(IN) More and more kids taking aim at special club


July 21, 2005, 11:37 PM
More and more kids taking aim at special club
Daily Journal staff writer

July 19, 2005

Third-graders fire scaled-down shotguns at moving clay targets.

Middle school students fire arrows from bows in a back yard.

And high school students unload handgun clips at boards.

Despite skepticism about a 4-H program that teaches youngsters how to use handguns, bows and rifles, the county’s shooting-sport program is continuing to grow four years after it was started.

“At the time it started, it was pretty controversial,” said Kyle Wheat, 16, a club member and Whiteland Community High School student. “A lot of people didn’t think it would happen. But look where we are now.”

The Johnson County 4-H Shooting Sports Club grew by nearly 200 percent to 55 members in the past year alone. The club had nine members when it started four years ago.

The club teaches firearm safety, how to properly handle firearms and how to shoot at moving and stationary targets.

Club co-director Jackie Brockman hopes to add more programs as the club continues to grow. For example, the club could teach wildlife survival training, such as recognizing edible and dangerous plants.

Directors also plan to get the club involved with competitions next year. Members could compete with shooting-sport groups from other counties and get awards as part of the Johnson County fair ceremonies, said Delford Dunn, club co-director.

Teaching kids how to use guns was controversial at first, Brockman said. But people need to understand that 4-H members are not learning how to hunt or use a gun as a weapon, he said.

“We’re not teaching them how to use weapons,” he said. “We’re teaching them a sport that uses firearms.”

The word weapon is not allowed in the club, Brockman said.

Club members start taking classes in February to learn gun safety and how to properly handle different kinds of firearms, such as shotguns, pistols and rifles.

In mid-March, club members start going to a shooting range in the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area every other Saturday and practice archery at Brockman’s home every other Tuesday.

While at the shooting range, 4-H members fire at clay discs that spin through the air and stationary targets on the ground.

Members from third grade to high school are allowed to fire at the targets. Younger 4-H members have scaled-down firearms to use, Brockman said.

Wheat was one of the club’s original members, and his accuracy has improved with firearms and archery. He remembers when he was first learning, his aim left something to be desired. For example, one time he fired at a volley of six clay disks, but only hit about two or three.

“Jackie came over and said, ‘Here, let me show you how it’s done,’” Wheat said. “He missed every one.”

But Wheat followed Brockman’s instructions and was able to hit every clay disc during the next try.

Along with Brockman and Dunn, four other instructors teach kids about firearm use. Instructors are certified through the National Rifle Association and Purdue University.


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July 22, 2005, 12:41 AM

July 22, 2005, 08:02 AM
“We’re not teaching them how to use weapons,” he said. “We’re teaching them a sport that uses firearms.”

The word weapon is not allowed in the club, Brockman said.

Stupid! Frankly, I am really sick of all the PC bull????? in this country (and others). Heaven forbid you should teach a kid that he/she could possibly take arms to protect themselves. I applaud them for at least having the cojones to start something like this but please don't fall victim to the blissninny mentality.


July 22, 2005, 09:31 AM
4-H is pretty popular around here. Not that long ago, they were looking for firearms instructors to help out with a camp. I would have volunteered, but had other plans that I couldn't change. One thing that I have noticed is that a fair number of kids in this area that are in this have parents that are not into firearms and may not have been exposed to shooting without this type of program.

July 22, 2005, 10:49 AM
My 11 year old daugther just came back from 4-h camp and they fired 22 and shot bows. They ask us to allow her to join the rifle team and they also said shes good with a bow . They want here their, also I don't know if we can afford both. But I vote for rifle team. She has had her own BB gun since she was 6 and been shooting a 10/22 off and on for over a year. She a fair shot with a 25 auto also. :)

July 22, 2005, 11:01 AM
I think it is great and don't see anything "PC" about the 4-H teaching kids to target shoot. If you ask a lot of gun owners, many would say they have a shotgun for shooting clays or a competition handgun or rifle for paper-punching.

IMHO, anything that is done to get kids into shooting, for fun, competition or other is great!!

David W. Gay
July 22, 2005, 11:05 AM
A great thing they've got going, with one fatal flaw:

The word weapon is not allowed in the club, Brockman said. A pathetic, ridiculous prohibition. It does nothing but foster an artificial fear about the very sport they are trying to promote.

Oh well, Carry on anyway!

July 22, 2005, 03:05 PM
Just wrapped up my 15th year as a 4-H shooting sports instructor. Simpley not useing the word "Weapon" hasn't done anything to our program. We suffer more loss of kids through conflicting baseball schedules, than not useing a word. We also don't use "pigeon" nor "bird" when talking about Clay Targets. That's PC, but doesn't hurt the program.

BY the way Carroll County, Indiana, had 122 kids in the program this year. 39 of them were first year memebers.

El Tejon
July 22, 2005, 03:09 PM
Good work, neighbor. :)

Let's hope this program continues to grow across the state and the nation. :)

Each one, teach one.

July 22, 2005, 03:31 PM
I agree that the prohibition on the word weapon is silly. What you must remember is that this is a shooting program run by the 4-H program. The 4-H program is run by the land grant universities so it is amazing it exists at all.

I am a state level trainer for the rifle portion of the shooting sports program, we train the leaders of the individual clubs. During the training session they explained the reasoning behind not using the word weapon. Their reasoning was that many parents today have little to no experience with guns and they would not want their 8 year old using weapons. This is a valid point in the city I would imagine. The biggest bone of contention I have with the program is you cannot use any humanoid shaped targets, so that limits the competitions that the kids can enter, no IDPA or IPSC, etc.

Actually, the kids can participate in those disciplines too, they just cannot identify themselves as a 4-H team and it cannot be sponsored by a 4-H team.

July 22, 2005, 03:38 PM
The program I'd like to see boom is the Archery In School program. Not that I'm knocking the 4-H program in any way, but we have almost reached the end of the counties that will or are willing to except the program, without going to a no-shoot program. A no-shoot shooting sports program is worse in my eyes than a horseless horseman project. :scrutiny:

Indiana has ten pilot schools trying the AIS program out. They've told me that it's being tried in a cross section of schools, rual, urban, high number and low number of kids in school. Those ten pilot schools get all the equipment bows, arrows, tagerts, and a backstop free. The AIS program will reach kids where kids are, in school.

July 22, 2005, 11:08 PM
I think rather than bitching and moaning about them prohibiting the word "weapon", we should be excited that an institution is allowed, even encouraged and funded to teach youngsters (and teenagers) how to be safe with firearms, how to participate in the sports we love! Can't we stop thinking about shooting goblins and punching great big bloody holes in criminals for long enough to give a thumbs up to an organization that's doing some good?

I think giving up one damnable word and one concept in exchange to opening the whole world of firearms sports and ownership to kids who otherwise would never have that chance is an excellent compromise.

I can understand why y'all are so pissed, but can't you brook even the slightest kowtow in the interest of political correctness to get all those ignorant soccer moms and high-strung dads to let their kids take an interest in our mutual interest? 4-H can introduce 3-gun matches, Mozambique drills, and Tacticool Carbine Courses later. For now, I'm glad that kids get to learn gun safety and firearms sports.


July 22, 2005, 11:50 PM
In my house we don't shoot people. We kill for food.Self preservation and self defence will come as my kids become better able to make good choices.I don't see anything wrong with a gun being a tool or peice of gear.At least they get to shoot and learn skills that may bring them to where we are.

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