By Kyle Jillson | October 24 2012 14:48

Team Smith & Wesson's Molly Smith discusses the coveted NRA award

Are you involved in the shooting sports? How Much? If you are active through both individual participation and educational pursuits you could win up to $5,000 in the NRA Outstanding Achievement Youth Award. And accuracy isn't as important as involvement. How do you get recognized? Molly Smith, recent Youth Education Summit participant and member of Team Smith & Wesson, wrote a great piece on the award for the Women's Outdoor Network that you can read below.

Team Smith & Wesson member and Youth Education Summit participant Molly Smith

Brownells and the NRA have been teaming up since 2001 with a goal of annually awarding youth with an Outstanding Youth Achievement Award. It’s an honor to receive the medal and certificate, but the significance is more than a medal and a paper certificate; it’s recognition and acknowledgment of dedication and hard work, of focus and of course, direction. It’s an honor to be acknowledged. Any youth younger than 21 years of age can apply; they must meet the core requirements and an additional five (or more) elective requirements from a possible 19 — activities surrounding the shooting sports and related educational opportunities.

It’s an extensive application, but in just looking it over, I was excited! I saw activities I have already done – like competing in NRA competitions – but, I also saw opportunities that I’ve never thought of before, such as becoming a Winchester/NRA Qualified marksman or attending the NRA convention. (The convention being one thing that since hearing about it, I’ve wanted to go but haven’t had the chance yet.)

Reading about the Outstanding Youth Achievement Award made me want to achieve this one and more. It made me think about becoming more involved, to learn more and to do more, especially within the shooting sports. Some of the activities I participated in included completing an NRA Firearm Training course, competing in an NRA Match (Bianchi Cup, anyone?) attending/volunteering at Friends of the NRA (FNRA) events, summer camp shooting programs, seeing a firearms museum and helping with wildlife conservation. Each of those events had a different, enlightening impact on me.

The NRA Training course has encouraged me to not only learn more about gun safety, but also to share all the knowledge I gained with new shooters, especially women and children. The FNRA events I’ve been attending for the past few years have always been fun and I’m always impressed by the amount of support rallied from members of the NRA and my local community. Plus, FNRA supports all sorts of events and programs that encourage juniors and women! (From the Youth Education Summit in D.C. to women’s clinics, FNRA is keeping these demographics involved in shooting sports.) Shooting camps, like MGM Junior Shooter Camp, are excellent opportunities to learn from the pros, like Randi Rogers.

One area stood out as an amazing learning experience: wildlife conservation. I really enjoyed learning more about the ecosystems by my home and helping to keep them safe and healthy. It has paved the way for me to understand the unique relationships hunters and fishermen have with the environment and wildlife. Yes, the NRA is concerned with wildlife conservation; they encourage youth to gain understanding of our precious resources and how we are responsible not only as safe hunters and fishermen but our responsibility to wildlife and the environment for the future.

Molly Smith, Smith & Wesson shooter and NRA Youth Education Summit participant

And you know what else was a great feeling? It happened when I finished the application and looked at what I’ve done. That was rewarding on its own. I could see the different activities I’ve taken part in over the past year and be proud to know that I was growing! Not getting taller, but learning more, becoming more active, more educated and realizing that in completing the requirements for this award, I was well on my way, on my journey toward my goals. Having the sense of pride in my accomplishments is a great one, but it would be pretty cool to get a medal and certificate with my name on it.

Any youth interested in the Outstanding Youth Achievement Award, should check the NRA website. The deadline for applying is May 1, 2013. That gives you plenty of time to add some more experience to your life.

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