Monday, July 26, 2010

It Ain't Easy

I read an article today on the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance website (featured below) on how you can go about getting youth involved in shooting sports as well as the outdoors.  I agree with everything Mr. Rollins says, but unfortunately it isn't as easy as sitting a kid in front of the tv and having them be endlessly entertained.  And if they do get bored with it, then they turn to an array of other electronic devices: iPod, iPhone, Xbox, Wii, NintendoDS, the list goes on and on. 

When I was a kid, we were forced to play outside.  Unless we wanted to sit in a chair and not make a peep all day long.  Even if our parents wouldn't have forced us outside, I'm sure that's where we would've ended up anyway.  There was always something fun to do outside, summer or winter.  We ran around, went sledding, built forts out of hay or snow, rode bikes, played games (and I mean the kind of games were you have to run and capture a flag, or catch a ball, not the kind you sit down with a controller in one hand and a twinkie in the other), even fired endless rounds from a BB gun.  We had FUN.  And even got some exercise along the way.  Sure, we had the original Nintendo console, and we loved to play on it. But that usually came after we were worn out from a full day of running around outside and doing chores.

I look back and fondly remember those days.  I want my child to have these same memories. 

One gun range in our area has an NRA Youth Camp every year.  This year it is August 5-8th.  If you'd like to sign your child up, go to Darnall's Gun Works and Ranges.  Once Monkey is old enough, she will be there!

It Ain’t Easy!

By Gary Rollins

How do we most effectively go about introducing a young person – boy or girl – to the indescribable wonders of the great outdoors?
It ain’t easy.

These days, we are competing with the omnipresent TV screen offering up who knows what kind of programming to capture and hold hostage the imagination of young people everywhere. And if the programming is just slightly south of “interesting” or even boring, kids can grab the video game controller and shoot the daylights out of hypersonic spacecraft or even ducks. How can we break through? How can we even begin to forge even the smallest beginning of a legitimate interest in what’s going on in the great outdoors?

It’s truly a challenge. It ain’t easy.

But, once you’ve hooked a youngster on the magic they can experience for themselves – up close and personal – it’s easier to take the next evolutionary step.

I wish I could tell you I have far more answers than you have questions, but what I can tell you is this: involving young people in outdoor activities we have all come to appreciate and enjoy is a noble mission.

Allow me to share one of the basic selling tools that might just turn the trick if and when you have the chance to preach the gospel of the great outdoors to a youngster.

The premise is, you usually close on a sale after you’ve overcome three objections. Typically, a “prospect” needs to identify just what it is that is standing in the way of taking that first step.

Let’s say a kid is mildly interested, but maybe he is shy. Tell him he can bring a pal along for the experience.

Next, let’s say the idea of getting out into the field early is not that appealing to a fellow who loves to sleep late. Try going out early in the afternoon when there will still be lots to see and do.

Finally, maybe the kid has a single-parent mom who is wary of outdoor activities. What a great chance to meet with her personally and – if she is up for it – invite her to come along and see for herself.

Okay. That’s an overly simplified example, but I think you can get my drift. Be sure to take a camera along to record whatever it is that happens when you can successfully draft a convert into our own deep-seated appreciation for Mother Nature and all she has to offer.

The closer you look, the more there is to see and be seen.

Who knows? That “first time experience” might end up being an event that is treasured forever.

Hopefully, you’ll be successful and have an opportunity to recruit a young person who will embrace the same beliefs we all endorse and want to share it with others.

It’s certainly worth the time and effort.

But, as I said at the beginning, it ain’t easy.

Gary is a U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Local Field Director residing in La Veta, Colorado and an outdoors editor for the Huerfano World Journal.

Gary has an extensive background in public relations work and advertising including thirteen years with a major advertising agency managing and developing with major clients, including Exxon, Gillette, Texas Tourist Development Agency and Pacific Northwest Bell. Duties included functioning as speechwriter for Governor John Connally (Texas Tourism), Governor Nelson Rockefeller (Presidential and New York Gubernatorial Campaigns).

If interested in joining Gary and others in helping the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance as a Local Field Director, please contact Frank Price in our national headquarters at 614-888-4868.

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