Series Reflection – Why Do You Teach Youth How to Shoot?

After completing my 5-article series exploring the fundamentals of shooting – and how they can correspond with goal setting and project management – I was reflecting on it and decided I needed one more article to really finish it out. This one will discuss why we as Scouters volunteer so much of our time to ensure that there are activities for our Scouts to participate in. I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I am sure that I can hit on some aspect of why everyone does this work. 

Let me start with a story, going back to Summer Camp a few years ago. The troop was attending Camp on opening week and the RSO was newly qualified. I decided that, for the week, I could help him out and make sure that he had the support that he needed. I also asked my wife Vangie to come up and help.  

We started the typical plan for the week, or so I assume, as I had never done this before either. We completed the book lessons and started with shooting portion. In one of the classes we had a young man by the name of Pete. He came to the range every day with a serious, concentrated look on his face. He was quiet and polite like most Scouts, didn’t cause any problems on the range, and would have been mostly forgotten shortly after the week ended had it not been for the struggle that he had with the fifth shot of each round. 

He could get 4 out of 5 shots grouped within the size of a quarter – as the badge required at the time – but the 5th eluded him as our ability to help was eluding us. We tried a dozen different things but with Friday afternoon fast approaching, his chance of completion was fading. For all of you Instructors out there, the key question we asked to set us on the right course of action was, “Can you see the target?” His answer, of course, was a meek, “No.”  

So, we went to work trying to find a way to help him see the target. We didn’t have much luck at first, but then we stumbled upon those little colorful dots that you can stick on paper. We stuck a few of them on a target and he gave it a shot (pun intended) and low and behold the 5th shot started to move closer. The end of the Friday morning session came, and with it lunch. Vangie decided not to come back out to the range for the final session, but Pete certainly does, with the same serious, concentrated look on his face.  

We stick the dots on the targets and within 2 rounds of shooting he completes the requirement. Finally, his expression cracks, contorted into an ear to ear grin with bright sparkling eyes of sheer joy. He was happy and laughing and just couldn’t sit still or keep from talking. This was a hard-earned accomplishment, and it had changed him. 

Back to why we volunteer. There is of course the obvious: we were able to help this young man to accomplish something, provide him with the opportunity to experience this potentially life-changing event, and got to experience that with him. That event not only changed him, it changed all three of us adults that were on the range because when Pete left the range he made his way to Skagit Shelter with the sole purpose of finding Vangie to tell her of his accomplishment, still grinning ear to ear.  

Some other reasons may or may not be as obvious. We all know that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But do we know why? For one, we can’t know everything, and some things have to be taught by others. Those skills we don’t have, the knowledge we don’t possess, the advice that our youth will not listen to from us but will from others. This is something that I am sure we have all experienced and should embrace in this organization because it gives us the resources of that village, both adult and youth, where we might not have them otherwise. 

We also already have a program that we don’t have to come up with, the facilities for our youth to do the activities we feel are important to growth, the friendship of other adults to experience that growth with. Some financial help to assist us with providing that for our children. The knowledge and training, from others that have come before us, in how we can help and with methods that have been proven.  

We help and volunteer because we believe that this is how life should be lived: with your family and friends. Life lived doing things that challenge us, that take us to places we might never otherwise go, that allow us to experience the wonder that is life, with others and not alone and separated.  

It is a chance to Trust that our Loyalty to others will be met with Help and Friendship. To teach that it is always right to be Courteous and Kind to others, and to be Obedient to the rules of nature and man. A chance to find Cheer in the accomplishments of those we aid. It is a chance to learn our limits, to be Thrifty with our time but Brave enough to push those limits when needed. To teach that a Clean world is a sustainable world, and to have Reverence enough to understand that there is something out there greater than us, beyond our control or understanding. 

It is our one chance to do all of this because a youth is only young for a short time and will never be young again.