After a one-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular shooting event for young people will return in June.
The Putnam County Junior Smallbore Shooting Camp will be held June 5-6 at the Putnam County Gun Club near Eleanor. The two-day camp, free to shooters age 10-20, teaches young people the fundamentals of precision rifle shooting.
Bill Shank, who oversees the camp, said 11 young people who attended it have gone on to shoot for collegiate rifle teams.
“We’ve had campers go on to shoot at [West Virginia University], the University of Akron, Ohio State, Morehead State, Murray State and the University of Kentucky,” he added.
The camp, held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each of its two days, has also provided a steady stream of shooters for the Putnam County Junior Smallbore Club, a rifle team that has produced winners at state, regional and national events.
“A lot of those [shooters] started as rank beginners who decided to come to the camp and learn how to shoot,” Shank said.
After being taught how firearms work and how to handle them safely, campers then move to the firing line for hands-on experience.
“They shoot .22-caliber rifles, rested on sandbags, at 50-yard [National Rifle Association] paper targets,” Shank explained. “We usually get in four to five targets on Saturday.
“On Sunday, we shoot a two-target match on paper, and then we set out clay targets, swinging targets and steel plates, and we let the campers spend the rest of the time having fun shooting at those.”
To help ensure safety, at least one supervisor is present for every two campers. Shank said the camp usually attracts 17 to 18 participants, but the number varies from year to year.
“One year, we had 42 shooters,” he said. “That’s about as many as we can accommodate on the range at a time.”
The Putnam County Junior Smallbore Club picks up the tab for the event, providing guns, ammunition and lunch for each participant.
“We do ask that people pre-register for the event, so we can know how much food to provide,” Shank said. “Because each camper must be accompanied by an adult who stays there all day, we provide lunch for the adults, too.”
People interested in attending the camp can pre-register by calling Shank at 304-539-2944.