By CHERYL R. CLARKE
ANSFIELD - An instructional clinic called Women in the Outdoors held Aug. 24 at the nearby Lamb's Creek Sportsman's Club saw one of the biggest turnouts ever, according to coordinator Sheila Bunch.
The National Rifle Association clinic gave participants a crash course on the shooting sports, including muzzle loader, pistol, .22 rifle, shotgun and archery.
It was attended by 46 women from around the region, including Williamsport, and even one from New Jersey who is staying at a family cabin for the summer.
The large turnout set a record, Bunch said.
"Last year there were only 17. (This year) they were going to cut it off at 35, but we got such a great response, they increased it to 40. Then we found out there were people being put on a waiting list, so we decided to take it to 45," she said.
The NRA doesn't allow any more than 50 participants at each event, but Bunch said she was told there never have been more than 35.
The event has been held at the sportsman's club annually for 13 years, she added.
Participants ranged in age from 12 to one woman in her 70s.
The 12-year-old, Olivia Droddy, of Williamsport, was there with her mother, Margaret Droddy, and her aunt, Betty McClain, of Cogan Station.
Olivia, who turned out to be a pretty good shot, said she is new to the shooting sports but has done archery.
"I was a little nervous," she said, about shooting a muzzleloader, "but I liked it. It was fun."
By the end of the full day, her mother said it appears her daughter has some natural ability, as she hit targets in every station, including clay trap shooting with a shotgun.
Instructors patiently assisted each group of nine or 10 women, first showing them how to load, unload and safely handle firearms, and then offering one-on-one instruction as needed.
Firearms were provided by the club, but some women brought their own.
Diane West, of Mansfield, used her own pistol, saying she regularly enjoys target shooting, as did Darla Kinat, of Covington.
The most important lesson of the day was symbolized by the acronym MAT, which stands for muzzle, action, trigger, as taught by .22 rifle instructor Steve Meringer.
The acronym refers to keeping the muzzle, or barrel, of the gun pointed in a safe direction away from people; making sure the safety action is on until ready to shoot; and keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
Patti Seipp, of Randolph, N.J., said she felt "accomplished" following the clinic.
"I had never even held a gun in my life, and I was nervous about it at first, but not anymore," she said.
At the end of the day, each participant received a certificate of recognition for completing the firearm education and marksmanship orientation conducted during the shooting clinic.