The SandCastle Son started with the Junior rifle division at our local club. The club runs what looks like a very successful junior program. They train for Olympic four position shooting (prone, sitting, kneeling & standing). They provide everything for the juniors: Shooting mat, jacket, glove, targets, gun, coaches, etc. Even ear plugs in case anyone forgot hearing protection. The best every year go to Camp Perry and a one or two every year go on to the junior Olympics.
The program is open to all comers. Tonight we were the only club members out of a class of 8 shooters. Some come to fulfill merit badge requirements, others come for their own reasons.
They start noobs first making sure they have the sight picture, then shooting off a rest. I suspect once they start shooting tight groups, move them into the different positions. Tonight they set the SCSon up with a nice target rifle and he turned in some decent scores in the mid to high 30's out of 50 possible. Not bad considering the ammo was random headstamps. Some I recognized (Federal, Winchester, Remington), some I didn't. Here is his best target of the evening...a 39/50. All scores were in the mid-30's with a 20 minimum score (scores below the minimum are not recorded).
Interestingly, the coaches scoring the targets use complementary math. Instead of directly adding up the scores, they add up the differences between perfect and what was actually shot. For example, the target here scores as 0+1+1+3*+6 = 11. 50-11 = 39. As the shooters get better and most of the shots are 9's & 10's the complements are 0's and 1's which are pretty easy to add up. Makes complete sense!
SCSon wanted to bring a rifle from the SandCastle Armory which offers a couple appropriate choices. One is Grandpa's Springfield 84C equipped with Redfield sights. There is also a Danish target .22 with a very light trigger pull. I opted not to considering the possibility the club could easily have a better rifle to loan! I begged for a dry fire on the SCSons rifle and couldn't feel any take up. They estimate the trigger pull in the ounces range and I believe it!
CMP currently has Kimber 82 target rifles (surplus/unused) for $600 and we may pick up one of those. Or maybe we'll see if he sticks with it and go straight to an AnSchutz a couple years down the road.
What I want to know is "where the HELL was this program when I was a kid?**" Back then I wanted to learn to shoot more than anything, but mum was vehemently against guns. "gunsRbad" She may as well have been Sarah Brady herself. Even capguns were verboten. I went so far as taking NRA Hunter Safety from a teacher I *hated* just for the opportunity to shoot once (and we never got to shoot). With a couple decades hindsight, I'll give him props for offering the class in a Junior High School. Today that would be clearly into the nospeak category.
* Possibly being generous... 6/7 is a judgement call but especially on a first night I think being generous is a good call.
** Another possibility is a very similar program existed back then but the 'rents didn't want me involved for any number of reasons from irrational fears of risk to doesn't fit with social schedule.