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Ready, aim, fire: DCSO hosts firearms class and range day
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Edwina McMahon aims a revolver ready to fire for the first time at the DCSO Firearms Range Day June 16. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office recently held a range day for Dawson County citizens to learn gun safety and give them a chance to get out to the range to fire some weapons.

Forty-five participants packed up and traveled to the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office range ready to aim and fire at targets on June 16.

The course, which consists of a classroom session and range session, is free for all Dawson County residents regardless of firearm experience.

“The reality is that there’s plenty of places to go buy guns but there’s not that many places to go obtain training. This is just a benefit that we feel is needed,” said Sheriff Jeff Johnson. “We’ve always operated under the belief of empowering our people. I think this is just one of the ways that we do it. We take our knowledge, experience and training, and help convey that to our community. I think that’s a win for us. It helps to keep them safe.”

During the classroom session, participants learn the basics of safe pistol handling, the fundamentals of shooting and proper operations of revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Then on the range, officers worked with citizens on their stance, trigger pull and grip as they learned to shoot a variety of guns from .22 caliber revolvers to 9mm and .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols as well as AR style rifles and larger rifles.

“We always have a great turnout. Every class that we do there’s always a strong turnout from experienced to unexperienced shooters,” said Lt. Zach Stewart. “You have those who have been shooting their whole life and just want a little extra practice and you have those, mostly ladies, that have never shot a gun before and are deathly afraid of a gun and this is a great introduction for them.”

And that was just the case last Saturday morning for the McMahons, who had never shot before, and the Cunninghams, who were very familiar with shooting.

“I’ve just always wanted to learn to shoot a gun so I thought that this would be the best way to do it,” said Edwina McMahon.

Along with her husband, known as Mr. Bob, the McMahons had never fired a gun but were excited for the opportunity provided by the sheriff’s office.

“One of the reasons why I do it is because I hear gun shots all in my neighborhood all the time – you know some day I might have to protect my family,” Bob said.

Edwina, who uses a cane to help her walk, was surprised how easy shooting is for her.

“That just proves you can do it with a cane. It’s not that difficult,” she said. “We’ve been looking for a hobby together too. This might be it – going to the shooting range.”

But for the Cunninghams, going to the range was familiar territory.

“I have a lot to learn,” said Nancy Cunningham, who hadn’t shot in a while. “The class was really great. I recommended it to a lot of people. So many people don’t know anything about guns. I don’t know much about them. It’s a great class.”

Her husband, Rory, on the other hand felt right at home at the range. He even brought two of his guns to shoot for extra practice.

“I’m glad they do it,” Rory said.

“We love it. The officers are excited about it. Plus the community building I think is just great to build those bonds,” Johnson said. “Our community programs we really tried to elevate. You know, we’re a smaller agency, can’t be everywhere but if we can use situations like that and help people protect themselves I think it’s so important.”

The next Citizen’s Firearms Range Day is scheduled for July 21. Citizens of Dawson County may sign up to participate. Two safety classes will be offered at the sheriff’s office training room July 17 and July 19. Those who wish to participate must attend one of the classroom sessions. For more information, please email Ann Martin at or call (706) 344-3535.