SHAFTSBURY -- Twenty six women took aim over the weekend and participated in "Women on Target," a gun training course hosted by the Hale Mountain Fish and Game Club in cooperation with local area law enforcement, designed to introduce gun safety and familiarization.
"A course like this is perfect for your first step," said Bennington Police Officer Jason Burnham, one of three firearm instructors within the department.
The course began with several hours of classroom safety training and then gave the chance for hands-on practice, with both pistols and rifles.
"It allows them to try a variety of different firearms," said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, who noted that the best way to increase confidence is by increasing knowledge.
"To have it properly instructed by people in the field makes all the difference," said Loretta Vickers of Bennington, who grew up familiar with the art of shooting but appreciated the chance to re-learn, "without the bad habits."
While many of the women had shot a firearm previously, some were newcomers to the sport.
Gena Mooney and Mary Crawford, both of Bennington, were taking aim on a target range for the first time Saturday.
"This course makes you not afraid to shoot," said Mooney. "You feel like you now have the ability that you could make sure it was done safely."
Police officers and Hale Mountain club members loaned personal firearms for the day, and reminded participants of good practices like being sure to wash with cold water and soap after firing, and to use disposable paper towels to avoid lead contamination.
"We try to do this every year. It’s a good way for law enforcement to give back to Hale Mountain," said Chief Doucette, who noted that the sporting club was generous in its donation of time and use of the target range.
The event was organized in part by Hale Mountain member Ann Arendt; with Jim Logan, owner of Lost Target Shooting Supply donating time and ammunition as well.
"The ladies all seemed to enjoy it, and they learned something," said Tom Arendt, a Hale Mountain board member.
"Finger off the trigger. Use the laser principle -- if the firearm had a laser on the end, would it hurt anything?" said Vermont State Game Warden and firearm instructor Sgt. Travis Buttle. "That’s the most important thing."
Contact Khynna at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.