Questions about taking a Boy Scout Troop shooting

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Dec 24, 2002
Paul and Eddies
My church just chartered a Boy Scout troop. (Troop 485 in the Polaris District if anyone cares) I was appoint the Scoutmaster of the troop partly because I am and Eagle scout and I talked to one of the pastors about thinking about helping out at my old troop.

Thats the background. Now the question. I was wondering if anyone could point me to any rules or regulations the BSA has about taking a troop to shooting.

This isn't something I am considering for the near future. But maybe at some point, because it is a well known fact at my church that I enjoy shooting and the boy (and some of the parents) are very interested in shooting.
1. As has already been mentioned, I'd speak to the BSA honchos first.

2. I'd make it a point to speak individually with the parent(s) of each member of your troop before you bring it up in front of the scouts. If they have their kids involved in scouting, the odds are good that they'll be OK with it, but you shouldn't assume that. If for some odd reason the parents are uncomfortable with the idea, then you need to respect that - even if you don't agree with it. Your scout troop isn't the right place to be pushing your views if parents object.

3. Whether or not your parents are on board with a day at the range, I'd take the scouts to an archery range first. For starters, no parent is against archery, and it may serve to loosen them up on the idea of shooting. Also, it will give you a good idea of how to manage and control your exuberant pack of scouts before you get them in a situation involving firearms - and it's a great way to introduce them to safety rules.
Good advice to contact your local Council Office.

I do know that one portion will be having a NRA Certified Range Officer Present and administering the program.

BSA has some issues about a few of the shooting events that some of the boys like to do.... Lazer Tag is frowned upon.... It is because lazer "guns" are being pointed at people. It is felt that it is a training ground to shoot people. The same goes for Paint Ball. Targets are fine, people no. However, Every Summer Camp that I have been to, has a rifle and archery range. Some have Shotgun. One I know is taking about a pistol range....

Our local Troop has taken boys from the Troop to go Lazer Tagging.... However, it was a group of boys (friends, no scout uniforms) going and not a Boy Scout Troop going.... If you get my meaning.... However the Troop draws the line at that point, they will not support paint ball.... If an injury happens, Scout insurance will not cover the costs... We had the parents permission and understanding that this was not a scout sanctioned event. That may be an important point for your event...

Check with Norm Stout of Diablo Rod and Gun Club in Concord, CA. They bring in young shooters and, I believe, Boy Scouts on a regular basis.

Youth Promotions:
Norm Stout (925) 943-6634
Chink - Follow the Boy Scout merit badge handbook for the shooting badge. You have to have a merit badge counselor and there's plenty in the Bay Area. Contact the Council.

When are you taking them shooting?
Summer camp. It makes all the difference.

My troop had a kid make "top gun" at camp and his parents chewed his arse for "even considering" to do such a thing.:cuss: :banghead:
Even in Britain its tended to be allowable to take scouts shooting, though its usually pellet guns at longer camps shooting at paper target. Sometimes if you are lucky you get to fire a .22 rifle. Surprisingly we don't have the same rules against lasertag in Britain as you seem to have in the US. Not really useful to the conversation since its a totally different country, but I learnt to do most my shooting at these camps. Good memories.
Thanks for the advice.

I wouldn't feel comfortable taking the boys at this point because there just aren't enough experience adult leaders. But a couple of the parents asked me about it over the weekend. So I thought I would be good just to see was needed.

I will talk to the local council.
shooting with the scouts

i have a old bsa shooting book i got it with some reloading stuff years ago your welcome to it. it has a 1971 copy right
Boy Scouts, Firearm Safety and Practical Skills

The Boy Scouts of America has a fine shooting program. The NRA actively supports it and has funded construction of ranges and provided dollars to support the program.

As a boy, I learned my first basic firearm safety and the proper use of firearms through the Boy Scouts. Today, many Cub Scout Packs are exposed to .BB guns at well-supervised range activities. Boy Scouts can earn shotgun and rifle merit badges. Shooting is a part of the sanctioned activities of the Scouting program and Venture Crew members (co-ed senior Scout units) can also handle handguns under the supervision of NRA-qualified instructors and range safety officers.

I'd encourage you to also touch base with the NRA headquarters and find out more about their youth shooting programs associated with Scouting.
I am the shotgun director at a BSA summer camp (or will be in a week, anyway). I have the manual that you're looking for. Let me dig it up and I'll post the regs.

Our Troop has it's own range that we shoot at every other week during the summer. As has been mentioned, check with the local Council & National as to what is & isn't allowed (mainly only registered Scouts can shoot - no guests or siblings, no centerfire rifles :( & no pistols).

If you do this more than once or twice a year then you will want to have some sort of program for the boys to work on. With all the shooting that we do, most all of the boys in the Troop have both rifle & shotgun merit badges. Keeping their interest after they earned them was getting to be a problem so we started to implement the NRA's Light Rifle program with the boys shooting for patches & rockers now.

Also bear in mind that with boys cycling in & out that you are going to have to have a basic marksmanship program for them to learn how to shoot before they hit the range (but you also need to have something for the older ones to do while you are busy with the younger ones).

PM me if you want more details on our program.
Reference the Guide to Safe Scouting and your Council regs...........
"Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA or National Rifle Association firearms instructor."
Ahem - just dont ask/don't tell about my CCW permit-----be it trips to the woods , or city, those boys are MY responsibility!

"Boy Scouts are permitted to fire bows and arrows, BB guns, .22-caliber bolt-action, single-shot rifles, air rifles, shotguns, and muzzle-loading long guns under the direction of a certified instructor, 21 years of age or older, within the standards outlined in current Scouting literature and bulletins. BSA policy does not permit the use of handguns in the Boy Scouting program."

Welcome aboard to a world of fun...............3 boys here:

1-14 yr old - Life working on Eagle
2- 11 yr old - 2nd yr Webelos ( Me the Den Leader and Pack Comm Chair)
3- 7 yr old - Wolf
I'll be doing this for years................................

Some more resources for you:
If for some odd reason the parents are uncomfortable with the idea, then you need to respect that - even if you don't agree with it. Your scout troop isn't the right place to be pushing your views if parents object.
True, but a sad commentary on today's society that shooting skills are not universally regarded as being as valuable as, say, firebuilding skills.
Here's another option for Scouts and any other kids in the Bay Area. The San Jose Zouaves rifle club holds a Juniors Day every 2nd Saturday. We often have Boy Scout troops attend. There's a safety lecture, a target session for score, and a plinking session on metal plates at the end. There's no charge, and you can find more info at the club's web site:
Its been a long time since I was in scouts. As I recall, the camps I went to had a strict policy of No handguns, no centerfire rifles, and no clip or tube fed rifles. They prety much limit you to single shot bolt actions.

for shotguns we had double barrels, single barrels, and a pump with a hunting plug in it. although I remember the rangemaster had a nice semi 12 gauge, we didn't get to use it.

They would give you a brick with five holes in it and five bullets in the holes, you had to return all brass, this kept the kids from swiping the bullets and sneaking them home where they would inevitably go through the wash.

I learned how to shoot trap at boyscouts, I really miss it.
SJG26 has his stuff right.

I have a little bit more on it, if you're interested.
In the Guide to Safe Scouting for Unit Activities, page 35 (after what SJG26 posted):

  1. It is recommended that either 20-, 16-, or 12-guage semiautomatic shotguns be used. Gas operated shotguns are recommended.
  2. Ammunition containing No. 8 shot or smaller is recommended on ranges with a protected down-range of 600 feet. Additional down-range distance of 150 feet (total 750) is required for No. 6 shot size. Shot larger that No. 6 is not to be used.
  3. Shooting safety glasses and ear protectors must be worn on shotgun ranges. (Duh. :rolleyes: )
  4. All training and shooting activities must be supervised by a currently NRA-certified shotgun instructor or coach who is 21 years of age or older.

  1. Breech-loading rifles will be single-shot, bolt-action of the .22-caliber rim-fire type only. They may be chambered for the .22-short or .22-long rifle, but not for the .22 WMR rifle (which uses a more powerful cartridge). Air rifles are also permitted.
  2. Semiautomatic rifles will not be permitted.
  3. Repeating rifles having a tubular magazine will not be permitted.
  4. Repeating rifles having a removable clip-type magazine will be permitted but must be used as single-loaders.
  5. All rifles used in BSA shooting sports shall have a trigger pull in excess of 3 pounds, and shall be tested with a 3-pound weight or scale at least once a week while in use. If the trigger mechanism is activated by the 3-pound pull, the rifle should be immediately removed from service.
  6. Shooting safety glasses and ear protectors must be worn on the range.
All training and shooting activities must be supervised by a currently NRA-certified rifle instuctor or coach who is 21 years of age or older.

  1. Handgun use is limited to the Venturing program only.
  2. All training and shooting activities must be under the supervision of a currently NRA-certified pistol instructor or a pistol instructor of a local, state, or federal agency who is 21 years of age or older.
  3. All participants must complete a basic pistol marksmanship course prior to range firing. The NRA basic pistol marksmanship course (or equivalent training course) conducted by a law enforcement agency, a civilian gun club, or a U.S. military department is acceptable.
  4. With the approval of the local council, handgun shooting may be conducted on BSA camp ranges, provided the shooting is done under the auspices of an NRA-certified pistol instructor or pistol instructor of a local, state, or federal agency.
  5. Shooting safety glasses and ear protection must be worn on pistol ranges.
  6. Care must be taken to comply with federal, state, and local laws.

I just went to National Camp School 2 weeks ago. Basically, you can only take scouts out to shoot at an organized range where an NRA certified instructor is present, whether that is your local range or a BSA-approved scout range. They're pretty strict about all of that. Personally, I would contact your Council to see if they've got any differing/more strict policies about such.

Just curious, which council are you with? I'm in the Great Salt Lake Council.

When I was twelve the BSA taught me to shoot a group at 50 ft you can cover with a dime. I can still do it. :D

Good luck!
Hi All,
I ran a BSA Summer Camp Range many years ago. I also helped out at a public range on a youthday. What was a big help to me, was to have an experienced adult on the line with each scout, to keep the muzzles down range (safety) and for individual coaching. HTH
In NC we have 410 skeet shoots and 22 accuracy shoots at camp for merit badge requirements. Great place to teach them safely. Some 4-H camps offer shooting sports programs. There is a fine one near Rockingham(Millstone) with skeet,archery,pistol,shotgun,and a two hundred yd range. Thanks for helping with the young men of tomorrow. Have been in all levels from cubs to commisioner and OA advisor. Three beader in Woodbadge. Scouting has been an exciting part of my life and the boys you touch will never be the same. About carrying--like you, they are my responsibility-most that I know carry also.

Keep it going with your boys.... I have 3 as well, and they all have been in Scouting since Tigers, with myself as an active leader. I Move all over the country and the Scouting Program keeps a constant focal point. It is the same all over the states.

I have 2 Eagles (21yr and 19yr) and 1 13yr first class. Yes, I am very active in the Troop...

Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle!
Funny, I got my interest in firearms and the military due to my Scout involvement. (Awarded Eagle Scout in 1985). I always looked forward to shooting at summer camp. Give the guy a quarter, pick up your block with 10 rounds, shoot five in the left target, five in the right, score it, get it signed, and wait in line for the next turn. Two shotgun shells for a quarter. One shot from a muzzleloader for a quarter. The summer I was 16, I spent more time at the ranges than I did the pool. That was the summer a local shooting club donated a truckload of ammunition provided the camp didn't charge the kids to shoot. Got the Rifle and Shotgun Merit badge that week, and learned how to load a percussion cap muzzle loader. Good memories, and a lifetime interest as a result.
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