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Genesee County's high school trap shooting teams jeopardized by Downstate anti-gun bill

By Howard B. Owens


This year, for the first time, Le Roy High School has fielded a team to compete in trap shooting competitions but if a Downstate assemblywoman has her way, it will be their last.

Assembly Bill 10428 is aimed directly at high school shooting competitions and courses that teach gun safety where students handle weapons. It would prohibit high schools from participating in all such activities.

"This (trap shooting) is what I do so it turned my gut when I heard about it," said Jacob Armitage, a senior at Le Roy, who along with Zachary Boneberg, helped get the team started. "I didn’t like it but some people’s views are different than mine."

The Le Roy team has 10 volunteer coaches, all experienced shooters from Le Roy, and they both practice and compete at Oakta Fish and Game Club on Circular Hill Road in Le Roy. The team is sanctioned by the New York State High School Clay Target League.

Before yesterday's competition, Bill Fox, one of the coaches and local president of SCOPE, told the team members they need to write letters expressing how they feel about the proposed bill so he can distribute them to members of the assembly.

"This is your future," Fox said. "It’s not mine or the other coaches. It’s yours. If you let this happen to you, and it’s been happening over the years, going back 50 years ago or before, they’re just going to keep taking. We can’t allow this to happen."

The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, who represents a district in New York City. The bill would also ban high school archery.

Fox said the kids and their parents need to speak up because Downstate politicians don't care about the interests of rural New Yorkers.

"That’s what they’re ripping apart right now, the Constitution, our Bill of Rights," Fox said. "They think we should live the way they do down in New York City. They just don’t think that anybody should be allowed to carry a firearm at all."

Armitage and Boneberg first proposed the school join the Clay Target League last year and the board was ready to approve it but the team couldn't find a faculty-member coach in time for the season. This year, they had more time to get things together and start the team.

They said they did it because hunting, target shooting, it's who they are.

"It brings us all together," Armitage said. "I don’t play sports, personally. This is what I do. I shoot. I’ve been shooting as long as I can remember. It’s my get-a-way, is the best way to put it."

Boneberg can't compete this year because it conflicts with his commitment to the National Guard but he said he's pleased to come out to the range and see so many kids participating in a team sport they clearly enjoy.

"I thought this was a great thing for the kids," Boneberg said.

The team competes in a conference with six other teams: Alexander, Gouverneur, Marcus Whitman, Midlakes, Taconic Hills, and Webster Schroeder. During the regular season, teams shoot at their home range and scores are tallied by a computer to determine winners. The top teams will be invited to compete in a statewide competition in June.

Other Genesee County teams are Elba and Byron-Bergen, according to the league website.

Thomas Mellon said people who are against high school students participating in firearm sports really don't understand guns or the people who are attracted to the sport and what it can do for them personally and socially.

"It’s just like anything else," Mellon said. "Forget the guns. Forget anything like that. It’s a club. It’s a team, and it brings people together. There are people here, they have nothing else to do. This is what they do. This means a whole lot to them and to us. It’s almost like a family.

"It’s important to us," he added "We feel it promotes character, team building, leadership, and it also teaches us how to properly and safely use guns so there never is an accident.

Mellon has been shooting since he was nine and his father is one of the team's coaches. He emphasized the range is a safe place for everybody there.

"Everyone is starting to believe guns are the problem," Mellon said. "As we're proving here, as you can see, everyone is safe, our muzzles are all down range; we have not had a single safety incident because if you teach someone how to safely and properly use a firearm they are not a danger. Everyone thinks we just need to take them away, but really, you need to teach, everybody needs to know, it’s not a bad thing. It’s not spooky scary."

NOTE: The link to the bill above is actually to the Senate page on the legislation, which allows for public comment.



At yesterday's competition, Genesee County SCOPE presented a check for $662 to the students from Le Roy High School who organized a "Hometown Heroes" project.

The students raised money to buy banners to hang in the Village of Le Roy with pictures and names of Le Roy residents or high school graduates (regardless of hometown) who are serving active duty in the military.

The students researched the project, including determining material and costs and presented the idea to the Village of Le Roy Board, which approved hanging the banners once they're ready.

In the photo are members of the students who participate and SCOPE members. Holding the banner are Courtney and Quinn Kacur. On the banner is a picture of their brother, Reed Kacur.

Tim Miller

OK... I am a big fan of the 2nd Amendment. I believe in reasonable regulations to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from acquiring firearms. I do have an issue conceiving the thoughts of those who feel the need to own 5 AR-15s and 16 handguns and ...and...and..., but then I also don't skip over that whole "(a) well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state" portion of the 2nd Amendment.

Yet I also recognize that EDUCATION AND TRAINING ARE PARAMOUNT TO GUN SAFETY. When I was in grade school, the NRA (this was before LaPierre turned it into a marketing arm of the gun makers) held shooting classes in the basement of the Pembroke Intermediate School. The instructor was excellent, and kept 10-15 kids in line enough to teach gun safety and how to shoot. It was great, and all the parents trusted this guy with their kids - even with over a dozen rifles and ammunition around.

So the answer to guns, per the legislator who introduced this bill, is to outlaw one of the places where we KNOW kids are being trained to handle guns safely?


{edited to account for criticism from RR)

May 4, 2018, 1:56pm Permalink
John Roach

This is Liberals gone crazy. This is a school club. They fire shotguns, one round at a time. They do it on gun ranges with supervision and training. But Liberals will not stop until you can not even own a gun.

May 1, 2018, 7:27pm Permalink
Christopher Putnam

Its nice to see comments supporting gun education and training instead of that normal school+guns/arrows is evil bs.. john and tim restoring my faith in humanity.

May 2, 2018, 12:29am Permalink
Daniel Palmer

Mr. Roach,

You are wrong. I am a proud liberal; always have been. I think this school activity helps promote safety and responsibility of guns. I support this club. Your statement is insulting to an entire faction of the voting population. Extremism in any form divides this country. Your blanket statement is extreme, in my opinion.

May 2, 2018, 12:35pm Permalink
carl Hyde Jr

Nice article.
The only issue i have is that the instructors are teaching safe gun or safe firearm handling. The term weapon is only when something is to be used against another person and this program is far from that.

May 2, 2018, 2:07pm Permalink
Rich Richmond

This is a gun law is proposed by liberals, progressives, etc. There is nothing moderate or reasonable about it. This is not a moderate Republican or Democrat promoting this. The liberal lawmakers in question have insulted an entire voting population of liberals, not John Roach.Can anyone name a draconian anti-gun/safety proposed by a Conservative or Republican, and I'm not including RINOS.

May 2, 2018, 8:16pm Permalink
Daniel Palmer

Mr. Richmond,

I will not get into a 'mudslinging' match over the issue. Mr. Roach tossed a blanket. I crawled out from under the blanket to reveal my support of the club. I am on the left, and I support the 2nd amendment. If you are interested in improving this country, compromise and common ground will get you (us) there, not mudslinging.

May 3, 2018, 8:54am Permalink
Tim Miller

Rich - you gave me quite the chuckle with that last line... "Hey - all you libs are bad and trying to take our rights away... you won't find any gawd-feerin' republicans pulling that crap... well, except those RINO guys, but they don't count!"

Which basically means - you can throw mud on any liberal based on what one guy does... even after two unabashed liberals state directly that the move was a stupid one... but nobody dare taint those gawd-feerin' fine republican folks at all... even if one of them RINOs pulls a stunt.

Let's stick with Daniel's point - let's discuss the issue and not throw mud.

... and hope that proposal fails.

May 3, 2018, 10:19am Permalink
Rich Richmond


Just listen to yourself, misdirect and postulate, about mudslinging. You were the first to comment in Post #1. In your first sentence,, you used a mudslinging and insulting political platitude-tactic, because you disagree with people who support the 2nd. Amendment; "Gun nuts".

The issue is the Downstate anti-gun bill, written by specific liberal legislators going after gun rights. Apparently, you and Daniel are two liberals who disagree, to various degrees.
The fact remains, Gun control is a hardcore liberal, progressive issue, not a Conservative or Republican issue.

Mr. Palmer,

"If you are interested in improving this country, compromise and common ground will get you (us) there, not mudslinging," why haven't you called out a fellow liberal, Tim Miller, and his mudslinging comments, "Gun Nuts?"

May 3, 2018, 4:50pm Permalink
Daniel Palmer

Classic deflection. I don't fault you for that. It's a pretty common tactic on both sides. I believe you and I, and perhaps, Mr. Miller would all benefit from a 4-top window seat at O'Lacy's for an hour or two. We would soon figure out that having different stances on issues is an important aspect of our democracy. I for one respect your views and consider all views equally important; as long as those views are coming from contributing members of society. When the pendulum swings back, and it will, hopefully we can all find common ground. In my opinion, common ground is firm ground.

May 3, 2018, 2:01pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Liberal is such a meaningless word these days ...Classically, liberal really means somebody who favors free markets and freedom of expression and other bedrock principles of individual liberty as opposed to monarchy or theocracy.

It's the progressive who believes the role of government is to regulate society with the goal of eliminating all bad things.

The conservative believes the government is made of people, and since all people are flawed, then the government that regulates least regulates best.

The mindset that thinks taking guns away from responsible high school kids will make society safer is the progressive mindset.

But just like not all progressives agree on everything, not all conservatives agree on everything. Which is why we shouldn't really engage in broad-brush name calling and making everything hyperpartisan.

(btw: the many key original progressives, people like Hiram Johnson and Teddy Roosevelt, were Republicans).

May 3, 2018, 5:58pm Permalink
Rich Richmond

Guinness sounds great, Dan

Not a bad idea. It would be interesting to have a Guinness with you, as soon as I get back from my tour of the Western States.

May 4, 2018, 9:52am Permalink
Tim Miller

Rich - I changed my first comment. It still reflects my original thoughts, but removes the phrase "gun nuts" and gives a bit more information on where I was coming from.

May 4, 2018, 1:58pm Permalink

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