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Firearm safety class teaches responsible gun use, ownership

Safe and sound

Posted: January 10, 2013 - 9:47pm  |  Updated: January 11, 2013 - 10:50am
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Elaina Spraker, right, helps Clam Gulch resident Kaitlin Davis, 17, properly grip an unloaded pistol. Sterling resident Denali Goodwill, 17, watches over their shoulders in the pistol shack at the Snow Shoe Gun Club during the Teens on Target firearm safety class Jan. 3.  Dan Schwartz
Dan Schwartz
Elaina Spraker, right, helps Clam Gulch resident Kaitlin Davis, 17, properly grip an unloaded pistol. Sterling resident Denali Goodwill, 17, watches over their shoulders in the pistol shack at the Snow Shoe Gun Club during the Teens on Target firearm safety class Jan. 3.

Guns are not going away, said Elaina Spraker, a Teens on Target firearm safety trainer.

“We’re not going to debate gun control,” she said. “We live in a gun culture and we are protected by the second amendment.”

With that in mind, she said, the best thing to do is educate youth about responsible gun use and ownership, which is what she and her husband Ted Spraker have been doing for four years through their Teens on Target class.

A class of four teenage girls met for the first time at the Snow Shoe Gun Club firing range on Jan. 3 after weeks in the class room. During the session, the girls — 15-year-old Kerri-Ann Leavitt, of Kenai; 15-year-old Kat Payton, of Kenai; 17-year-old Kaitlin Davis, of Clam Gulch; and 17-year-old Denali Goodwill, of Sterling — handled and eventually fired semi-automatic pistols.

“One of the main goals is just safety,” Ted Spraker said. “We’re not trying to teach them to be hunters, just safe gun handlers.”

The class focused on pistols, Elaina Spraker said, because they are the most dangerous with their short barrels and require more knowledge to use than rifles and shotguns.

Goodwill said the class is important because it allows her to exercise her second amendment right and teaches her how to protect herself.

Although the teenager has never needed a gun to defend herself, she said one day she might.

And her mother, Suzanne Goodwill, said that is a useful skill particularly in Alaska, with dangerous wildlife and remote communities.

“Whether it’s two-legged or four-legged,” she said, “you need to make sure that she knows how to use a gun ... you know, where the safety is, be comfortable with the weapon she’s carrying.”

Also, she said, she wants her daughter to know what do when she walks into a room with a gun. If someone has a gun, she wants her daughter to know to check that it is empty.

Elaina Spraker said this year’s class has had a different perspective following the school shooting in Connecticut.

“It’s really important for us to step up as gun owners (and) firearm trainers to try to do a better job now,” she said.

During class Elaina and Ted Spraker showed the girls how to check that a pistol is safe by removing the magazine and pulling the slide back to clear any remaining bullets. They also demonstrated how to properly load, cock, grip and fire a pistol.

While Denali Goodwill is not yet old enough to own a gun under her name, her grandfather has given her a 12-gauge shotgun. When she is older, she said she will probably buy a handgun for personal protection.

“What made me really upset about the Connecticut shooting was everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s the gun’s fault,’” she said. “No. A gun can not hurt someone unless there’s a person on the other end of it.”


Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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JOAT 01/11/13 - 10:48 am

Great to hear, but sad to see only 4 students attending. This kind of gun safety education should be mandatory curriculum in every school in the district. It's as important as looking both ways to cross the street. It will also help dispell the media lies and hollywood hype that brings down such a negative stigma on inanimate tools.

I remember when we actually had firearms classes taught at the Soldotna Junior High (I guess they call it a "middle" school now) for elective credit. Got to build a gun at school. And the whole class took a field trip to go shooting at the end of the year. Guess what... no one got hurt and none of the students in any of those classes ever went on to commit a gun crime. Go figure.

Obfuscate 01/11/13 - 12:43 pm
Great but wish it was not needed

What the Spraker's are doing is awesome, no doubt about it. Less gun mystery is a good thing for this nation.

The unfortunate part is that society actually needs training in this manner. I believe this should be done by the parent(s) and/or close family member(s). It should start at a much younger age and should be a regular part of childrens life lessons. Teaching your children to protect themselves is a very good idea.

But since a large percentage of the population no longer learns this (safely and properly) from their family elders, it is great to see someone stepping in to provide the much needed training.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 01/11/13 - 01:24 pm
Very Important teachings

Very good and important as i have said before a few time about these gun safety, awareness programs that are also helped paid for by the State.
My wife and a few other church ladies took several of the Women on Target classes this past summer and shared much info to others from what they learned.
The thing is we should all be owning and having at the ready guns to protect anyone that is attacked by evil intentioned people. Having guns at the ready is not having them in a box or safe or trunk or glove box, it means having them on our person at the ready to use them if need be.
I hope and pray that i never have to use my guns against other humans, but, i do have them at the ready and will use them if need be to protect family, friends, neighbors or anyone else when evil attacks with their weapons ment for distruction.
When i look at many of the crimes commited against others i always say the very same things, "What a shame these ones were not packing so they could at least have a chance of survival or stoping the killings of so many."
When evil is confronted by good, it will flee usually, if evil does not flee at least good will be standing in the way to stop or slow down it's evil intent.
Teach everyone how to use weapons and that they are not toys or makebelieve or hollywood acting tools, but, are tools ment to help in our fight for survival either by providing food or providing protection against evil s spread and desire to hurt and terrorize others for power and control only.
Very Good program and i only wish every child or adult would learn these important lessons of use of these tools and always have them at the ready. I also wish every one would know how to use the Bible, sword of God in this fight against evil as Ephesians 6:12-24 says, but, i can't have it all.

alaska 01/11/13 - 01:38 pm
Contact info?

I could probably look them up in the phone book. Why no contact info in the story?

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 01/11/13 - 04:43 pm
They are in the book

Very Good classes for all and you casn find them in the phone book under Ted & Elaina Spraker.
The state of AK provides all the ammo and the trainers provide the weapons unless someone wants to bring their own. The cost for the Women on target was $25.00 for an all day class of inside as well as out side shooting with lunch provided as well. GR8 class and well worth it. My wife came home with a huge smile and asked if i knew what a AR-15 was and that she REALLLLLLLY liked that gun. My wife said that a few women that were reluctant to take the class were in fact very glad that they did so and even took repeat classes for rifle & shootgun after the pistol class.
When people realize the usefulness of guns and that they are a tool much like my compound bow is, they then will understand the need to use them well for many purposes of fun, food and protection. I would once again advise everyone to have their family take this course as well as families to practice on their own.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 01/11/13 - 08:57 pm
Sig Sauer

That pink pistol looks like a Sig Sauer 22lr pistol. I bought my wife the Purple one and man is it a sweet shooter and talk about fun to shoot, all day for next to nothing for cost, she loves it. Good choice for teaching people to shoot to remove the fear of shooting, then move them up to a more comfortable gun of choice. Go Girls!!
Try it, you'll like it, and who knows you may go to work in an espresso stand and need it to stop those that would do you harm!!
I will add that i don't really think it was needed to print the girls entire names or area of residents, but, that is another story much like the NY Journal News reporting of all legal gun permit holders in the paper with Google locations.
Troubles are coming and if no one has guns it will be a cake walk for their evil intentions.

rickvh 01/12/13 - 12:48 am
one, four or forty, everyone

one, four or forty, everyone is a step forward. The "stigma" of firearms will fall...

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 01/16/13 - 11:11 pm
Disbelief in the lack of responce here.

Man for the life of me i can't figure this out. Why aren't more people incouraging this class for our youth, OR THEIR CHILDREN, as well as our women folk, along with a few men as well who need to be better gun handlers to teach others properly, not hotdogs.
I guess when you no longer are allowed to do things like this then there will be a massive push for it, but, then it will be to late. Teach & prepare now while you still can and the ammo is still available and cheap enough to afford it. The state helps pay for this, take advantage of it's benifits PLEASE for the GOOD & PROTECTION of ALL.

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