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Riflery: a specialty opportunity for camp.

Riflery programs have always been popular at camp. They provide firearms education in a safe, well-supervised environment. A shooting program can constructively channel campers' fascination with guns, teach responsibility, develop character and self-concept, and promote safety, sportsmanship, and ethical behavior.

Most of the 44 boys and 12 girls, ages 12 to 17, at the week-long Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Camp at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, Va. come to improve their shooting skills in shotgun, rifle, air rifle, air pistol, or archery. For six hours each day, they receive intensive training from certified range coaches.

Following their daily range training, the campers can swim, canoe, fish, or participate in informal recreation events. Specialty activities, such as the Seneca Run, which incorporates many old mountain man contests; a snake show; reloading workshops; wildlife identification contests; sports nutrition training; and first aid classes are conducted throughout the week.

The shooting program is sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Federal Cartridge Company, the Virginia Shooting Sports Association, and the National Rifle Association.

Five disciplines offered

Youth attending the Virginia Shooting Education Camp concentrate on one of five shooting disciplines. Smallbore rifle participants are divided into beginner and intermediate classes, which are determined by their shooting skill and the quality of equipment they use. Although most shooters bring their own equipment, loaner guns are available. Air rifle and pistol participants share a range with instructors, who coordinate the shooting schedules.

Instructors divide shotgun participants into beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes and have them practice on separate ranges. Beginners start with easy incoming shots and move to more difficult stations as their skills improve.

Intermediate shooters are usually returning campers or more experienced shooters. They train on difficult crossing shots or use the sporting clays machine, which provides exposure to simulated hunting situations.

Advanced shotgun classes concentrate on trap and skeet shooting. These campers spend at least one day on a local trap/skeet field.

The camp first offered archery instruction in 1996. Campers concentrate on developing their shooting skills with the recurve bow. Instructors follow the Level I National Archery Association training program.

Supervision is the key

The key to a safe shooting program is supervision by well-trained instructors. The Virginia 4-H program has trained instructors interested in working with the camp program. Last year, 28 volunteers assisted the program. They provided range instruction, supervised activities and events, provided cabin supervision, and served as medical staff.

Range instructors are certified in a discipline by the NRA, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or the Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Program. Volunteers complete an application that requires references as well as youth training experience and certification.

Developing a program

Many good resources are available to help develop a shooting program. Start with your state's department of fish and game.

Most states have a hunter education training program and a wide network of volunteer hunter education instructors. In addition to offering the required hunter education classroom training, many volunteers are trained and certified to offer firearms instruction. They also have a variety of outdoor skills that make the program more interesting and exciting for your campers.

4-H has a national program to train volunteers for shooting sports. Your state's shooting sports coordinator or local 4-H agent can put you in touch with trained instructors interested in developing a shooting camp program. 4-H agents will also have access to many potential campers for your program.

Another good resource is the National Rifle Association's state affiliate organizations. Each state has a chair responsible for youth shooting programs. The chair is a valuable resource in identifying volunteers and may even assist with financing, equipment, or purchasing supplies.

Even if you don't plan to affiliate with the NRA, the Planning Guide for NRA Shooting Sports Camps, available from the NRA's safety and education division, provides valuable information on developing a shooting sports camp program. It gives basic lesson plans and suggestions for developing different shooting sports camp programs that range from basic shooting camps to competition camps and leadership development camps. It also offers suggestions on working with a planning team, camp insurance, camp themes, camp safety, liability and medical releases, advertising and promotion, and other support areas.

Other worthwhile resources include USA Shooting, which sponsors camps that want to affiliate as Junior Olympic Shooting Sports Camps, and the Camp Riflery Program, available through Junior Shooting Sports USA. Both programs will work with camps to develop shooting programs.

Shooting programs provide a natural match with many camp programs that look to develop campers' potential. Camp shooting programs teach the safe and responsible use of firearms and archery equipment. If you want a program with good potential that appeals to much of our society, a shooting program can be a great addition to your camp.

Editor's note: Contact the following people and organizations for more shooting sports information:

Rosemary Herr, Safety & Education Division, National Rifle Association, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

Leo Lujan, Junior shooting Sports U.S.A., P.O. Box 3207, Brentwood, TN 37024-3207

U.S.A. Shooting, One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Sandy Elkin, Friends of the NRA Foundation, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030

Jinx Baney, Shooting Camp Director, 100-A Tobacco Street, Lawrenceville, VA 23868

Richard Pulliam, CCD, is the center director at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center at Appomattox, Va. He is the shooting education coordinator for the Virginia 4-H Shooting Education Program and serves on the National 4-H Shooting Sports Committee.
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Author:Pulliam, Richard
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1997
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