The echo of gunfire has been a constant presence in Henderson this fall, as the Henderson Sportsmen’s Club has been busy.

Belle Plaine’s Austin Rudell has been a popular figure at the club most weekends, as he enjoys taking aim at paper targets and shooting a variety of firearms.

Rudell was introduced to the Sportsmen’s Club through a friend and has been a member since 2014.

“I like how quiet and private it is,” he said of the club, nestled on top of Fort Road.

According to Club Vice President/Groundskeeper Dan Tordsen, the club was incorporated in 1937, but shooting in the area dates back to the late 1800s.

It goes without saying that the club staff and members have a love for firearms, but they also have another love – firearm safety – and it is taken seriously.

Demonstrating unsafe gun handling is a quick way to get one’s membership revoked, and security cameras record users when shooting.

“We want to be a good neighbor,” said adult firearms instructor Don Larson.

The safe practices include the following rules:

1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.

2. Always point in a safe direction.

3. Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.

4. Don’t load your gun until you are ready to fire it.

As Larson said, “Bullets are real final; you can’t take them back.”

Paul Nelson serves as the club’s youth firearms instructor, and is the man who makes sure every youth on the Le SueurHenderson Trap Team has their hunter safety training.

Last year, the trap team had more than 60 shooters, and Larson commented that every youth on the team demonstrates “first class gun handling.”

Nelson became interested in firearms as a youth, as his own father was a hunter.

When he was growing up, it was common to have open gun cabinets in the home, and the soldiers at Camp Ripley allowed him to come on the range and shoot their rifles.

One of the biggest errors Larson sees is people going right out and purchasing a firearm.

Like a motor vehicle, different guns serve different purposes, and not every style may work for each person.

Whether the firearm is too big or too small or has too much kick, Larson encourages buyers to shoot a variety of guns before making a purchase.

The Sportsmen’s Club periodically offers a variety of classes, including Hunter Safety, Permit to Carry, NRA Instructor Course, and Tactical Handgun.

Nelson teaches Hunter Safety while Larson teaches the other three.

The next Permit to Carry class is coming up on Jan. 9.

For more information on classes or membership, visit www.hendersonsportsmansclub.com, contact President J.R. Jones at 612-991-5511, Tordsen at 507- 382-3430, or Larson at 952- 836-1843.

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