This NRA Club Leadership & Development webinar focuses on NRA Youth Programs and Competitive Shooting

Interested in bringing some new programs to your shooting range or club? Then join NRA Clubs and Associations for an upcoming NRA Club Leadership & Development webinar to learn how to start a youth program and how NRA can help you get started. The webinar will also provide an overview of the NRA Competitive Shooting Division's wide range of activities in shooting disciplines, for shooters of all skill levels.

The free one-hour webinar will be held this Thurdsay, March 22 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. You can register online or check out a listing of other upcoming NRA Club Leadership & Development webinars. Topics are offered to suit any club and offer great advice on how to make your club more successful.

Have a question or a suggestion for webinar topic? Contact NRA Clubs & Associations at 1-800-NRA-CLUB or at clubs@nrahq.org.

With 2012 underway, why not start the New Year off with a new program at your club or range? The NRA Club Champion Challenge is a fun and exciting way to do just that - and to see who is the best all-around shooter in your club or shooting organization.

Getting started couldn't be more simple - learn more about the NRA Club Champion Challenge and register your event online at www.nraclubchamp.com. NRA provides the courses of fire to choose from and even provides awards including medals and belt buckles for champions. So what are you waiting for? Start 2012 with a "bang" by holding an NRA Club Champion Challenge at your range or club!

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Raton, New Mexico - The Muzzleloading Event at the 2011 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge is one of my favorites for a variety of reasons. Muzzleloading brings competitors back to the early days of hunting with a firearm, when you couldn't just pop another cartridge into your rifle or another shell into your shotgun. It's a part of our history and tradition as hunters, and seeing the smoke is just plain fun. 

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They say that once you have Black Powder in your veins, it never goes away and for Philip Schreier, Senior Curator of the NRA's National Firearms Museum, Black Powder was where it all began for him way back in 1977 at his first Civil War re-enactment. Last weekend he reported from Ft. Shenandoah, the home of the N-SSA Spring Nationals and this weekend he was in West Virginia, further away and even further back in time.

Shooting Black Powder guns has always been a thrilling experience for me, there is just something about the flash, bang, smoke and smell of the sport that has always held me firmly in its grasp. I ventured out into the wilds of West Virginia this past weekend to experience the fun and fellowship of shooting with the Patuxents, a group of 18th Century living history enthusiasts as a guest of my longtime friend John Gilday and his family.

Set off the main road from civilization near Hedgesville, West Virginia, the Patuxents set up a period camp, a sighting-in range, a open field range with targets out to 150 yards and a woods walk competition, (Kind of like sporting clays with flintlocks). In addition for shooting competitions the crew had a duck cooking competition and managed to stay dry as severe weather threatened all weekend.

If you wish to learn more about joining a group of muzzleloaders like the Patuxents, check out www.nmlra.org or come and see us in Friendship, IN this June 16 – 19 when the NFM will have an exhibit of treasures from the museum on display.

Jonathan Leighton, Match Director for the Black Powder Target Rifle Championship at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, sends us an update on this year's competition:

Raton, New Mexico - It's that time of year again. April has arrived, and with it, the 2011 NRA National Black Powder Target Rifle Championships match program. The more people who know about this match, the quicker we can fill the firing points this summer. If you know someone who shot this match in the past or who has never even shot the match at all, please email me their contact information so I can get them a program too.

Our main plan is to make registration easier for the competitors as well as doing our best to eliminate bulky packets. Competitors will notice that this year's program includes score cards, suggestion forms, scoring instructions, and protest forms. Once you receive the match program in the mail, please remember to bring it to the match!

When you arrive at the Whittington Center, everyone needs to make sure to check in with Seth at the Cooper Range, verify that you brought your match program, confirm squadding preferences, and you're out the door to chronograph. There will be plenty of giveaways, additional literature, and tons of items for sale at the registration office.

One thing we ask everyone to remember are our match sponsors. Please take note of the companies supporting YOUR program. This year, we're lucky to have more sponsors than ever before. Please thank these sponsors and continue giving them your support. Prize-wise, 2011 BPTR competitors will be walking into Aladdin's cave compared to previous years.

So thanks to all our competitors for shooting the smoke. 2011 is going to be a great season and I look forward to seeing all of you out on the range this summer.

Every year during the annual NRA Board of Directors meeting the President’s Award is given out to the program in the Competitive Shooting Division that sees the highest jump in attendees at their championship match.

This year's recipient was the NRA National Muzzle Loading Championship, who went from a little over 150 competitors in 2009 to 377, shooting in 1110 events, this past year.

More than doubling your number of competitors from one year to the next is a pretty significant jump and everyone involved in putting it together is worthy of the praise. It's always great to see people spread out and get involved in a shooting discipline that isn't one of the more common ones. There is an event for everyone in the competitive shooting world.

On the right, Jessi McClain, Program Coordinator for Air Gun and Black Powder events, is presented the President's Award by Mike Krei, Director of the Competitive Shooting Division.

Tournament Operations Guide John Parker with our Competitive Shooting Division just shared with us that the new version of the NRA Tournament Operations Guide is now available online. While there are still copies of the previous version available for purchase through the NRA Program Materials Center while supplies last, this newer version will replace it, and is available online for free.

The NRA Tournament Operations Guide includes helpful information regarding tournament planning, range operations, statistics, awards, and much more to help you run an efficient competitive shooting event. The guide covers eight different shooting disciplines and is a wonderful resource for new and seasoned tournament directors.

The NRA Collegiate Shooting Program brochure and the 2011 Bianchi Cup brochure are also available online. More literature from the Competitive Shooting Division will be online soon, so keep checking back with NRAblog for updates. Questions? Send an email to compadmin@nrahq.org.

Italian wheellock carbine rifle, known as the Mayflower Gun, held by national Firearms Museum Senior curator Doug Wicklund for NRAblog Almost 400 years ago, a 20-year old cooper by the name of John Alden traversed the Atlantic on the good ship Mayflower. Along with his fellow travelers, Alden carried with him a collection of hopes, dreams, and a modified .66 caliber Italian single-shot wheellock carbine. That rifle, known as the Mayflower gun, now resides under glass here at the National Firearms Museum.

The Mayflower Gun could very well have been "one of the guns responsible for the first Thanksgiving," says Senior Curator Doug Wicklund of the National Firearms Museum.

The rare Italian wheelock rifle is the first gem in the "Old Guns of the New World" gallery. It made quite a turkey gun, although it's larger caliber made it a useful gun for deer and other game.

Alden brought the single-shot rifle to the Cape Cod region in 1620. Not one of the original congregation, Alden chose right from the start to stay in Plymouth Colony as one of the founders, rather than journey back across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Mark Belli, NRA Youth Co-op Group Program Coordinator, brings the following report: 

The Boy Scouts of America offer National Camping School on an annual basis to prepare and train leaders for their summer camp program. One area of training offered at the school is the shooting sports section. This program includes NRA Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol, Range Safety Officer and Muzzle loading Rifle instruction as well as archery. With the minimal number of Muzzle loading Rifles available at the camps, the National Rifle Association agreed to help provide Muzzle loading rifles to the Boy Scouts for their National Camping Schools.

Larry Quandahl, Manager of the NRA Youth Programs Department, contacted Craig Cushman,  Thompson Center’s Director of Marketing, to inquire if they would be interested in donating Muzzle loading rifles to the Boy Scouts of America. With Thompson Center’s generous donation of 16 Muzzle loading rifles, National Camping schools across all four regions now have the opportunity to run a more efficient training program.

A section director from a recent Northeast Region’s Camping School commented: “I'dlike to express my deep and most sincere appreciation to Thompson Center for the donation of the four 50 caliber Muzzle loading rifles. We had the opportunity to use them at the Adirondack National Camping School to train our shooting sports directors. Undeniably, quality equipment makes a major difference in allowing us to provide the best possibly training…”

Jeff Stout, Outdoor Program Coordinator for the Boy Scouts of America said, "The donation of the sixteen 50 caliber Muzzle loading rifles from Thompson Center has truly enhanced the Shooting Sports instruction at the 20 plus National Camp Schools held across the country. A sincere thank you to Thompson Center and the NRA for making this happen. Quality equipment and quality training equal a quality safe and exciting program for youth."

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