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Bourjaily: Great Shots Start in the Boy Scouts

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January 28, 2010

Bourjaily: Great Shots Start in the Boy Scouts

By Phil Bourjaily

This year the Boys Scouts of America celebrate their 100th anniversary. As they do, we should celebrate them for their continuing commitment to the shooting sports. Countless thousands of boys received their introduction to riflery, shotgunning and archery at Scout camp and the BSA still offers merit badges for all three.

The Boy Scouts could not ask for a better shooting sports ambassador than skeet shooter Jon Michael McGrath II (above), with whom I had lunch at SHOT. A 17-year-old high school senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jon Michael is a strong contender for spot on the 2012 Oylmpic team. He is also an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project he worked with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to introduce newcomers to shotgun shooting.

Here is the best part of the story: Jon Michael fired a shotgun for the first time in his life at Boy Scout summer camp when he was 11 years old. Blessed with excellent eye-hand coordination, he took to shotgunning immediately. When his parents came to pick him up at the end of the week, the shooting sports instructor took them aside. “We need to talk about your son,” he said.  Jon Michael went into training, won his first medal four months later, and has been winning ever since. We may well see him on a medal stand in London in 2012. And, it all started at scout camp.

***

Somewhere in the day three SHOT gallery there’s a picture of me looking extremely dazed (it was day three after all), standing next to a giant gun safe, the Champion Colossus. The Colossus is 10 feet tall, 6 feet wide and holds 300 long guns in a two-tiered rack. The amazing thing about the huge safe, though, is that was originally built as a one-of-a-kind display model to attract people to the Champion booth at shows.  And, it did attract people. What Champion didn’t expect was that customers didn’t think it was a display model. They started ordering them. You can have one, too, for the $12,000, delivered.

Comments (25)

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from mroman wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Boy Scout Troop 174 from Livonia NY is fortunate enough to have the Conesus Lake Sportsmans Club as their charter organization. They started trap and skeet leagues just for the scouts, and have many members of their trap and skeet teams volunteer as coaches. Not only do the boys get to experience the shooting sports at camp, but home as well. The club also sponsored teams of scouts in the Scholastic Clays Program and competitions. The boys just eat it up, and I think the coaches have just as much fun. If any of you out there know of a Scout Troop in need of a charter, talk to your clubs, or find out who is in charge of your local scout troop and get these kids involved. It's great to see kids who don't have firearms in their home shooting for the first time...and watching some of the Mom's freak because of it. Everyone learns from the experience.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from kyka1865 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Thankyou Phil for commending the Boy scouts, it is not done enough. You are aboloutely correct that the Scouts is where many young men are first exposed to outdoor sports, shooting, fishing ,and conservation, among other positive things. As an Eagle scout I am very proud every time the scouts are noticed or commended.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I would love to know what percent of outdoorsmen have their beginnings in Boy Scouts of America. I am an Eagle Scout and a scout leader now and most of my boys are in the outdoors only through scouts. It is a program that is somewhat overlooked by the outdoor world. Involving your children and being involved yourself is such a rewarding experience. I am behind the BSA all the way.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Its good to hear about the positive influence of the Boy Scouts. Thats especially true after I recently came across an article talking about how the merit badge for shooting has been watered down in recent years:

http://www.chuckhawks.com/column24_plea_boy_scouts.htm

I'll leave it to those more familar with the Scouts to decide whether or not the Scouts need to do something to improve their approach to shooting.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from shotgunlou wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Got my rife and shotgun merit badges at Emerald Bay scout camp on Catalina Island of the coast of California back in the 80's. I'll never forget those days at camp. Got my wilderness survival badge on the same trip. That night sleeping by myself with no sleeping bag and bugs crawling all over me at night was tough but I proved to myself that I could build my own shelter and survive a night on my own, even as a little kid. Boy Scouts helped me develope character that I still draw on in my daily life. I often think bout the Scout Law and try to apply it to my daily life. That wasnt my first time shooting but it was the first time I shot that much in any one time and place. I loved every second of it as you may gather from my screen name.

Thanks for the article Phil!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

That is an interesting article bryan01, the reason that the BSA doesn't do what this teenager wants done is safety. The direction of the scouting program when it comes to firearms is to help them understand firearms, not to become hunters or marksmen. They want to train scouts the safety of guns and the basics to shoot. Even if they choose not to ever shoot again, they are better off. That is probably the reason why the make the merit badge so simple, so that everybody will try to get it. They stay with 22's/shotguns, single shot and short range because of safety. I worked at a scout camp and am now a scout leader, small calibers, single shot and short ranges are a no brainer, they are 11-17 year old boys! This teenager writing the article does not understand what the average 11 year old is capable of. A father can control his 1 or 2 sons, a leader has less control of 12 wild teenagers. The BSA shooting standard now is risky enough, centerfire and long range is up to the fathers to take that responsibility. Hand a boy a AR15 with a banana clip? The only thing he knows about a semiauto gun is that you get it on the 3rd level of "gears of war".

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I started shooting rifle and archery before joining scouts but I credit BSA for improving my skills in both. I still use the knots I learned and a whole lot of other outdoor skills--camping, canoeing, survival, fire-starting, hiking, tracking, knife safety & sharpening ... Thanks, BSA. I'm a better man for having been a scout.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from AustinMartin wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I shot my first round of trap at a scouting event when I was eleven with my later to be coach(AA shooter), who was at the time my scout leader. I went out with him again back in November, and have gone almost every week since then. I am now training to start competing ATA in the 2011 target year. If it wasn't for the BSA, I doubt I would have found the sport that I so dearly love now.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Good Start for young men; wish I had that opportunity at their age!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from squirrelgirl wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

One of the rare moments I wish I was a boy.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

squirrelgirl-
We're glad your not! LOL

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from krwheeler wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

What a great combination. Shooting sports and Boy Scouts! Great story!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from krwheeler wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

What a great combination. Shooting sports and Boy Scouts! Great story!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I second the notion that I am glad Squirrelgirl is not a boy!!!!!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MidMichHunter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

As a Cub Scout Den Leader and father of a 10 & 7 year old, I'm glad the BSA offers a shooting badge. My boys are already into shooting and one, my 10 yo is almost a better shot than I am, which I praise him for, but really beating Dad isn't too hard. He wants to shoot the AR, but that'll wait a bit longer.

I look forward to getting them both to the BSA level and hope they, and I, have the drive to make it to Eagle Scouts. There is a lot to like about the scouts, shooting & archery are just the tip of the iceberg of the life lessons that the Boys learn. Happy 100th Birthday BSA!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Nice article about a good organization. My own Boy Scout experiences are some of my fondest from childhood and I am happy to still be associated with them as an adult.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

The Boy Scouts is a great organization that has stood firm in spite of a lot of pressure to become more politically correct. Their support of shooting sports is just one example of that. They also provide a wonderful opportunity for those who enjoy the outdoors and want to pass along some of their skills and knowledge to the next generation. (hint, hint)

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

The Boy Scout merit badge program is designed provide scouts exposure to a myriad of subjects. I believe there are about 120 different merit badges currently offered. To earn a merit badge the scout must meet the requirements established by the Boy Scouts of America. Often, these requirements include showing or demonstrating skills pertaining to the subject.

The merit badge program is not designed to make the scout an expert in the subject. Just as a recipient of the Atomic Energy badge is not expected to be a nuclear scientist a scout who has earned the Rifle Shooting merit badge does not have to be a marksman (although he must display a certain level of skill). Often, through working on a merit badge, a scout will find that he has an interest in a particular subject and go on to make it a career or life long hobby. This is often the case with the shooting sports merit badges: Archery, Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting.

From the proud father of an Eagle Scout (and Archery, Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting merit badge recipient).

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from silsbyj wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

My girlfriend mentioned last night that I should become a scout leader. Any of you out there have any experience being one? How did you get started?

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

silsbyj -

I became a scout leader when my son got involved. Your best bet is to contact the Boy Scout Council office in your area. They can steer you to a troop located near you and they probably have an idea which troops are needing adult leaders.

This link can help you find you area council:

http://www.scouting.org/LocalCouncilLocator.aspx

Good luck. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

We are so proud of you lsywlw for trying to sell handbags while we are all trying to talk about fishing and hunting. I hear that the "good housekeeping" mag would be a killer place to get registered, not field and stream, moron.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Not only does scouting provide the opportunity for young adults to learn shooting they also teach a full range of back country skills. These of course are applicable to hunting and fishing
I completed the Wood Badge training then spent 12 years as a scoutmaster and several more as an Explorer Post advisor. These were some of the most rewarding years of my life.

Squirrelgirl you should check out BSA's Explorer program, it is Co-Ed and many of the same types of activities boy scouts do can be incorporated into the posts activities.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tbogg10 wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

i am very glad i was in the boy scouts, i never hunted or fished, but then i joined, and now i have a passion for the outdoors that i prolly never would have had

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sourdough Dave wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

So glad this great American organization got its just due. It sure set me on the right path to truly enjoy a lifetimes in the outdoors. I spent many pleasant hours on the BSA firing range.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mikedelisle09@y... wrote 4 years 9 weeks ago

i am 17 and love to shoot guns and clays its fun and im good at it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

That is an interesting article bryan01, the reason that the BSA doesn't do what this teenager wants done is safety. The direction of the scouting program when it comes to firearms is to help them understand firearms, not to become hunters or marksmen. They want to train scouts the safety of guns and the basics to shoot. Even if they choose not to ever shoot again, they are better off. That is probably the reason why the make the merit badge so simple, so that everybody will try to get it. They stay with 22's/shotguns, single shot and short range because of safety. I worked at a scout camp and am now a scout leader, small calibers, single shot and short ranges are a no brainer, they are 11-17 year old boys! This teenager writing the article does not understand what the average 11 year old is capable of. A father can control his 1 or 2 sons, a leader has less control of 12 wild teenagers. The BSA shooting standard now is risky enough, centerfire and long range is up to the fathers to take that responsibility. Hand a boy a AR15 with a banana clip? The only thing he knows about a semiauto gun is that you get it on the 3rd level of "gears of war".

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I would love to know what percent of outdoorsmen have their beginnings in Boy Scouts of America. I am an Eagle Scout and a scout leader now and most of my boys are in the outdoors only through scouts. It is a program that is somewhat overlooked by the outdoor world. Involving your children and being involved yourself is such a rewarding experience. I am behind the BSA all the way.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bryan01 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Its good to hear about the positive influence of the Boy Scouts. Thats especially true after I recently came across an article talking about how the merit badge for shooting has been watered down in recent years:

http://www.chuckhawks.com/column24_plea_boy_scouts.htm

I'll leave it to those more familar with the Scouts to decide whether or not the Scouts need to do something to improve their approach to shooting.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Good Start for young men; wish I had that opportunity at their age!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from MidMichHunter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

As a Cub Scout Den Leader and father of a 10 & 7 year old, I'm glad the BSA offers a shooting badge. My boys are already into shooting and one, my 10 yo is almost a better shot than I am, which I praise him for, but really beating Dad isn't too hard. He wants to shoot the AR, but that'll wait a bit longer.

I look forward to getting them both to the BSA level and hope they, and I, have the drive to make it to Eagle Scouts. There is a lot to like about the scouts, shooting & archery are just the tip of the iceberg of the life lessons that the Boys learn. Happy 100th Birthday BSA!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

The Boy Scouts is a great organization that has stood firm in spite of a lot of pressure to become more politically correct. Their support of shooting sports is just one example of that. They also provide a wonderful opportunity for those who enjoy the outdoors and want to pass along some of their skills and knowledge to the next generation. (hint, hint)

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

silsbyj -

I became a scout leader when my son got involved. Your best bet is to contact the Boy Scout Council office in your area. They can steer you to a troop located near you and they probably have an idea which troops are needing adult leaders.

This link can help you find you area council:

http://www.scouting.org/LocalCouncilLocator.aspx

Good luck. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from babsfish4life wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

We are so proud of you lsywlw for trying to sell handbags while we are all trying to talk about fishing and hunting. I hear that the "good housekeeping" mag would be a killer place to get registered, not field and stream, moron.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from mroman wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Boy Scout Troop 174 from Livonia NY is fortunate enough to have the Conesus Lake Sportsmans Club as their charter organization. They started trap and skeet leagues just for the scouts, and have many members of their trap and skeet teams volunteer as coaches. Not only do the boys get to experience the shooting sports at camp, but home as well. The club also sponsored teams of scouts in the Scholastic Clays Program and competitions. The boys just eat it up, and I think the coaches have just as much fun. If any of you out there know of a Scout Troop in need of a charter, talk to your clubs, or find out who is in charge of your local scout troop and get these kids involved. It's great to see kids who don't have firearms in their home shooting for the first time...and watching some of the Mom's freak because of it. Everyone learns from the experience.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from kyka1865 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Thankyou Phil for commending the Boy scouts, it is not done enough. You are aboloutely correct that the Scouts is where many young men are first exposed to outdoor sports, shooting, fishing ,and conservation, among other positive things. As an Eagle scout I am very proud every time the scouts are noticed or commended.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from shotgunlou wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Got my rife and shotgun merit badges at Emerald Bay scout camp on Catalina Island of the coast of California back in the 80's. I'll never forget those days at camp. Got my wilderness survival badge on the same trip. That night sleeping by myself with no sleeping bag and bugs crawling all over me at night was tough but I proved to myself that I could build my own shelter and survive a night on my own, even as a little kid. Boy Scouts helped me develope character that I still draw on in my daily life. I often think bout the Scout Law and try to apply it to my daily life. That wasnt my first time shooting but it was the first time I shot that much in any one time and place. I loved every second of it as you may gather from my screen name.

Thanks for the article Phil!

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I started shooting rifle and archery before joining scouts but I credit BSA for improving my skills in both. I still use the knots I learned and a whole lot of other outdoor skills--camping, canoeing, survival, fire-starting, hiking, tracking, knife safety & sharpening ... Thanks, BSA. I'm a better man for having been a scout.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from AustinMartin wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I shot my first round of trap at a scouting event when I was eleven with my later to be coach(AA shooter), who was at the time my scout leader. I went out with him again back in November, and have gone almost every week since then. I am now training to start competing ATA in the 2011 target year. If it wasn't for the BSA, I doubt I would have found the sport that I so dearly love now.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from squirrelgirl wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

One of the rare moments I wish I was a boy.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

squirrelgirl-
We're glad your not! LOL

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from straightshooter wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

The Boy Scout merit badge program is designed provide scouts exposure to a myriad of subjects. I believe there are about 120 different merit badges currently offered. To earn a merit badge the scout must meet the requirements established by the Boy Scouts of America. Often, these requirements include showing or demonstrating skills pertaining to the subject.

The merit badge program is not designed to make the scout an expert in the subject. Just as a recipient of the Atomic Energy badge is not expected to be a nuclear scientist a scout who has earned the Rifle Shooting merit badge does not have to be a marksman (although he must display a certain level of skill). Often, through working on a merit badge, a scout will find that he has an interest in a particular subject and go on to make it a career or life long hobby. This is often the case with the shooting sports merit badges: Archery, Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting.

From the proud father of an Eagle Scout (and Archery, Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting merit badge recipient).

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from silsbyj wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

My girlfriend mentioned last night that I should become a scout leader. Any of you out there have any experience being one? How did you get started?

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from IowaGuy wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Nice article about a good organization. My own Boy Scout experiences are some of my fondest from childhood and I am happy to still be associated with them as an adult.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from krwheeler wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

What a great combination. Shooting sports and Boy Scouts! Great story!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from krwheeler wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

What a great combination. Shooting sports and Boy Scouts! Great story!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

I second the notion that I am glad Squirrelgirl is not a boy!!!!!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Not only does scouting provide the opportunity for young adults to learn shooting they also teach a full range of back country skills. These of course are applicable to hunting and fishing
I completed the Wood Badge training then spent 12 years as a scoutmaster and several more as an Explorer Post advisor. These were some of the most rewarding years of my life.

Squirrelgirl you should check out BSA's Explorer program, it is Co-Ed and many of the same types of activities boy scouts do can be incorporated into the posts activities.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tbogg10 wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

i am very glad i was in the boy scouts, i never hunted or fished, but then i joined, and now i have a passion for the outdoors that i prolly never would have had

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sourdough Dave wrote 4 years 10 weeks ago

So glad this great American organization got its just due. It sure set me on the right path to truly enjoy a lifetimes in the outdoors. I spent many pleasant hours on the BSA firing range.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mikedelisle09@y... wrote 4 years 9 weeks ago

i am 17 and love to shoot guns and clays its fun and im good at it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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