By Kerrin Brinkman | November 19 2009 08:27

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is just one of many youth cooperative organizations the National Rifle Association supports. Thanks to Connie Elliot with the BSA Shooting Sports Task Force for sharing her article on all that the NRA does to help Scouts get involved in the shooting sports.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long been a strong supporter of both the mission and the shooting sports programs of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Currently, NRA is an integral member of BSA’s Shooting Sports Task Force, which has the responsibility for producing the new BSA Shooting Sports Manual.

The National Rifle Association is recognized as the world’s foremost authority on firearm safety and the shooting sports, and as such, its firearms training and instructor certifications form the basis of the BSA’s National Camping School (NCS) Shooting Sports Director certification. This certification is one of many conducted through NCS sessions held prior to the summer camping seasons, and is required for a Council Summer Camp to receive accreditation. Participants in the Shooting Sports Section of NCS earn NRA Instructor Certifications in Rifle, Shotgun, and Muzzleloading Rifle at a minimum. They may also have the opportunity to earn certifications as Pistol and Muzzleloading Shotgun Instructors. Another certification available to be earned is NRA Certified Range Safety Officer (RSO). The requirements for running a live firing range for Boy Scouts and Venturers now require that it be supervised by an NRA Certified RSO. NRA provides Instructor and RSO materials at no cost to BSA, through a grant from The NRA Foundation.

In order to make these certifications even more widely available, NRA is providing the materials free of charge to NRA Training Counselors who provide training for BSA instructor certification classes. This ensures that there will be a properly trained and certified group of instructors available to be Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting Merit Badge Counselors, and RSOs to safely and properly run live ranges. This will directly support BSA’s objective of providing safe and well-rounded programs that can be offered on year-round.

One of the changes recommended by BSA is for local Councils to develop a Shooting Sports Committee, or at the very least to appoint a Shooting Sports Coordinator. Having this in place will ensure that expert advice and up to date information on revisions to the shooting sports programs is available to the local Council.

Equally important to cash-strapped local Councils is the grant program of the NRA Foundation. Each year, an estimated $300,000 is made available for various projects, equipment and supply purchases, and training programs related to the shooting sports. Local Councils may apply for grant money through their NRA Field Representative, or local Friends of NRA committees.

The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program works well with all levels of Scouting, whether Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Venturing. There are awards in every shooting discipline open to Scouts and beyond, fueling a lifetime enjoyment of the shooting sports. Progress is self-paced, challenging, and thoroughly attainable. There are courses of fire for BB Gun, Air Rifle, Smallbore Rifle, and Shotgun and, for Venturers, Pistol shooting.

Further collaborative efforts between BSA and NRA include development of a syllabus, based on the NRA’s FIRST Steps Basic Rifle and Shotgun Courses, which will be used while teaching the Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badges. This will result in the NRA Instructors receiving credit toward requirements for being considered for invitation to become an NRA Training Counselor. By becoming NRA Appointed Training Counselors, these dedicated individuals will be able to certify additional instructors helping to provide an increased number of adults who will be available to teach and mentor youth safely in the shooting sports. These syllabi will also result in more consistent classes during the summer camp programs, and higher quality control for the shooting sports merit badges.

In addition to the above innovative efforts between BSA and NRA, planning is underway for one of the most exciting events in BSA history, the 100th Anniversary National Jamboree. For years to come, the youth who attend this once-in-a-lifetime event, will be talking about the newest shooting sports event for the Jamboree developed by BSA and NRA – Camp Thunder! Imagine ten modified 5-stand Sporting Clays shooting stations where youth will have the opportunity to shoot 10 shots from shotguns at different combinations of clay targets. There will be special pins for all who take advantage of this opportunity. More importantly, Scout leaders will be exposed to this exciting sport, encouraging them to take this program back to their Council properties for both fundraising potential and to enhance the year round program. As always, NRA will sponsor the shooting sports booth on the Merit Badge Midway, providing instruction and the opportunity to earn both Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting Merit Badges. Scouts will also be introduced to the many awards opportunities provided through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. Each BSA Region will have its own Action Center each with trap shooting, air rifle, and the ever popular bike-athalon. The Venturing Exhibit area will feature an OK Corral-themed shooting range.

As you can see, the NRA understands the importance of offering Scouts at all levels the opportunity to experience a variety of shooting sports programs safely and under proper supervision. By providing support to BSA’s endeavors and offering the best training courses available, more Scouts at all levels will have the opportunity to enjoy the shooting sports safely with qualified supervision and instruction. The shooting sports help to build self-confidence, one of the most important aspects of BSA’s goal of developing future leaders and building character.

For more information, contact Mark Belli, Co-op Program Coordinator, NRA Youth Programs at (703)-267-1550, or at mbelli@nrahq.org.

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