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Camp Attendees: (Group Photo - left to right)
George Holmstrom; Stephen Anderson; Joe Hilts; Kyle Prescott; Keith Kraker; Christa Madgwick and Ryan Tervo.
Seven area youngsters honed thier marksmanship skills and gained greater respect for firearms at the third annual Ottawa Sportsmen's Club (OSC) Junior Shooting-Sports Camp.
The week-long camp is held at the OSC on M-38 in Baraga, and is open to youths ages 14 to 18. Exceptions have been made on the low end, depending upon a youth's level of maturity. Eight firing points on the OSC range keep the capacity to 16 campers who can shoot in two relays.
Ron Granroth is the-Camp Director and Coach. He is also in charge of the OSC Junior Pistol Team that is headed for national competition this July. Granroth brings a wealth of both skill and patience to the job of teaching eager and willing youths how to safely shoot.
"We like to fill the (shooting) camp with new people, and we had cutoff date this year, June 5," Granroth said. "After the fifth, we asked anybody who wanted to repeat, and we got three. Camp must be fun, I guess, if the kids want to do it again."
Classes commence at 9 a.m. each day, and run until 5 p.m. Students are advised beforehand to bring along a "low sugar" beverage. That, plus Granroth's low-key style of instruction, create a mellow atmosphere for learning about shooting.
Volunteers have been key to the camp's success. They far outnumber participants, and include a number of shooting camp alumni. A full 24 volunteers provided ample guidance and support to this year's camp of six boys and a girl.
The camp also enjoys strong sponsorship from both businesses and individuals. Contributing to this year's camp were Indian County Sports, LAnse Ace hardware, Wilkinson's General Store, Besse Forest Products, Vollwerth's & Co., Northwoods Trading Post, Office Max of Houghton, Jim.Huikonen of LAnse, Gordon Mclnnes of Atlantic Mine, the Michigan Tech Pistol Club and the OSC.
Days at camp are tightly scheduled, and students are provided with study booklets to use throughout the week and keep for future reference. The 'Day Two' schedule included in the booklet reflects a full slate of activities held on the OSC grounds:.
The first part of the week focuses on rifle shooting while the second half zeroes in on pistol shooting skills. Safety measures include using protective equipment to shield eyes and ears from shells and loud discharges. Students are also well versed in positioning their bodies, holding their guns and squeezing off shots before they are allowed to load and shoot firearms.
Students are required to hit the books before they hit the OSC range, but there is plenty of time left for practical application. Granroth estimates that by the end of the week, this year's seven campers will have fired between 7,000 to 10,000 bullets at the Shooting-Sports Camp.
Granroth was speaking to the students about conpetitive pistol shooting last Wednesday, using as exhibits A and B the pistols he uses in competition. Twenty five years of fighting Lyme disease has taken a toll on his stamina, but Granroth still likes to pit his skills against those of fellow marksmen.
He shares various tips with the youths, including carrying a toothbrush for clearing away gunpowder, and always thinking ahead to avoid accidents, which Granroth referes to as "premeditated carelessnrss."
Case in point, Granroth shared the story of firing a pistol that had become jammed. The premeditated carelessness occurred in competition, he said, and he was lucky that the gun didn't explode in his hand. The barrel was hopelessly bent and his arm was badly shaken, but Granroth learned a valuable lesson with minimal damage.
Granroth is well trained to take on the youths' education. He's been shooting since he was seven years old and entered his first competition as a high school ROTC student. He later served in the Army Intelligence Service, where he said he learned how to shoot a variety of firearms.
He is coach of the MTU Pistol Club, and has earned the Distinguished Expert NRA Pistol Award. Granroth said he "Missed a meeting, and was elected instructor" at the OSC where he continues to teach youths plus compete on the local, state and national level.
The Junior Shooting Sports Camp 2002 concluded Friday with a pistol match, rifle match and a session on the trap range. Certificates and awards were distributed, and a cookout/potluck was held to celebrate another successftil camping season at the OSC.
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