Wanting to shoot is one thing that most every kid wants to do at some point, especially boys. In many cases kids lack ample opportunities to learn or hone shooting skills. There are several organizations where kids can get the opportunity to learn and hone their shooting skills. Boy Scouts of America is one of the leading organizations to offer these chances.
At the moment I am penning this article I am currently a temporary resident of Tom Hale Scout Reservation in eastern Oklahoma with an almost rhythmic sound of shotgun rounds going off in the distance as young men earn their shotgun merit badge.
Once the Boy Scout troop that I am active in arrived, I contacted the Range Master over the rifle range and received the ok to sit in on some classes and share with you the experience.
The two young gentlemen teaching the course are Kyle and Ian. To qualify to teach a merit badge for any shooting sport the instructor(s) must first pass National Rifle Association instructor training courses for the given shooting activity.
The first thing drilled into each scout’s brain is that, any time they are on the range or near a firearm, safety must be first.
The three main rules are;
- Always keep the rifle pointed in a safe direction (down range).
- Keep your finger off of the trigger until ready to fire.
- Keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
Kyle and Ian made sure that these points were driven home before moving to the importance of treating every gun with the respect required a firearm, even their BB and pellet guns. Eye and ear protection was the next point to be driven home, followed by an active open discussion of gun laws in which the scouts had to name off laws they knew first.
The scouts also learned the importance of game conservation and the role that guns play in the management of our wildlife. The young scouts managed to name off most of the wild game that hunting helps manage the population of the region, with just a few added by the instructors.
When it came to the parts of the rifle the instruction was kept simple. Barrel, Stock and Action, or B.S.A, should make it easy for the boy scouts to remember. Cartridge types and the pieces that make them up were explained and examples shown for the boys could tell and know the difference. Kyle continued on by explaining the most common types of ammunition mishaps and what to do in each situation.
The scouts were asked what are they thought were the most important factors to look for when buying a gun and overall gave almost perfect answers from quality to price being given as factors. They did however need some help on how to research and get the best information before their purchase.
To earn their rifle merit badge each scout must shoot five groups of five shots each, with each group being capable of being covered by a quarter. Consistency was the main concern when it came to passing the range portion of the merit badge, not the scoring of where the shots landed on the target.
The target is set at a distance of 50 feet and each scout used an identical rifle. Camp Hale depends on the Marlin model 15 Range Rifle for the scouts to earn their rifle merit badge. Each scout camp gets to determine which make a model rifle they employ for these activities, as long as they are 22 Long rifle, single shot and bolt action. I have seen many different makes and models used, from the standard Ruger with old fashioned iron sites to an Anschutz with peep sites.
Along with rifle, scouts have the opportunity to learn the skills needed for shotgun, black powder and archery.
In the case that you have or know a young person that wants to learn to shoot or could just benefit from learning the qualities needed to be a leader, look into getting them involved in Boy Scouts. If that youngster is a young lady they can join a Venture crew and learn all sorts of useful knowledge while having a ton of fun. Even if it is not Boy Scouts, get our youth involved in programs that will guide them to being great leaders in our communities, states, nation and our world. We all know that we need good strong leaders to have a brighter future and might even be surprised at how much fun you will have helping shape these future leaders.
Happy shooting, God bless America and God bless you and yours