Homepage Forums General Scouting Shooting sports regulations continue to be a nightmare!

This topic contains 10 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Jeff Adamson 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #57275 Reply


    Many units are doing best effort when it comes to shooting events. I’m not here to nail them to the wall, or justify violations of any of the many regulations on shooting sports.

    I’m not here to trash the national shooting sports committee.

    I would like some sanity and uniformity to be applied. And maybe make those scoutmasters earn those big paychecks by allowing them to use this thing called discretion.

    Boy Scouts can’t shoot pistols, unless an entire litany of nearly unobtainable conditions are met. Venture Crewmen/women and Sea Scouts have a more reasonable set of conditions, not unlike, but slightly less restrictive than Boy Scouts. A boy Scout is a male, 11-17 years of age. A Sea Scout can be a male or female, 14-21, and a Venture Crewperson can be a male or female 14-20. Is it then the minimum age of 14 that differentiates? Venture Crew and Sea Scouts may fire guns in other than the .22 calibre class to which boy scouts are restricted.

    Submitted for your consideration… A 14 Star scout (male obviously), 5’7″ tall, and 150 lbs of lean muscle versus a 14 year old 5’0″ 102 lb female Venture Crewman. No pistol for Star Scout (without nearly unobtainable supervision requirements), yet Venture girl can fire a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull (a ridiculously small and ridiculously powerful handgun which even a US Army Ranger might find too much), with supervision other than an NRA certified RSO and NRA certified Pistol Instructor.

    Rifle Shooting has similar inequitable restrictions. The Boy Scout, regardless of age, size, weight, maturity, etc. can only fire .22 calibre rimfire. Venture Crew girl can shoot a .460 Weatherby (elephant gun for you non-gun types). The only thing keeping our Venture Crew young lady from doing something as foolish and dangerous is the discretion of the NRA instructor/RSO and adult Crew advisor.

    The only difference I can see across the various type of Scouts is that Boy Scouts consists of boys younger than 14. Is age the primary concern? One of my 11 year old scouts handled and shot a shotgun better than a few adults.

    Can we all agree there is no correlation between age, rank, height, weight, gender, and maturity? But, if we must have a dividing line, can we make it age for all scouts? 14 gets a Boy Scout, Sea Scout, Venture Crew scout the right to shoot rifle/shotgun/pistol with NRA certified instructors and RSOs, at the discretion of the Crew advisor/Scoutmaster? Younger Boy Scouts stick to .22 rimfire, bb or .177 pellet rifles and 12 or 20 gauge shotguns? Again, with NRA certified supervision, and at the discretion of the scoutmaster/crew advisor.

    We’ve probably all heard that an elephant is simply a mouse designed by a committee. Our shooting sports program is so complex and convoluted that units wind up ignoring the regulations out of desperation. There is no authoritative source for running a shoot (shooting sports guide is only one of many documents covering shooting).

    What if we surrendered to the NRA when it comes to firearms? The NRA has a shooting program to cover any age of young person. There really isn’t anything BSA needs which NRA doesn’t already address. We have these people called National Camping School shooting sports directors. I want to add that cert to my NRA rifle/shotgun instructor and RSO certs. When is the next class? Where can I take it? I see one a state away on the calendar (Why do I live in VA, with the NRA HQ, and not have a class in VA). Why do we have this certification when there is no easy way for a scouter to take it. And why to we need a camping school director cert to teach a pistol class? Will I get anything out of it the NRA won’t teach me? How do I ask adults who already donate their vacation time to summer camp, etc. to spend another week and many dollars to go to this special camp, when the NRA has all the classes we need (and held on weekends)?

    In summary, why can’t we review the mission statement and program objectives of the BSA shooting sports program? Let’s simplify and streamline the programs so they are uniform across the board. Let’s have one group of certs – if NRA is good enough for rifle and shotgun at the troop level, why isn’t it good enough for pistol at the troop level? If we feel like we need age based restrictions, let’s make them and move on. And let’s make one guide with all the requirements in it.

  • #57283 Reply

    Linn Laage

    Well spoken / typed. I do not agree with your assessment of the 454 Casull or 460 Weatherby.

    For “killing” power, you forgot that Boy Scouts may shoot muzzleloading rifles less than 58 cal and not flintlocks. These rifles have killed many, many buffalo and grizzly bears not to mention any number of our fellow man.

    If you really want to be a shooting sports director go here -https://www.ncsbsa.org/resources/ncs/ – for the brochure. Check the calendar for dates and places too. Life is good when you have a Crew. Or are an Explorer.

  • #57319 Reply


    Ahhh, the good old days when my Webelos Den Leader took us outside and taught us to shoot his 38 special. 😀

    As far as I can tell, the pistol restrictions exist purely to give Venturers a niche. The typical reply from a scouting pro- would be, “Well, why don’t you start up a crew?”

    Now, I’m one to always suggest starting a crew, but for the fun and challenge of it and to meet a need in your community … not for Boy Scouts to get their hands on a Glock.

    Our council does offer the courses (sounds like we’re a little far north of you), as does a venturing crew I know of in MD (usually around President’s day). Unfortunately, that kind of dedication has not caught on nation wide.

    Our sportsman’s club has a youth program. They were going to sponsor a venturing crew, but I think when they saw the complexity of the paperwork, nobody wanted to manage it. Just as easy to have the RSO and Instructors dedicate one evening a week for any youth who want to master any firearm to stop in … ammo on the club.

  • #57341 Reply


    We happen to be chartered by a gun club… oops… a “wildlife protective association”. Shooting is a major event for our Troop & Crew, and as a lifelong shooter and “enthusiast” (code word for a guy with LOTS and LOTS of guns), I agree with you that there is NO correlation between “age” and “ability”.

    That said, when you’re running an organization that has 2.7 MILLION boys of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, there has to be SOME effort to separate those who “can” from those who “can’t” or more correctly said, “SHOULDN’T”.

    I have 12 year olds who are built like spider monkeys, and 12 year olds who play linebacker. The best we have are GUIDELINES.

    My advice is EMBRACE the shooting sports offered through the BSA and then if there are youth who are interested in additional shooting, do it OUTSIDE of Scouting.

    As a “club member” I take boys to the gun range all the time and they shoot AK-47s and M-1 Garands. I almost had some join me to shoot machine guns at a friend’s farm. But in those instances I GET TO CHOOSE who is physically fit to handle big recoil or not. I hear what you’re saying…. but I like it this way. I trust ME more than I trust a “committee”.

  • #57873 Reply


    Submitted for your consideration… A 14 Star scout (male obviously), 5’7″ tall, and 150 lbs of lean muscle versus a 14 year old 5’0″ 102 lb female Venture Crewman. No pistol for Star Scout (without nearly unobtainable supervision requirements), yet Venture girl can fire a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull (a ridiculously small and ridiculously powerful handgun which even a US Army Ranger might find too much), with supervision other than an NRA certified RSO and NRA certified Pistol Instructor.

    It isn’t all about size/age/strength/gender. It’s about the program they are engaged in.

    Simply put: Ventuerers can (and should) do things that Boy Scouts can’t. Even if the Ventuerer is younger, weaker, shorter, or otherwise “inferior” than a Boy Scout (or the Boy Scout is older, stronger, taller, or otherwise “superior”) — they are in different programs, they do different things. There are things “Johhny” can do with his crew in a green shirt, that he can’t do with his troop in a tan shirt.

    I’ve had weak, inexperienced first-year Boy Scouts shooting rifle at the age of 10-years-and-2-months old… and I’ve had older (10-years-and-8-months), stronger and gun-experienced Webelos who are older (10-year-and-8-month old) who are told they have to stick to BBs. Different programs. Different rules.

    • #57881 Reply


      Simply put: Ventuerers can (and should) do things that Boy Scouts can’t.

      As an ASM an crew advisor who has gone through multiple training sessions (and learned to shoot handguns from a responsible scout leader at a very young age) and brought up dozens of youth, this just doesn’t feel true. There is nothing about a tan uniform with a Venture Patrol (or, in my Leadership Corp) patch that would lead me to conclude that the boy inside it should be more limited or less responsible than when he is in a green uniform.

      What it really sounds like is “We need venturers to do things that Boy Scouts don’t to 1) attract boy’s from troops to be seed members for crews 2) help non-boy scouts (mostly young women) feel special so they won’t rue waiting so long to hike and camp, being denied official recognition as first class scouts should they come to behave like one, and – consequently – being excluded from O/A.”

      It doesn’t take long for my venturers to see through that veneer.
      Don’t get me wrong, venturers should be distinctive … but that distinction comes from engaging those who missed out on scouting in middle school and doing something special — not necessarily exclusive — together.

  • #57953 Reply


    Interesting points of view.

    Frankly, I see 3 reasons for Venturing and Sea Scouts.
    1. BSA caving to political pressure to include females.
    2. Something new to get away from the Peter Pans stuck in the rut of “the way we did it when I was a scout”.
    3. To give the 14+ year old boys something to do besides tie knots, start fires, and go on yet another hike.

    Back to the point, the color shirt a 14 year old wears has nothing to do with skill level, maturity level, size or strength. A boy scout should not have to consider leaving Boy Scouts to do more challenging activities. A rule for one should be a rule for all.

    • #57964 Reply


      That’s not far off. Here how I’d rephrase a couple of those:
      1. Meeting a cultural need for some boys and girls to scout together. I don’t call it political pressure, because in spite of venturing, the political pressure remains.
      2. Actually, my scouts get to be advised the way my scoutmaster advised me and my buddies. Joining the crew gets a venturer very much doing it “the way I did it when I was a scout.”
      3. I wish my 14+ year olds would get bored with fire!

      Venturers do want to be different. The one’s I know want respect. But they don’t really want “special privilege.”

    • #58234 Reply


      The point I was making above, which I feel I need to repeat, is what you guys are touching on here. In a “tan shirt”, you’re talking about boys as young as 11 years of age who MUST BE INCLUDED in activities along with other boys in the Troop.

      However, as a Venturing/Venture Patrol Scout, he’s at least 14 years old and (generally) stronger and more mature. Handling a pistol is much different than a long rifle. Example, a shooter who absentmindedly “turns” to ask the RSO a question with a long rifle is much easier to SEE and BLOCK (by grabbing the barrel, etc) and keeping the firearm pointed down range, than one who may turn with a 9″ long pistol. (I actually had this happen at a Winter Rendezvous with a girl who SWORE she had shot before, repeated & said she understood ALL my range rules, and then TURNED AROUND after her 2nd shot). They’re KIDS and sometimes they’re stupid! (is that a “bad word”???) If they WEREN’T, then we wouldn’t need to be there watching over them. Sometimes the rules help to protect US just as much as it does for THEM.

      To heck with “recoil”. By its very nature, handgun shooting requires a different level of awareness and control (by youth & RSO) that is MOST LIKELY achieved in older scouts. So I say again… be conscious of the fact that what we’re discussing is a “one size fits all” guideline that applies to 2 million boys.

      Shoot the .22 rifles/shotguns/black powder “as Boy Scouts”. If Johnny wants “more” then find a way to pursue it OUTSIDE of Scouting, or wait and give him something to look forward to when he’s of Venturing age.

  • #74714 Reply


    I totally agree that the rules for Venture Crew shooting handguns should be covered by NRA shooting rules. To include 14 – 15 year old males and females in shooting any caliber needs to be re-thought! Isn’t the idea to teach them good shooting rules and handling and then allow them to shoot the larger caliber guns when they have had some time on the range.

  • #180356 Reply

    Jeff Adamson

    I completely agree with you about the amount of restrictions the BSA has put on the shooting sports is excessive. It’s amazing how they expect their volunteers to spend to get trained just to help out on a range.

    The idea that a boy can shoot even a 20 gauge shot gun but not a .223 caliber center fire rifle or even slightly larger caliber center fire rifles. I can say it can’t be a recoil versus Boy size because even my 30-06 doesn’t have much more recoil than a single shot 20 gauge shotgun.

    You are fully correct that it seems that the BSA has taken all discretion out of the leaders hands. Not just on the shooting sports but almost everything. There is a rule and procedure for everything. Treating your leaders like they can’t think for themselves and must have all the same training is a good way to stifle new ideas and better ways of doing things.

    Just like I’m also an Appleseed instructor and having the Boys go to an Appleseed event for the shooting requirements of the Rifle Merit Badge would be a huge no, no because they aren’t run by NRA instructors and RSO’s. Although I have to say those boys would get way more shooting instruction and be better marksman’s after one. Which honestly is the general idea.

    As a side not I know a summer camp, that get’s around the .22LR only BSA requirements but signing up any boy over 14 that wants to shoot larger caliber guns, to their camp Venture program. Just a thought on ways around some of these rules. If your troop also had a Venture program you could take them out shooting bigger guns and use your own discretion as to who was able to shoot and who wasn’t.

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