25th Anniversary of Nation’s Longest-Running NRA Youth Shooting Camp

GSL Defense Training photo by John Boch.

Watching young people gain self-empowerment and confidence shooting handguns makes me happy. That serves as the payoff for me and my fellow GSL Defense Training instructors at America’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in Bloomington, Ilinois.

Darnall’s GunWorks and Ranges hosts the kids each year for a four-day, three-night gun camp on their property. And this proved to be another great year.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Take that, Joe “Buy a shotgun” Biden!

This session marked the 25th year for the event and I’ve been there for about twenty of those as an instructor on the pistol line. Our company, GSL Defense Training has run the line for about six years now.

We made sure these young men and women stayed safe while having fun and learning some life skills. We had 102 young people attended this year and while many years ago, the boys outnumbered the girls almost two to one, this year the girls outnumbered the boys by a fair margin.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

As much as I love teaching manly-skills to young men (instilling toxic levels of masculinity), I love empowering women even more.  After all, while God made men and women, Sam Colt made them equal (1 2 Lots more).

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

I would also bet this is the only National Rifle Association summer gun camp sponsored in part by the City of Chicago’s gun buyback program thanks to Guns Save Life‘s plucky activism.

It’s only proper that we show Chicago’s new Mayor Lori Lightfoot what her tax money is buying. After all, she’s the one who continues buying our mostly non-fuctioning, rust-laden junk for perfectly good cash.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Somehow, I don’t think Lori funds those buyback to pay for big smiles like these.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

On kids like these.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue and Jeff Schwarm

We make it fun for participants with lots of shade, fans, music and a great time for all. This year, we had an almost one-to-one instructor to participant ratio so the kids got lots of individual coaching and instruction.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

And they did well. After an introduction and dry-firing (above), we had them shoot about 60 to 70 rounds in practice with instructors coaching all the while. Then they shot ten for score.

The top five shooters in each relay then got to shoot their choice of (mostly) center-fire “pistols.”  Oh yes, and a retro “M-16” just for giggles. We’re sure Mayor Lightfoot and her minions would approve.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

It was interesting to watch some of the top shooters pondering the choices.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

At other times, I’m not sure who was prouder of some of those targets, the kids or the instructors.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

And shooting like that certainly gets you into the bonus round.  In this case shooting .357 Magnum loads.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Speaking of giggles, the Kel-Tec PLR-16 “Giggler” returned. The kids so-named the gun because it makes grown men giggle like little schoolgirls when it’s fired.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

“Are you sure I can do this?”  Oh yeah.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

And her expression after shooting it?

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

That wasn’t so bad!

Here’s another determined kid shooting a .357 with full-house .357 loads. He’s going to remember this day for the rest of his life.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Other stations at the camp included rifles, black powder, Cowboy Action shooting, air rifle, air pistol, trap, archery, Ruger Steel Challenge, paintball and more.

While not all of these stations had shade, music or “The Giggler”, they all had experienced instructors — sometimes of them Olympic-level, teaching the fundamentals and ensuring everyone’s safety.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Of course, some of those Olympic-level instructors from the Central Illinois Precision Shooters were looking to recruit future shooters. CIPS shooters, under Coach Joe Miller, have done very well at national matches, including Rylie Passmore who won the sub-junior division of the NRA Air Rifle Nationals Standing event this year.

Instead of attending as a camp participant this year, National Champion Rylie worked as the youngest junior staffer ever (at barely 13 years old), teaching her peers how to shoot air rifles at that station.

All in all everyone had a great time.

Guns Save Life donated three Beretta target pistols and two CMP air rifles that Darnall’s awarded to camp attendees (well, mom or dads) using some of Chicago’s money. Other individuals and organizations donated long guns as well, about two dozen in all. Attendees had about a one-in-four chance of going home with a gun.

The camp will happen again next year. The cost is about $125 and includes food, guns, ammo, etc. Participants need to bring a tent, sleeping bag and personal hygiene stuff.  Darnall’s asks participants to leave their electronics at home or with mom and dad. See the Darnall’s website to register.

Here are some additional photos from the pistol line. Pro-gun organizations wishing for higher-resolution images for pro-gun promotion, contact us at TTAG.  We have these and over 2,000 other photos from the event.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue.

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

 

GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

comments

  1. avatar Jamie in North Dakota says:

    I love it! And the anti-NRA crowd wants to do away with outreach programs because it’s a “waste of dues”, SMH🤦‍♂️

    1. avatar Scott says:

      This is one of the many places we used to think all of our dues were being spent. Not on cruises and transportation to coax the BOD to a meeting in Alaska, high priced lawyers (who should not be necessary to defend NRAs questionable tax exempt status), or VERY high priced Hollywood suits, when a trip to a top tier Macy’s in Northern Virginia should do.

      1. avatar Kip says:

        I am guessing you don’t know much about not for profits, be they charitable or membership based, how they fundraiser or what the IRS laws are.

        Not for profits routinely spend a fair amount on fundraising, including junkets for large donors. It doesn’t affect their tax status.

        These youth programs are almost certainly done by one of the charity arms of the NRA.But googling the Alaska trip this looks have been done by charity arm and not deductible or deducted.

        It is very common for non profits charitable or not to have destination venue meetings for leadership and major donors. Are you saying red cross can do it, aarp can do it, and other major non profits can do it but NRA can’t?

        The NRA’s problem is quite specific: While having large portions or often most or all of operations run by third party vendors is common enough for associations, it presents some dangers. The NRA got in a feedback loop with its vendors probably legal but also unethical use of the vendors control of NRA TV as a slush fund.

        This is not uncommon. It would not usually be illegal or even remarkable of a bloomberg charity slush find were buying David Hogg’s book on huge quantity or paying all kinds of fees to Shannon watts.

        What the problem with the nratv fund was, was that consulting fees were paid to some nra board members or leadership this creating a conflict of interest or outright corruption with the nra persons who were supposed to oversee the vendor.

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      It doesn’t outweigh the danger the NRA poses and has posed to the exercise of the unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms. Screw Negotiating Rights Away.

  2. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    And a good time was had by all!

    Out-by-God-standing story!

  3. avatar Mark N. says:

    Thumbs up! That made me smile.

  4. avatar Ranger Rick R says:

    I love those pictures and the happy smiles on those kids faces. Every time I’ve taken kids shooting they’ve loved it, I feel sorry those that never get that experience.

  5. avatar David Deplorable says:

    Kudos for a job well done!

    Where were events like this when I was a kid?

  6. avatar strych9 says:

    There were some articles over at BB&C in the past few years that dovetail nicely with this.

    Youth shooting camp = mentoring. No offense, but a lot of ya’ll could use a primer on how to talk to younger folks and bring them into the fold. You’re often not wrong and you’ve usually got a great “product” to sell, but sometimes you undercut your own message with how you sell it.

    (You being a general term for PoTG in this case but particularly the people over about 50. I’m not singling out anyone one person with “you”. It’s a generic term.)

    https://www.breachbangclear.com/millennial-mentoring/

    and

    https://www.breachbangclear.com/time-for-mentoring/

    are both worth the read.

    1. avatar John Boch says:

      These aren’t millennials we were mentoring. Agree on the mentoring. One of the kids, a veteran from last year, was quoting something one of our instructors (Jeff Schwarm) said last year to him to another instructor, Mr. Davis.

      To say that we are making a huge positive impression on these young people would be the understatement of the year. Watching these kids successfully handle full-sized handguns effectively (showing defensive accuracy and then some) and safely warms our hearts. Because we know someday, they may need these skills to defend themselves, their families or their friends.

      I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m starting to see the kids of campers from 20 years ago.

      God, I’m getting old.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Mr Boch,

        I understand the difference. I was just adding some information to the pile for the group of people out there who might wonder how they can get involved in something like this but may have a different group of people to work with. Sort of just stuff to add to the overall “mentoring at large” folder. And also pointing out that some of the older folks in the gun community are… uh, well not exactly PoTGs’ best ambassadors, not because they’re bad people or anything but because they don’t really understand how to deal with the situation.

        Kids at the age in your story are much more impressionable which is good and bad at the same time. Done right, as it seems to be, it’s great but there’s a whole group of older people who didn’t get this kind of thing, are still open to the idea, and need to be treated differently to bring them over to our side. Treating them the way a lot of people, even here on TTAG, talk about them is asking for them to tune us out, to our detriment and theirs.

        Keep up the good work.

        1. avatar John Boch says:

          Agreed 1000% w/ your clarification.

      2. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

        You may be getting old but your legacy will live on and, with luck, will be passed along.

  7. avatar Rick O’Chet says:

    Excellent! Thank you to the City of Chicago taxpayers for helping to fund this program!

    Very good coverage Mr. Boch and good to see Mr. Davis in there too. Thanks to both of you and all the others for teaching safety and proper handling of firearms to the youngsters.

  8. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Unfortunately the NRA is not really interested in growing the gun community. Because they retreated from the National education debate decades ago. Having grown adults shot a gun for the first time is not really helping the gun owning population to grow.

    The vast majority of American children don’t have a grandfather or a father, with a gun to teach them with. I was lucky the boys scouts had air rifles when I was a member.

    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/happy-fathers-day-to-all-the-pro-gun-dads-out-there-who-taught-us-right/#comment-4302725

    The NRA has been a “select club” since about the 1973 or 1975. That’s when the anti civil rights crowd started to remove 2A education and end rifle teams at the high school level.

    The NRA use to have 6 or 7 people that helped administer child shooting education on a national level. They coordinated with the boys scouts, 4H and other child focused shooting education groups. Now only one person is left in the entire NRA who works with these education gun shooting groups.

    Even obama’s high school had air rifle teams.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punahou_School

    The bottom line is the NRA has retreated from its primary mission. To educate the american population on gun safety, handling and shooting competition. Having one event, Camp Perry, is pretty dam sad in 2019. Compared to the thousands of shooting contests that use to happen over 100 years ago. All across the country.

    https://calwatchdog.com/2013/01/29/anti-gun-lawmakers-lead-hearing-today/

    “Ammiano was instrumental in getting rid of San Francisco’s High School competitive .22 cal rifle teams, and worked to put an end to the junior ROTC program in San Francisco’s High Schools. Ammiano supported the ban on allowing gun owners to carry an unloaded gun in public. “Whether a gun is loaded or not, it’s still an act of intimidation and bullying,” Ammiano said.”

    The Homosexual lawmaker Tom Ammiano, an ex SF cop, wrote the california law making rape and stalking victims wait an extra ten days to get a gun. Before that this childless man destroyed the 2A education system in the SF school system. How does a proud gay male think he knows better than a woman, making her wait, who has been raped, when she wants to get a gun????

    Everyone complains about the Parkland kids and David Hogg. If we had 50 million other school children learning about their gun civil rights in the public school system, they would be outnumbered.

    The NRA should be fighting for 2A education in the public school system. Including shooting teams.

    1. avatar B says:

      Chris T,

      Amiano was not a former SF Cop.

      He served on the San Francisco Board of Stupervisors (SF’s version of City Council).

      He was very unpopular with the SFPD Police Officer’s Association because he’s always been a radical politician lawmaker that would ultimately hamstring the PD from doing it’s job effectively. He later brought the same ideology to the State level.

      1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

        Perhaps my memory has failed me. I will research this. I grew up in north california in the 1970s. Tom Ammiano was often in the news.

        1. avatar B says:

          Oh, he’s a huge activist and resident, and SF was his playground for sure. He held office for a long time in different capacities, but never wore blue or a star.

    2. avatar Kip says:

      I disagree with this post. In my area the NRA subsidizes and provided trained adults for youth hunter education through a number of IWLA wildlife conservation facilities and well as other clubs. Anyone familiar with that knows it is 75% target shooting.

      I’ve got a reasonable amount of firearms experience but people who are certified instructors know a bit more from experience on how to teach people young people.

      The NRA’s massive nationwide teaching of gun safety to adults and kids is a huge part of its high name recognition and favorability of its name which dovetails with its rights advocacy work.

  9. avatar Nanashi says:

    Did they tell any of the kids about how they endorsed federal law that prohibits every single one of them from owning a handgun?

    1. avatar Kip says:

      When was that, three generations ago?

      And have you seen legislative records of groups people are proposing as alternatives? They are worse

  10. avatar B says:

    I say get them started early, safely and responsibly. The sooner they’re exposed to firearms correctly, the less likely they’ll be negatively influenced by hating assclown peers, educators and venom spewing college professors.

    I remember my brothers and I earning our NRA Junior Marksmanship Program patches as kids in the early 70s. It was full steam ahead for us ever since.

    Too bad the NRA is but a shadow of it’s former self now, but it didn’t stop me from raising my kids around guns early on too.

    Now that they’ve flown the coop, I only hope they continue the legacy with their youngsters. The younger generation these days are at such a disadvantage.

    But seeing the faces of these kids in this article, enjoying themselves in a responsible environment is fantastic. I see a lot of peers soon to be jealous of these youngsters, lol. And knowing all those liberal gun hating parents that are just cringing right now, makes it even more satisfying!😉

  11. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    If you’re not spreading the virtues of the 2nd Amendment to the next generation you’re neglecting them. Each child needs to know how to safely handle a firearm and defend themselves. It’s an American right and tradition, do your part.

  12. avatar Retro says:

    This is a great event and a good friend and his son are instructors at it every year. Huge shout out to everyone involved for going out and doing what we all should be doing.

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