Summer Camps for Junior Shooters

Summer is the time for kids to head out the door and have fun at camp, and junior shooters are no exception.  Summer camps designed especially for young marksmen are a great opportunity for kids who are already experienced shooters to get together with others in a fun and safe environment and brush up on their skills.

I will focus on four camps in this post: The MGM Targets Junior Shooters Camp, NRA National Junior Pistol Camp, NRA National Junior Smallbore Rifle Camp, and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Action Shooting Junior Clinic (the only one not held in the summer).

MGM Targets will host their 2012 Junior Camp on July 21st through 23rd, in Boise, Idaho.  Cost of the camp is $260 per junior shooter, which also includes lodging for a parent or guardian (parents/guardians will also receive two half days of instruction).  A limit of 60 campers ensures optimal training time by some of the nation’s best shooting instructors.

Campers must be an active member of USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association), IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), or SASS (the Single Action Shooting Society aka Cowboy Shooting), and have competed in at least four pistol matches, and possess good handgun handling skills.  This is NOT a beginner’s firearms safety class.

Junior Competitor, Allie “Allie Cat” Barrett, who I previously interviewed and wrote about HERE, has been accepted to the camp again this year and has said she is really looking forward to the fun.

The National Rifle Association also sponsors camps for young shooters.  The NRA National Junior Pistol Camp and National Junior Smallbore Rifle Camp are the intermediate events held during NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio.  Pistol camp is held from July 10th through the 15th, and rifle camp is held July 21st through the 26th.

Intermediate to advanced shooters must be 12-18 years of age, and enrollment is limited to 50 students for pistol camp and 72 for smallbore rifle camp.  Standard registration is $225 per student, plus housing, food, and other expenses.

This year the 5th annual U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Action Shooting Junior Clinic will be held August 13-17, in Ft. Benning, Georgia.  Cost for the camp is only $35, and it is limited to 32 shooters.  This advanced, smallbore rifle camp is open to shooters 14-18, and accompanying parents are welcome to attend classes with their children.  Shooters must have participated in NRA or USA Shooting matches and acceptance to the camp is based on previous matches shot.

If your child is a pistol or rifle shooter, or may be interested in learning to shoot, one of the best ways to get them into the NRA or USA Shooting matches is through an organization such as the Venture Scouts or the county 4H clubs.  Both of these organizations offer shooting sports and make participation in these matches available to their members.

Contact the individual host organizations for each camp for exact details or more information.

Segregated Shooting Sports

Men and women are different.  I know, big surprise, right?  I mean, I’m a big believer in women doing whatever they want to do in life, but I’ve never been feminist enough to believe that both sexes will do equally as well at every endeavor.  Oh, I get my competition on against the men in my life from time to time, but truth be told, I’m just not going to beat them at most sports.  When it comes to Olympic-level competition, however, women are rarely even given the opportunity to go head-to-head with their male counterparts.

Currently, there are only two sporting events in the Olympics that allow men and women to compete against each other, with no special concessions for the women:  Equestrian events and Sailing.  There are also a few mixed events, where a team may be composed of both sexes:  Tennis, Badminton, and Luge.  Now, I think the primary success factor in luge is just pure, all-out craziness, rather than the sex of the person engaging in such a dare-devil activity; and I’ve played tennis and badminton…badly…so I do not think of those sports as great equalizers.

But what about the shooting sports?  Well, as it stands today, there are no Olympic shooting events where men and women compete against each other head-to-head, but it has not always been that way.  When smallbore rifle competitor Margaret Thompson tied with teammate Lanny Basham for the gold at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, and the medal was subsequently awarded to Basham, the International Olympic Committee chose to change the rules and segregate men and women across the board in shooting sport events.

But should that be the case?  Shooting sports are not contact sports, nor is success in those events necessarily based upon the size or strength of the shooter.  It seems to me that when there is an opportunity for men and women to compete on a level playing field against each other, then barriers that do not naturally exist should not be unnaturally imposed.

Wall Street Journal writer, Mark Yost, makes a great case for equality within shooting sports in his recent article:  “Taking Aim at an Old Debate:   Can Female Athletes Compete Against Men?  In Shooting, Yes—But Not in the Olympics.”  Also in the article, he spotlights the Texas Christian University rifle team, the first all-women’s team to win the NCAA rifle championship back in 2010, that went 22-0 in 2011, but finished third in that year’s NCAA National Rifle Championships; and that is currently undefeated and making a run for the top spot again this year.

Collegiate shooting sports still allow men and women to compete against each other, though once competitors qualify for the Olympic Games, they must shoot only against their own gender or on mixed teams.  But while the segregation is what some believe to be “sexist” in origin, it has also allowed for a greater number of women to compete in the shooting sports by opening the field to more competitors, in general.

Another article on this topic comes from USA Shooting in USA Shooting Viewpoint:  Men vs. Women in Competitive Shooting.  Check out both stories and see if you believe that female shooters today could compete head-to-head with male shooters, as many are doing and…”Winning!”