Reach Outdoors is a weekly outdoor education bloSDC15526g written by MUCC Education Director, Shaun McKeon
Getting kids involved in the shooting sports is a great way to start off their hunting careers.  Small game, waterfowl, and deer are three types of hunting youngsters can become involved with and they all require a different skill set in regards to shooting. Fall is the perfect time to get a kid outside and show them all of the variety Michigan has to offer when it comes to different ways of taking part in the shooting sports.
SDC15483Exposure to the variety of opportunities to get outdoors can be very important as youth begin to learn about what is available for them to participate in.  If they are interested in hunting for small game getting a .22 rifle in their hands can be a great way to capture their interest.   At the Michigan OutofDoors Youth Camp our young shooters thoroughly enjoy learning about the basics of safe and responsible firearms and target shooting while spending hours plinking away on our .22 range.
Once they have spent sufficient time on the .22 range and feel they are confident with that rifle they have the opportunity to go on a field trip.  The field trip takes them to Chelsea Rod and Gun Club where the action really heats up.  Here at the club the shooters have a chance to try a different type of target practice.  The campers have the opportunity to knock down some moving targets on the trap ranges.  Here the shooters are using youth model 20 gauges, which allow them to get a new feel compared to the .22s and provide a good comparison for the type of hunting they would experience if they were going hunting for upland birds or waterfowl.  The moving clay pigeons are a great way to increase the challenge level for the shooters and really help to peak their interest.
The third type of shooting exposure our campers receive is also SDC15510 (1)courtesy of Chelsea Rod and Gun Club.  After the trap range we head to the 100 yd. rifle range.  Here we work with volunteers who provide some larger caliber rifles for the youth.  In the past our shooters have had the opportunity to experience shooting with historic M1 Grands, and Springfields, as well as more modern AR-15s.  Having the chance to shoot pieces of history is something special for the kids and it also gives them an idea of what the heavy caliber rifles feel like and how they can be used effectively when pursuing big game like white-tailed deer.
SDC15488Kids love to head out to the range and shoot they can spend hours blasting away on the range if you have the ammo supply for them.  Getting them involved and exposed to the many different types of firearms allows them the chance to have new experiences, and also helps them decide what they might become interested in hunting for.
One thing to keep in mind when working with young shooters is what they want.  After getting some feedback from our campers it seems pretty reasonable.  Our shooters wanted guns that are built to fit their dimensions, are easy and safe to shoot, and has plenty of cool factor!  Keep these four things in mind and you will have a range partner for many years to come.

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