50 youth participants enjoy marksmanship training weekend sponsored by Buckeye Firearms Foundation
by Aaron Kirkingburg
Over the weekend of July 29-31st a group of 30 adult volunteers ran a youth shooting event out at Dillon Gun Range. Both firearms safety and marksmanship skills were learned by 50 youth participants, ranging in age from 11-17. Boys and girls from the Licking county area received instruction in proper marksmanship skills, the basic rules of safe gun handling, the importance of conservation, and much more. Area Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls in attendance were given the opportunity to meet all their requirements for both Shotgun and Rifle merit badges. First, Second and Third place trophies were awarded in both Rifle and Shotgun disciplines. Among the many marksmanship ratings that were earned over the weekend, there were two Marksman 1st class and three Sharpshooters awarded in rifle, and one Marksman 1st Class in Shotgun.
Thanks to sponsor Buckeye Firearms Foundation, as well as a Step Outside grant from the ODNR, and the help of a some local businesses, participants enjoyed the weekends shooting activities without the normal cost of ammunition, targets, and range fees.
Despite temperatures hovering in the mid to high 90's, punctuated by occasional thunderstorms, both attendance and moral was high. Most of the registered attendees camped from Friday evening, till Sunday around mid-day. Those youth attempting to complete their goals on the range had the opportunity to receive instruction and attempt to get their qualifications done until 11:30 when we shut down the firing lines. The persistence and dedication exhibited by these kids is remarkable. Seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they get that qualifying target, or break five clay birds in a row cannot be described with words. Giving these kids the opportunity to have a great time while learning safe gun handling along with marksmanship skills, ensures that under no circumstances will the "guns are bad" crowd ever hold sway over them in the future. NRA Marksmanship Qualifications along with the opportunity to earn merit badges and trophies, appeals to the widest variety of active youth out there. Marksmanship rockers and the competition for top shooter give them the motivation to continue shooting year after year, even after any initial goal may have been achieved.
NRA certified firearms instructors and Range Safety Officers, along with volunteers from the Buckeye Firearms Association, Revolutionary War Veterans Association, and the local community all came together to make this event a success. Continued cooperation from the Land of Legend Rifle and Pistol Club at the Dillon Sportsman's Center has helped us make this event into what it is. It is hard enough putting together such an event, and having a facility that not only meets your needs, but does everything they can to accommodate you is invaluable!
We would like to thank Class A Trophies, Buckeye Outdoors, and Hendrickson Auxilliary Axles for their support. We would also like to thank the ODNR for their continued support through the Step Outside program.
Finally, many thanks go to our sponsor Buckeye Firearms Foundation. Without their generous funding, we could never have offered this opportunity to so many Licking County area youth. Without programs such as this, many youth would never learn proper gun safety, or have the opportunity to get the amount of shooting experience that is offered during this event.
For information on future youth events watch the Buckeye Firearms website at BuckeyeFirearms.org. To volunteer for next year's Licking County event, or to get help starting a BFF youth shoot in your area, contact me at [email protected].
Buckeye Firearms Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit grass roots organization, dedicated to education for the public and law enforcement, as well as legal action with the goal of advancing and defending firearm rights.
Aaron Kirkingburg is a NRA Certified Instructor (CCW, PPITH, RSO), a NRA Life Member, and a Buckeye Firearms Assoc. Minuteman.