“This is fun!”  That’s how Rosie Delgado, one of GSL Defense Training’s new instructors, described her first time volunteering at one of the nation’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camps in Bloomington this past weekend.  

It was fun, not only for the kids but for the adults who volunteered to help the kids have fun with guns while doing so safely.  And learning a few things along the way.

And we had fun on the pistol line.  GSL Defense Training ran the handgun station as it’s done for the last six or seven years (discounting the COVID years).  As usual, we brought the fans, music, some centerfire guns and most importantly, fun!

Before COVID came along, the Darnall’s Youth Camp was a huge undertaking with typically 130-150 young people ages 8-16 participating.  And then there were another hundred plus adults volunteering to handle the logistics behind the scenes. 

And still more instructors and coaches to ensure the kids were safe while they learned new skills and had a great time.

This year, in its post-COVID debut, the camp shrunk to a single day with about 30 young people.  We still had a whole lot of fun as we helped lay the foundation for future shooting camp growth in the coming years.  After all, monster enrollments of 150 kids didn’t happen overnight.

Watching the young people gain self-empowerment and confidence shooting handguns gives me plenty of satisfaction.  Helping these kids learn a life-skill that might someday save their lives brings a big smile to my face.

Not only that, but we inculcated them with the fun and excitement of shooting sports.  They won’t grow up scared of and/or intimidated by guns.  Even ten-year-old kids saw they could handle center-fire handguns including 1911 .45s when they used good fundamentals in grip and stance.

Take that, Joe “Buy a shotgun” Biden!

This session marked the 26th year for the event and I’ve been there for most of those as an instructor on the pistol line.

We made sure these young men and women stayed safe while having fun and learning some life skills. 

As much as I love teaching manly-skills to young men (instilling toxic levels of masculinity), I love empowering women even more.  After all, while God made men and women, Sam Colt made them equal.


We make it fun for participants with lots of shade, fans, music and a great time for all. This year, we had more than a one-to-one instructor to participant ratio so the kids got lots of individual coaching and instruction.

And they did well. After an introduction and dry-firing (above), we had them shoot about 50 rounds in practice with instructors coaching all the while. Then they shot ten for score.

The top five shooters in each relay then got to shoot their choice of (mostly) center-fire “pistols.”  That kept the competitive spirit in high gear to get a chance to shoot the “big” guns.

Here are some additional photos from the pistol line.

2 thoughts on “Darnall’s NRA Youth Camp Returns to Bloomington after four-year COVID hiatus”
  1. BRAVO! Huge applause to all of those involved in this event, both shooters and instructors. This is what we need to see more of. Positive empowerment, excellent training, confidence building and teaching of valuable skills to our youth. Meanwhile, behind the walls of corrupt city and state government, they waste millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on meaningless, ineffective and downright stupid ploys to curb gang violence.

  2. I loved the “giggler” pistol setup. That Kel Tec .223 could double as a flamethrower.

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