Date nights with bows and arrows and rifles and pistols

If you’re looking for a unique way to bond with your significant other, why not try archery? Or pistol training?

That’s the idea behind Demmer Center Date Night Fridays, a monthly, four-week series that brings loved ones closer through, yes, shooting sports.

“It’s a neat activity for couples who have never shot before," said Michael Galella, director of the MSU Demmer Center, "or if one of the two wants to introduce the other to shooting.”

In years past, a lot of people have signed up for archery and firearms training classes around Valentine’s Day, Galella said.

“We started thinking, ‘Hey, we should make a date night, because this seems like something couples would like to do together,’” he said. “So, we combined archery and firearms and made it a date night for two people.”

They partnered with Gilbert & Blake’s in East Lansing. Couples can sign up for a four-week series of courses that take place Friday nights from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A new series runs each month.

Demmer Center instructors then guide participants through a different course each week: one rifle-shooting session, one pistol-shooting session and two archery sessions. Couples get an eye dominance test (to see if they are left or right eye dominant), safety briefings, instruction on the proper form and process for shooting and range time.

They also get to pick one night to go to Gilbert & Blake’s and enjoy a meal.

“Once we do the safety and instruction, we play some games and have fun archery targets and turning targets to make it fun for them to shoot,” Galella said.

Al VanSteenkiste is a range safety officer and firearms instructor at Demmer. He teaches pistol classes and concealed pistol license classes.

VanSteenkiste loves introducing newbies to the world of firearms at the couples’ classes.

“Most people have limited experience, and I like to expand their knowledge,” VanSteenkiste said. “We have students in here who have never shot before and are intimidated by it, and I'll come in and give them a safety class briefing before they get out on the range, and it’s great to see them enjoying it.

“The majority of the time, my experience has been that we squelch their fear of firearms, because we teach it as something that is fun to do.”

Galella likes to see people form friendships at the classes.

“What's really funny is that the couples all come in on the first night, and they're all just by themselves, and by the second and third session, they’re all friends and talking to each other,” Galella said. “Some of them become long-term friends, and they’re introduced to people with similar interests.”

Of course, a friendly rivalry between the couples always helps.

“We can make it a competition for them,” Galella said, “and it's always the ladies who beat out the guys, each and every time.”

KGW


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