REED CITY \u2014 Nearly 60 youngsters gather at Reed City Middle School on a weekly basis to target practice with BB guns and pellet rifles, under the watchful eye of a number of adults, including Vern Benzing. Benzing coordinates the 4-H Shooting Sports program in Reed City, and said he believes there are currently 56 boys and girls involved in the 12-week program. He has been part of the program for \u201cabout 30 years.\u201d The youngsters are divided up into four groups, including five through eight-year-olds, nine through 11, 12 through 14, and 15 and up. Benzing said the program isn\u2019t a hunter education or hunter safety program, but it is meant to teach the youngsters four basic positions, and teach them how to handle a gun in a safe manner. He gives credit to Datus Montague \u201cfor starting the club to begin with, and he got me started. We did a lot of hunting, and did skeet and trap shooting year-round. Several other adults get credit too, including Tom Proefrock, Connie Hull and Gary Halliday, who was a leader for quite a few years.\u201d Benzing said his two sons have helped for many years, and Phil, who \u201cstarted out in 4-H Shooting Sports back when he was 11 or 12 years old, has been with it ever since.\u201d Phil is 39. Son Vern, 40, \u201cjust enjoyed helping us as long as he could, but now he\u2019s working second shift up in Cadillac, and can\u2019t be here as much. He wasn\u2019t much into shooting, but we talked him into helping anyway.\u201d Known as the Bad Toads since its inception more than 30 years ago, \u201cand now I\u2019m working with kids that are kids of the kids I started with, and one or two of them are actually beyond the 4-H years and helping out now.\u201d He noted that Gary and Linda Sweet were others \u201cwho worked with us for quite a few years too.\u201d The Bad Toads shoot during the winter months, 6:30 p.m. at the Reed City Middle School Cafeteria. \u201cWe tried some other places in the past, thinking we could maybe gain some more kids, but it seemed we lost more by doing that,\u201d Benzing said. Following the 12 weeks of shooting, Benzing said there is a 4-H Shooting Sports Awards Night. \u201cEverybody will get a participation medal, and for the older kids there will be a chance to get trophies. The state (MSU 4-H) doesn\u2019t allow trophies and that to be awarded to the five through eight year old group. It\u2019s part of the regulations they have, and they\u2019re trying to keep it fun for the little kids. They can learn then without having too much pressure put on them.\u201d After the first four weeks, \u201cthe eight and up divisions break up into different divisions after they\u2019ve learned to shoot in each position, and then they compete for gold, silver and bronze awards given at the end of the year.\u201d This year\u2019s Shooting Awards Night is set for April 12 in the Reed City Middle School Cafeteria.