Talkin' Outdoors

Based in Columbia, SC, Palmetto State Armory is on a mission to assist people, especially in metropolitan areas, to be able to experience the thrill found in hunting, sport shooting and competitive shooting. The organization has scheduled firearms and education expos later this year in places like New York, Chicago and Washington DC.

How was it possible for this organization to agree to come to a remote area of Lincoln Parish to host such an event? Enter NBA All-star basketball legend, Karl Malone who began talks with the folks at Palmetto about hosting an event in the local area, citing his love for the outdoors, shooting and hunting.

The company agreed and joined forces with other organizations such as Nine-Line Apparel, Glock firearms along with representatives of the Lincoln and Union Parishes sheriff’s department. The Firearms and Education Expo was held Saturday, June 3 at the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office Rifle Range near Simsboro.

The event was for anyone, youth and adults, who wanted to learn more about safe and proper handling and utilization of firearms. In all 22 people registered for the event with youngsters making up the bulk of the participants along with a smattering of adults.

Philis Burton, Grambling resident and retired Administrative Assistant to the Dean of the GSU School of Social Work, was one of the adults who participated.

“I have been looking for good information about handling of firearms since I felt this is something I needed to know about. I knew it would be a challenge because I’ve never fired a gun. I found some helpful material but when I saw in the paper about the Firearms and Educational Expo being held here, I decided it would be a lot more meaningful to actually engage in a hands-on project, so I signed up for the class,” said Burton.

After working her way around the course, firing both a 9mm handgun as well as an AR rifle, Burton offered observations about what she had just experienced.

“I had a case of nerves at first when I was getting oriented from the deputies who were instructors. When I fired at the target, I calmed down and only when I finished and saw how many times I’d hit the target did I get a bit weak in the knees,” she laughed. “Overall, it was a good experience and I’m glad I did it.”

Burton came away from the event with some convictions she wanted to pass along to other ladies.

“I would encourage all women to get out and learn to properly handle a firearm. It’s a great idea to be familiar with firearms especially if you plan to purchase one for whatever reason; self protection or for recreational shooting or hunting,” Burton said.

“I had never handled a firearm ever in my life until this event and when it was all over, I felt really good about myself and what I accomplished.

“My message to other women is to get over the fear factor, get training and educate yourself. I look forward to the next event and I plan to participate again. It was a real eye-opening experience,” said Burton.

Major Chad Alexander is Lead Firearms Instructor for the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s department. He was pleased with the way the shooting event turned out.

“I was glad our department had the opportunity to get involved with this important event and that our deputies were able to serve as instructors. While the range is not generally open to the public, we’re working toward eventually having something where we can train ladies on handgun self defense. It’s on the horizon and we’re hopeful we’ll eventually be able to incorporate this into what the range can be used for,” said Alexander.

I’m betting if this eventually happens, one of the first ones in line to get registered is a certain lady from Grambling by the name of Philis Burton.