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God and guns: Jemison church provides unique ministry

: Rocky Mount United Methodist Church Pastor Phil Guin practices shooting a target at the gun range located behind the church. (Photos by Emily Reed)

 Rocky Mount United Methodist Church Pastor Phil Guin practices shooting a target at the gun range located behind the church. (Photos by Emily Reed)

When members of Rocky Mount United Methodist Church in Jemison got together to decide what to do with unused property behind the church building, they decided to create a gun range.

“We have had this large hole in the back of our property at the church for quite some time, and we thought it would be neat to start a gun range,” Rocky Mount United Methodist Pastor Phil Guin said. “The hole was primarily filled with kudzu, and had been used at one time to get fill dirt for the new facility that was built on the end of our church building.”

Guin said several female church members mentioned they owned or carried firearms but did not know how to properly use them.

“We started working on the gun range about a year ago with some of the members of our church helping to clean out the hole,” Guin said. “Not only did we think it would be a good outlet for members of our church to be able to learn more about gun safety, but it would be a good outreach for the community.”

The gun range is designed to be an inexpensive and safe refuge for those interested in practicing their skills or learning how to safely operate a firearm, according to a pamphlet about the gun range provided by the church.

Church members hope the gun range will serve as an outreach for the community, and provide an outlet for members of the church to learn more about gun safety

Church members hope the gun range will serve as an outreach for the community, and provide an outlet for members of the church to learn more about gun safety

Guin said this year the Jemison Police Department used the gun range to provide firearm training through annual Citizens Academy, a tool that allows participants to meet once a week and become more informed about the inner workings of the police department.

Since the opening of the gun range, the church formed the Rocky Mount Hunt and Gun Club LLC, a separate, membership-only, not-for-profit entity.

Currently, the requirements to use the gun range include becoming a member of the Rocky Mount Hunt and Gun Club, or be a guest member of an individual who is a member.

“We also ask that anyone who comes and shoots here sign a release of liability form and agree to the terms of the release,” Guin said. “We also have a sign with the rules for the range posted, and ask those that come to review the rules before they begin shooting.”

The range, located in a fenced area behind the church, has an area for cardboard or paper targets (individuals supply the targets), or an area with hanging metal targets for plinking, informal target shooting done at nonstandard targets, (the use of small caliber ammo is not recommended for these targets). The range is also clearly marked with yardage signs and a specially designed shooting table.

“Really, the whole purpose of this range is to provide recreational and gun safety in a warm, loving, Christian environment,” Guin said. “We wanted to come up with some different ideas to help our church grow, and we thought this would be a unique ministry to offer to the community.”

Guin anticipates offering gun safety classes in the future to the public, and to develop the property to include a shelter with shade.

“Right now, we are just really happy with how everything turned out,” Guin said. “We found a use for the small ‘Grand Canyon’ behind our church, and turned it into something that is pretty cool.”

To join the Rocky Mount Hunt and Gun Club LLC, email chaplainguin@yahoo.com.

Membership to the club is $50 for a one-year membership for families and $25 for individuals.

The gun range is located directly behind the church at 14731 County Road 51 in Jemison.