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Making memories at nation's longest running NRA youth shooting camp

About 125 young people aged 9 to 16 made memories this past weekend. While attending the nation’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camp, these youngsters had a great time. After all, it’s tough to beat camping at night and shooting all day at a spacious private shooting facility. Coming from as far away as Indianapolis, these young people had fun making friends and memories at the four-day, three-night shooting camp.

We covered Friday’s shooting events in “The Nation’s Longest-Running NRA Youth Camp: Day One.”  After shooting shotguns, pistols and rifles on Friday, the young people sampled other shooting disciplines on Saturday and Sunday.

The SASS people put on a Cowboy Action Shooting clinic at one of the stations. Dressed in their Western apparel, the instructors made quite an impression, especially on the youngest kids.

Steel targets that go “ping” with each hit provide that satisfying instant feedback for the shooters. Yes, the Cowboy Action shooters made those old-fashioned “six guns” and classic lever guns a whole lot of fun.

While waiting their turn to shoot at the Cowboy station, adult staff took other campers down a creek bed with paintball guns, shooting at dozens of targets.

Meanwhile, rifle instructors taught basic rifle marksmanship to the kids on the rifle line. Lots of canopies and mild weather kept it enjoyable and fun.

On another range, instructors exposed the campers to the wonderful world of archery shooting, including bringing a big moving target.  From what I could tell, shooting at a moving target with a bow and arrow seemed very popular.

At still another range, these kids learned to shoot pistols at the pistol station I’ve supervised for five or more years now.  We pull out all of the stops to make it the most memorable station for the kids.

Most of the kids had shot handguns to some degree before showing up at our station. Regardless of past experience, we helped them shoot pistols better and more safely.  Yes, for the gun control advocates out there reading this: my fellow GSL Defense Training team and I teach kids how to shoot pistols. Safely.

And while we recognized some of the faces, a third or more of our shooters had never attended before this weekend. In even worse news for Michael Bloomberg, we made it really fun for the kids.

How did we do it?  Bigger, badder guns, of course!

We provided an opportunity for these young people to do things most kids have never done before. We took the five top scores of each relay of shooters and let them shoot their choice of guns from the “center fire” table of guns.

The bonus shooters had a blast. Literally.

Yes, the Kel-Tec PLR-16 5.56mm pistol, with its massive fireball and powerful concussion, turns heads and makes people smile.

Several years ago, campers nicknamed the little Kel-Tec “The Giggler” for its effect on even grown men. The name – and the gun’s reputation – have stuck. Even for those kids who never return to the camp again, they all remember “the Giggler”.

Meanwhile, the tamer but still awe-inspiring CZ Scorpion scored high marks from campers.

Simply put, the CZ Scorpion “pistol” (equipped with a support brace and red dot optic) proved priceless for the lucky campers who earned a chance to shoot it. Some of the boys bragged about using the Scorpion in online games. Firing the real deal made a dream come true for a few of them.

A SIG AR pistol proved to be the most sought-after “bonus round” pistol this year.

Look at that…you can see that young lady’s smile right through the gun. Yes, this 14-year-old had no problem shooting the pistol version of America’s favorite rifle. Someone should let Uncle Joe Biden know that even young teen girls can wield a potent firearm effectively.

Others chose more conventional handguns ranging from a .380 Beretta 85 to a .45 ACP Colt 1911. And even a .22 for those who wanted some rimfire action.

In the end, we helped each of the shooters learn to shoot safely and have fun.  Over just an hour of teaching, we watched as their shot groups became significantly smaller. All the while, we helped them see or experience new, fun and exciting things – some for the first time. Even better, we helped them make some great memories.

Ron Darnall, pictured above, and his wife Sue own the facility and started the camp 23 years ago. Today, they let the next generation of the family run the camp. For decades now, Ron and Sue have done great work to help bring young people and new shooters into the shooting sports.

At the same time, scores of volunteers, including dozens of experienced and skilled instructors, make the camp possible.

Volunteering at the camp is a great, family-friendly experience, even for the adults.

This camp proves — once again — that shooting brings smiles to peoples’ faces. It’s strange that you never seem to find smiles like these at Moms Demand Action gun control rallies.

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  1. “UGH this makes me sick!!! turning all these kids into killing machines with no regard to life. just look at the psychotic smile on his face!! no telling who he is imaging killing in that photo!!!”

    huh. so thats what its like thinking like an insane, biased, irrational anti-gunner. (shudder)

  2. Good, clean wholesome fun. Boch is right: you never see infectious smiles at gun control rallies.

    Bravo for a job well done, sir.

  3. One problem with this article: you don’t “make” shooting leverguns fun. It just is.

    Which is why the anti-gun forces will always be on the wrong side of the issue. Not only do we have natural human rights and constitutionally protected civil rights on our side, we have FUN — something a government-mandated list of thou-shalt-nots can only interfere with and never enhance.

  4. Now, on top of the actual physical shooting and safety instruction, please instruct these children about the ridiculousness that is the NFA and why those “pistols” have to have braces on them instead of regular stocks. And how by changing one little part and putting it to their shoulders now magically changes them from law abiding citizens into felons who have no rights and deserve to be fined and imprisoned.

    This, along with general acceptance and understanding of firearms in general, will arm the next generation with the knowledge they need to repeal ridiculous and asinine statutes.

    Hopefully they will have the Will where we and our ancestors have not…

  5. I would never have thought to see so many PLR-16s being used for a kids camp. But I love. Big fireballs, lots of smiles.

  6. I wish I would of had the chance to go to one of these camps when I was a kid! Teaching shooting and safety is a Great lesson for kids now days! If you need help next year call me, I will be glad to come!

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