Safe Shooters

By Gregg Parker

Steeped in history, riflery is a classic camp activity that is very popular among campers. Like other individual sports, the main competition is one’s own experience of learning new skills and beating personal-best scores. This sport promotes pride, accomplishment and a sense of triumph as skills are mastered.

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In the Olympic sport of target shooting, there are several styles of basic target shooting, from prone (laying down)--which is the easiest to master and first to practice--to sitting, kneeling, and eventually standing. Mastering these styles continues to up the level of skill needed, so kids do not become bored easily, and long-term goals for advancement will keep them coming back to the rifle range year after year. Though difficult to master, shooting does not require the same kind of physical ability as other youth sports. Regardless of size, age, gender, and natural physical ability, all kids are able to succeed at shooting.

One common question about riflery relates to how new camp parents respond to the idea of target shooting being offered at camp. In my experience, most parents have no problem at all with riflery, but some wonder about the logic in teaching such a sport in a world that attempts to promote non-violence to children. Although gun violence is a serious issue in the world today, riflery promotes the type of skills that help keep kids safe--safety, discipline, respect for others and self-control.

In fact, riflery is surprisingly safe. According to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), which trains camp riflery instructors, since the new CMP safety standards were implemented in 2003, there haven’t been any gun accidents in supervised youth-shooting sport activities in the U.S. Because of this safety record, riflery generally does not majorly impact a camp’s insurance costs.

And contrary to popular belief, all ages enjoy shooting; although most would label it a “guy” sport, we find that both boys and girls enjoy shooting equally.

As a camp owner who has thoroughly enjoyed and practiced the sport since I was a camper years ago, I see riflery continuing in the traditional style for many years to come. Riflery, like everything else at camp, is part of the growth experience with benefits that can last a lifetime.

Gregg Parker is the owner of Camp Waziyatah in Waterford, Maine. For more information, visit www.wazi.com.

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Basic Rifle Range Safety Rules

  • Rifle muzzles must always be pointed upward or downrange—they should never be pointed at any person.
  • Rifle actions must remain open at all times except when actually shooting.
  • Fingers must remain outside of the trigger guard until the rifle is aimed at the target and is ready to shoot.
  • A Range Officer or other responsible adult will be in charge of firing.
  • No one will load or fire a rifle until the Range Officer has given the commands load or start.
  • No one may go forward of the firing line until all rifles are unloaded and grounded, with clear barrel indicators (CBIs) inserted.
  • Shooters may not pick up rifles, get into position or load and fire their rifles until everyone is behind the firing line and the Range Officer has given instructions to handle rifles.
  • Muzzles must be pointed upward or downrange towards the target during loading.
  • When firing is completed, rifle actions must be opened immediately. Rifles must be grounded and CBIs inserted.
  • Everyone present during rifle firing is urged to wear eye and hearing protection.

Courtesy of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.