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Central Illinois NRA Youth Shooting Camp Returns After a COVID Hiatus


NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Jeff Schwarm

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“This is fun!” That’s how one of GSL Defense Training’s new instructors described her first time volunteering at one of the nation’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camps in Bloomington this past weekend.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training image by Jeff Schwarm

Before COVID came along, the Darnall’s Youth Camp was a huge undertaking with typically 130 to 150 young people ages 8-16 participating. There were also another hundred-plus adults volunteering to handle the logistics behind the scenes and still more instructors and coaches to ensure all the kids were safe while they learned new skills and had a great time.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training image by Boch

This year, in its post-COVID debut, the camp shrunk to a one-day event with about 30 young people, but we still had a lot of fun as we helped lay the foundation for future growth in the coming years. After all, monster enrollments of 150 kids didn’t happen overnight.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Jeff Schwarm

Watching the young people gain self-empowerment and confidence shooting handguns gives me plenty of satisfaction. Helping these kids learn a life skill that might someday save their lives brings a big smile to my face.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch

Not only that, but we inculcated them with the fun and excitement of shooting sports.  They won’t grow up scared of and/or intimidated by guns. Even ten-year-old kids saw they could handle center-fire handguns including 1911 .45s when they used good fundamentals in grip and stance.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
Take that, Joe “Buy a shotgun” Biden! (GSL Defense Training Image by Boch)

This session marked the 26th year for the event and I’ve been there for about twenty-two of those as an instructor on the pistol line. Our company, GSL Defense Training has run the line for about ten years now.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch

We made sure these young men and women stayed safe while having fun and learning some life-skills.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch

As much as I love teaching manly skills to young men (while instilling toxic levels of masculinity), I love empowering women even more. After all, while God made men and women, Sam Colt made them equal (1 2 Lots more).

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch

We make it fun for participants with lots of shade, fans, music and a great time for all. This year, we had more than a one-to-one instructor to participant ratio so the kids got lots of individual coaching and instruction.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch

They did well. After an introduction and dry-firing (above), we had them shoot about 50 to 60 rounds in practice with instructors coaching all the while. Then they shot ten rounds for score.

The top five shooters in each relay then got to shoot their choice of (mostly) center-fire “pistols.” That kept the competitive spirit in high gear to get a chance to shoot the “big” guns.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training photos by John Boch and Ashlyn Logue

Here are some additional photos from the pistol line. Pro-gun organizations wishing for higher-resolution images for pro-gun promotion can contact us here at TTAG.

NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch
NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch
NRA YouthCamp 2023
GSL Defense Training Image by Boch
NRA YouthCamp 2023
First-time handgun shooter with her target.  (GSL Defense Training Image by Boch)

 

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