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Thread: Guns and society

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Guns and society

    Just a thought about an activity...

    We have long had NSRA Tutors in our group, but for the past few years we have not done any shooting with the Navigators because there has been an attitude problem. We could not guarrantee behaviour due to the activities of a handful of members. It was also not a piority activity.

    With those members departed, excluded. We have returned to a "normal" level of behaviour. So, when some of our senior Navigators asked if they could do some shooting, I agreed that we could. The time was right, the people were, more or less right, I suspect that Merryweather may have rejected a couple of the lads on an attitude basis, but after they were spoken to they calmed down.

    So it was. The day after the BBC runs an "expose" on gun and knife crime in Huddersfield, I walk into the local gunshop to buy ammunition and add a new rifle to our resources. The guys in the shop are all decent lads, very chatty and very serious about guns. I've seen them refuse to sell an air gun to an adult in the past. They run a legitimate business as far as I can tell. I am sure that the police would have them shut down if they had the slightest reason to do so.

    I take the older Navigators aside, I have eight of them, permits signed by parents some time ago, before the "troubles". One has never handled a gun befoe, one, an American has once, but is completely bemused by her country's obsession with firearms, our Aussie lad is full of it ( but struggles to hit the target, and I am sure fired blank several times because he let the pellet drop out.)

    It was four on, four off sessions over two hours and they showed some improvement along the way. I was pleased, especially because I had delegated the range to one of our younger leaders who usually hold back from Leading, if you know what I mean.

    But for me it was the discussions between shooting, and the mental approach that they had. They showed respect for the rifles, they took care and they did exactly as they were asked. The rifles we use are traditional wooden stock, so heavy, deliberately so. When I bought the rifles I was offered lightweight "tactical" rifles that were ideal for teenagers. I had used them in Scouts, but here I am trying to allow them use of rifles and at the same time get across the message that it is a tool, it is not some cool accessory. I want them to develop the right attitude with shooting, just as they have with archery, kayaking and climbing.

    Interestingly, we have had no negative feedback from any of the parents of younger members, I was fully expecting a couple of messages telling me that parents were unhappy that their children might be doing shooting - paticularly after the BBC documentary on our main town. ( I have had parents requesting blunt knives be used in the past).

    It was an interesting evening with the rest of the Group doing archery. If I'd had enough targets we could have done axe throwing and covered our three "target skills activities" in one session.
    Ewan Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Interestingly, we have had no negative feedback from any of the parents of younger members, I was fully expecting a couple of messages telling me that parents were unhappy that their children might be doing shooting - paticularly after the BBC documentary on our main town. ( I have had parents requesting blunt knives be used in the past).
    Your part of the world is odd - I've never had anything like this. Even our most paranoid parents were interested in e.g. qualifications for running adventurous activities, not knives. And we are close to London too...

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Your part of the world is odd - I've never had anything like this. Even our most paranoid parents were interested in e.g. qualifications for running adventurous activities, not knives. And we are close to London too...
    The blunt knives thing is out of ignorance.

    I suspect that the level of knife and gun crime in Huddersfield has been hidden from the wider world by the emphasis on what is happening in London. We are out in the sticks, and there is an odd attitude. There is a fear, but also a line of thought that it won't happen here - but it does and it will.

    Since setting up Navigators I have seen a different set of kids and parents. I see more kids now with issues than I ever did in Scouts, or, maybe I am better skilled at spotting the issues than I was. Maybe, in Scouts I was more focussed on the wider group than on individuals, but I don't think that is the case at all. Maybe because we are more relaxed we are possibly more approachable. I don't know.

    But I don't do blunt knives.
    Ewan Scott

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    We've also never had any issues with air rifles or weird questions about knifes - and we do a lot of knife work.

    Also, we've never felt the need to not do knife work (or shooting as an activity) because of young people we might be worried about - it's so tightly controlled, they wouldn't get the chance to do anything daft, okay, that's less so with knife work. (We have just flat excluded kids from activities in the past. No reason for the group to miss out because of one child.)

    On shooting, having visited with a full bore club last year and joined a small bore club this year, there is a range of people in attendance. But again, it's all very work-a-day. At the small bore club, they're a bit cliquey, but they're very keen to push the message that it's a safe activity entirely detached from any criminality. The guns they use are so technical, while you could use them in a crime, it probably wouldn't be effective. They could be using nail guns, or table saws, its just so, well, work-a-day...

    That said, there is a certain meme, or baggage if you're a youth worker and a member of what is a essentially a gun club. The thing is though, it does hold a certain fascination, especially for boys. You can argue whether or not that's some sort of gender programming or what ever woke title they're giving it - but it's there never-the-less.

    I have a composite stock air rifle, I bought laser and telescopic sights for it. The reason being, it looks cool and when the time comes to use it, it gives the young folk something new and unique to try.

    This stuff exists, I don't think it's ever a bad thing to be informed. Obviously, if parents have an issue, then it's entirely their prerogative if they don't want their kid involved.

    On a wider observation. You always get the odd kid who's parents are a wee bit on the hippy side - which is totally fine. However, it's always a 50/50 bet on how that kid will get on. We've had kids who are so charming and quirky with it, they've been insanely popular. But then, we've had kids who's parents are so overbearing with their views, that the kid is often at the receiving end of quite negative attention. While I hope for a world where kids don't have to be prepared to deflect that kind of negative attention from their peers, it is what it is, so their parents are doing them a disservice by not preparing them for the hurly burly of what passes for society these days.

    TL/DR version. Some people are not very pragmatic. Hey ho.

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    Senior Member Shaun's Avatar
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    We do Air Rifle shooting with the Scouts at the campsite on the range and we also do BB pistol shooting downstairs in an improvised range.
    If I donít trust a kid they get closely supervised.
    I am wary of going back to knives, 2 had near misses, through not listening and they ha enít matured enough for me to trust them again.
    Maybe next week as we have a camp coming up.

    I remember years ago on an Army range, the range instructor ripped in to a young guardsman for how he was firing his pistol, his reply that he had been getting the mickey ripped out of him last week on leave for holding it properly. He came from the Moss Side of Manchester.


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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Just to be clear -

    Yes, over the years I have had kids whose parents refused to sign the shooting form on the grounds that guns were weapons and we should not be teaching kids to use weapons - the same parents were happy for their kids to use bows and arrows.

    On knives, I have had , again, over the years, parents , usually of girls, comment on the use of knives - kitchen knives mind you. That they didn't like their children using sharp knives, one did actually request that her child used a blunt knife. I recall one lass who was really excited and slightly scared to be cooking. When mum came to pick her up she was still in the kitchen washing up with her team. Mother was apoplectic, how dare we alow her daughter to use knives?! And she was in the kitchen!! The horror of it all. This was a fourteen year old who had never cooked a meal, made a cup of coffee, washed the dishes or ironed a blouse...

    They do happen.

    My original reflection on the rifles was in the context of Huddersfield, the UK's Gun Crime Capital... in that respect, I had expected some comment - we have had no negative comments.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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    Perhaps it's two-fold.

    Parents sort of understand how far apart a group like Nav's (or Scouts) is from out-and-out gun crime, and/or that they just don't link the two things. I didn't know Huddersfield was the gun crime capital of the UK, but even then, I wouldn't equate a youth group using air rifles to those kind of activity that generates those stats.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Over 200 gun related crimes in the past year...

    Mind you, one of them was the kid I reported for threatening to shoot his mate...
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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    Interesting.

    We do Shooting about twice a year. We had a permit holder but he let it slip a year ago. (I know that is not the technical term).

    I hold an archery permit. In the last year I have offer our troop archery on about 10 times. I think everyone has had a go.

    I have knives. We teach safety, law and respect. Apart from Scouts who are not very capable of understanding, we have only had one incident and that was this week. I caught him hacking at cardboard. I am due to do a safety talk again.

    We live in an area heavy with knife crime.

    Yet not one parent has refused to send their child to shooting. None have commented about the use of knives.


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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    In 15+ years as a Leader we have done air rifle shooting at least once a year every year and I have never had one parent refuse permission or question why their kids were being taught to use guns. Now admitedly they could have just silently decided not to send their child that week or to the event we are doing air rifle shooting as part of but I doubt it.

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    I don't think anyone equates Scouts or similar with gang culture, and I'm reasonably confident there is almost no overlap of membership whatever TSA might like to believe.... Similarly I don't think anyone sees an air rifle in the same way as a handgun.

    I'd be more surprised if there was any parent who questioned scouts for doing an activity with air rifles, and indeed have never yet heard one, so not at all surprised that most have never had an expresson of concern

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    As the old song goes' Guns dont kill people, people do' . Teach them responsibility and respect for guns , knives and axes and they will see them as a tool and not a weapon.

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    I stress In a big way to our parents that our use of knives as tools (Huddersfield may be the gun crime capital but Birmingham is the knife crime capital) teaches the attitude needed to use them safely but also removes the forbidden fruit aspect of knives and makes the YP respect them more

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    Senior Member Kastor's Avatar
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    We've done air rifle a number of times and haven't had any issues.

    The only odd one was was a parent who though we shouldn't be having nerf gun fights as it was shooting at people.
    To get more kids we need more adults - are we getting the message yet?

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    Senior Member CambridgeSkip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Just to be clear -

    Yes, over the years I have had kids whose parents refused to sign the shooting form on the grounds that guns were weapons and we should not be teaching kids to use weapons - the same parents were happy for their kids to use bows and arrows.

    On knives, I have had , again, over the years, parents , usually of girls, comment on the use of knives - kitchen knives mind you. That they didn't like their children using sharp knives, one did actually request that her child used a blunt knife. I recall one lass who was really excited and slightly scared to be cooking. When mum came to pick her up she was still in the kitchen washing up with her team. Mother was apoplectic, how dare we alow her daughter to use knives?! And she was in the kitchen!! The horror of it all. This was a fourteen year old who had never cooked a meal, made a cup of coffee, washed the dishes or ironed a blouse...

    They do happen.

    My original reflection on the rifles was in the context of Huddersfield, the UK's Gun Crime Capital... in that respect, I had expected some comment - we have had no negative comments.
    I feel your pain in knives. I have lost count of the number of scouts who's parents have quite deliberately given them a blunt pocket kife. To make it worse these absurd "DofE approved" knives with no point on them are actively giving parents the impression that blunt is good. About 15 months ago we did a survival skills camp where the kids were using their knives a lot, incredible number of cut fingers!

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