Bourjaily: Great Shots Start in the Boy Scouts

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.