While they were discussing an Ozzy Osborne song I could not help wondering which branch of the family tree they fell out of. Needless to say, during this ever glorious stage of adolescence, we view almost everything differently.
They love heavy metal, electric guitars, video games and text messaging. We can’t stand any of it. They want to go see Metallica; meanwhile I am looking forward to Keith Urban.
Ah, but they also love, and I mean love, to shoot. BINGO, they are our kids after all!
Though their first choice of enjoyable firearms would not be mine, that’s ok. I know one day they will discover that shooting clay targets is much more fun than shooting Coke cans off of hay bales with a pistol or rifle. I know, go ahead and call me biased….
My husband and I have chosen to foster their love of shooting and by doing so we hope to create, sustain and participate in a lifelong joy of shooting.
For us, it is passing on a family tradition. I enjoy shooting upland game as my father always has and my husband grew up loving it all. Hunting small game, big game, birds, and of course, shooting those Coke cans as well.
My father in law, who will be 80 this year, grew up in Kissimmee FL. When he was around 6 or7 years old he got his first gun, a Winchester 22 single shot rifle.
At about 8 years old, he started hunting rabbits at night with a head light, literally. You know, one of those you would envision a coal miner wearing.
If he was lucky he would shoot 4-6 rabbits and if he was really lucky, maybe he would get 7. He would come home and his mother, now almost 98, would help him skin the rabbits and they would put them in an old oak ice box, the “oaken” as he calls it. One of the old porcelain lined ones that held a 25 lb. block of ice.
The next morning, he would take the rabbits with him on the school bus. The bus got to school about 30 minutes early. This gave him enough time to run over, before school, and sell the rabbits to the owner of the local fish market for 10 cents each.
He bought most of his own clothes with that money.
Though our kids love to hear these stories, it is hard for them to imagine how different times really were.
Firearms then, for many, were a tool, a necessity. Shots were fired with prudence, hoping not to waste a single shell.
Though times have changed and shooting in our family is purely recreational, we feel it is important for our sons to have a strong basic foundation in all the shooting disciplines, to respect each one, and then to pursue what they will.
Though we truly enjoyed introducing the boys to the shooting sports ourselves, we knew when we reached that infamous “know it all” point it was time to pick our battles.
We chose to let someone else stress the finer points and importance of gun safety, gun etiquette, hunter education, survival skills and so on. By doing this, they have learned that it is not just their parents being over cautious. That all those safely lectures and the hunting and shooting skills we are trying to impart on them really do matter, a lot.
And that’s why we sent them to the NRA Whittington Adventure Camp.
Absolutely one of the finest, most comprehensive outdoor experiences involving all the shooting disciplines we have ever come across. Located on 33,000 beautiful acres in the high mesa country outside Raton, New Mexico, the NRA Whittington Center welcomes 13-17 year old boys and girls and introduces them to all the shooting disciplines: Shotguns, Rifles, Handguns, Muzzleloading and Archery. And that is just the beginning.
Our sons Paulie and Carrington have just returned home from 12 fun filled days at the Adventure Camp. Whether it was shotguns or archery, the compass or cabin pranks, they loved every moment. I look forward to sharing more about the NRA Whittington Center Adventure Camp, all it has to offer our youngsters and also let you hear directly from our own “happy campers” about their experiences there next month in Shotgun Life.
Elizabeth Lanier is an NSCA Level I instructor based in Virginia. Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.