Assault-Rifle Camp for Kids, Courtesy of the American Military
A look at the Army’s annual marksmanship clinic for children aged 9 to 18
Kyle Holsclaw Jr. learned to shoot an AR-15 assault rifle competitively at the age of 16 while attending a clinic run by the U.S. Army.
“It was a fantastic experience,” said Holsclaw, an experienced competitive target shooter who said he had never learned to compete with the AR-15 before the seminar he attended in 2014. “I learned a tremendous amount about how to move with the gun.”
Holsclaw is among the children, aged 9 to 18, who come to an annual clinic run by the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia. The workshop—which will be held this year from October 21 to 23—focuses on practical shooting, a sport that simulates combat shooting conditions. The Army workshops highlight the growing popularity of assault rifles among civilians. Once reserved for soldiers, assault rifles like those used in the marksmanship clinic have been purchased by millions of private citizens.
As assault rifles have moved from armories to family homes, a subculture of sporting competitions that use these weapons has emerged. The Army clinics train children to compete in the hundreds of contests held around the country where participants wield assault rifles. But critics of practical shooting say the sport encourages violence and should not be taught to children—especially at a time when recent mass shootings have reignited debate over gun violence.