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Ocean City

Amer. Legion course focuses on gun safety


(March 1, 2013) Four youngsters participated in the local American Legion Post 166’s first Junior Shooting Sports Program.

Taking place throughout the country, the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program is a gun safety, education and marksmanship activity. The Basic Marksmanship course provides comprehensive instruction for amateur shooters with little or no experience. Using a .177 caliber air rifle, participants are taught gun safety and marksmanship fundamentals during short lectures or discussions, followed by hands-on activities.

American Legion Post 166 and its junior shooting club are affiliated with the Civilian Marksmanship Program, whose mission is to promote firearm safety and marksmanship training with an emphasis on youth.

Lee McClaflin, second vice commander of Post 166, presented the program to the local organization and it was approved by the members.

“It’s the first one we’ve done and we’re just getting it off the ground. We’re expecting it to grow as it goes along,” he said.

Safety is most important, he said, as students are taught how to hold and handle the air rifle, how to load and charge it, range commands and proper shooting technique. After about 45 minutes of class work, the students then have shooting practice for approximately an hour. Targets are set up inside the American Legion hall, 10 meters (33 feet) away.

The course began Jan. 9, and for the past several weeks, three boys and one girl have attended classes on Wednesday nights at the American Legion on 24th Street in Ocean City.

Before the program started, all four had some experience, either shooting BB guns or .22s. During a class break on Feb. 6, the participants talked about how much they enjoy the course.

“I’m learning a whole lot about shooting and it catches my attention all the time,” said 11-year-old Jeremy Novak of Bishopville. “I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”

Added 9-year-old Logan Cymek of Ocean City, “I love the safety program and the shooting.”

“I really like this shooting program. The new way of shooting that I have discovered just today, side shooting, being on the side and then shooting,” said J.C. Wood, 9, of Berlin. “At first I thought I was good at shooting on the table and now I found out that side shooting is my best way of doing it.”

Thirteen-year-old Alexis Abrams of Ocean Pines is the lone female in the class. She said the program is beneficial for youth of all ages.

“I like that it’s very kid friendly and [the instructors] make it so we can understand it easier,” she said. “It’s something that catches a lot of kids’ attention. Some kids don’t really think about it and then once they start trying it, they get the hang of it and it gets easier as you go.”

The eight-week course wrapped up Wednesday. A new beginners program is scheduled to start March 20.

Those interested in registering their children for the program or who want more information, should contact McClaflin at 410-430-2842 or e-mail him at lee@mcclaflin.com. Boys and girls ages 9-18 may participate. There is no cost to take part in the course.

The Junior Shooting Sports Program is a three-part activity that combines the Basic Marksmanship Course, Qualification Awards and Air Rifle Competition.

Students who graduate from the basic programs and want to continue to improve their skills, can enroll in air rifle qualification courses, provided by the National Rifle Association and the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

These courses aid shooters in achieving established performance standards, which will assist them in competitions.

According to the Civilian Marksmanship Program Web site, www.odcmp.

com, Three-Position Air Rifle Shooting is the most popular and fastest growing form of shooting sports competition for youth of high school age or younger.

The annual Three-Position Junior Air Rifle National Championship is a tournament that begins with postal matches. During postal matches, competitors fire on their home ranges using targets, which have been marked for identification. The fired targets are then sent to NRA for scoring and ranking. State and regional champions are determined and advance to a qualification round (also a postal match).

The top performers will receive an all expense-paid trips to compete in the national championship, held each August at the USA Shooting range facilities at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

The American Legion Post 166, on 24th Street in Ocean City, launched its first Junior Shooting Sports Program in January. Participating in the inaugural eight-week course, from top, are Jeremy Novak, 11, J.C. Wood, 9, Logan Cymek, 9, and Alexis Abrams, 13.

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