In 1932, the Cos Cob Revolver and Rifle Club (CCRRC) was founded in Greenwich, CT, by a group of shooting enthusiasts seeking a place to share their sport and pass on the shooting traditions to the next generation. Shortly after their founding the club began the Junior Program, designed to guide youngsters into adulthood, using marksmanship training as a way to instill the values of respect, discipline, self-control and pride.
Last year, the club shared the sport of smallbore with over 100 boys and girls, some of which were handling a rifle for the first time in their life. Of those, more than 90 percent of them signed up to be junior NRA members.
Drawing kids from Westchester and Fairfield County, CCRRC is introducing marksmanship to a new generation―and their parents, many of whom are not gun owners.
The club’s location is nestled between Interstate 95 and the commuter rail lines, so not to startle the residents of the affluent Town of Greenwich, with its mix of office complexes, Victorian homes and multi-million dollar mansions on the shore of the Long Island Sound, just 45 minutes from Manhattan.
The current club’s building was constructed just south of downtown Greenwich in 1966, after moving from nearby Cos Cob. The facility comprises a 12-point, 50 foot range with electronic carrier system, plus a separate ready room with kitchenette, couches and a flat screen TV.
Each Friday night starting at 6:30 pm, a crew of a dozen adult volunteers prepare the club for the night’s junior activity. The club has an inventory of 40 rifles, all .22LR, ranging from small CZ 452 Scouts for the smaller shooters, to the full-sized Anschutz 1903 for the older kids. Recently they added five air rifles (Anschutz 8001 and Feinwerkbau) to expose the shooters to college and Olympic level competitions at 10 meters. On a busy night, the club will run four relays of 12 shooters; typically, a student will be able to shoot two relays of 35 minutes each.
The volunteers are separated into Range Officers, coaches, and administrators (paperwork and scoring), all of which have passed the NRA rifle and pistol class and several of them advanced coaching credentials. The juniors are first counseled on gun safety and then given one-on-one instruction in the prone position shooting a beginner .22LR target at 50 feet. After they master that, they are moved up to the standard NRA A-17 50-foot rifle target with one sighter bull and 10 targets. The sheet is divided into two for scoring, with each half offering a perfect score of 50.
The club follows the NRA Marksmanship Program whereby the shooters shoot a minimal score in each of the four positions (prone, sitting, kneeling and standing). Upon achieving the minimum score (20/50 for the entry level Pro Marksman) 10 times, they are immediately printed out a NRA Marksmanship Certificate plus a patch and medal. Each week they work on increasing their scores and achieving the next level. Along the way they are coached and positions improved, sometimes with the help of guest coaches from other clubs and teams. After years of perfecting their craft, they work on the Distinguished Expert Rating, a demanding achievement requiring placing two shots of nine or better in each of five bulls. One missed shot and they start again from scratch. For the medal to be awarded, this goal has to be achieved in each of the four positions.
The juniors can start at age 10 and many continue to return on breaks during college. The fee for the entire school season is just $10. The club pays for all supplies (NRA rifle rule book, .22LR ammo, ear protection, safety eyeglasses, and the use of target rifles, shooting jackets, slings, kneeling pads and targets). Additionally, the club paid for NRA junior membership for the 90 juniors that opted for it last year, plus all competition fees when traveling. The Junior Program’s 2016 budget is $28,000―burning through more than 60,000 rounds of .22LR a year.
So how do they do it? Each year in May, the club holds a Junior Auction to support the kids. There are food and drinks, games of chance, and both silent and live auctions. Furthermore, each year at renewal time, many of the 800 members gift funds that are earmarked just for the juniors.
The entry-level shooters are encouraged to compete in the state’s prone matches, honing their skills and getting accustomed to the thrills of competition. As their skills increase, and they are proficient in three positions, they are eligible to compete in the travel team’s matches. Last year, the team competed at a dozen matches at the U.S. West Point Military Academy, the Junior Olympic State Qualifiers at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In addition, the team goes to Connecticut State matches and the Nutmeg Games.
This year, four CCRRC shooters earned the Distinguished Expert rating, the highest ranking issued by the NRA/Winchester Qualification Program―an endeavor that usually takes years to accomplish, and an achievement that most never complete.
In 2016, for the second time in their 60-year-plus history as a junior activity, two of CCRRC shooters earned an invitation to the U.S. Olympic Junior Competitions this past April in Colorado Springs. One of them earned the silver medal. That same shooter earned first place at the Canadian National Junior Smallbore Competition. Another young CCRRC shooter recently earned a spot on the U.S. Randle Team after an impressive showing at the NRA National Matches.
With hard work and a little luck, they may have a Cos Cob Junior Member on the 2020 Olympic rifle team―keep them in your sights.