My first few blogs will start with the league motto of Safety, Fun, and Marksmanship in that order. When I first read that I was blown away at how simple yet meaningful those words can be as it pertains to youth athletes. Shooting sports are unique in the fact that they rely very heavily on safety procedures and yet as the seasons and years roll on we find ourselves practicing safety almost second nature. The league does an excellent job of addressing safety up front by requiring ALL athletes to complete a firearms safety course but we as coaches need to make sure we make safety a priority on and off the field. Here are a few things you can do as the Head Coach to make sure safety is being practiced at all times………………..
1. Implement a safety plan- generally your gun club already has one in place, adopt their plan and add to it as needed for your team.
2. Include the safety plan in the student handbook- athletes need to know up front what your expectations are regarding safety up front
3. Practice what you preach- your athletes will pick up more by watching you than by listening to what you say, always conduct yourself in a safe manner.
4. Praise for safe behavior- try and acknowledge athletes using safe behavior, use these athletes as examples for the entire team.
Unfortunately I have been alongside teams that were unsafe and it was amazing to have my athletes come up to me and point it out. Over time they begin to understand why safety is so important and that safety ultimately leads to FUN!