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Fear & Loading: Life Skills

Fear & Loading: Life Skills

There’s a lot to be learned behind a trigger, and for young shooters marksmanship is just a side benefit. It’s a shame those who oppose the Second Amendment will never sit and watch youngsters at an air gun match, and talk to them later about what’s going through their mind as they steady the gun, get a good sight picture, control their breathing . . . and press.

I’ve covered quite a few air gun championships through the years, and had the pleasure of interviewing several world-class shooters. There’s a lot to be learned if you listen hard enough. I’m not sure if it’s made me better behind the trigger, but I do know the young marksmen I’ve talked to at the Daisy BB Gun Championships have certainly renewed my faith in our next generation of leaders.

Some of the shooters who qualify for the event aren’t even teens yet, but their feelings about competing and shooting in general always come out eloquently and with contagious enthusiasm. The grins seem permanent. I did a story for NRA Family on this year’s event with a lot of those thoughts from the kids, but the Readers Digest version is that the concentration and focus they learn on the firing line will serve them—and this great republic—well for the rest of their lives. Their gun-safety skills are unindictable and respect for coaches, officials, parents and grizzled-old reporters refreshing.

At a time of year when we’re making New Year’s resolutions, you might consider enrolling your child, grandchild, niece or nephew in a shooting club—with the parents’ consent, of course. There are some great ones out there. Unfortunately, they and the volunteers who staff them don’t get the publicity they deserve.

Most of the teams that qualify for the Daisy BB Gun Championships are 4-H-affiliated teams. The organization has programs available throughout the nation, and many will start meetings soon.

The American Legion is also well represented. It fields teams from across the nation, perhaps one near you.

Additionally, the NRA has a wide variety of youth programs, including Marksmanship Qualification, shooting camps and much more. It even offers a National Youth Shooting Sports Cooperative Program to aid other organizations exploring marksmanship options.

However, someone has to take them to practices and meetings, though, which is why this needs to be your New Year’s resolution, not theirs. You, too, will become a believer once you see how quickly a child can learn skills too many adults never master—concentrate and focus on each shot, because once it’s gone there’s no videogame reset button to recall a miss.  

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