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Ellis Junior Free Fair fun right on target





ELLIS -- Most who shouldered the BB guns at the shooting education range Friday night had done it at least once before.

The inflatable shooting range was one of several attractions for youngsters at the Ellis Junior Free Fair.

This was the first time the range, sponsored by the Hays Big Creek Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, has been used in the area.

A family donated money for trailers housing the ranges "to get kids involved in shooting sports," said Chris Rhoades, a member of the Hays chapter. "Anyone from 2 to 100 can shoot it. If they've never shot a gun before, this is your chance."

Rhoades and Sean Dinkel, also a member of the Hays chapter, talked about safety before helping each child line up with the target and try to hit the bullseye. The target system is on a pulley, Rhoades said.

Each child was given several attempts.

Makenna Kohl, 9, traded her sunglasses for safety goggles and took aim with the pink BB gun.

Makenna said she's shot before, and each shot inched closer to the bullseye.

Wearing a pink helmet and safety goggles, Addison Kohl, 7, took a turn.

"Now my mom and dad will be super excited," she said as she hit the target.

Addison has shot before, too. Her dad Jeff Kohl goes target shooting, said Donna Kohl, Addison's grandma.

"Kids aren't getting out and hunting any more. They don't know about gun safety or guns," Rhoades said. "This is one of the ways NWTF is striving to get more kids involved in shooting sports."

"The national average (age) of hunters is 43 years old," Dinkel said.

The NWTF slogan is "save hunting habitat," as 6,000 acres of natural habitat is being lost every day.

"It's getting tougher and tougher to find places to hunt," Rhoades said.

The thermometer hovering near the 100-degree mark didn't deter the group gathered at the livestock show ring.

Brant Pfannenstiel, 6, a member of the Good Hope 4-H Club, had plenty of family support as he led his bucket calf into the ring.

"It's a family tradition to show livestock at the free fair," his father Wade Pfannenstiel said.

Wade and his father, Brant's grandfather, also participated in the show in their time.

Sharon Pfannenstiel, Brant's mom, had her camera ready, and nearby was his grandma Cathy Kutina, who came from McPherson to see him and his sister Jaiden, 8, show their livestock.

This was the first time his great-aunt Arlene Erbert, Ellis, has attended the fair, but she "decided I'd come see my great niece and great-nephew."