Outreach For Outdoor Fans Draws Crowd

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The inaugural “Shoot for the Heart” bass fishing seminar sponsored by Mountain Bible Church was an overwhelming success attracting about 200 attendees, including a throng of children.

The event, held Jan. 28 at the local church, featured Payson professional bass fisherman Clifford Pirch, who not only doled out fishing tips and hints to those present, but also shared his Christian faith and the ordeal he and his family endured when daughter Kaille was diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

During that trying period, Pirch was winless on the pro tour for about a year.

Steadfastly clinging to his faith, Pirch broke out of the slump in early November 2009 by winning $105,820 and the championship of the Walmart FLW Series National Guard Western Division tournament on Clear Lake, Calif.

With his daughter now in remission and another season of competition on the horizon, Pirch is optimistic he will again find success when he travels Feb. 10 to 13 to Shreveport, La. for an FLW Tour tournament.

Pirch calls the Shoot for the Heart concept “a really neat deal that allows people something to do that is free when a lot of them are out of work.”

He says the large turnout at the seminar he hosted was not a surprise because many local people are interested in bass fishing, both recreationally and competitively.

On hand at the bass seminar was former bass fishing pro Mark Kile, who once encouraged Pirch to never give up on his dream of making a living on the fishing circuit.

Kile teamed with Laura Pederson at the seminar to provide games and activities for the younger set.

In addition to Pirch’s presentation and the children’s games, the seminar was highlighted by door prizes including four highly regarded Rouge fishing rods.

The idea behind Shoot for the Heart is to provide a stage for outdoorsmen and women to gather in a show of camaraderie to share fishing, hunting, camping and other outdoor stories, tips and suggestions. The church’s Web site says, “The purpose is to help families who love the outdoors become better hunters and fishermen, and build relationships with others who share the same interests.”

The hosts of upcoming seminars include some of the finest outdoorsmen and women in the state including Dean Pederson who will lead a session on mule deer hunting. The date has not yet been finalized. Other seminars, which will be held once each month, will be on outdoor cooking, archery hunting, trout fishing and more. For more information on Shoot for the Heart, call (928) 472-7800.

Wrestling on deck

Town youth recreation and sports coordinator Joseph Harris is urging parents to register their children for the Little Longhorn Wrestling program before the Feb. 11 deadline. The fee is $25 and the program is open to students in the third- through eighth-grades. The camp begins Feb. 23 and continues for four weeks.

Harris has a special affinity for the program because he’s also a Payson High School assistant wrestling coach and knows the program is the foundation where Longhorn wrestlers are molded. At the conclusion of the camp, a tournament will be held in Wilson Dome. A bonus, Harris says, is that each camper has the option of volunteering to assist at the Arizona State High School Dual Meet State Championship to be contested Feb. 19 and Feb. 20 in Wilson Dome. That opportunity will give fledgling grapplers an up close and personal glimpse of high school wrestling at its finest. To learn more, contact the parks department Monday through Thursday at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

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