High school students in the Quad Cities and across the country have been staging school walkouts this week to protest gun violence. But there’s a group of local teens who say the conversation on guns should start with education and safety.
Ashlie Ledbetter has only been training for a year and a half, but she’s already on her way to a national shooting competition — proof of the long hours she’s putting in at the Youth Shooting Sports Association in Moline.
“Right now I’ve been coming every day mostly especially for competition this weekend,” she said.
Ashlie is one of several award-winning athletes at the YSSA.
The group’s president Bill Peterson said he sees kids transform as they learn how to properly handle a rifle.
“They really gain a lot of responsibility, self confidence,” Peterson said.
For Pleasant Valley High School senior Brent Alman, trap shooting could help pay for college.
“I’m really excited about all the scholarships because, unlike football or wrestling or something like that, it’s not more of a physical aspect. It’s more of a mental aspect,” Brent said.
Brent also shoots for his school’s trap team — a school where some students staged a walkout protest gun violence earlier this week.
“Some schools are very wary about guns being related with school. If it’s kept in a safe manner and all laws are followed it could be a great sport for anybody,” Brent said.
For these athletes, learning about guns is the focus.
“People think that they’re really bad, but they’re really not if you know all the proper tools and the safety of it,” Ashlie said.