Camp Director, Ron Granroth
Published in the MUCC 'Michigan Out Of Doors' Magazine, September 2001
What did fifteen young adults, ages fourteen to eighteen, recently have in common other than the business of being teenagers? The answer is a determination and commitment to achieve personal goals as well as a desire to do their very best while learning new skills and while working together for the benefit of all members of the group.
These teens, who elected to take a few days off from sleeping in or spending time at the beach, spent that time learning the fundamentals of shooting and basic marksmanship while preparing for competition with pistol, rifle and shotgun.
In an effort to get more young people involved in the shooting sports, The Ottawa Sportsmen's Club #530, District #19, hosted a week long "Junior Shooting Sports Camp 2001" on June 11th through the15th. This camp, which ran daily from 9 until 5 and has been supported by the O.S.C. for the second year in a row, was so successful that several of the "shooters" have asked to be included again next year.
Club member, Ron Granroth, who is also the Camp Director and Head Instructor, has fine-tuned a highly intense program of instruction patterned after successful national training programs for expert marksmen. It is a program designed to teach shooting as an athletic event.
"Most people don't realize that shooting is a sport from the Olympic level on down, Granroth said. "There are actually 18 shooting events that are part of the Olympics. It's unfortunate that the media doesn't cover these events, because competitive shooting can teach kids valuable skills that apply to the world in general, skills such as discipline, concentration, teamwork and safety."
Granroth, as well as Assistant Director and Instructor, Rick Freeman, are sticklers for safety. The shooters were very carefully supervised and a great deal of emphasis was placed on gun safety, during the morning classroom instruction sessions as well as on the range. There was literally one safety supervisor for each shooter every day as over a total of 8,000 rounds of ammunition raced towards the targets.
This year, the "shooters" had the benefit of learning from some of the best when the Camp Director's grandnephew, Karl Granroth, and his wife Sara, were able to spend a full day working with the young shooters. Karl and Sara, both world-class biathletes who compete on the National Guard "All Guard" Biathalon Team, managed to take time away from the Olympic Training Center in Marquette, Michigan where they were involved in extremely rigorous training that would enable them to try out for the 2002 Olympic Games. Only the very best biathletes are selected from the many state National Guard units to be members of the "All Guard" team and this couple was certainly no exception.
The fifteen youths who participated in the Shooting Sports Camp, prevalent age 14, may not have realized at first that they would not be simply plinking at cans and may have been quite surprised when they were led into morning calisthenics and taught techniques to control breathing and concentration.
Those newly acquired skills were put to the test when the shooters found themselves in uncomfortable positions while trying to concentrate simultaneously on all they had been taught. To add to their discomfort, while the shooters were prone on the cement and aiming their rifles at the bulls-eye, the outdoor range floor was covered with platoon after platoon of invading army worms while squadrons of biting flies and mosquitoes swarmed overhead. And, as the heat soared into the 90's and the humidity swelled along with it, fourteen young shooters kept their eye on the target and their mind on what was expected of them. It was rigorous and it was demanding, but it was also a "fun experience" attested to in many of the thank you cards received by the Ottawa Sportsmen.
Having been able to spend time at the camp on a daily basis by becoming one of the volunteers, I am certain that each of these young people began their new Junior Shooting Sports Camp experience with a great deal of self-doubt about their ability to shoot, as well as with self-consciousness about the possibility of failing in front of their peers.
On the first day I heard the words, "I don't think I can." The second day the words had changed to, "I might be able to." And after that, I heard the words, "I did!" Their self-doubts and self-consciousness had turned to self-determination and self-confidence, and I know it didn't come easily.
Their accomplishments came through a great deal of hard work that involved not only concentration, but also dedication, individual discipline, teamwork, and attention to safety. Not only did they compete against each other, they also competed on a more personal level in order to better their own skills. Their desire was encouraged by support from their "campmates" as well as from their instructors and supervisors. The degree of respect they showed, to one another as well as to the adults who worked with them, was tremendous and heart warming.
The last day of camp was spent in "600" Pistol Match and Position Rifle Match team competition between the "Huskies" and "Wild Cats". The pistol match involved "slow, timed and rapid" fire competition while the rifle match saw the shooters in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions.
Family members and guests of the shooters, along with members and friends of the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club, were treated that evening to an outdoor barbeque, potluck, and "Clay Pigeons Beware" Junior Shotgun Trap Range Demonstration of the hard earned shotgun skills of fifteen young adults, many of whom who had never held a gun in their hands before attending the Junior Shooting Sports Camp. Loud cheers filled the night as over 100 people shouted their approval when these youngsters took aim, yelled, "pull", and knocked the flying discs out of the air.
Ottawa Sportsmen's Club President and District #19 Chairman, Russ Weisinger, presented Certificates of Achievement to the Junior Shooters at an awards ceremony following the range activities. President Weisinger, who spoke of the club's rich history and its commitment to the preservation and promotion of our nation's natural resources, commended Ron Granroth and his volunteer crew of twenty-two club members who gave so selflessly of their time and energy to make the 2001 Junior Shooting Sports Camp a success.
The Ottawa Sportsmen's Club was born as the result of a merger between the Laird Conservation and Wolverine Sportsmen's Clubs, both of which were organized prior to World War II. The Wolverine's, who had been affiliated with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs since 1945, had previously renamed their club the "Wolverine Sportsman Club of The Upper Peninsula" when they joined the M.U.C.C. because a Wolverine Club already existed downstate. When the merger took place, a new name had to be selected once again and the "Ottawa Sportsmen's Club" was chosen because of its proximity to the Ottawa National Forest.
Over the years, the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club has grown in strength and number to over 330 individual members. Along with many other worthy projects, the O.S.C. turns a great deal of attention to area youth by supporting their conservation related activities. The club provides books about nature and conservation to community school libraries, it purchases classroom subscriptions to "Tracks" magazine, allows the free use of its facilities to Boy Scouts and Hunter Safety Classes and offers scholarships to graduating seniors who hope to make a career in the field of conservation. The pride the Ottawa Sportsmen have in their club can been seen in the pages of their new Web Site at www.ottawasportsmen.org. This site also gives more information about the recently sponsored shooting camp as well as other club programs, interests, and income producing activities.
The O.S.C.'s Junior Shooting Sports Camp 2001 is one such program that is not designed as a money making project, but rather as a summer program for community youth. The expense, however, has been minimal thanks to the generous support of area businessmen and friends of the Ottawa Sportsmen. It has also been minimal, thanks to the acute attention to detail and cost cutting talents of Ron Granroth.
Ron, who has a long history of working with youth on the firing range, is acutely aware of the negative image "guns" have acquired across the nation. Several years ago, following a tragic school shooting, he wondered if he should continue, but was encouraged not to give up by a parent of one of his "stand-out" students. That student, Ben Seppala, is now competing on a state and national team level. More of Granroth's shooting camp students, including his son, Ben, will also be on that team now and in the future, representing the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club.
In spite of the long term debilitating effects of Lyme's Disease, a bodily insult he has lived with for many years and with which he knows he must face each day, Ron Granroth's commitment to the young people of Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonogan, County, Michigan continues to be as strong as ever. He has groomed others to take over when, as he well knows, will be forced to watch from the sidelines.
In the meanwhile, the personal satisfaction he feels in having done a job thoroughly and well is not derived from being lauded in an article such as this or through being praised in front of O.S.C. members at a meeting. It is found in the words of thank you penned by fourteen year-old Rochelle Prescott, a 2001 Junior Shooter who wrote: "Thank you for offering the Shooting Sports Camp at the Ottawa Sportsmen's Club. It is an excellent camp and I hope to attend next year, if possible. I'm glad you offered the camp for guys and girls both, and I felt very welcome. Keep offering this camp to kids in the future. Thanks again! It was a lot of fun."
|Top of Page||Back to News||OSC Home Page||Jr Camp Page|