75 Years Ago: School For Juniors
This excerpt appeared originally in the August 1948 issue of American Rifleman. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page and select American Rifleman as your member magazine.
Last year Harvey Williams, who owns a sporting-goods store in Davison, Michigan, was approached by the leaders of a local High-Y club. Would he be interested in lecturing on safety with firearms before a ‘teen-age audience? Williams promptly sent son Dale. About a hundred Genesee County youngsters were there. As Dale Williams talked, he asked a few questions. How many of the youngsters hunted? Most of the hands went up. Were they permitted to hunt alone? Some hands went up again. Williams decided, on the spur of the moment, to take a chance on something. How many would like to attend a school in firearms handling and safety? Every hand popped up. Before Dale Williams could get away from the youngsters, he had promised to start classes in marksmanship, where they could work out with real rifles instead of just talking about them.
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Over 150 boys and girls turned out for the first session of the Williams Shooting School. The program had been well planned. There was nothing to buy except a couple of boxes of cartridges. State conservation men and police were on hand, eager to take part in the venture. The NRA donated diplomas, sighting charts, and posters. Williams supplied rifles if the youngsters had none of their own. Local rifle clubs pitched in. In three Saturday sessions, the youngsters were given a healthy dose of sportsmanship and safety, plus enough marksmanship training to start them out in the target-shooting game. Held again this year (when these pictures were taken), the school drew better than 200 pupils.
If Williams’ shooting classes becomes annual affairs, which they probably will, Michigan’s Genesee County stands a fair chance of winding up as one of America’s safest areas as far as firearms are concerned.
Williams School Trains Youngsters In Good Citizenship
In one light, Harvey Williams’ junior shooting school is a purely commercial venture. More young riflemen now will mean more grown-up riflemen, who one day will be potential customers of the William store. But far more important than that is the implication that his school and others like it carry for the future of the whole sport. Chances are slim that a Williams graduate will ever figure in an I-didn’t-know-it-was-loaded tragedy, or wind up in a delinquency court because he endangered others by promiscuous shooting. The job being done in Genesee County should serve as a challenge to every gun store, every rifle club, every state police force and conservation department in the country.
If each of the NRA’s 5,000 rifle and pistol clubs would devote one week of its outdoor season to the planned, intensive training of local youngsters in the fundamentals of marksmanship and safety with firearms, the future of shooting in America would be ensured for all time.
Article by AMERICAN RIFLEMAN STAFF