This month, at summer camp, some members of the Family Trivium household had several chances to try various shooting sports. Though we have already talked about the atlatl, the first shooting sport that we had a chance to try was rifle marksmanship.

We turned to Dictionary.com, where rifle is defined as “a shoulder firearm with spiral grooves cut in the inner surface of the gun barrel to give the bullet a rotatory motion and thus a more precise trajectory.” First used between 1745 and 1755, it comes from Low German “rīfeln” or “to grove.” Indeed, the rifle offered more precise shooting over the 50-Caliber muzzle loader that we tried later in the week, but that is an entirely different story.

Most of the groups at camp were Boy Scout troops, jump starting work on merit badges. As a youth, Mr. Family Trivium was a Boy Scout and earned quite a few merit badges at camp, though it was a different camp. Among them was Rifle Shooting. Despite years without practice, and having aging eyes, Mr. Family Trivium can still achieve the shooting qualifications for this merit badge badge: put five shots inside an area that can be covered with a Quarter Dollar and do it five times.

Perhaps they just have better rifles these days. Perhaps not. According to veteran Scout leaders, Rifle Shooting is one of the merit badges which Boy Scouts are most likely to not complete by the end of a week of camp, and it is usually the shooting qualification which holds them back. Some take the class two or three times before completion and some never finish. It seems that in Boy Scouts, while failure may not be encouraged, success isn’t guaranteed.


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