LUVERNE, AL --(Ammoland.com)- Mention the words “kids” and “guns” in the same sentence and many of the soft-bellied ninnies in this nation tinkle down their legs.
Some might even pass out from fright. The news media will only use those words together after some heinous act or criminal villainy.
For those of us who aren’t afraid of our shadows we know that putting kids and gun together is not a terrible thing.
The problem most ninnies and news media members have is that they present children as some notional creature stuck in a perpetual Peter Pan state where they never age. Kids, or young people, do indeed grow up. I was a kid once, I was taught how to shoot and respect firearms and I grew up never having harmed a soul.
When I first heard of the Ohio 4H Shooting Sport back in 2000, I knew immediately I had to get involved with the program. I took their training courses and became a 4H certified instructor. Thirteen years later, many of the kids I coached are now grown. They are adults with careers and spouses. I’ve even had many find me via social media to check in. Some of those “kids” are now returning as adults to become volunteer instructors.
Without qualification I can say that the people who populate the 4H Shooting Sports organization are some of the finest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
The driving principle behind the 4H Shooting Sports is not just having fun with firearms, it is Youth Development. Though the various shooting sports disciplines kids are taught personal responsibility, self-discipline, sportsmanship, and they develop genuine, not contrived, self-esteem. Shane Iversen, a retired US Army Special Force team sergeant, likes to say “Shooting makes better people, period”. The 4H Shooting Sports program complete exemplifies that notion.
Most of our kids today live in an artificial world. Their music doesn’t come from physical objects like record albums but digital files. They communicate via text or IM without ever having to dial the phone and talk. Video games provide only artificial stimulation and all they have to do is hit the “reset” button and start over when they make a mistake. The shooting sports provide a very real and tangible avenue of hands-on achievement.
Hitting your target requires both mental and physical discipline. The success is real, not digital or virtual. Young people in the 4H Shooting Sports are taught to respect firearms and handle them responsibly, they aren’t toys. At no other time in our nation’s history is such an organization more needed. The value provided is nearly immeasurable.
Kids don’t stay kids forever. Attempting shelter them and hide them away from the real world only turns them into weak and immature adults. These are the basement dwelling thirty year olds all too prevalent in our society.
The 4H Shooting Sports is a not-for-profit organization and survives on volunteers and support from the shooting sports industry. If you’d like to support them please go to www.4-hshootingsports.org or www.ohio4hshootingsports.org.
Paul Markel c 2012
Follow Paul Markel at Student of the Gun.com .