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Shooting sports offer limitless possibilities

The indoor air-gun shooting range at the Red River Regional Marksmanship Center in West Fargo. Tyler Shoberg/The Pioneer1 / 2
Some of the equipment students may use in the RRRMC's air pistol shooting sports classes include (from left): protective glasses, a target, ear muffs, air pistol, shooting rest, and a counterbalance shooting aid. Tyler Shoberg/The Pioneer2 / 2

Most sports are inherently biased: usually, individuals in the peak of physical fitness will go much further than those of us with a bit less athletic prowess.

But when it comes to shooting sports, there are no physical advantages: it's the great equalizer.

"If you're six feet tall in the third grade, you'd probably make a good basketball player. But height offers no advantage in shooting sports," said Rob Sailer, instructor at the Red River Regional Marksmanship Center in West Fargo. "It's a level playing field."

In fact, shooting sports are open to anyone, Sailer said, even those with physical handicaps or other apparent limitations.

Sailer said the basic premise of shooting sports, and air pistol in particular, is to shoot at a target and try to hit as close to the center as consistently as possible. It sounds simple in theory, but requires much practice, persistence and patience from participants.

As far as why anyone would do this, Sailer puts it simply: "It's competition. Kids love competition."

To help introduce youth to the sport, the RRRMC is teaming up with the West Fargo Park District to offer an introductory air pistol shooting sports class for children ages 11-17. Classes begin in January on Thursdays at the RRRMC, which is located at 640 16th St. N.E. in West Fargo.

The beginning class is geared toward first-time shooters who may have little or no previous shooting experience.

"We'll focus heavily on firearms safety. That should be the No. 1 priority in any training program," Sailer said.

Some firearm safety rules include finger off trigger, muzzle control and being sure of the target, he said. When students have this down, they will move on to work on proper sight alignment, trigger control and an introduction to international style shooting events.

Participants must be accompanied by an adult, and all equipment for the class will be provided, however they are asked to bring a sweater or light jacket.

Shooters will be introduced to the "progressive position pistol program," Sailer said, which starts participants on a rest at 10 meters, then gradually graduates them to a standing position with a counterbalance aid before going to one-handed shooting.

Sailer said there are benefits to learning shooting sports.

"It teaches concentration, focus and discipline," he said. "You have to practice if you want to get better."

If youth in the beginner's program show an aptitude for shooting sports, an advanced course may also be available in the future. This program will bring shooters to the next level, Sailer said.

To register for the air pistol shooting sports program at RRRMC, visit, or mail or drop off the registration form at the West Fargo Parks office at 500 13th Ave. W., West Fargo.

For additional information, call the Park District Office at 433-5360.