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by John Boch, president of Guns Save Life

Darnall’s GunWorks and Ranges hosted their 18th annual National Rifle Association Youth Shooting Camp July 26-29th west of Bloomington, IL. One hundred thirty young people ages 8-16 showed up to enjoy a long weekend learning basic firearm safety and the safe and responsible use of firearms under the close supervision of experienced instructors. The Darnall’s camp is the longest running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the nation and this year’s attendance was the largest ever. And it was made possible to a great extent by the hard work and generosity of taxpayers in the city of Chicago.

The camp is a prime example of the good work the NRA does each year making families and society safer by teaching firearm safety, along with the responsible use of firearms in general. Some have attributed the increased interest in this year’s camp to publicity from Guns Save Life’s recent undertaking to trade piles of unwanted, unused rusted junk for perfectly good cash at the annual Chicago “Don’t Kill A Dream Save A Life” gun buy-back event.

Guns Save Life left Chicago with $6,240 in the form of pre-paid credit cards after selling a load of rusty scrap at the “no questions asked” event. Monies from the Windy City bought virtually all of the ammunition used at this year’s camp – roughly $2500 worth of shooting fun and excitement. Guns Save Life also donated four of the twenty-three guns given away to the families of some of the lucky campers at the end of the event. The guns provided by Guns Save Life were paid for with the Chicago pre-paid cards and yes, they are valid at gun stores, despite claims to the contrary made by buyback organizers.

Instruction at the camp was provided by two dozen or more experienced instructors including Olympic-level coaches and a champion shooter. Shooting stations included trap shooting, Cowboy Action, air rifles, small-bore rifle, small-bore pistol, archery, hunter education and ethics on a firearms training simulator, Ruger Steel Challenge and more.

Visiting younger siblings weren’t left out either as some had a chance to shoot with the assistance of instructors while their parents watched. The kids loved the camp, both the shooting events in the day and the night-time activities and camping on the property overnight. I watched as young girls literally jumped up and down with anticipation waiting their turn to shoot at the pistol station and smiles and laughs were everywhere.

Overall, it was a great weekend sharing the fun and excitement of the shooting sports with the next generation of shooters and future gun owners. And it felt even better realizing the delicious irony that all the ammunition we used was provided by those who oppose gun rights and ignore the proven benefits of law-abiding firearm ownership, whether for self-defense or recreational purposes.

We made our streets a little safer this last weekend by teaching tomorrow’s gun owners to be experts at gun safety. Each of them can share this knowledge with their friends and siblings as well.

Some might wonder what were the worst things to happen to a bunch of kids and adults handling guns all weekend long. Here’s the body count: one asthma attack and one kitchen volunteer fell and broke her arm, only to return to finish working after a trip to the ER.

This was in contrast to the violence-plagued (and anti-gun) City of Chicago where five people were murdered in less than twelve hours. One of these days, Chicago residents will realize that much of the violence they experience is a direct consequence of decades ignoring the proven benefits of legal, responsible firearm ownership, especially for those  least able to defend themselves when disarmed. Until then, we’ll just say thanks for the great weekend.

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  1. Brilliant idea.

    Used to be that PSA’s and education were the best, first line of defense against the sort of accidents, poor decisions, and poor habits that took lives. For many things; not just where guns were concerned. Now, thats not the case.

    I’ll take an educated and armed U.S. citizen over an ignorant neutered subject, any day of the week.

  2. I think its excellent, it starts first with safety, maybe in a future generation, these youngsters will help Illinois get out of its gun funk.
    I cant wait until my girlfriend’s daughter is old enough and mature enough to start her on a little pink cricket or something.

  3. Knowledge always has been and always will be the key. The trouble is that people can use education to impart falsehood rather than knowledge.

    Unfortunately our formal educational system, news outlets, and entertainment industry are constantly “educating” us that “guns are bad and good people shouldn’t have them; life will be wonderful when everyone finally turns in their guns.”

    Like every other falsehood, that message is almost exactly opposite of the truth. Of course only knowledge can expose a falsehood and bring the truth to light. That is why all people who support the right to keep and bear arms have to patiently and respectfully educate fellow citizens who are lacking appropriate knowledge.

    Remember, only knowledgeable citizens can vote for representatives who support our rights. The alternative method to secure our rights is much less attractive.

  4. i applaud what was achieved here. but looking at the photos i see trouble coming. we’re an ethnicly and culturely diverse nation. we need to reach out better to people of all races and backgrounds or the future of gun ownership is in jeopardy. we need all the votes and goodwill that we can get or we’ll eventually lose this fight. ofwg’s of which i’m one, can’t carry this battle alone. if we try we’re gonna lose, the numbers just aren’t there.

    • Couldn’t agree more. But central Illinois isn’t the most culturally diverse locale, which accounts for the melanin deficiency in the pics.

    • While that would be great, minorities have been targeted and under the leftist thumb for decades, having lie upon lie and entitlement upon entitlement heaped upon them to secure their votes. Presenting the uncomfortable fact that, in reality, their situation can be made better by their own hands and their own tough responsibility rather than some political savior is a hard sell especially in the “me” generation.

      Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but we shouldn’t count on cooperation either. Sometimes one must cut off an addict completely, endure the horrible withdrawal, and come out clean on the other side. Likewise, the progressive political ideal that’s turning the US into a third world country must be stamped out utterly.

    • jwm please note:
      “Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse or helping your uncle jack off a horse.”

      • v.j. thanks for the input. but to quote a deformed sailer “i yam what i yam, and that’s all what i yam.”

        • *sailor

          Sorry, I had to. I’m a pedantic jerk about grammar and spelling, but I usually keep my Grammar Police badge in the drawer on this site. It helps that I don’t see too much around here that makes me twitchy. I look at jwm as our own little strapped up e. e. cummings.

          If it helps, I typed this with a smile on my face.

          ETA: Wow, I’ve now edited this comment four times because I’ve found four grammar and spelling issues, each one after I hit post the previous time. I chalk it up to lack of lunch. I’m not thinking straight.

    • m.i.f. had to look up e.e. cummings on wiki to see if i should be mad or not. in this case i feel it was meant as a compliment.

  5. Thanks for pointing the kids in the right direction and supporting the RKBA. This story about the event was a pleasure to read 🙂 Please email this story to the anti-gun MikeB blog.

  6. Wonderful story, the best part being picturing the tyrants and their mindless minions stamping around like the children they are, pouting and blubbering about how “wrong” this is. (in the same way I’m sure the British thought the Tea Party was wrong)

  7. Beautiful. And the fact that the anti-gun city of Chicago funded it provides a delicious taste of irony.

    Would it be possible to forward this post to Mayor “Guns are BAD” Emmanuel of Chicago? For his reading pleasure, and possible brain explosion?

  8. It would have been really funny if they did a youtube video with the kids thanking Chicago’s mayor and police for sponsoring the ammo purchase and the free guns the children received.

  9. Maybe programs like this can show that the best “gun contol” is teaching our children how to safely operate firearms.

  10. Every time I hear about this I imagine Rahmy screaming into his phone because the small army of lawyers on the other end can’t find anything illegal with what GSL did.

  11. This post is full of win. I don’t even like kids much, but I wish I could have been there because even I admit that watching kids having fun is a good thing.

    • That’s where she wanted it.

      The girl with the AR-15/22 (S&W) liked me from the pistol range and asked for my assistance as she was shooting a 7+” group. I coached her as best I could (as they weren’t using slings as I prefer to when teaching at Appleseed and USRA events), and brought her group size down to 1″ on her second 3-shot string with a couple pointers. She was so happy I thought she was going to pee herself. Trigger squeeze and elbow under the rifle make a huge difference.

      I would have moved it back to a more conventional position, but I was just visiting the rifle line and didn’t want to mess up where the rifle was sighted in. That wouldn’t have earned me a lot of love from the rifle instructors, LOL.

  12. Thanks guys and gals.

    Forward this story to your circle of friends and get the word out about something gun activists are doing that is very positive in this difficult time, given the current events.

    There is also a thread at The High Road featuring the best 40 photos. Lots of good ones there.


  13. Well done all involved. This story has brought a little cheer into my day. In fact, I’m going to visit their website and see if I can’t donate something.


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