Boilermakers and Local Union Volunteers Introduce Kansas City Youth to the Shooting Sports
by Kate Nation
Nearly two dozen Kansas City area youth experienced the excitement of the shooting sports for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 18, during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Inaugural Boilermakers Get Youth Outdoors Day at Powder Creek Shooting Park in Lenexa, Kansas.
A cooperative effort between the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), the free community event followed on the heels of the USA’s highly successful 13th Annual Boilermakers Kansas City Sporting Clays Shoot the day prior.
USA staff along with volunteers from the Boilermakers International, Greater Kansas City BCTC, Sheet Metal Workers Local 2, Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 518, and Bank of Labor provided participants with firearms safety instruction and assisted them with shooting bows and shotguns.
“With 11 volunteers, all participating youth got lots of one-on-one instruction and plenty of time to shoot sporting clays and archery, and they performed exceptionally well—I’ve never seen anything like it,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell, who assisted youth at the archery station. “One young boy shot a bow for the first time and was getting 6-inch groups every round.”
While assisting a young girl at the archery station, USA CEO and Executive Director Walt Ingram discovered that she was trying to shoot right-handed though blind in her right eye. “Once we switched her to left-handed, she began hitting the target, and her demeanor changed almost instantly,” Ingram said. “It was really gratifying to see the change in her confidence and attitude.”
Volunteers from the Boilermakers International also were surprised by the success of first-time shooters while assisting youth at the sporting clays stations.
“One middle-school aged boy was a natural. He busted three out of four clays his first-time shooting,” said International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Secretary-Treasurer William Creeden. “Most of the kids and adults at the event had never held a gun in their hands, and we went over gun safety with each of them. I invited the parents to try shooting and several did. I think everyone had a great time—all the kids were smiling when they left.”
All supplies were provided at no charge, and each child received a goody bag containing free gifts. Youths and their families also enjoyed a free lunch, and many won raffle prizes.
“The small group of youth participants combined with dynamite instructors and supportive parents created a very intimate event,” said Gene Forkin, who retired as Boilermakers assistant to the president in July and has organized the USA’s Boilermakers Kansas City Sporting Clays Shoot for the past five years. “When the first clay was busted, everyone cheered. We worked with one young girl until she finally broke one, and when she did, I think I yelled louder than she did.”
The event was part of a series of free, community-based youth outreach activities organized under Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program supported by national and founding partners Bank of Labor, UIG, ULLICO, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, Buck Knives, and Provost Umphrey Law Firm.
“Our outdoor heritage depends on recruiting new participants. These types of hands-on, interactive events inspire love, respect, and a sense of responsibility for the outdoors and the shooting sports,” said Ingram. “We are proud to provide young people and their families with these rewarding experiences and extremely grateful to all the union members who make them possible. Thanks to the support we received from the Greater Kansas City BCTC, we’ve held a successful conservation dinner, sporting clays shoot, Take Kids Fishing Day, and now Get Youth Outdoors Day in the Kansas City area this year alone.”
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