Homepage Forums General Scouting Guns and Boy Scouts

This topic contains 35 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Jason 2 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #34155 Reply

    Sylvia Raison

    My son is a cub scout and both my husband and I have loved everything about the program except for one aspect. Both the campout and summer camp include BB gun sessions. I am a physician and feel strongly about kids not using guns. That includes toy guns and video games.

    Is it possible to participate in scouts and advance without taking part in the BB gun sessions?

    (I’m not interested in hearing why anyone thinks it is OK or important to use guns, teach kids how to use guns, etc – I’d simply like to know if it is possible to participate in the rest of scouting without having to learn how to use BB guns.)

    Thank you,


  • #34166 Reply


    Yes! BB guns (and in Boy Scouts, the many shooting sports electives) are optional. See if you can plan a father-son hike or maybe extra time on the archery range during the bb sessions. The only person you owe an explanation to is your son. However, it doesn’t hurt to lay out your position to other leaders. It’s okay to disagree amicably.

  • #34185 Reply

    Sylvia Raison

    Thank you so much!

  • #40353 Reply


    Absolutely appalled with the parenting skills

  • #40740 Reply


    Yeah, and it annoys me that many parents don’t approve of my “forced marches in bear country” approach to venturing.

    But you know what? The kids of such parents turn out pretty great. So, I let them have a pass on that opportunity and just arrange to meet their kids at the skeet range for the next event.

  • #41690 Reply

    Bond James Bond

    Having your son trained like all his fellow scouts should be the objective. It is training, nothing more and nothing less.

    So, are you raising a boy to become a man or a pussy?

    Guns are part of a boy’s development into a man. Girls play with dolls, boys play with aliens, transformers and guns of all types (imaginary and real). Even the GI Joe doll has military accessories like guns.

    So apparently you have probably emaciated your husband as well. So if a crackpot breaks into your home, you are defenseless. However, you will call 911 to have them send an officer with a gun or will you request only an officer with a nightstick so as to not offend your “principles”?

    • #50029 Reply

      Kyle P.


      I have never once in my life touched a gun (nor have I ever played with toy guns). Guns were not part of development into a man.

      I am an Eagle Scout, a husband, a father, an American, a Christian, a Scoutmaster and many other things… but I am not a “pussy” nor am I “emaciated.”

      To respond to your hypothetical scenario: if a “crackpot” broke into my home, I’d rather be assaulted and shot dead than fire a gun at him (or even be responsible for an officer shooting him dead). I am a pacifist. Violence is unjustifiable and, yes, I’d rather die than offend my principles by firing a gun or swinging a punch at another living thing. It aligns with my duty to God, my duty to others, my duty to self and my pledge to be friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, brave, and reverent.

  • #41749 Reply

    Commissioner Ben

    I agree that all scouts (even female Venturers) should have the opportunity to learn shooting sports and safety. However, I don’t think it should be mandatory. If a parent or wishes to opt out of shooting sports, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I also think it would be wrong to force a scout to participate in shooting sports. And I’m sure I’m in the minority in that opinion.

  • #41753 Reply


    BJB, you may feel that you are applying the 3rd point of the Scout Law by saving people from themselves, but you may not do so by ignoring the 5th or 6th.

    As CB points out, guns have nothing to do with manhood. They do have something to do with being a responsible adult (male or female), as this country was settled by men and women of good character who knew their way around weapons of all sorts.

    The original poster was very careful to reference child gun use, so why would you would want to bring up her husband, against her wishes? You’re more than welcome to open a new topic about wishing firearm training was required for all scouts.

  • #48094 Reply


    You are going to miss out on your sons learning to shoot a fairly safe gun in an almost ideal environment to learn gun safety. That said, there is no requirement to shoot a gun or bb gun in scouting at any level. Your son will just miss out on some fun and the chance to get a small award.

  • #48095 Reply



    A Scout is courteous. A Scout is kind. Your response was neither.

  • #50371 Reply


    Sylvia, your kid… your rules.

    Very little is “required” in Scouting so if you want to stay home on “BB gun night”, then take your son and go somewhere else. Just don’t be one of those “all kids get a trophy” goofs when the rest of the den is getting “Beltloops” and “Activity Pins” and your son doesn’t get anything.

    I’m going to take this opportunity to communicate how irrational your position is. If you were to look at SHOOTING SPORTS and compare it a litany of other events that you probably have no “issue” with, you’d be shocked (pleasantly surprised) at how safe Shooting is (because we have 0 tolerance for safety infractions).

    Do you have a backyard pool? Trampoline? Baseball, ride a bike, play football, or even go BOWLING?? ANY of these events have injury rates significant higher than organized shooting sports. NEVER on a BSA range will boys be unsupervised on the rifle range. Your kid, your rules… but you are doing more harm than good in my not-so-humble opinion, and instilling an irrational fear about an inanimate object.

  • #50376 Reply

    Commissioner Ben

    I disagree that it’s an irrational fear to allow a child to handle firearms. I think parents (and any mature adult) can determine whether a young person is even mature enough to begin learning firearm safety.

    Yes, I think children should learn firearm safety (and marksmanship, too; unless you want to get shot in the a** with a BB). However, I can easily think of numerous youth who, in my opinion, aren’t mature enough to handle a firearm to a degree that I would feel safe when “no one’s watching.”

    Granted, there are countless and valueable safety procedures at a scout event, but I’m referring to “at home” scenarios. There’s been several instances in the past few years of children either accidentally or deliberately shooting someone; usually a family member.

    • #50495 Reply


      C. Ben… Certainly people should be aware of the danger of mishandled (and unsupervised) firearms, but to “fear a gun” just because it’s a “gun” is an irrational fear. Sylvia isn’t specifying when an immature boy may point a gun in the wrong direction, in her own words her opposition extends to any contact with “guns” including “toy guns” and even those in “video games”.

      I’m pretty sure that qualifies as “irrational” in any language.

      A gun is an inanimate object, a “tool”, no more/less dangerous than any saw, hammer, baseball bat, drill, or a pocket knife that could be misused and result in injuries.

    • #51835 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      Paul, firstly I don’t see where Sylvia says she “fears” guns, she simply is opposed to the use of them. It’s not a fear, it’s a moral objection. I don’t think this has to do with safety at the events (yes, the BSA has a phenomenal record of running safe ranges), it has more to do with the social message that supporting the use of guns sends.

      You say a gun is just a “tool.” However what is the purpose of that tool? What is the purpose of a gun existing? Plain and simple, guns were designed to discharge projectiles that can harm (possibly even kill) a target. Just as a baseball bat’s purpose is to hit baseballs, a drill’s purpose is to bore holes and turn fasteners, and saws are, well, cutting tools… guns are shooting tools. And what exactly is the point of shooting?

      Even “pretend” guns (like toys and video games) can be dangerous… just as “candy cigarettes” are looked down upon in our society… or simulated sex in an “adult film” is offensive. Just because it’s not “real” or it is “controlled,” “safe” and “not harmful” doesn’t mean it’s not supporting the real thing and can be seen as rationally objectionable too.

    • #52204 Reply



      You question guns as “tools” and question the “job” that such tools were meant for? OK. Help me understand the logic you’re using.

      Do you feel the same about a classic Scouting favorites like, ARCHERY? What about TOMAHAWK THROWING? What about FISHING? None of the associated “tools” were invented for “sport”, but have become adapted for such use cases. If you’re going to apply “logic” then the logic has to be applied EVENLY to be valid.

      I AGREE, the gun was created to shoot people & animals, to which I ask, “So what???”

      Are you implying that Scouts should avoid the SPORTING uses of rifles, shotguns, black powder rifles, bows, tomahawks, and/or fishing rods because using these TOOLS were not invented solely for “sport”?

    • #52704 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      Paul, to answer your question: yes, I do think rifles, shotguns, bows & arrows, throwing tomahawks, and fishing for “sport” are pointless and irrelevant tools, skills and practices that are inessential to (and in some cases act counter to) achieving the aims, ideals, methods and goals of the Scouting program.

    • #52719 Reply


      Just want to hash this out with you a little further, Walter. (Not to pick on you, but to give everyone a feel for the diversity of opinion in our scouting community.)

      Do you believe it is not essential for a broad-based youth program to offer target-based shooting sports (up to and including fishing, trapping, and hunting), or
      Do you believe that is not essential to require every youth to try target-based shooting sports?

      The latter seems to be the opinion of most scouters I know. (Although perhaps I just haven’t met that cluster of scouters who refuse to attend a summer camp like the ones I attend where those opportunities are available.)

      The former seems to be the opinion of a few non-scouters who I’ve met. I don’t argue with them because their kids are still growing up strong and good, it seems.

    • #53223 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      Q, to clarify: I do not think target-based shooting sports is an essential part of the program. It certainly should not be mandatory part of the program. And if it were to disappear from Scouting altogether, I would not miss it in the least.

      Yes, there are some positives to shooting sports. Scouts can exercise their minds as well as their bodies through rifle shooting – developing a steady hand, a good eye, and a disciplined/focused mind. But the same skills could be developed by, say, playing billiards or curling (but not many Scout camps are investing in pool tables or ice rinks).

      But there are also many negatives to it (it can be destructive, aggressive, wasteful, harsh, harmful, etc.) I think there are much better ways to reach the aims of the Scouting program than shooting sports.

      Paul, how could these activities be counter to the aims of Scouting? Well yanking a fish out of a creek with a hook through his lip just for the fun of it isn’t very kind (Scout Law point #6). And purchasing clay pigeons simply for the sole purpose of turning them to dust isn’t a very thrifty practice (Scout Law point #9). The loud bangs from a shotgun range are not really being considerate in the outdoors (Outdoor Code point #3 and Leave-No-Trace principles #6 and #7). Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

      Perdidochas, there are lots of things that “excite boys” and would “get them interested”…. however not all are essential (or the best, or even appropriate, methods) for developing character, citizenship, and fitness.

    • #52821 Reply


      How would ANY of these skills be COUNTER to teaching the Aims of Scouting?

    • #52841 Reply



      All of those are ways to excite boys and get them interested in Scouting. They are not counter to Scouting, they are fundamentals in Scouting.

    • #61989 Reply

      Kurt Lofton


    • #53257 Reply


      Thanks for replying, Walter.

      For many of our youth, shooting sports is how you learn to put food on the table.
      (Either by hunting nutritious game, or controlling top-level predators.) It’s also how you learn to avoid harm with firearms.

      Bringing down game with billiard balls or curling stones is not viable. And if it were, it would be an especially cruel way to subdue prey.

      So, I see it as an essential to provide it as an option. Removing it from the program denies boys the opportunity and discipline to treat a firearm (or bow or throwing axe) safely should they encounter one. (It often ends tragically when an untrained youth gets a hold of such things.) However, I also see it as essential to not require participation in field sports for every youth — partly because the reasons you stated, although not universal, may weigh heavy on some scouting families.

    • #53340 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      I do agree that is it worthwhile to educate Scouts on how to avoid harm with firearms. Ignoring firearms all together does nothing to help prevent tragedies from happening. However I don’t quite buy into your premise that shooting sports is an essential or important means for teaching how to put food on the table.

      For most of our youth, their food do not come from hunting. It is 2016, economically speaking (both in terms of money and time), there are much more efficient ways for a Scout put food on the table that do not involve using a firearm. Heck, teaching gardening would be a much more economic, effective, efficient and healthy way to teach boys how to feed themselves and their families. Meat is not an essential part of any diet, and thus learning to bring down game (by any means) is really a non-essential skill today.

    • #53343 Reply


      You refer to “most of our youth;” therefore, you concede that some of our youths’ diets are enriched by hunting, both as
      1. a protein source, and
      2. pest control so that they can successfully garden — especially in suburban communities where apex predators have been removed.

      So, if some of our youth’s diets are enriched by hunting, it logically follows that a thoughtfully designed youth program will provide relevant training in field sports.

    • #53380 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      Q and Paul — While it is true that some of our youths’ diets are currently enriched by hunting, none are required to be. There are much more economical and efficient protein sources out there, and there are equally effective pest-control methods that don’t require personal gun use. I know many people who do get food for their families from hunting, but none would say it is the best, only, or most-efficient method to prevent starvation or economic ruin. The idea that hunting is an essential is a myopic view.

    • #53361 Reply


      While we may not be living in log cabins and walking barefoot to school (uphill both ways) like people did 100 years ago, there are many places throughout the US where schools actually close for a few days during hunting season; from Pennsylvania to Alaska. I know people that if they don’t fill their freezers with deer meat, they may not have enough food for their family in the forms of sausage, steaks, ground venison, and jerky.

      So… I’m not going to re-argue my support for firearm education (in general and in Scouting) but I did want to let you know that your view of the world is a bit myopic. There are many places where hunting isn’t just a “sport”.

  • #53341 Reply



    Shooting sports is a good thing for Scouting, since it attracts boys. Setting up gardens at summer camp isn’t going to help membership……. Scouting isn’t completely utilitarian–there is nothing practical about backpacking or whitewater rafting.

    • #53381 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      perdidochas — There are a lot of things that would attract boys to Scouting, but that doesn’t mean we should necessarily do them. It’s not all about helping membership… it’s about teaching values. Otherwise, we should just turn all our Scout camps into recreations of Pleasure Island from “Pinocchio” and we’d see membership grow!

    • #53428 Reply


      That logic, applied in extreme, would mean no basketry, pioneering, orienteering, water skiing … Scout camp is not about indoctrination. That’s what meetings are for.

      It’s about sampling other people’s ways of life. It doesn’t devolve into a Pleasure Island, because boys arrive with that discipline already instilled and staff provide qualified supervision. They might pick up a new hobby, it might be field sports. But the vast majority of scouts only engage in any optional activities at camp.

      One of those optional activities may be stopping an adult and discussing values. But you can be sure it won’t happen if they aren’t there in the first place.

    • #53430 Reply

      Walter T. Fisk

      Obviously everything is a balancing act. Every activity in Scouting has its positives and its negatives (I would hope the positives always outweigh the negatives). There are no activities in Scouting (or in life) that are 100% exciting and fun, 100% positive skill building, and 100% reinforcing every single Scout value completely and universally. There should be an awareness with everything we do.

      So an activity (whether it be knot tying, basketry, backpacking, fire building, swimming, or even shooting sports) may be a combination of fun (+), or really fun (+++), or teaches good values (+) or builds important skills (+).. or is boring (-), dangerous (-), wasteful (-), teach no skills or values (0), or even reinforce bad values (—). You have to look at the big picture.

      A silly campfire song might be fun (+2) but really teach nothing (+0), which is fine (+2 overall)… an inspiring and engaging campfire story might be fun (+2) and have a good moral (+2) which is great (+4 overall)… even a semi-boring story may teach something (+2) but not really excite a crowd (+0), which is also still fine (+2 overall)… but although a dirty joke could be lots of fun (+4) it teaches bad values (-8) and isn’t a good choice (a -4 overall).

      Now I’m not necessarily saying shooting sports are a net zero or even an overall negative… but there certainly are activities that rank higher on the fun/values scale.

      I look at my local Scout camp. They have 10+ program centers (aquatics, Scoutcraft, shooting sports, nature, etc). If I had to drop one from the line-up, shooting sports would be towards to top of my list. While it is fun, and it does teach some skills… it is not an essential part of the Scouting program and there are plenty of higher-ranking alternatives that provide equal (or greater) amounts of fun, fitness, citizenship, excitement, character, skills, safety, stewardship, kindness, survival, sustainability, thrift and values in much more efficient, exciting, economic, engaging, eclectic, and expansive ways.

    • #53592 Reply



      There are a lot of values that can be taught with the shooting sports–discipline, perseverence, attention to detail, patience, etc. Yes, we shouldn’t do things just for the pleasure aspect, but on the other hand, if scouting isn’t fun, we aren’t going to have interested youth or adults. I think shooting is a very positive and fun activity for the boys (as is backpacking, pioneering, orienteering, and white water rafting).

    • #53535 Reply


      Thanks for the clarification.
      I like your rubric, it would be nice to find someone who could rate those categories objectively! 😉

      I think we can get a sense of where things fall on overall importance based on the number of required merit badges that an area offers. In field sports, that would be zero. That makes sense, kids can be fully prepared to face most anything that life has to throw at them without gaining that sense of marksmanship. (I certainly didn’t gain it in anything but archery until I was an adult.) So, other areas are really important for a kid to visit simply because in doing so they will more likely forestall death, or better tend to their environment, or improve health, etc … thus, if they have sites on Eagle, they will rightly be drawn to them.

      But, we’re not catering to average boys, most days. Most come hungry to experience everything life offers. I don’t take my kids shooting, but their buddy’s and cousins’ parents often do. So, they might want an inkling of how they might “measure up”. They might want to be conversant in it. I certainly want them to be able to identify a firearm … especially one being managed unsafely … and effectively take action to rectify that. (Actually happened to one of my venturers … who spared his school a violent shooting.) For some boys, that itch will grow year-round. The question then becomes, “How do we scratch it?”

      Frankly, my kids having the opportunity to learn firearms through scouting probably did me and my family a service. Otherwise, I would have probably gone through more expense and provided less qualified supervision to teach them something that wouldn’t have been a hobby … and in doing so, probably would have resulted in neglected firearms lying around my house.

      So, although I wouldn’t put it at the top of the scale, I wouldn’t hack it in the face of budget cuts either. I think the preponderance of Americans would agree.

  • #60634 Reply

  • #66660 Reply


    A lot of the more unfortunate parts of this thread on both sides of the “gun issue” could have been avoided if people had just stuck to the scope of the OP. She just wanted to know if the child could advance without shooting BB guns. She expressly said she wasn’t interested in the rest of it, and yet that’s what she got.

    A good way to drive off a new voice.

    Oh, and Sylvia Raison, it’s a logical fallacy to appeal to authority. As a physician, you should be educated enough to know that. Your status as physician is also irrelevant to the question you pose.

  • #66767 Reply


    This reminds me of the adage “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    Sylvia asked her question and received her answer, in spades. She asked not to hear various opinions on the subject and was ignored.

    I will add that those who are able to live comfortably without relying on hunting or fishing to provide a steady source of food should refrain from commenting on the merit of those activities. Otherwise you bring up the another adage “It is better to be thought a fool and remain silent, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

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