Telegram Staff Writer
They fire their guns and arrows at wild game, but Jesus is the true target of the Legacy Outfitters.
'We are about having a relationship with Jesus Christ,' said Beau Bush of Temple, a member of the Outfitters shooting focus group. 'We want to be good husbands and good fathers, the kind of men God wants us to be.'
But to make that happen, it usually requires prayer and intimate discussion in a small-group setting.
'And that's generally tough to make happen for a bunch of guys who'd rather go hunting than anything else,' Bush said.
So to make it easier, the non-profit Legacy Outfitters organization was formed in 2002.
'It gives the man's man, the man who likes to hunt and fish, a place to be and worship while doing something they like,' said Larry Thompson of Belton, the man who helped organize the Temple-Belton branch in 2005 alongside Bush, Bryan Rugh of Belton and Todd Vincent of Temple. 'It's awesome,' Vincent said. 'You get a chance to relax and hang out with guys who have the same hobby.'
The Outfitters group has branches in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and 12 other Texas cities including Waco, Copperas Cove, Georgetown and Gatesville.
The Temple-Belton branch has a variety of activities to offer participants.
On the first Tuesday of the month, a shooting focus group meets for target practice and prayer on Bush's property.
'We spend the whole evening together, enjoying each other's company getting some good shooting practice in,' Bush said. 'Then we sit down and share a meal together.'
And depending on the month and season, the group will have a Bible study, devotional or open prayer service after the meal.
The whole Temple-Belton Outfitters branch meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Centex Sportsmans Club for a banquet and program.
Then on the fourth Tuesday of the month, the archery focus group meets on Rugh's property. There participants spend about an hour and a half aiming their arrows at plastic deers and hogs hidden in the trees before retiring to a dinner and Bible study.
'Being outside helps build friendships. You're having fun, joking and challenging each other,' Vincent said. 'Walls will come down, and people relax. If you can get that part done outside, then it's easier to come inside and talk about the issues you're facing with yourself, your faith, your spouse or job.'
Outfitters lessons also advocate the necessity of a strong home life.
'Men are to be good stewards of time, money and resources,' said Scot Hrbacek of Temple. 'We're trying to encourage hunters and fishermen not to forget about families in hunting season. We want them to incorporate their families in that time and meet their needs before they pursue the hunt.
'The priority is in marriage. You've got to honor your wife, be a good example to the kids and become a good outdoorsman who believes in Christ.'
But the single men aren't left in the dust.
'We here for them too,' Vincent said. 'Whatever your stress or hurt is, we've all been there.'
Any man 17 and older is welcome to participate.
'And you don't have to belong to a certain church to participate,' Thompson said. 'It's non-denominational.'
His buddy, Vincent, said Outfitters guys don't necessarily have to be in the habit of going to church every Sunday.
'It's not about that,' Vincent said. 'You can study your Bible and know Jesus without going to church.'
The Outfitters group is just a place for that to happen.
'Without drinking or chewing,' Vincent added.
No dues are required to participate. The organization has a fundraiser once a year to raise money for activities and equipment.
'Guys who are regulars should come with their own guns and bows,' Thompson said.
But if shooting or archery is new to you, that's OK.
'A lot of us have extras,' Thompson said. 'We'd be happy to teach you and help you get started. It's a good group of guys to be around.'
For more information about the Legacy Outfitters, visit www.legacyoutfitters.org or contact Thompson at email@example.com or 760-7801.
---Did you know?
Legacy Outfitters founder Jeff Fritscher has a weekly radio show called 'The Outdoor Report' on 1660 AM ESPN Radio. It airs at 3:40 p.m. Thursdays.
The ministry of Legacy Outfitters is based on Matthew 4:19.
The local branch of Legacy Outfitters is looking to expand its role in the community. So far its members have raised money for area youth groups and helped with construction at Helping Hands. If you have an idea on how the Outfitters can help out area Scout troops or school groups, contact Larry Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-7801.