Last year I attended the annual Mid-South Region PowWow at Boondocks Firearms Training Academy (BFTA) in Raymond, Mississippi. There, I had the chance to mingle with like-minded women from all over the South. I also met an adorable furry firearms friend, Boonie the Sheepdog. Boonie, the newly adopted mascot for BFTA, and his trainers educate kids regarding what they should do if they find a gun. His message is a perfect mix of solid safety education with clever, easy-to-remember steps. I asked Boonie and his trainers some questions about their important — and much-needed — work with children and families.

Boonie the Sheepdog mascot wering a khaki vest and khaki hat, osing in front of a white wall bearing the logo for Boondocks Firearms Training Academy (BFTA)

Where did Boonie get his name?

The name “Boonie” actually derived from the “Boondocks” in Boondocks Firearms Training Academy, since we are the ones who adopted him as our mascot.

What’s the best part of being a sheepdog?

Besides being adorable, approachable and relatable, there’s significance in being a sheepdog. It has been said that there are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Sheep are quiet and peaceful in nature. They are often unaware of the dangers that surround them. Their quiet nature and lack of awareness make them ill-prepared to respond when a threat arises. Wolves have no respect for peace and quiet. They intend to harm and are determined to use whatever means necessary to prey on the sheep. Sheepdogs are quiet and peaceful. They do not seek violence or confrontation. They will, however, protect the sheep. Thus, sheepdogs possess the attitude, ability and awareness to defend against a wolf when necessary.

What is Boonie’s mission?

Boonie’s mission is to educate as many kids as possible on what they are to do if they come across a gun, using a fun and memorable approach. The kids LOVE him!

What do you hope children can learn from Boonie?

Boonie the Sheepdog’s message is simple. Kids learn to “Pause,” “Turn Tail,” and “Sniff Out an Adult.” Once they can recite the message, they become Boonie’s Buddy. And with becoming Boonie’s Buddy, they receive a backpack filled with reminders to help them retain the safety messages and share them with family and friends.

Bright green Boonie's Buddy backpack along with a sticker, coloring book and crayons

Where can we learn more about Boonie and his efforts?

Boonie the Sheepdog is a part of the non-profit 501c3 BFTA Educational Foundation. The Boonie Project is one of many programs BFTA Educational Foundation provides free of charge to communities. The foundation is funded strictly by donations, so the support of donors is vital in keeping the programs available. If you’d like to learn more and even contribute to Boonie’s educational mission, be sure to check them out! (Boonie even has his own Facebook page!)

Boonie and Team Share an Important Mission

Teaching children about firearm safety and responsibility is one of the most noble and important things we can do. It’s awesome to see folks like the owners of Boondocks, along with Boonie the Sheepdog, making a real effort. Such programs keep gun owners focused on education and training. The team shares potentially life-saving information with as large an audience as possible. I am proud to know the team and the trainers and, of course, Boonie himself!