Thirty kids converge on the Springville Senior Center twice a week and shoot small-bore weapons in the basement as part of the NRA Jr. Rifle Club. The club meets to shoot, learn firearm safety, gain self confidence and get ready for competitions.
Donna Warnock, team coach, is proud of her young shooters. This year a team of four took two second place awards and two third place awards in National Matches with .22-caliber and air rifles. The four-person team shot at local ranges in competition as part of NRA sectionals or national match sectionals. Their scores were compiled nationally and medalists were ranked. Siblings Braden Staheli, 12, and Dallin Staheli, 11; Summer Hopper, 14, and Jacob Wall, 13, placed 10th nationally. Braden took some individual medals as well. All the kids have shot with a team at least a couple of years, Warnock said.
Warnock describes competition shooting as an individual growth sport; shooters learn self control and how to work as a team, they help each other. She said, "There's a tremendous amount of 'mental' in the sport." The kids set goals and learn to achieve those goals.
"Very few adults in the general population could out-shoot these kids," Warnock said. They are also more aware of gun safety than most adults.
"Thirty shooters participate in the Junior Rifle Program," Warnock said. "The main thing they learn is firearm safety."
Warnock said the team has good support from Springville City and Friends of the NRA. This year the National Guard will be helping too.
The team is totally non-profit, with sponsors and team members having to come up with the money for the equipment the kids use. Competition rifles cost well over $1,000. Warnock and adult supporters of the team teach NRA Education classes and put the money they make back into the junior rifle club.
Some shooters purchase their own equipment, others use the club's. Kids pay for ammunition and targets. Yearly club membership is $15, and there's a $2 range fee every time they shoot. Anyone can join -- they can be at any level of experience. Girls and boys participate in the same club.
Warnock has been working with the Jr. Rifle Club for 20 years. She has been secretary of the junior club's parent group, Pacific States Shooting Club, for 35 years.
"It's important enough that we keep doing it," she said. Warnock's reasons for continuing with the shooting clubs are explained by her story of a timid girl whose mom enrolled her in the shooting club. The girl had no confidence and her mother hoped the club would help her. Warnock describes how the girl later participated in an LDS Church Young Women's talent contest. She brought all her shooting gear and did a program on what she does and how she does it.
"It's a very satisfying sport. In matches you will see three generations shooting together," Warnock said. The only way a child could be removed from the club is to be unsafe with guns. "It's a major requirement, they must be safe."
For more information go to the Springville City website www.springville.org or call Warnock, (801) 798-6444.