Shooting range

Volunteers at Youth Conservation Day at the Gopher Campfire Conservation Club north of Hutchinson helped kids learn to shoot safely. Pictured left is Peter Stancek, lining up a shot.

Interested in introducing your children to shooting sports and conservation practices? There’s no better place to learn than at Youth Conservation Field Day Saturday, Aug. 24, at Gopher Campfire Club grounds.

Doors open at 9 a.m. for registration for youth age 6-17, with activities starting at 10 a.m. Sessions include: trapshooting, archery, duck calling, black powder rifle, .22 pistols/rifles, BB gun and conservation. Ear plugs and safety glasses are provided.

The $5 fee also includes membership in one of the hosting organizations’ youth groups: Little Crow Archery Club, McLeod County Pheasants Forever, Crow River Cutters Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Crow River Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Central Sibley Chapter of Conservation Partners of America, Gopher Campfire Club and Buffalo lake Rod and Gun Club.

For 17 of the past 18 years, Stephen Nelson has served on the committee for Youth Conservation Day.

“It was started with an idea from the McLeod County’s National Turkey Federation to have a youth day, and they reached out to the other conservation groups in the area to reach out to as many kids as possible,” he said. “I volunteered the second year and have been hooked ever since because of the positive experience it is for kids.”

The goal of the event is to introduce youth to outdoor activities and conservation. Does it work in getting young people involved?

In Nelson’s opinion, the answer is “Yes.”

“The 4-H shooting sports program continues to grow in both Meeker and McLeod counties,” he said. “Also the Minnesota High School Trap Shooting League continues to grow every year, with the growth being limited mostly because of the number of volunteers needed to run the program.”

Based on past participation about 130 kids come out for the day, but since this is Minnesota, the weather always plays a role in attendance. Plans are in place to go ahead no matter what Mother Nature has in store, so the event is rain or shine.

“People come from a large area even 50-75 miles away but majority are from McLeod, Meeker and Sibley Counties,” Nelson said.

Although a full slate of activities are offered, it’s a toss up as to what is the favorite. Nelson said it’s between archery and black powder shooting.

“I think because those are types of activities that most families don’t have,” he said.

Returning this year is the duck calling session. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Wall of Shame is making an appearance, too, along with an area conservation officer who will talk about different topics during lunch.

Enjoy the outdoors? Nelson said they are always looking for volunteers to help with Youth Conservation Day. To learn more, email

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