Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Ryan Welch

Martin passes the torch at Bear Paw Junior Rifle Club


Last updated 6/22/2018 at 11:47am

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Randy Martin poses for a photograph Monday in the VFW Bear Paw Junior Rifle Club shooting range. Martin, after 34 years as an instructor and lead instructor at the club, has turned its leadership over to Errol Niedert.

Thirty-four years. That is how long Randy Martin has been an instructor, then the lead instructor, for the VFW Bear Paw Junior Rifle Club.

He was introduced to the club when he was 9 and was an active member until he left for the U.S. Army at 18.

"After I came back (from the Army) I felt like I owed (the rifle club) something and I have been here ever since," said Martin, who turned the leadership of the club over to Errol Niedert while he battled cancer.

While more than a thousand different kids have come through the club - including Niedert's daughters Abby and Linzy - under his leadership, Martin still remembers many of their first days, remembers coaching them and watching "some of them work so hard at it and achieve a lot."

"Some of my favorite moments are reflecting on the kids and seeing how far they have come," Martin added, before pointing to the reason he came back to the club this one last time.

Monday, Martin signed his last award, to Abby Niedert, 15, who joined the club when she was 9. In April, she achieved the Distinguished Expert Rifleman Award, which is the highest rank that the National Rifle Association gives to junior rifle club members.

He said he remembers her first days, too.

"I remember watching her come in and thinking to myself, 'She sure doesn't have a lot of talent,'" Martin said.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Abby Niedert, 15, hugs Randy Martin Monday in the VFW Bear Paw Junior Rifle Club shooting range. Martin, who passed the torch as lead instructor to Niedert's father, Errol Niedert, came to the club Monday to present her with her Distinguished Expert Rifleman Award.

"My first day here I did what every first-time shooter to the club does, which is use a block that you lay the muzzle on and shoot prone targets," Niedert said. "I missed every shot, and not by a little."

Niedert, while not having the natural talent, had the perseverance, Martin added.

"Abby was never mediocre and would always put her head into (what she was doing)," Martin said.

She has shot in four state and national matches, placing in both team and individual events.

And it shows in all of her activities. Niedert is a member of the Hi-Line United U17 Soccer Club 2018 state champion team.

Junior rifle clubs in Montana have not all done well in the last decade, Martin said. The state used to have 50 different clubs. That number has wilted to only four.

Martin said he might have been the lead instructor of many successful club members, but he gives much of the credit to the parents who really pushed and helped the shooters and to his wife, Laura.


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