Thread: Teaching
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Old December 7, 2012, 12:21 AM   #15
btmj
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Join Date: November 1, 2011
Location: Near St. Louis, Missouri
Posts: 788
I have informally taught basic firearm safety and handling for 30 years.

When I was 12 years old (1978), I took a week long NRA advanced hunters safety course. Very interesting class for a kid to take. It was taught by a man who was an avid collector and shooter.

When I was 16, I got a job at a summer camp, and the camp had a shooting range with a dozen remington bolt action 22LR rifles. No one at the camp had any idea how to teach students, clean and care for the weapons, so I volunteered. Based on nothing more than my VERBAL statement that I had taken the above-mentioned training class, I became the camp shooting range instructor. I was in charge of teaching 9-14 year olds (in groups of 20-30 at a time) the basics of firearm safety and marksmanship. I was the only supervision present during this training... no adults around (although I thought of myself as an adult). It scares the cr@p out of me today, and I wonder if those parents back then knew that little Johny and Amy were shooting rifles under the watchful eyes of a 16 year old... At the time I was highly concerned about safety, and I thought about how to properly conduct the class. There was no one at the camp who remembered what the previous instructors had done !

I started with a 20 minute lecture/demo talking about gun safety, what was inside the cartridge and why does it fire, how does the gun work, the basics of aiming the rifle.

I had set out 8 shooting stations, each of which had an old mattress. I had the students line up behind each station (about 3 deep), and had the first child in line lay down on the mattress. I only allowed prone shooting, because in my 16 year old mind, that was the safest. I had each of the 8 shooters practice dry fireing and cycling the action. The students waiting in line behind him/her were given the job of watching for any safety rule violation. After all 8 shooters had practiced cycling and dry firing, I handed out 5 cartridges to each shooter, and talked them through the firing process. Then those 8 shooters went to the back of the line, and the next 8 went into the prone position... repeat until all of the children get a chance to shoot.

In six weeks, I had taught about 1200 children at my little range in the woods. No accidents or significant safety problems. I had one ND by a little boy who had trouble cycling the bolt, and accidently fired the weapon over the top of the berm, but behind the range was many square miles of national forest.

Today I look back and I just can't believe that anyone would allow a 16 year old to supervise a shooting range at a summer camp for kids. But this was 1982, and times were different. Almost all of the adults at the camp were 18 - 25 year olds anyway.

Last edited by btmj; December 7, 2012 at 12:30 AM.
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