Clark Youth Shooting Camp: Passing on the Heritage
Clark Youth Shooting Camp: Passing On The Heritage
By Pete Weisbrod
So finally after years of overseas deployments as both a special operations soldier and a contractor, I finally decided to settle down in rural South Dakota. I live in the county seat, so I live in a “big town” of about 1200. We have about 400 kids in the whole school system Pre-K to 12th grade. The town of Clark sets in eastern South Dakota smack dab in the middle of the prairie.
Hunting, however, is a big deal here. Pheasants of course are the biggest deal as hunters flock from all over the country to hunt. But for the locals the quest for whitetails is huge, as well as heading out to the western side of the state to hunt for speed goats (which is considered an excused absence at school). The wide open country is a long range shooter’s dream, not including the ever present wind.
In a small town it doesn’t take long for news to travel. So it didn’t take long for the fact to get out that I hoped one day to get a few of our teenager hunters out to learn a few things. Apparently that planted a seed, because my words eventually came full circle. Several dads asked that I run a youth shooting course. Of course they didn’t really have to twist my arm too hard, and the Clark County Youth Shooting Camp was born.
My initial intention was to have the boys show up with the rifle they intended to hunt with the following fall. When they were finished the younger kids would be shooting out to 400 yards, and the older and more advanced shooters out to 600. In South Dakota the youth hunting ages are from 12 – 17, so I stuck with those ages. I decided 20 kids was as many as I could handle, figuring they would be shooting in pairs, meaning only ten shooters at once.
I thought I would need a full five days to cover all of the material I felt was pertinent. I put together a lesson plan that I thought made sense and identified the resources I would need. Anyone who has attended any shooting school understands how expensive it can be. Since this was for kids I knew that I was working with a shoestring budget. Having the kids shoot 250 rounds a gun was expensive enough. So off I went chasing sponsors for everything from the land to shoot on, cleaning supplies, ammo, bipods, wind meters, lumber, steel targets, shooting sticks, spray glue, spray paint, ear protection and a classroom. You name it and I pretty much needed it, including assistant instructors. I made it very clear I did not want money, nor was I making a single dime. I just wanted the supplies needed to put on a first rate camp for the kids and still make it affordable enough that kids in a rural community could attend. Some sponsors were local businesses and some were larger companies nationwide. Some I visited in person and some I simply emailed, but almost without exception the result was the same… I received something!!!! It may have been a price break on shipping, a substantial discount or an out and out donation or just good advice. God, I love this country!
Once I had a rough plan on paper and wrote up the classes, I sent them to friends both on LongRangeHunting.com as well as other snipers and sniper instructors for a sanity check. I was even lucky enough to get advice from a LRH member who had just finished the 4-H range masters course. Since I was now dealing with kids and not steely eyed killers I knew I would have to adjust a few things.