During The American Legion Department of Wisconsin's recent mid-winter conference, Legionnaires in attendance fired .177 caliber air rifle guns at targets set up in a meeting room. The idea of having Legionnaires test their shooting skills was the department's way of educating its members on the Legion's Junior Shooting Sports program and encouraging them to start a program at the post level.
"Our midwinter conference, as opposed to the department convention in July, is really an ideal opportunity to get information out, provide training and motivate Legionnaires to do what we do best – provide service to veterans, their families and their communities," said David Kurtz, the Department of Wisconsin's adjutant. "The shooting sports demonstration range was the focal point of the Americanism program resource area we set up."
Before taking aim, Colin Short, assistant director of The American Legion's Americanism/Children & Youth Division, briefed Legionnaires as to what the Shooting Sports program is and the steps to starting, or sponsoring, a program at the post level. Afterward, attendees gathered in a room that featured two target stands, a few standard .177 caliber air rifle guns, and three certified shooting sports instructors who assisted with gun handling and safety concerns. While Legionnaires anxiously waited their turn to shoot, Short and Steven Shanks, Wisconsin's Shooting Sports chairman, engaged in conversation with the Legionnaires, answering their concerns about starting a program at the post level.
Many concerns brought forward consisted of having enough rifles for every athlete, the amount of space needed to shoot, financial cost and insurance for the program. The Legionnaires' commonly heard questions were answered, giving them the confidence they needed to start or sponsor a Shooting Sports program.