I spent the weekend with the Boy Scouts at the annual Great Rivers Council Sporting Clays Tournament. As part of the program, boys can spend two days earning the Shotgun Shooting merit badge. This involves some serious classroom learning, safety instruction, as well as hands-on practice, and the boys know that this is no time to fool around. An educator from the Missouri Department of Conservation did the instruction, supplemented by volunteers. This was my fourth or fifth year helping with the merit badge.
We had 18 boys go through the course, and plenty of adults to help supervise the firing line. Many of the boys qualified, including two of the first-time shooters.
What really made my day was a young, slightly built boy of about 11 or 12 whom we knew could be a problem. He lacked strength in his arms and upper body, and was pretty hyperactive. Even the Remington youth shotguns were too large and heavy for him to comfortably mount. We kind of double-teamed him on the firing line and he did really well. He followed instructions and worked safely. He could only fire a couple rounds at a time before he had to take a break, but he kept at it. On his third trip to the line I heard a cheer, and looked up to see a clay target falling to the ground in several pieces. The boy had a grin on his face that I will remember for a long time. He shot a few more times, and broke three targets in a row before he simply could not go on due to fatigue. The leaders and boys high-fived him, and while he did not qualify this time, he did what many (including himself) doubted he could do. This weekend should go a long way toward increasing his confidence in himself.
And this is why I am a Scout leader....
P.S. -- Sunday afternoon my son and I went out to the local rod and gun club and spent a couple hours shooting trap. It was a good afternoon for father-son activities, and we both broke well over 50% of our clay targets.