By Chuck Nottingham
The problem most kids have with gun safety programs is safety's BORING!
In the average safety program, rules are recited, books are studied, videos are shown, maybe kids even get to hold a gun or two, but let's face it guns are for shooting. Learning doesn't stick with most kids when it's so abstract.
Poorest examples are hunter education programs with no walks through real fields and forests and no shooting opportunities.
On the other side of the coin, the problem with lots of shooting programs is gun safety may be stressed at the onset, but soon shooting positions, equipment, and scores become uppermost. Safety sometimes gradually fades to a secondary concern. Sometimes, the more intense the competition, the less actual safety is observed.
Worst example I recall was a big-city trap club. After the first visit, I was too frightened to return. Careless scatter-guns muzzles waving about were scarier to me than jungle-types trying to shoot me with AK-47s.
Likewise, too many shooters in youth rifle marksmanship programs get training when they're 10 years old, but compete till they're 18 with little more than occasional reminders at grievous errors. Safety often gets taken for granted in the hustle-bustle of competition, especially when the shooter-coach ratio is three or four to one or greater.
But for parents who want a dynamic, on-going gun-safety program for their youngsters, and for kids 8 to 15 who want to shoot it's all rolled into one in the Jaycees-Daisy BB-Gun Program.
On April 7 and 8, Laurel Jaycees' BB-Gun Team prevailed over 13 other 8-member Montana teams to capture the State Daisy-Jaycees BB-Gun 2001 Championships held at Havre Middle School.
Up to 10 young shooters from Laurel, Montana, and their coaches are eligible to travel to the 36th annual National Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in July. Runner-up Glendive may also attend, and third-place Belgrade is allowed to send a team.
Last year, Havre Jaycees' BB-Gun Team won the 2000 Montana title and competed in the nationals at Atlanta, Georgia.
Competing at Montana's 2001 State Meet were three teams from Belgrade and Havre and two teams each from Choteau, Dillon, Glendive, and Laurel.
Some folks might consider air guns particularly BB guns to be "kid's stuff," but the program sponsored by United States Jaycees and Daisy Manufacturing Company and sanctioned by the National Rifle Association, goes far beyond marksmanship competition.
Part and parcel of the training is not only shooting BB guns, but knowledge, attitude and skills concerning of all guns, including firearms.
Program participants learn about rifles, shotguns, ammunition, hunting safety, and ethics. In both practice and competition, coaching is one coach to one shooter.
Part of the competition at the state meet in Havre April 7 and 8 was a written examination and oral gun knowledge as equal parts of the tournament and it shows. The Jaycees-Daisy program has experienced zero shooting injuries in its 36-year service to gun safety.
In competition like that, everyone walks away winners.
To enroll kids 8 to 15 years of age in a quality safety-shooting experience beginning 2002 and lasting a life-time, contact a member of the Havre Jaycees.