By Lars Dalseide | December 23 2010 15:43

From the Bryan County News, we hear about more groups benefiting from NRA Foundation: grants:

4-H promotes shooting awareness

Every year it seems there are fewer and fewer rites of passage for young people in our society. Rites of passage are mileposts marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. As a young person gains greater freedoms he or she also accepts increased responsibilities and accountability.

Today the driver’s license is our greatest rite of passage for teenagers. With the freedom of movement an automobile provides comes the responsibility and accountability for the lives of others you can profoundly affect by your actions while driving. For me, taking on responsibilities started with being able to consistently get up in the morning, get myself ready and to catch the bus to school. Doing daily chores to keep up the home and working alongside adults came next.

One of the greatest rites of passage for me was when my dad bought me my first rifle, a .22 rimfire. He taught me firearms safety and hunting ethics. That meant respecting the game, the land and property rights. When he had finished teaching me I was trusted with lethal force – which is pretty much the same thing as driving a car. The South has a hunting tradition that is just as much a part of our culture as moss-draped live oak trees and sweet tea. We humans wanted the freedom from fear of being attacked and eaten by the top predators of deer – wolves and bears. We also wanted the crops we planted to be eaten by us and not the deer. When we humans removed the top predators from effectively keeping deer numbers in balance, we took on the responsibility for managing the deer population. Hunting is essential to maintaining healthy deer populations and preventing starvation of huge numbers of deer across the state.

So hunting plays a valuable and important role in maintaining both wildlife and agriculture in Georgia. Remember it is hunters and fishermen who pay the fees that support the conservation and habitat restoration programs that fight to bring back and keep our native game populations healthy.

But today more than half of the people who live in Georgia were not born in Georgia. And not every child, native Georgian or not, has parents who hunt and pass on the tradition. So there is a need for programs that teach youth and adults about gun and hunting safety. There are a number of good programs to introduce young people to the shooting sports but they are not uniformly distributed across the state or nation.

The National Rifle Association supports shooting programs led by the Boy Scouts, FFA, Jaycees, American Legion, JROTC, local gun clubs and others. In 40 states across the U.S. the 4-H SAFE Program – Shooting Awareness Fun and Education – engages 100,000 youth nationally, of which almost 5,000 are in Georgia. The NRA is a major supporter of the University of Georgia’s SAFE Program as well.

Read the rest of the article here.

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