By Danielle Sturgis | November 24 2009 06:43
Teacher's Day at the Range

From Traditions magazine:

The thought of a Teacher’s Day at the Range may sound far-fetched to some, and even when the Citizens Range and Recreation Club of Central, NJ, (CRRC) received a grant from The NRA Foundation to follow through with plans to “Educate Educators” with a “Teacher’s Day at the Range” they too were surprised at the overwhelming positive response they received.

After all, it’s teachers, who through their own passionate pursuit of knowledge, stress a love for learning to their students including times when it may take them somewhat outside their comfort zone. Thus, some 70 elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate-level teachers from over 24 different school districts, became the students for a day.

As attendees arrived, each received a comprehensive booklet with the Second Amendment and its history as well as quotes both for and against upholding it. The handout also served as a detailed reference on information about ammunition, firearm disciplines, how to purchase a firearm, and the process for applying for a New Jersey Firearms I.D. Card and Permit to Purchase, as well as places to shoot in the state and other educational opportunities.

After welcomes and introductions, attendees spent just over an hour learning safety procedures along with an introduction on the fundamentals of successful shooting. Specific guidelines were presented detailing the workings of equipment that would be available to shoot throughout the day.

Under the supervision of Certified NRA Instructors, students became the teachers when, in a twist to an already interesting day, members of the University of Princeton Rifle Team, including U.S. Olympic Shooter Abigail Fong, and the local Junior Rifle Team came to help assist the shoot. The students were well-received by the educators, who were impressed with the constant concern for safety, attention to detail, and overall knowledge demonstrated by the students. All in all, 41 instructors and volunteers assisted during the course of the event, allowing for one-on one attention that contributed to the event’s overall success.

At the event’s close, teachers were asked to evaluate their day on a 1-10 rating scale. The overall event rating received only 9s and 10s and in response to “Do you feel what you learned today was useful?” the response was 100% “Yes”.

The hard work that went into orchestrating Teacher’s Day at the Range boiled down to a two-part question. The question first asked how each participant regarded themselves as far as supporting or not-supporting the Second Amendment before they attended the event, followed by a question asking how they would describe themselves after attending the event. The feedback was phenomenal as the percentage of pro-Second Amendment responses jumped from a 53% pre-event to an incredible 77% post-event.

By the educators’ responses, as well as general comments made during and after the event, it was evident many came with misinformed or skewed perceptions of guns, and through experiencing first-hand the enjoyment and positive aspects of shooting sports, left with a more open-mind on the subject. The shift in mind-set among attendees testified to a correlation between a positive perception of firearms with exposure to a comprehensive firearm safety program, followed by handling firearms, and engaging with other law-abiding gun owners and shooters.

For many, Teacher’s Day was the first time a participant had handled a firearm and through partaking in the day’s events, many of the misguided preconceptions were eroded and replaced with an appreciation for the Second Amendment or minimally, required participants to re-evaluate their stance and beliefs in regard to it.

Considering its overall success, CRRC foresees another Teacher’s Day at the Range in its future. “This program was assembled by CRRC Vice President Walt Eggert, with help from CRRC President Carol Katona and CRRC Secretary Betty Barrs, along with many others involved at the range,” said NRA New Jersey Field Representative Brian Swartz. “Because of their great work on setting this up we are hoping to institute this program at several other sites around the state next year.” As for a follow-up, they’d like to host a spin-off event as well, “Legislator’s Day at the Range.”

“After all,” said Swartz, “they are making the laws for law-abiding gun owners and many, possibly even most, are uninformed. Participation in a similar program, will hopefully have the same outcome.”

To get involved with next year’s Teacher’s Day at the Range, or other events in New Jersey, contact NJ & MD NRA Field Representative Brian Swartz at bswartz@nrahq.org or at (973) 343-2104.

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