Bluefield Daily Telegraph
For the second consecutive weekend, the Mercer County 4-H Camp was packed with people — this time, it was for the fourth Annual Youth Day at the Range.
“We have been blessed,” Jerry Dove, one of the co-founders of the event said. “Our whole aim when we first talked about doing this was to give back to the community. The Lord has been good to me and my business. Randy and I both think of this as a way to give back.”
Dove and Dr. Randy Maxwell organized the event that became an instant success. In 2010, hundreds of people braved rain and a hard-to-get-to location at the Mercer County police firing range and enjoyed the event. In 2011 and ‘12, the Dan Hale Reservoir proved to be a great location with the exception of parking. Dove said that the access at the county 4-H Camp made it a great place for the event.
“Jerry asked me if I thought it would be possible to have this event as part of our Mercer County Heritage weekend next year, but I told him that I didn’t think it would hold that many people,” Lois Miller, of the Mercer County Historical Society said. “We had a lot of people at our festival, but nothing like this.”
Dove said that the volunteers, sponsors and vendors stepped up to make the event what it is. He said that Marlin provided the rifles and ammo that the youth were using at the range and later during the lunchtime presentations, Remington provided the shotguns and ammo for the skeet shooting component. “And you all know how hard it is to get ammo these days,” Maxwell said.
“The Princeton Rescue Squad really stepped up to help us this year,” Dove said, “We can’t thank Stacey (Hicks) and Randy (Brown) (CEO and COO of the Princeton Rescue Squad respectively) for how much they helped us.”
While local law enforcement and conservation officers were assisting young people at the range, Bill Hunt of Camo Christian Sportsmen for Christ talked to young people about the biblical story of David and Goliath and told them that the Goliaths they may face won’t always be Philistine warriors.
“You’re going to face Goliath every day of your life,” Hunt told the youth before they tried their hands at using a slingshot. He explained that God was with David and helped him overcome Goliath.
“I met Randy (Maxwell) at a hunting and fishing event and he invited us to come down last year,” Hunt, of Jane Lew said. “I told him we couldn’t make it last year, but keep us in mind for this year. What a wonderful opportunity this is for us to come down and to minister to young people. This ministry allows us to fulfill passions, our passion for enjoying the outdoors, and for spreading the word of Christ.”
“We are blessed to receive this support,” Shiloh Woodard, executive director of Mercer County Child Protect said as she staffed an informational booth at the event. Maxwell and Dove designated Child Protect as the agency that benefits from Youth Day at the Range. “We are thrilled. Child Protect is thankful for this support. We think this is one of the premiere events for young people in our area.
Darrell Maxwell of Jewell Ridge, Va., was waiting with his grandson, Drake Tabor, 3 and one-half, to visit a Division of Natural Resources demonstration trailer. “This is about how old Randy was when he started,” Darrell Maxwell said of his brother.
The lunchtime event was filled with pageantry as Sgt. Steve Antolini, head of the Mercer County Civil Air Patrol did a fly-over, while the sky-diving team circled above. The Mercer County Civil Air Patrol raised colors at the event and a combined CAP and Revolutionary War re-enactment drill team fired a three-volley salute. A brass group from Southwest Virginia Community College played the National Anthem and a member of the Princeton Rescue Squad performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Representatives of Marlin and Remington put on a horseback target shooting demonstration prior to the dramatic arrival of the sky divers to the delight of a large crowd.