$2,020 raised for new playground equipment

Cordova Trap and Gun Club promotes safety, education and quality family time

 

Cordova is all about family in just about any direction you turn. For many Cordova families, that includes loading up the entire household and heading to the shooting range out the Copper River Highway for target practice and quality time together.

The Cordova Trap and Gun Club, presently about 75 members strong, encourages family participation. In just six weeks, the club raised $2,020 for new playground equipment at the rifle range, via an online gofundme.com campaign, spearheaded by CT&GC Director Vivian Kennedy.

Twenty-three donors helped the club hit their goal and exceeded it by $20.

“We didn’t have a fun, safe place to keep little ones contained and entertained while their older siblings and parents participated out on the field,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said that more families want to see what the CT&GC is all about, as well as to get involved in the club’s weekly skeet and trap shoots.

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The Cordova-weather-resistant playground will be installed near the clubhouse.

“The funds make it possible for families with little ones to participate in this great, weekly activity,” Kennedy said.

The playground equipment was purchased online from Costco. The set cost $1,800 with shipping, which allows for $220 to go toward fencing the play area.

“It has a ton of great features that will keep children entertained, such as side by side slides, rings, three swings, ladders, a covered sandbox, a covered wheelhouse with a tic-tac-toe game and rock climbing platforms,” Kennedy said.

It won’t be long until the playground is up and running. The club expects to have the play area installed by the end of August.

Wilson Construction donated the dirt for the pad the playground equipment will sit on. Two container vans need to be moved, Kennedy said, and then the dirt needs to be spread out and leveled. At that point, volunteers will assemble it.

Kennedy wondered during springtime why her son was the only little one out at the range, knowing many families in Cordova are interested in hunting, shooting and family-oriented activities.

Kennedy’s son Maverick is the youngest CT&GC member at 2 years old.

The play area seemed the logical choice, one that was a good solution for everyone who wanted to take part in club activities.

“It took a month of Sundays before Mav became a range pro, but every bit of time paid off,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy and her husband Jared, and their family, are teaching their son firearm safety at an early age and getting him interested in shooting sports.

“He understands boundaries and stays out of the road,” she said. “He keeps his headset on when it’s loud. His first practice gun was a stick from a pallet that I cut out and drew a little trigger on with a Sharpie. He would proudly carry it around, his headset on, and the barrel pointed down.”

The firearm safety tutelage comes not only from their family and at home, but with friends and other family members who are also a part of the CT&GC.

“This (education) is taking place at an age that most people outside of small-town Alaska don’t understand,” Kennedy said. “The facts are that we live in a community where subsistence is life. Most every house has several guns. I want to know that my son will have good gun-sense even when no one is looking. We’re raising him to put on his rain boots and head for the field instead of sit in front of a TV on a soggy, Sunday afternoon. That feels good.”

The club has regularly-scheduled shooting events at 1-4 p.m. Sundays and 6-9 p.m. Thursdays rain or shine.

“It has to be really nasty to cancel,” she said. “Don’t let the weather in town fool you; it’s generally nicer out at the range.”

Jason Fode is the president of the CT&GC, following 10 years as director. He said he decided to come on board as president and see if he could breathe new life into the club.

“We’ve had pretty low participation for several years,” Fode said. “But we’ve bought more clay pigeons in the last six months for trap shooting at the range than we have in years. Membership is definitely swinging upward.”

Fode said the club is reevaluating their priorities.

Facilities at the Sheridan Glacier Road rifle range have started to deteriorate and there are projects which must be finished.

“I don’t think people realize that our local shooting range is paid for and maintained 100 percent by volunteers,” Fode said. “It takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep it going. This is a public facility.”

One of the club’s biggest goals right now is to go after some

(National Rifle Association) money, which is generated at local events here in Cordova, and earmarked for local needs. Fode said the club needs to write grants, which will put FNRA dollars to good use in Cordova.

One big issue the club has faced for years is vandalism, in the form of large electronics with glass and metal and other garbage being used for target practice, then the broken items, glass shards and metal are left behind, leaving the shooting ranges looking like trash fields.

It is also dangerous.

“This is a real frustration of mine and all of ours,” Fode said. “We work hard to clean the ranges up and we go back and their trashed. We’re trying to resolve this through education, but it’s very slow going. Through the summer people are using the range and being sloppy; it goes hand-in-hand. We clean it up, it gets trashed.”

Fode would like to see people act responsibly and take out what they bring in.

“For the most part, we believe it is transients causing the vandalism, as the majority of it happens in the summertime,” he said. “That’s when its at its worst.”

However, Fode is upbeat and optimistic about the club’s future. He said they’ve implemented a survey on their Facebook page to gauge what people’s interests are in the club and how they’d like to utilize it.

The CT&GC will soon host membership drives, hoping to continue the trend of increased membership in the club.

“We’re coming a long way from where we were and interest is climbing,” Fode said.

The addition of the play area and hard work by club members will pay off.

“We’re probing to find out what people want,” Fode said. “Drop us an email, contact us through the Facebook page, just let us know. We can bring instructors down for classes, whatever it may be.”

The club offers the following events:  Skeet, trap and five-stand with shotguns in front of the clubhouse; two rifle ranges at 100 meters and 300 meters; one handgun range for target practice using steel and paper targets. The creation of an archery range is in the works. Certified firearms instructors are available and provide education and classes for all ages through the CT&GC.

The current CT&GC Board of Directors are Jason Fode, president; John Greenwood, vice president; Dick Groff, secretary; Tom McGann, treasurer; Bob Berceli, director; Ardy Hanson, director; and Vivian Kennedy, director.

Annual membership dues for a calendar year are: family, $45; adult, $35; youth under 18, $25; and lifetime membership, $500. The club posts any cancelations, meetings and events on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CDVTrapGun or email the club at [email protected].

Editor’s note: Vivian Kennedy is the administrative assistant for The Cordova Times. She did not contribute to the reporting of this piece.

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson
Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.