When it’s okay to shoot a gun: Outdoor Skills Day

Ebrahim, Gavin and Juan target practice.

Year ago, shooting a gun was a rite of passage for boys and BB guns were common. Today, BB guns and bow and arrow sets are pretty much things of the past, but not at Outdoor Skills Day at MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette.

For one day each summer, kids learn how to shoot at targets, throw hatchets, cast a fishing line, cut wood, cook over a fire, start a fire without a match and lots more. I went with 13 kids ages 5 to 13 plus three parents.

At first, I was a little nervous, but once I saw how great the kids were behaving, I loosened up a bit. They were so respectful of each other and of the skills they were learning. The people at MacKenzie know what they’re doing. They made it safe.

The Bowhunters Association, DNR wardens and fisheries staff, and lots of volunteers were on hand to teach kids how to do things safely. They had the all the right equipment and plenty of room.  Kids learned that shooting a gun wasn’t about killing people, but about concentration and skill. It was wonderful to see the kids so focused.  I could see their self-confidence grow as they practiced. Experiential learning is so important for kids, especially high energy kids.

As a result of this trip, I’m inspired to bring an archery program to Goodman Community Center or to host our own Outdoor Skills Day. We could use a few more confident, respectful kids.

So what do you think?  Do you think events like this are okay?  What is your experience working with kids and outdoor skills? 

Tania (age 5) and Buba (age eight) work the cross-cut saw.

Angel (age 13) shoots a muzzle loader with help from a Wisconsin Muzzle Loader Association volunteer.

Mari (age eight) gears up for archery.


Ebrahim (age 5) throws and then hits the target. His face says it all.

Gavin (age eight) gets instruction from a Wisconsin Muzzle Loading Association volunteer before taking aim.

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2 thoughts on “When it’s okay to shoot a gun: Outdoor Skills Day

  1. Thanks for the reply. If you live in Wisconsin, you can certainly go Outdoor Skills Day. Or, you can contact the Department of Natural Resources in your state and ask about outdoor skills programs there. Let me know if you find something.

  2. I’M 11 IV BEEN SEEING KIDZ HOLD AND SHOOT BBS AND GET AWAY FROM IT TELL MY MOM THAT I WANT TO GOO TO THAT CAMP OR OUTSIDE PROGRAM.

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