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Sportsman’s Expo draws hundreds

Whether it was kids wanting to get acquainted with an air rifle or bow and arrow, a sportsman wishing to grab a few tips or a family just looking for a fun-filled outing, several hundred people made their way to First Baptist Concord for the annual Sportsman’s Expo Saturday, March 12.

“We’ve had somewhere around six- or seven-hundred … ,” said the Rev. Gordon Ogle, minister of recreation at FBC, trying to estimate Saturday’s turnout.

Among the hunting-related activities for the public were paintball games, an air rifle range and bow and arrow range.

Bill Wilkinson of Farragut said he and wife, Angie, and their three young sons, Walker, 7, Braden, 5, and Gavin, 3, “like to fish and camp and stuff, but we’re not real avid outdoorsmen … . But it’s just a pretty day, and we go to church here and thought we’d come and support the church and let the kids play.

“They’ve never shot a bow and arrow or B-B (air rifle) gun, or anything like that,” Bill added. “Get (them) a little bit of experience doing that … it teaches them to respect the bow and arrow and the etiquette of a gun range, things like that.”

Bill himself said he got hooked a bit on archery. After trying it out, “… it’s pretty interesting, I think it would be something I’d maybe want to do down the road if I had a little bit more time,” he said.

Eric Broyles, an FBC member, avid sportsman and volunteer instructor at the air rifle target practice area, said, “… we teach ’em a little bit about hunter safety … and try to educate ’em on firearms, which they may not get at home.”

Referring to his 5-year-old son, Kase, “he loves guns, loves to learn about guns, loves to shoot and hunt,” Broyles said, emphasizing that age 5 is not too young to learn.

Tyler Murphy, a 12-year-old student at West Valley Middle School, said he came to the Sportsman’s Expo, “Because my church supports it … (and) it’ll be fun, exciting.”

After taking his turn at archery, where he almost hit the bulls-eye and won a prize despite being a novice, Tyler said he was anxious to participate in a paintball battle. “I like paintball as a hobby,” he said.

A three-day hunter safety course, including a Saturday morning session, was led by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “That’s a course where dads can come in with their children and get a certification on hunter safety,” Ogle said. “That’s a new requirement now, for kids to be certified before they can go hunting.”

Brittany Crocker, 13, an eighth-grade student at Cedar Bluff Middle School, said that after passing the hunter safety course she was so excited, “I was like doing the moonwalk across the sidewalk when I got my license … I like shooting and stuff … .”

A boater safety boat check in the FBC parking lot was performed by the U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary.

Outdoor exhibits included “Korean War era” vehicles, a Tennessee Highway Patrol simulated “rollover” accident scene and Knox County Sheriff’s Department motorcycles.

Various hunting and fishing-related booths were also located along a concourse in the church.

In addition, three outdoor-related experts spoke in the FBC main sanctuary: World-ranked archery champion Brian Holloway; Bruce Scott of Shotgun Journal, “which is a syndicated program on Cable TV, and he’s been on ESPN and also all around the world, having to do with shotgunning and hunting and that kind of thing,” Ogle said.

Featured speaker Alex Rutledge of Hunter’s Specialties, “is a world champion turkey gobbler, turkey caller,” Ogle said.

Brad Butcher of Farragut said he was drawn to the Expo because, “We like to hunt, we like to fish,” then made reference to his son, 6-year-old Colby, adding, “and he likes to be outdoors. Just to be together on Saturday, go do something and have fun.” Reflecting on his own childhood, “my dad took me when I was eight-years-old, the first time, pheasant hunting. I hope I can do the same thing for my son.”


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