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Seamans/My Turn: Let’s bring riflery back to Apex

A visitor recently at the Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility stepped up to ask, “Are you Paul Seamans?” More than 60 years ago when I was instructor on the Camp Apex rifle range, I saw that this boy had a left-handed hold on a right-handed target rifle, an unworkable arrangement.

In his “prone position,” I turned him around and set things aright. Once this boy had sights and bull’s eye in line, he shot qualifying target scores. Thanks expressed, we shook hands and carried off happy summertime memories.

Planners of the Greenfield Camp Apex wanted a shooting program to complement their swimming, archery and handcrafts curriculum. Planners in 1950 were sensitive to the need for safety. They hired an experienced much-qualified man to run the range.

The Greenfield Y’s men built a rifle shed well off the Apex campus. Bolted 4x4 rests, and bought five heavyweight target rifles — too heavy to carry off, and we were ready for our shooters.

Under the guidance of the National Rifle Association, summer camps get targets and diplomas to distinguish qualified shooters. It’s worth a note here that Jenny Boissy, at that time a camper/counselor, won the “Distinguished Expert” diploma, a rare and unique target qualification.

It has not always been smooth sailing. A concerned mother came to protest: “You aren’t going to show my son how to shoot things!”

In the course of one Parents’ Night, two men came to our rifle range to hear what the instructor had to say. It was evident by two unhappy faces that they weren’t expecting much.

When our parents’ meetings were complete, the men got up to leave our range and go back to the campus. They hadn’t gone far before they returned. They shook their children’s instructor’s hands, expressed pleasure in their visit — and went home happy.

In the years 1950 to 1990, many county children took riflery lessons at summer YMCA Camp Apex. Our Recorder has never had to print something about an Apex shooter in trouble with firearms. First and foremost our camp’s stress was on firearms safety.

Our Greenfield YMCA should consider reinstating its summer firearms program. The “Y” has a chance to do something at this time when communities resort to “hand wringing” as the only response to senseless trigger-pulling.

Camp Apex has a first-class 50-foot range and shooting shed. The “Y” would have to scramble to hire a first-rate instructor. Said & Done would be glad to contribute target rifles.

Seamans is a retired elementary school principal who is an avid outdoorsman. He writes the Said and Done column for The Recorder.

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