By Paul Visocky
This month I have decided to discuss what shooting sports activities are available for Scouts and how some of them may be accomplished at Fire Mountain.
Before I get into that I thought that I would discuss how those activities are even possible. Let’s start with this organization, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Mount Baker Council. It is, as we all know, a non-profit organization bent on corrupting youth minds with good morals, ethics and positive attitudes emphasizing safe fun. We have a paid staff of just over a dozen men and women that do an incredible job of making sure that the Council works smoothly coordinating with the multitude of volunteers, yes volunteers. This organization only exists, operates and continues to grow because of the help of the volunteers. They are the backbone, the heart, and the army of parents and friends that are all dedicated to making opportunities available for our Scouts to experience life changing and exciting activities.
All these activities are run by volunteers and the committee that they can somehow put together. All of us are short of help. All of us would relish assistance. All of us want more friends to experience these events with. So, the next time you are wanting to know why the Council / District / Unit does not provide an event for your child, instead ask, “How can I help to make sure this event happens?”
Now for the fun, exciting, life changing events that are available (we are working on more but need the help) for your youth. For the young, exuberant Cubs, we have Archery, BB Guns and Slingshots. These activities must be sponsored by the District or Council and can’t be done at the Pack level. In order for these events to take place we need to have a Director that is NCS (National Camp School) trained to head up the event as well as the necessary Rangemasters for the safe operation of the ranges, I always recommend at least 2, (as this lends itself to a more personal experience on the range and enhances the life changing effect) and it helps to have a couple of others that can help with the safety briefing. If you are keeping count that is as many as 10 people for this fun, exciting and life changing event. I recommend taking advantage of every opportunity that come around and sign up for Day Camp, or Resident Camp and come up to Fire Mountain for Stampede and Webelo-ree. And while you are there, see how you can help!
For Scouts BSA we have a couple of additional options: the .22 rifles, Shotguns, Black-powder rifles and Tomahawks. Those over 14 can also use the Cowboy Action Range, incorporating repeating rifles and pistols. Any of these events can be done at the Unit level, provided that there is proper trained and approved Supervision. “Supervision” requires at least one Range Safety Officer and one Instructor per every 8 Scouts for each range that you need.
The ranges at camp can be rented off-season by contacting the Scout Office and arranging it through our Program Secretary, Kersten. She will contact the Shooting Sports Committee if the Unit needs Supervision and we will do our best to provide trained supervision for the desired date. It may take some effort, but the pay-off of a safe shooting experience in Scouting is well worth it.
Now for Venturers, Sea Scouts and Explorers. This group basically has the full gamut of firearms. Most calibers are open for use as well as almost all types of firearms including rifles, pistols, shotguns, archery and black-powder. They are also allowed to conduct hunting events within their own Unit, although the Council can’t offer trained support for those. Currently, the Council only has facilities for the .22 rifles and limited shotgun use, but we are working on changing that as well (given time, money and help). All of the available ranges are rented for these Units in the same manner as the Scouts BSA Units.
I have seen the many benefits to our youth of participation in shooting activities in Scouting, and I encourage you to see how you can help support such activities for your own Scouts. If you have an interest in getting involved with Shooting Sports at the Council level, please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see more of you at events, meetings, training or just out on the trail.