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Bad Shooting camp experience with NRA instructors

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Okay I have to get this off my chest.


A couple of years ago I went to National Camp School and got my Shooting Sports Director certification. I paid my own way and use it to train day camp archery and BB instructors and help out at shooting sports events around the council


National rule changes last year now required that every Range have both a NRA certified instructor and a separate RSO. The BSA training is no longer required at all beyond simple youth protection.


I have a NRA certification as well- its part of the SSD program at NCS.


The difference between the two is that SSD training deals with both shooting and how to handle boys.


The NRA program teaches how to run a range and shoot and thats about it.


Ive been to several shooting sports events now that have rangemasters with NRA certificates but no BSA certificate and the difference is very noticeable.


Today I went to a shooting sports event at a local scout camp. The rifle range instructors all wore a lot of NRA gear (nothing BSA related) and had only two speaking voices: stern reprimand and shout.


As I said, I train and run ranges and understand that discipline and safety are tied together. But this was over the top. Angry voices, repeated shouting, repeated threatening to kick the boys out over and over again.


Eample: target gets loose, rangemasters call for a cease fire to reset the target, Scouts are to set down rifles and step back. The scouts follow direction but then one steps forward to pick up a round that had fallen off the table. Two rangemasters immediately lash out at the scout for stepping over the line and berate the boy, saying that they do not want the boy near a rifle and that Ive been shot once before and dont want that to happen again.


And for those who may wonder, none of my sons troop was on the range in this example or were kicked off. This continued throughout the day with different troops at the range. I did not go on the range or ask to shoot..


To their credit the Scouts just didnt mind. For many of them, this is their only experience with a rifle and they tolerate it for the chance to shoot. I hunt with a bow and a rifle and have grown up with firearms, so in my family they are just part of my household.


It just really bugged me today. Absolutely no coaching, no encouragement, no tolerance. NO BOY MANAGEMENT SKILLS WITNESSED. I dont interfere because its not my range or camp, I was merely a participant today. Im planning on writing a note to the Camp director about my observations.


The problem is, as we move more to a NRA standard and away from a BSA standard, I think that this will become the norm. What has been the experience out there in forum land?


I am a current member of and instructor for the NRA.





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I come from the Armed Forces range management school. I've been range officer from .45cal pistol to 8" howitzer direct fire. My biggest firing incident ever was when one of my gun chiefs had a 155mm round, charge 2 green bag, be a sticker in the tube. You've never seen men unass a howitzer faster!


I have great and good friends who are NRA range officer/range safety officer qualified. They are also Scouters, and understand ages and stages. They easily balance safety, learning, and fun on the range.


If a rangemaster understands he's a Scouter always and a rangemaster first, he'll do OK. If he's a pedant first, a rangemaster always, and just a Scouter, there's gonna be a problem.


The secret is good people selection when it comes to staff hiring.

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That's really a shame. Those instructors should not be allowed near our youth.

I understand the discipline and order necessary to safely operate a range, but berating a youth is just not acceptable. These morons will do nothing but drive youth from the organization.

There are ways to handle malfeasance or carelessness at the range that neither demoralize the youth nor diminish range safety. These instructors must not only anticipate it, but be ready to correct it in a positive manner. If they can't do that, they need to go play drill instructor with another group.

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That 12 year old who stepped out of rank, will now go home and never come back to scouting because of the treatment by one gung ho drill instructor. I know I wouldn't if it were me. Hey, it did happen to me. 35 years ago. Still remember the incident. I spent 12 months in scouting as youth until I ran across the same type of moron. These guys drive the youth out of scouting.


Who's out of place? Who loses? Who is the program for?

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Gern, not sure what you're getting at? Both those instructors were obviously way out of line, others had made that point so I saw no need to go there - I was simply pointing out that one was also out of position and, thus, leaving part of the range unattended. Not commenting on the scout at all...other than to comment on his apparent neatness in wanting to retrieve his spent shell.


I thought that's what I was saying, anyway.



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I'm not that great of a gun lover.

I'm not anti-gun. A lot of guys in the area where I live are into hunting and shooting.

We do have at work at policy for Use of Force which includes the use of deadly force.

I had to be trained in the policy and show proficiency in the use of firearms.(Along with chemical weapons and some other things!)

I have got to know the guys who teach and instruct these courses. All are very nice people, all are what might be called ordinary family men.

When not on the range we laugh, tell jokes and tease each other.

However once on the range they are transformed into what seems to me to be "Drill Sergeant mode".

While I know it's not the same, but if I'm following directions in my car or I'm lost, I turn the sound system down or off! I know that the music isn't going to make any difference one way or the other, if I'm lost, I'm lost!!

I respect these guys and I'm thankful that they do care enough to put my safety and the safety of others above all else.

So I really don't care if the guys on the range, when they are on the range are friendly or not.

They have a job to do that requires them to remain focused and that is what they have to do.



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I agree that both views: the NRA safety focus and BSA character focus need to be attended to.


But of the two, while on the range, the safety focus has to come first.

We don't want the kids to learn that casualness around rifles (or bow and arrow) are desirable things. They shouldn't fear them, but a healthy respect can save if not their physical life their emotional and possibly fiscal life when they inadvertently and carelessly discharge the rifle at someone else.


Personally, I like to run a casual range, with the proviso that everyone on it knows that when I do elevate my voice and go to stern that the time for thinking on your own has ended and you need to do only what you are told and not do anything else - like when a shooter is downrange and another shooter chooses to handle a weapon (for whatever reason).


I find that the shooters (of any age) learn more about the skills involved and take direction better if I leave my "range jerk" voice(which some others would refer to as Drill Instructor - but I think they are mostly maligning a relationship they don't really understand) alone as much as possible and converse with them instead.

However, volume IS called for depending on wind or how many shooters one is speaking to or sometimes to emphasize a point. And the range jerk voice WILL go to full on at any time anyone sweeps me and probably anyone else while on a range.

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You know, as I re-read the last set of e-mails (Gunny's and Eamonn's specifically) I was reminded of a situation during NYLT when I was in charge of the waterfront exercise we do. The NYLT troops rotate through for Safety Afloat and Safe Swim training, at the end of which they get to get wet (in water appropriate for a learner-level swimmer. I had up to 60 scouts at a time whose swimming abilities were completely unknown to me. This was fine until the troop came along which only had two TGs who knew anything about the finer points of water.


That troop probably perceived me as unreasonable and I definitely used my no-nonsense voice. In fact, I was referred to later as a drill instructor (sorry, Gunny, I do understand your chagrin).


So it is hard to judge other people's behavior based on one person's viewpoint, no matter how unbiased it may seem.



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Yah, I'm with Cubmaster Mike. There's no call for it.


Every year at nearby Oshkosh, WI, there's the world's biggest aviation gatherin'. Tens of thousands of aircraft of all types come in from all over da nation and world. All of the "normal" FAA regulations are out the window, and they bring in some of the best air traffic controlers from around the country to staff the event, which has more traffic for the week than all the NYC airports combined.


The best and safest controllers are the ones who can give calm directions with just enough explanation so the pilots understand the picture and help with their own safety. Every now and then yeh get a "shouter" and they're just dangerous, eh? They rattle all the pilots and cause overreactions and tunnel vision. When you're reactin' to a shouter, it's hard to pay attention to anything else.


Same on a range, eh? A shouter draws attention to themselves and to one aspect of safety - whatever's bein' shouted about. What yeh really want is everyone on the range being alert and comfortable, not tunnel-visioned and rattled.


And as an added bonus, that level of competent professionalism also coincides with courtesy. :)




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I think Gunny and I agree with you, for the most part, Beavah. 80% of the time, what happens on a range is best dealt with using reasonable voices, calm commands, and lots of extra eyes. The more folks are looking for safe practices and procedures, including the ones on the firing line, the safer everyone is going to be.


Sometimes, though, bad things happen. Someone goes forward of the firing when the range is not clear. An animal enters downrange. A weapon hangfires or misfires. An inbore accident happens. A weapon gets pointed not downrange, but at Bobby.


Those are the times when a rangemaster has to simultaneously stop all other action on his or her range, as well as get resources onto the unsafe activity. At that point, I may not be (and usually should not be) in the face of whoever's having the problem, but the full depth of my command voice, to include moving air from my diaphragm, not my larnyx, comes to the fore. I want all other action on the range stopped, and I want my staff solving the problem.


It's the "control" part of "command and control"... getting the situation back to rights after it has gone south for whatever reason.


Rangework demands attention to detail by the support folks. Constant vigilance.

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Uh, JKC, clearly your training is from the military. We in the BSA/NRA don't use the term weapon, its a firearm.

Don't ask me what's the difference, but you should have seen the face on my R. Lee Ermey lookalike shooting sports instructor when I called my rifle a weapon. I can still feel his hot breath on the back of my throat.

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Yah, I'm sorta wonderin' whether there's an additional difference between the military folks and the youth folks besides da term "firearm" or "weapon."


Seems like a lot of da "shouters" are ex-military folks.


My guess is because what each group is tryin' to accomplish is different, eh?


In field combat, yeh have to be able to perform under pressure, while there's lots of noise and confusion. So if yeh want to train like yeh fight, you want to train men to do the right thing and think despite folks yellin' at 'em and all kinds of other distractions goin' on. Yah, sure, and there's an element of breakin' down individual egos to push 'em to be a team and do it the Army way.


I just don't think it crosses over to workin' with kids that well. We're not about breakin' kids down, we're about buildin' 'em up.


More important, when yeh yell at a kid and make him jump or react on a range, I just don't see it as enhancin' safety. I think it increases the change of a lad doin' somethin' unpredictable. Seen it happen a lot. Shout at a kid holdin' a firearm and like as not he'll spin around and look at you with the barrel pointed god-knows-where. And if a weapon gets pointed at Bobby instead of down range, a bellowed shout at a kid might just as easily provoke an accidental discharge, eh?


Yah, sure, there are times.... but I reckon with some reasoned thought we'd all recognize those times when a shout is called for are pretty rare compared with how often we see the "technique" used. Which is why trained NRA coaches and other shootin' sports instructors don't choose to use that style.


Maybe that's a solution, eh? Make 'em take either the BSA SSD trainin' or the NRA Level 1 trainin' for coaching.



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Did one ever think that we as NRA instructor speak extra loud or shout louder is for 2 reasons, 1. We are wearing hearing protection and naturally speak or shout louder. 2. The youth BETTER be wearing hearing protection thus we have to speak or shout louder. Maybe the one claiming the instructor was shouting too loud was not wearing hearing protection.


If a safetly violation occurs you better hope the instructor is shouting loud enough to gain attention, it might be your boy that takes the hit if the perpetrator did not hear a command.

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