Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 23, 2000

Gun classes take aim at safety

By Lynda Jensen

Personal protection is the theme for a handgun course offered for the first time through the Waverly Rod and Gun Club recently.

The course is designed to educate shooters about the weapon and improve their shooting proficiency.

The class offers three subjects: hands-on instruction with a handgun, general knowledge of the gun itself, and home safety.

"My brother, Neil (Mattson), talked me into it," Carol Arko said.

She just learned how to shoot for the first time at the class. A number of her family members attended the class with Arko, including her brother and two nephews, Sven Mattson and Luke Mattson, both of Cokato.

Arko graduated with seven other members of the first class offered through the gun club.

Her niece, Melody Hoffman of Litchfield, also learned to shoot in the class. Hoffman is the mother of two boys and operates a day care in Litchfield.

The class was visited by Sheriff Gary Miller and Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly last week, where both men spoke.

The course covered all kinds of information regarding existing laws and maintenance of weapons as well as home safety. "We learned about keeping our homes well-lit and things like keeping our bushes low," Arko said.

Instructors like to pass their skill to others. Adrian Duske enjoys passing his skill along. Duske is a charter member of the gun club and has been shooting for 45 years.

"I've taught all my children how to shoot and now I'm starting with my grandchildren," Duske said.

For the course taught last weekend, there were seven instructors for seven students. A normal class size will likely be 12 people, Russ Johnson, Montrose, said.

The first class was formed by word-of-mouth only, he said. Some students ended up having scheduleing conflicts, making a slightly smaller class size, Johnson added.

Johnson is certified to teach by the National Rifle Association (as are the rest of the instructors at the club), as well as by the Department of Natural Resources. He is a 40-year veteran of the skill, spending 30 years as a police officer in Minneapolis.

Those who wish to improve their shooting ability must complete a 12-hour course and pass a written test to obtain their certificate from the gun club.

The certificate may be used to help obtain a permit to carry, although there are other requirements that must be met before obtaining a permit, Johnson said.

More classes are forming now, with the hope to offer the class once each month, Johnson said. Those interested may call (763) 675-3527.

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