Ottawa Sportsmen's Club News

Teens enjoy intense week at
Jr Shooting Camp 2003

by Barry Drue

The L'Anse Sentinel June 18, 2003
Jr Camp Group 2003
Coach Ron Granroth
Coach Ron and student
Instructor Wally Bandeff in blue
Rifle, Standing
Rifle, Sitting
Rifle, Scoring
Match Shootoff
Awards, Student & Joe Dyke

Last week brought a return to "school" for 15 teens enrolled in the rigorous Junior Shooting Sports Camp sponsored by the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club. The 14-17 year olds came from as far away as the southern Lower Peninsula to fire pistols, rifles and shotguns. But it's a whole lot more than that.

Ron Granroth is the camp director and head coach. A large group of OSC members serve as safety officials and range officers. The day camp format begins in the classroom each morning at 9 a.m. and concludes on the firing range at 5 p.m. In between, youths practice the discipline necessary to become safe, competitive target shooters.

"Running the camp is a huge commitment and this is the reward," Granroth said on Friday morning as the group began a 12 hour day that would include pistol and rifle matches, a clean-up of the facility an evening family picnic, a junior shotgun match and an awards ceremony "Most of them came here never having shot a pistol and now look at them."

Divided into "Wildcats" and "Huskies" teams, the young shooters put into practice the safety principles, breathing techniques, sighting methods and calm approach taught to them. In one pistol event they have 10 minutes to fire 10 .22 bullets into their targets. Teens called upon discipline and tranquility waiting between shots as they gathered their focus.

"The camp is a success if one or two of these kids may go on to become competitive shooters. Not all of them will be great marksmen, but at the very least kids may be out hunting and they will shoot their rifle better, not wound (and lose) an animal, and be very conscious of how they're carrying that gun. Dads tell me their kids have corrected them on safety.

"They are also learning life skills here," Granroth said. "I had a parent tell me we're teaching life skills such as discipline, responsibility, citizenship and teamwork. And that's all above and beyond the marksmanship."

National junior event
Last week Granroth and OSC hosted the Shooting Sports Camp, for the fourth time. Granroth began the program directing one several years ago in Chassell. He's an accomplished marksman who shoots competitively himself and coaches a junior team that travels to a national event each summer on Lake Erie at Camp Perry, OH. This year's junior national team will include Sam Gardner, Kurt Szyszkoski, Ben Seppala, Ben Granroth, Jeff Thomi and Mark Saari. They will be led by coaches Granroth and Bob Gardner at Camp Perry between July 12 and 22.

While it's Ron Granroth's son Ben who is now coached by his dad, older son Daven was the one who sparked the Granroth family's interest. "Daven is a severe asthmatic and he couldn't do a lot of athletic events: Competitive shooting is an athletic event and one he could do. He loved it," Ron Granroth said.

Ron Granroth began shooting competitively in the early 1990's and practiced at a range in Chassell. The idea to bring son Daven into the fold and offer coaching for other young people emerged there.

"When I was shooting I noticed there never were any kids around. That's bad for the sport and unsafe. That's-when I got the idea for the camp," Granroth said.

After one year in Chassell the Junior Shooting Sports Camp found its home at the OSC on M-38 near Pelkie with the enthusiastic support of club members. It's one of many year-round programs and events offered by the Ottawa Sportsmen.

Granroth and club members are acutely aware of national anti-gun sentiment. The junior shooting camp defies popular urban images of gun-totin' red necks in the back woods. Granroth approaches the camp with a formal daily schedule, rules and clean up responsibilities. Each morning begins with the Pledge of Allegiance, although a camper could choose not to recite the pledge due to religious objections. The athletic emphasis of competitive shooting is reinforced with daily calisthenics, breathing techniques, body positioning, and mental focus reminders. There's also anti-alcohol, drug and tobacco messages with information demonstrating how substances, even coffee, impair concentration and physical performance. ance.

"There are 18 medal events in the Olympics involving guns, although you don't see much media coverage of them because it's not politically correct," Granroth notes.

Woven into the serious, all business structure of the camp is fun. Granroth realizes the camp won't fly unless youth want to attend. Armed with the information to shoot safely and successfully, teens enjoy their trips to the firing line. They enjoy each others' company and their shared hours. Team competition between the Huskies and Wildcats is eagerly anticipated, as is the individual competition. And Granroth has learned from other coaches not to be negative.

"If I see somebody doing something wrong I may walk up and suggest they try this, or try that. Negative reinforcement doesn't work" Granroth said. "We want this to be fun for the kids."

Keith Kraker of Alston enjoyed the camp two years ago so much he signed up again last year. This time he served as Granroth's assistant in order to free up a slot for another youth. Participation is limited to 16. All the slots were filled but one youth had to cancel at the last minute.

Area participants included Keith Kraker's sister, Denise, Brian Vizina, Clavin Gardner and Jordan Maki of the Alston - Pelkie area; Chad Dompier and Jim Collins of Baraga and Quinn Whitlow of L'Anse Shooters from Chassell include Peter Granroth, John Weirauch, Trent Kangas and Evan Giusti. Patrick and Becky Miller came from Atlantic Mine. Philip Reichardt attended from Ontonagon. Leslie Ann Swanson traveled from downstate Marshall to particip

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