Passing on the Heritage: Youth Shooting Camp Part 2Pete Weisbrod
As 2012 rolled around, my sons, as well several previous students and prospective students, asked about shooting camp. They wanted to know if and when I was holding camp again. The “if” part was a no brainer, but working out the “when” became a bit more of a challenge with my work schedule. I ended up settling on the last week of June despite the slightly warmer weather and conflicts with summer sports and activities.
As with last year, my intention was to have the boys show up with the rifle they intended to hunt with the following fall and to focus on youth hunters ages 10-17. I attempted to get more than twenty kids this year, and even tried to get some young ladies in the course with no luck. Just prior to starting, two brothers informed me that they were unable to attend due to a family emergency, so I ended up with a total of eighteen kids this year.
I began by reflecting on last year, deciding what to keep and what to change. As I learned last year, kids, no matter what the subject, hate class time! So I streamlined the classroom portions as best I could, deferring to an all hands on approach as much as possible. We shot a lot of paper last year. I felt this wasted too much time chasing back and forth checking targets as well as provided less feedback shot to shot. So I rounded up a huge amount of steel targets. This was the biggest improvement I could have made!
The range itself last year was just not quite as I had really wanted, but just as last year Oak Tree Lodge stepped up to the task and gave us the use of a half mile wide by two mile long patch of CRP to use! It was absolutely perfect. Lastly, I just wanted more gun time for the kids without adding additional costs. So I just added to the time and round count for 22 rim fires.
Since we live in pheasant country it was decided to dedicate half a day to shooting shotguns. This was another great decision. So I went and bought 50 plus rounds a kid and clay targets to match. 1200 rounds is a lot of shooting so we rounded up several electric clay throwers. It was also decided that the staff at Oak Tree would handle the instructional duties for this.
I still had a great deal of resources from last year, so other than the steel targets is was pretty simple to get everything we needed. I went chasing sponsors for everything from the land to shoot on, ammo, bipods and wind meters, to lumber, steel targets, spray glue, spray paint, ear pro and a classroom. I again made it very clear I did not want money, nor was I making a single dime. I just wanted the supplies needed to run camp for the kids, and still make it affordable enough that kids could attend. Most sponsors were local businesses and a few were larger companies nationwide. All of our sponsors from last year pitched in again to include a few new ones. I could ramble on for days about how gracious all of the sponsors have been and I would have some honorable mentions as well. It is just easiest to say it like this: For a very minimal tuition fee and dealer’s cost on 200 rounds of the student’s caliber, each student shot 700 rounds between 22 rim fire, shotgun and hunting rifle, received a t-shirt, hat, bipod, shooting glasses, a free lunch and had a heck of a good time! That’s the kind of sponsors we have.
Just like last year Bill and Michael Makens and Brian Anderson of Oak Tree Lodge came through like true heroes by providing an even better location for the range. The week prior to camp starting was comprised of 6 – 8 hour days filling sand bags, printing out drop charts, cutting out field targets, setting up and test firing the range (this was the best part). Setting up and verifying the range out of a large pasture with knee high grass was pretty easy this year due to having good ground, and Oak Tree took care of all the mowing. I even had one cost conscious shooter who showed up at my house to learn reloading, and who loaded his 7mm brass from last year.
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