DJ: Taking up arms for sport is a weekend pastime for many

How I fared in my first-ever competition

CINCINNATI - For many, it is as much a part of Sunday as church and fried chicken (in that order). Shooting clubs abound in Greater Cincinnati and the Sabbath is their high holy day.

Within earshot of my home alone, there are five members-only facilities that service sportsmen and their interests ranging from trap and skeet to rifles and handguns.  No hunting, just target shooting. On Sunday, I accepted an invitation to join my brother, Terry, at his home range, the Southwestern Ohio Conservation Club in Miamitown. Sunday’s “Double-D” gathering for members and guests featured center-fire and .22 rim-fire events and it turns out I couldn’t have had a better tutor.

My brother, his fellow SWOCC members and millions of other responsible firearms owners get far too little credit for the way they conduct their sport. Everything revolves around safety. And in the case of Sunday’s event, range masters Larry Mentrup and Mike Duwell weren’t about to coddle neophytes unfamiliar with long-established protocols. Their word is and always will be final. There is total and instant compliance from all competitors, be they retired law enforcement officers, UPS delivery specialists or business executives. There is no tolerance for free-lancing or anything that even nudges the boundaries of common sense and firearms safety.

There is an easygoing camaraderie evident among the competitors, along with an unmistakable calm -- the kind exuded by people who are confident around potentially lethal objects.

But at its essence, Sunday’s event was a contest. And after three practice sessions with my brother, in my first-ever competitive handgun event, I was not unhappy with my performance: sixth by the rangemaster’s calculations. But the balloon targets never had a chance against the day’s top shot. Brother Terry won both the center-fire and .22 championships with perfect scores. Never has my big brother stood taller in my eyes, and others, than when he graciously accepted congratulations, his hours of practice and research paying off once again. He is not only a great teacher but a magnificent marksman.

Denny Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on WCPO.com. His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m.

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