WALKER — Grace Davis, of Walker, pointed her rifle at the moving target and pulled the trigger.
She hit the first skeet, then the second and then the third.
“I’ve been hunting once,” Grace said. “That was the first time I ever shot a gun.”
But the 15-year-old was eager to do it again.
On Saturday, she and more than two dozen other youths took their turns at firing a gun — the safe way.
The youths were enrolled in hunter safety course offered by the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, which aims to produce responsible, safe, knowledgeable and involved hunters. The students learned about everything from the basic components of a firearm and preparing a hunting plan to recognizing different types of animals.
Act 149 of the 1984 Louisiana Legislature requires a mandatory education for anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1969, so all young hunters must successfully complete the course before they can purchase a hunting license, course organizers said.
The course, open to anyone age 10 or older, includes both hands-on and classroom preparation. Participants took their test the last day of class.
For Grace, the experience was a memorable one.
“I learned about guns and their history,” Grace said. “And, more safety tips. It will help a lot.”
Grace said that she plans to use that information when hunting with her father, Ray Davis.
“I think it’s very important in order for them to have safety lessons,” Ray Davis said.
“It shows them the likelihood of what can happen if you let yourself get frustrated in the woods,” Ray Davis added.
Ray Davis said the interaction between the students and the instructor is crucial in teaching the students how to become ethical and educated hunters.
“That’s very important,” he said. “It passes on the tradition (of hunting.)”
As instructor Darrell Arceneaux showed Morgan Cormier, 13, how to hold the gun properly, Cormier set his eyes on the moving target.
Morgan said he came to the hunter safety class “to learn how to handle a gun.”
“I’ve learned a lot since taking the class,” Morgan said, adding that he’s never been hunting before.
Morgan said he plans to go hunting with his “Paw Paw,” Jonny Ventrella.
“His mother wanted him to get more involved in outdoor activities,” Ventrella said. “We’re trying to get him started right.”
“It’s a very beneficial class,” he said. “These guys do a great job of working with these kids.”
Ventrella, who said he’s attended several hunter safety programs, said he’s “learned something new” at each of them.
Russell Ayell, 13, said he’s been hunting since he’s been 3 years old.
“I have to have a license to hunt on my own so I figured that I might as well get mine,” Russell said.
The class, he said, helped him learn proper safety skills.
The next hunter safety course will be from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 1 through Sept. 3 at the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Center and Firing Range, 29225 Woodside Dr., just outside Walker.
Those interested are asked to register, and bring paper or pad and a pen or pencil.
To register, call Deputy Erica Ard at (225) 686-2241 or (800) 443-7681, ext. 324.