficient at our sport, hunters need some place to help them build those skills,” Brooks said. “In order for us to be able to continue the aggressive management it takes to control wildlife populations, we have to bring along a new generation of hunters to take an active role in conservation.”
“Shooting ranges and education centers give people a place to go where they can feel safe and participate in the hobbies and sports they enjoy,” Haley said. “I love to see people learning how to hunt and shoot and accomplish what they set out to do. I’m glad I can be a part of it.”
For more information on Department of Conservation staffed and unstaffed shooting ranges, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.
MDC Shooting Ranges
MDC has five staffed shooting ranges that provide safe and inviting places to practice shooting skills. Please see the phone numbers and Web pages listed below to get more information on each range.
- Parma Woods Shooting Range, 816-891-9941, mdc.mo.gov/node/283
- Lake City Shooting Range, 816-249-3194, mdc.mo.gov/node/282
- Jay Henges Shooting Range, 636-938-9548, mdc.mo.gov/node/299
- August A. Busch Shooting Range, 636-300-1953 ext. 251, mdc.mo.gov/node/270
- Andy Dalton Shooting Range, 417-742-4361, mdc.mo.gov/node/288
MDC also maintains more than 70 unstaffed shooting ranges throughout the state. For information on our unmanned ranges, including a complete listing of locations with phone numbers, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6209.