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.