Families and friends came together from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 to get ready for the hunting season during the 45th annual Rifleman’s Rodeo at the Lake Pofianga shooting range.
Sponsored by Ponoka Fish and Game, it’s a chance to tell hunting tales of the best catch, or the longest shot, and to practice marksmanship. One of the organizers, Brent Nabozniak, has been coming since he was a young boy and said including kids during the weekend is a large part of what they do.
“We dedicate the first Saturday morning with the kids to practice shooting,” he stated.
Not only does it give them training and experience, but it gives them a chance to participate.
Younger competitors are not timed during the challenges and parents can come and assist them. “Our kid class gets bigger every year,” said Nabozniak. They are shown rifle care as well as maintenance of firearms.
For the rest of the competitors, challenges are timed with five seconds to shoot and five seconds to reload their firearms. Targets also come up at random and it gives everyone an opportunity to work on their aim and reflexes.
Realistic targets included a running boar at 90 yards, standing antelope at 160 yards, standing rabbit and sometimes a surprise target at 170 yards, and a standing bear at 275 yards.
The event gives shooters a chance to practice, learn new tricks, and develop their sharp-shooting skills.
Attendance varies from year to year, explained Nabozniak and this year had approximately 80 adult shooters and 20 kids competing.
For some it is a way to bring the family together and everyone usually learns something new. “We’re here to teach,” Nabozniak said.
He feels education, especially for youths, is important.
One attendee, Ken Hellervik, has been coming since he was a little boy and he keeps coming back because, “I love to shoot.”
He started shooting when he was seven and feels training at a young age is important.
Competitors finished on the second day with a black powder event; competitors loaded their rifles with special gunpowder. Nabozniak said it is a way to close out the day and give a bit of a show.
The weekend also gave kids a chance to visit friends and family before school began and for “just the sheer enjoyment of coming out.”
Proceeds from the rodeo go to Ponoka Fish and Game and Nabozniak thanked the volunteers for their work and Phylis Walcheske for her work organizing the weekend.