Friday, July 06, 2007

HWT Hero of the week

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) -- In an effort to bring back a tradition from his own childhood, an 84-year-old man has created a BB gun shooting range for children.

Ted Dowdell decided to turn the barn next to his home near Cleveland into a free shooting range for children.

"The kids don't get a chance to shoot a BB these days," Dowdell said. "I'm just a host inviting my guests to come and shoot."

The range, open by appointment only, is equipped with eight Daisy Red Ryder BB guns mounted on a pole so that they can be cocked only by pointing into the barn. Empty soda cans, cottage cheese containers and pieces of plastic foam serve as targets.

Each station has eye-protection glasses, and anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent, who is required to sign a waiver.

Dowdell said he has tested his range at family reunions and considers it safe. He did purchase a $600 insurance policy through the National Rifle Association for added protection.

A deputy with the Lorain County Sheriff's Department inspected the range and did not see anything unsafe, Sgt. Don Barker said.

"It is a legitimate sport for kids," said gun-control advocate Gerald Nunziato, a former agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Dowdell suspects a few ruffled feathers.

"I expect a big outcry. I do. So what? Our founding fathers went against the grain. I can take the heat," he said.

Let's take up a collection so that Mr. Dowdell can fix up a place where the kids can get some firearms safety training and shoot some .22s and then work up to larger caliber firearms.