In January 2015, the American Legion Post 104 in Sevierville announced the beginning of a new program under one of the Four Pillars of the American Legion, Americanism. This is the Youth Air Rifle Shooting Safety Program / Junior Shooting Program.
Lester Piniak, Commander Post 104, says the training course is the first for the American Legion, not only in Sevierville, but also in the State of Tennessee. The Shooting Safety Program is part of the American Legion’s nationwide “Junior Shooting” program. Piniak said, “The American Legion has been doing this since 1920 but this year, it is taking on added importance. There are so many important things happening in the world today that will shape how we live our lives tomorrow.” And it’s opening doors to higher education for the students of Sevier County through possible college scholarships.
“Under the provision of The American Legion’s federal charter, we are encouraged to establish youth programs,” Piniak said. “But, the American Legion can use its volunteer resources and facilities to encourage eligible students to seek this new avenue to a higher education. After all, it is a citizen’s duty and responsibility.”
Thank you to our sponsors, FOB Lodge 31 and FOB Ladies Auxiliary 31, NRA and Friends of the NRA and Pigeon River Long Beards Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation for their generous donations which enabled Post 104 to be successful in obtaining material and supplies to conduct this training program.
Students for the first classes were from the Sevier County Boys and Girls Club, King’s Academy and Sevier County area.
Following several hours of classroom training, the students performed firing 20 rounds of firearm familiarity prior to firing the qualifying 10 rounds. Upon completion, 12 students, 4 of which were female, graduated to the American Legion Junior Shooting Program, which will commence in the fall of 2015.
This program is open to male and female students. The students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and be between the ages of 12 to 16 for application to the program. They will attend a certified gun safety course; learn gun safety and range safety rules. The students also learn Marksmanship through: sight picture, shooting positions, grip and breathing, receive range time and be entered in shooting tournaments.