Union Sportsmen Introduce Minnesota Youths to the Shooting Sports, Firearms Safety & Conservation
More than 60 youths learned about firearms safety, conservation, and the union trades while experiencing the thrill of the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, Sept. 11 during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 10th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, Minnesota.
“We had the largest turnout we’ve ever had for this event, and it was perhaps the most impactful USA Get Youth Outdoors Day I’ve been part of,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “Most of the kids were first-timers, and they truly enjoyed learning. One boy stayed at the archery station for about 45 minutes. Initially, he couldn’t hit the target, but he kept at it and was soon hitting the middle with all five arrows. Then he ended up winning a bow as a door prize.”
The event was part of Work Boots on the Ground, the USA’s flagship conservation program, and a series of community outreach events that aim to instill the next generation with an appreciation and passion for the outdoors.
Thirteen volunteers representing the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Trades, Roofers Local 96, Iron Workers Local 512, and Electrical Workers Local 292 provided safety instruction and hands-on introductions to sporting clays, rimfire rifles and archery.
“We had about 25 first-time shooters this year, but we had a great outpouring of volunteers to provide them with one-on-one instruction,” said Kinsey Robinson, Roofers International president emeritus who helped launch the annual event 10 years ago. “One kid asked to keep an empty shotgun shell, and then all the kids wanted them. They were running around with them like they were trophies, and the parents were so appreciative of the event and volunteers.”
All supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms, and ammunition were provided at no charge. After the event, youths enjoyed a picnic-style lunch with their mentors, and many won outdoor gear in a variety of giveaways.
“Kids are our future, and the Twin Cities Get Youth Outdoors Day was a great teaching event,” said Gary Bermel, a member of Ironworkers Local 512 who volunteers at the event each year. “We had a couple small kids bust clay targets and seeing the smiles on their faces—those are some of the best moments you can experience.”
“The Roofers International leadership team helped spearhead the USA’s very first Get Youth Outdoors Day in 2012, and it has become a cornerstone of the USA’s community outreach program, leading to similar events in other cities,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Walt Ingram. “It’s really gratifying to see some of the same kids attending and honing their skills year after year as well as the sparkle in the eyes of kids who bust a clay or hit a target when they attend for the first time. We can’t thank our union volunteers enough for helping instill these youths with a love of the outdoors, shooting sports and conservation.”