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'Young' guns

Marksmen, newbies join trap-shooting effort to benefit Sandy nonprofit

Sandy’s newest fundraiser began with a bang on Saturday.

Actually, it began with hundreds of bangs.

Pull for Young Life, a trap shoot event at the Portland Gun Club, drew about 80 attendees from Sandy, Estacada, Boring and Gresham for a morning of friendly competition on the range, including many experienced marksmen as well as some who had never previously tried the sport. Two rounds of trap shooting were held, as well as an Annie Oakley knockout game. POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Rich Ward of West Linn takes aim at a clay target Saturday at a Young Life fundraiser at the Portland Gun Club.

Through the day’s festivities, organizers aimed to raise $10,000 for Young Life in Sandy. The nonprofit group ministers to youth, and is part of a 75-year-old international organization; camps and extracurricular clubs are a particular focus of its nondenominational outreach. About 40 to 60 kids are part of the local Young Life group.

The group began planning the Pull for Young Life event about a year ago, said Daniel Meyer, a Sandy Young Life staff associate.

On Saturday, Meyer was thrilled with the results.

“It’s going awesome,” he said. “It’s really cool to rally the troops. We just started a year ago, so we’re still getting the word out about Young Life. It’s good to get everyone in the same spot.”

That included some local celebrities, such as the Sandy-based Hoffman family, the cast of Discovery Channel mining show “Gold Rush,” and Bethy Rossos, an Estacada resident and former contestant on the Fox cooking competition show “MasterChef.” The Hoffmans host Monday night Young Life activities at their airport property. Rossos is a Young Life volunteer and lent her culinary talents to Saturday’s event by catering lunch.

Todd Hoffman said he was heartened to see Saturday’s big turnout, especially since he often feels that people are losing faith in today’s youth.

“It’s a big deal for me,” he said. “If we give up on our youth, we’re giving up on our future. That’s what’s cool for me, to see that many guys come out.”

He added that he hopes the event will double in size next year.

Wayne Patterson, the director of Young Life’s Mt. Hood region, believes that’s entirely possible. Because of Sandy’s demographic — which includes a large number of sportsmen and women — Patterson said organizers planned their event well.

“Shooting is probably a big part of the culture there,” Patterson said. “Given that we have that many shooters and it’s the first time we’ve done it, confirms that. Plus, it’s a great cause.”

Even those who were new to trap shooting found a way to have fun on Saturday. The day began with a safety briefing, and shotguns were available for rent to participants who did not have or bring their own. Attendees could register as an individual for $100 and be placed on a team of five shooters. POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Gold Rush cast member Andy Spinks fires at a trap target Saturday at the Portland Gun Club during a fundraiser for Sandy Young Life.

“There are people here who have never shot before,” Meyer noted. “And there are people who have been part of the gun club.”

Boring residents Craig Gearheart and his son Hunter, 15, were no strangers to the range. Hunter is on the youth trap team at Douglas Ridge Rifle Club in Eagle Creek. A sophomore at Sandy High School, he’s also a regular Young Life club attendee and planning to attend Young Life’s summer camp the last week of July in Antelope, Ore. Some 30 Sandy-area youth are also registered for the camp.

Gearheart said his son enjoys Young Life events because they are safe and supportive.

“It’s not a like a special clique,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of kids that get together to have fun and learn about being a good Christian.”

Hunter agreed.

“Everyone can just be who they are,” he said. POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Todd Hoffman, star of Gold Rush and a Sandy resident (middle), chats with participants during Saturdays Young Life fundraiser at the Portland Gun Club.