Every year, hundreds of NRA Day events are conducted across the country. Below is the story of one such event in Wisconsin, courtesy of Jeff Nass. He and a team of other volunteers provide the NRA Day/U.S. Armed Forces Basic Rifle Fundamentals Class to a group of young people known as “Poolees.” Read on to find out how this group helps to introduce youth to shooting while preparing those who go on to serve our country with a crucial skill set.
A picture of America stands before you: an inner city kid who never held a rifle in his life; a suburban kid, a child of privilege, is in the same boat; the son of a working class family who has hunted deer, but always with a scoped rifle. They all stand on the verge of the most significant experience of their life, a chance to serve their country. Each has advantages their forefathers could not imagine, but the one thing they lack is skill, using a rifle with iron sights, and familiarity with the AR-type rifle.
An estimated one in three Poolees will NOT become a Marine. It truly is “The Few, The Proud.” In 2004, born of the vision of NRA Senior Training Counselor Scott Taetsch and USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant Mike Krueger, both concerned fathers of young Marines, working in cooperation with the USMC Recruit Command, designed a program to introduce young Poolees to the basics of rifle marksmanship while building confidence in the men and women who have committed themselves to defending our great nation and cherished freedoms. The hope was that by providing an introduction in advance, they might excel during Range Phase at Camp Pendleton.
The results have exceeded any expectation. According to Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Johnson, Milwaukee Recruit Command, of the 2,600 Poolees that have attended the camp, only one has failed to qualify. Other reports from Marine Corps officers indicate that those passing through the program graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. The officers credit the instruction they received at the camp for a good part of their success.
Staffed by volunteers, with most of the funding coming through the NRA Foundation, specifically the Wisconsin Friends of NRA and Block Grant Program, the program has evolved. The day now includes physical conditioning, individual strength challenges, camouflage face painting, and experiencing MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for the first time.
All participants begin by receiving classroom instruction on firearms safety, sight alignment, trigger control, nomenclature, and basic operation of the M16A2 rifle, which is the same firearm that most will be using in basic training. In 2009, 614 recruits participated in events held at the Beloit Rifle and Pistol Club, LaCrosse Rifle Club, Duane L. Corbin Shooting Range (Wausau, WI) and Sheboygan Rifle and Pistol Club. Stone Bank Sportsmen’s Club, Ashippun, WI (the home of Heritage Shooting Inc.) had a major range renovation and was unable to host an event for the first time since the program was initiated at their range.
In 2010, we will be achieving another goal. For the first time, the program will include all branches of service. The recruits and guests also have the opportunity to interact with active enlisted men and women about their life in service of their country.
Due to the high cost and scarcity of ammunition in 2009, the program hired Dicks Gun Shop in New Holstein, WI, to commercially reload the ammunition needed for the program. Dick utilized powder sold to us at a super discount from Hodgdon, discounted the cost of the rest of the components and reloading process, and reloaded the ammunition using the once fired brass from 2008. Dicks Gun Shop will again reload for the program this year.
As with many programs, without the initiative of Scott Taetsch and Mike Krueger, two proud fathers that saw a need and took charge, this program would not have been created. These two men, along with a long list of volunteers, have made this program the great success it is today.
Interested in participating in the NRA Day/U.S. Armed Forces Basic Rifle Fundamentals Camp? Contact Jeff Nass at (920) 833-0505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.