American Rifleman - April 2021 - 34

NRA HISTORY

A Leader In

Youth Safety & Marksmanship

W

hen it comes to youth programs, NRA can look
back to 1903 for its beginnings-the same year
Wilbur and Orville Wright first flew at Kitty Hawk.
Until that time, NRA had been principally interested in
competition and marksmanship training with military or
high-power rifles, mostly for adults. But that was about to
change. A resolution passed that year: " That the National
Rifle Association of America, recognizing the importance
of training the young man of the country in rifle shooting,
adopted code for course of rifle instruction ... . " That was
followed by another, " That the National Rifle Association
of America deems it expedient to take immediate steps to
secure the affiliation with colleges, universities and other
educational institutions of the United States for the purpose of stimulating and encouraging rifle practice among
the American youth. "
Remember Gen. George W. Wingate (January 2021, p. 42),
one of NRA's founders? It was at around this time that he
left the daily affairs of NRA to become a military instructor
for public schools in New York City. The author of Manual
For Rifle Practice also wrote a pamphlet entitled Why Should
Boys Be Taught To Shoot? Wingate wasted little time setting
up rifle teams, and, by 1906, there were 10 schools competing intramurally in New York City. That same year, the home
of the NRA National Matches at the time, Sea Girt in New
Jersey, held a match in which more than 200 teenage boys
participated-and they camped out right at the range.
The beginnings of NRA's youth programs coincided with
growing interest in smallbore rifle shooting. The .22 wasn't
just for squirrels anymore; smallbore shooting was beginning
to take off, and youth shooters were interested. But it was not
just NRA interested in youth shooting; before America entered
World War I, Winchester formed its Winchester Junior Rifle
Corps (WJRC), with its own course of fire for young shooters.
" The Winchester Junior Rifle Corps is an organization formed
to encourage marksmanship among boys and girls not over 18
years of age, also to teach the safe handling of rifle. It combines all the fun of shooting with the encouragement of high
skill in marksmanship and good sportsmanship. It encourages

34

APRIL 2021

the strong, normal boy and girl instinct for a rifle to find
expression in a useful, character building way. "
Notice that, as with NRA's Junior Marksmanship Program
(JMP), which was created at about the same time, there was
no barrier to participate based on gender. The WJRC was
color blind, too, as founder Capt. Albert Laudensack reportedly said, " It's the competition that matters; targets can't
see who's shooting at them. " In 1926, the WJRC was rolled
into the JMP, with the best of each fused together.
That youth-focused service continues to this day, more
than a century later, whether in competition, training, education or awards. Through the National Youth Shooting Sports
Cooperative Program, NRA provides resources, programs and
training to youth organizations that include the Boy Scouts,
Royal Rangers, American Legion posts, JROTC units, 4-H Clubs,
Future Farmers of America, Jaycees chapters and independent
summer camps. If you shot at a Boy Scout rifle range at summer camp, it was under the eyes of an NRA certified instructor. NRA even provides certificates for presentation at Eagle
Scout Courts of Honor. For those too young to shoot, NRA
offers the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program.
Other NRA Youth programs include Home Air Gun, a
yearly George Montgomery/NRA Youth Wildlife Art Contest,
National Junior Shooting Camps, the Youth Education
Summit, Outstanding Achievement Youth Awards and, of
course, the Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC).
There are also International Youth Shooting Sports ambassadors chosen every year, and NRA also provides scholarships and other awards. Did you know you can be in NCAA
Division I athletics as a shooter? NRA provides support and
training for those that run collegiate programs. You can
learn more about NRA's youth programs at explore.nra.org.
And then there is the NRA Marksmanship Qualification
Awards Program. Available in just about every shooting sports
discipline from BB gun to 3 Gun, it allows young shooters to
go from pro-marksman all the way up to the expert level. And
in a bit of coincidence, today it is sponsored by, who else?-
Winchester Ammunition.
-MARK A. KEEFE, IV, EDITOR IN CHIEF
AMERICAN RIFLEMAN


http://explore.nra.org

American Rifleman - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - April 2021

Contents
American Rifleman - April 2021 - Cover1
American Rifleman - April 2021 - Cover2
American Rifleman - April 2021 - 1
American Rifleman - April 2021 - Contents
American Rifleman - April 2021 - 3
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