Okay, it’s not exactly a 2nd Amendment summer camp. There’s no craft session on building your own AR-15, or low-light shoots after s’mores around the campfire, for example. The Bossier Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Office did put together something great for kids 10-14 this summer, however: the summer Shooting Sports Program, a free event for local youth to teach them how to be safe and responsible around firearms, while also introducing them to the shooting sports.

“We targeted kids 10 to 14 years old because they become curious about guns,” Deputy James Lonadier explained. “It’s important to teach them how serious guns are to use and their importance.”

But this wasn’t a dry, boring lecture about gun safety.  Instead, deputies and firearms instructors taught youth the fundamentals of gun safety as well as marksmanship, with students using bows, air guns, and shotguns. At the end of the course, not only did the kids have some first-hand knowledge of how to be responsible with a firearm, they also had their own hunter education card.

“The main reason why we chose this age group is because this is one of the earliest stages children take an interest in shooting sports,” Lonadier said.

Lonadier’s 11-year-old niece Carmen Cunningham spoke about her interest in the camp when she said, “What I wanted to learn was how to shoot skeet. We don’t usually get to use shotguns at home, so this was a great opportunity to learn a new discipline.”

She went on to explain her favorite moments from the program involve shotgun shooting, archery practice, and specifically learning how to scope with a pellet gun.

This is what real gun safety looks like. Have you noticed that none of the national “gun safety” groups actually offer any sort of firearms education or training? That’s because their idea of gun safety is “don’t own a gun”. Kinda hard to turn into a summer camp.

The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, on the other hand, had no problem coming up with a program that held kids’ interests and pleased parents too. In fact, this year’s free program ran out of space, but the Sheriff’s Office says they’re not only going to hold another camp next summer, but they plan to “continue on into the school year as the program plans to break ground on their own site for all the activities that take place.”

Truly great news for those of us who appreciate the responsible exercise of our rights. I can only hope that other sheriffs around the state will try to do the same. I’d love to see similar programs aimed at youth in more urban areas of Louisiana like Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In Pennsylvania, for example, John Annoni has been getting kids in some pretty rough neighborhoods in Allentown off the streets and into the woods with his Camp Compass program. John’s been running the camp for more than ten years and has changed countless lives as a result. It’s not only country and suburban kids who have an interest in firearm, and they’re not the only ones who can benefit from real training and education.