Buckeye Firearms Foundation Helps Youth Camp

by Larry S. Moore

Buckeye Firearms Foundation had an opportunity to provide assistance to a youth camp recently. The camp is the Coonskin Cap Brigade operated by the Ohio Wildlife Federation. All the leadership and instructors at the Coonskin Cap Brigade camp are volunteers. Due to many factors, including the economy and rising cost of ammunition, the instructors on the ranges experienced a shortage of some ammo. The concern was that some students in the camp might not get to shoot as much as in the past. Buckeye Firearms Foundation was able to react to the situation and provide a donation of ammunition and supplies ensuring the students would get plenty of range time.

Coonskin instructor Terry Jefferies explains, "The Camp Coonskin program began in 1964, and as one can imagine, the cost of putting on a program such as this isn’t cheap, even with an all-volunteer staff. Every year it's been harder to come up with a budget large enough to cover the cost of the 125 kids shooting on the range."

Coonskin is open to youth 10 to 16 but ideally 11 to 15. It is a four year camp program. The camp is built around some core activities including ranges (muzzleloader/handgun/rifles); shotguns; archery/crossbows; watercraft safety; and outdoor living. The scope of the core activities increase with each year. The training on ranges will start with .22 firearms and with each year the youth work up to shooting .38/ 9mm/.45 and .41 magnum handguns; .30-06 rifles; including the ability to load and fire. Additional camp activities include gun cleaning; deer hunting; small game hunting; turkey hunting; game calling; outdoor living and cooking (I supplied the venison this year from our club); knife and tomahawk throwing; fire starting; nature trails; or blue birds. Specific activities depend on the year of the student.

First year kids get advanced hunter education which is a review of all firearms types/actions; gun safety rules; range rules; and marksmanship training using the Division of Wildlife laser units. This is done before they head to the range where they fire .22 caliber rifles and handguns plus the muzzleloaders. Second year students sew their coonskin cap from hides. This is where the program gets the name. Third year students go on a pheasant hunt run through the Division since it's a special out of season event. They learn to clean their harvested game and handle the dogs. The fourth year students make a hunting knife. The final event for the fourth year students is the woods walk competition that tests the skills they have learned. They can win a muzzleloader, bow or other outdoor equipment.

Sportsmen and conservation clubs across Ohio sponsor the youth to the camp. While some come from outdoor and hunting families, many are from our cities. The camp provides many youth with outdoor opportunities not otherwise available to them. As an instructor, it is pretty easy to tell the students who have not had the opportunity to shoot since the last camp. It is absolutely critical that we make every effort possible to offer shooting opportunities to these young people.

Jefferies continues, "This year we had some help, thank you Buckeye Firearms Foundation! I can't tell you enough how proud I was to be a long time supporter. Your generous donation was very much appreciated. Thanks to you, we didn't have to severely limit the kid's time on the line."

Buckeye Firearms Foundation is proud to be able to support this camp and the youth shooting sports. The Coonskin Cap Brigade is an investment in our future. It is an investment in the shooting sports and, perhaps even more importantly, an investment for the future of the Second Amendment.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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