A shooting range in Logan hosts summer camps to encourage firearm safety and confidence

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LOGAN, Ohio (WOUB) Reagan Strickland fired a pistol down range.

Her instructor, Judi Phelps, gave her some words of encouragement. Strickland fired another shot and Phelps congratulated her again.

Strickland was attending a summer camp at On Guard Defense for teenagers interested in using a firearm for self defense.

She said guns used to make her nervous, but they don’t anymore.

“I can confidently look at a gun and say that is not dangerous right now because it is unloaded or unarmed,” Strickland said.

That’s what Judi Phelps is hoping for.

Phelps, who owns On Guard Defense, designed the camp to teach new shooters how to safely operate a gun for protection. She said she particularly values working with teenage girls due to a traumatic experience of her own.

“Since I’m a woman I can relate to the special challenges that the world has,” Phelps said. “I’m also a rape survivor and having been on the wrong end of the gun … I realized there was no way for me to fight back against that.”

After that experience, Phelps wanted to learn how to use a gun herself but struggled to find good instruction.

“When I went to gun ranges in and around Columbus at that time, no one was really there to teach you anything,” Phelps said. “You pretty much signed a release form and then they shove you out on the range by yourself.”

The experience inspired her to found On Guard Defense. Her husband Scott — the person who eventually taught Phelps to shoot — now works there as a range safety officer.

The couple provide detailed, calm and encouraging training to newcomers. They feel their teaching method is more effective than what many gun ranges offer.

Judi Phelps teaching camp attendees how to properly shoot a gun.
Judi Phelps teaching camp attendees how to properly shoot a gun.

“Instead of teaching new shooters and acting like a drill sergeant and screaming at them because they did something wrong, we should tell them what to do first, teach them how to do it first and correct them if they make a mistake,” Scott Phelps said.

Judi Phelps said their approach makes the girls taking the camp more confident using a weapon.

“A couple of these girls were really afraid and yet they turned out to be our best shooters,” Phelps said.

Now that she has attended the camp, Reagan Strickland said she sees a purpose for owning a firearm.

“I’m so much more comfortable with them now,” Strickland said.