My name is MaryFrancis Benning and I am the Adventure Sports Coordinator for The Heart. I grew up in the wilds of west Texas in El Paso. While I didn’t go to traditional summer camp, I did go to ranch camp where I learned how to shoot guns as well as bows and arrows, I learned how to rope, rock climb, and many other things. This is going to be my third summer at The Heart and I’m excited to resume my post as Riflery Coordinator. As such, it is my job to run a safe range, help campers move through the ranks of marksmanship, and to make sure that all the counselors involved in the riflery program are well trained and adept at instructing our campers through every stage of their riflery experience.
Our counselors go through a certification course that is put on through the National Rifle Association. They are trained both on the riflery range as well as in a lecture setting and each counselor must take and pass an exam at the end of their training in order to be certified to teach. Once our counselors have been assigned the classes they will teach for the term, I meet with all of them and go over our best practices in regards to teaching our campers. I also walk them through how things on the range are organized and the specific vocabulary we use on the range. I’m sure you’re wondering how campers advance through riflery, well let me tell you. Each camper is issued a riflery card on their first day of class.
There are four categories that each camper must become proficient at in order to begin working on their master level. The four categories are Prone Position, Kneeling Position, Sitting Position, and Standing Position. Within each category, each camper must proceed through three to six levels of increasing difficulty to prove mastery of shooting from that position.
While simply shooting day in and day out can become repetitive, we do everything we can to make it fun and engaging. This past summer we began something called Top Shot. It is modeled on the TV show Top Shot on the History Channel. For two days our campers perform trick shots to help increase their marksmanship scores. They have to shoot anything from clothes pins and playing cards to tennis balls hung in trees from string. On the last day of class our campers get to participate in their favorite camp tradition, shooting their nametags. It is a camp tradition that they look forward to all term!
Riflery is such a wonderful class at Heart O’ the Hills. It allows the girls to try something different and expand their horizons by learning new skills and techniques! I am grateful to be part of something special and enriching at The Heart; it helps me know that what I do makes a difference.
Thank you for letting me be part of your girls’ lives and teaching riflery at The Heart! <3