At the progressive New Brunswick High School students are taught how to handle a rifle.
By G. E. Lintern
The American Rifleman magazine, March 1953
There are many high schools with rifle clubs and rifle teams, but the New Brunswick High School, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, conducts a regular course in rifle shooting. Forty-eight boys are enrolled in the course, a non-credit elective for senior boys. The course is conducted in the same manner as one in any other subject, such as a language, history, or mathematics. For their work in the course, students are marked pass or fail on their report cards and the mark is entered on their permanent record sheets.
The rifle training course at New Brunswick High School developed from a rifle club shortly after the war. J. Adam Frisch, a member of the New Brunswick Board of Education, and some members of the faculty felt that it would be a good thing to teach school-age boys and girls how to handle a rifle. Most of the male members of the New Brunswick faculty were ex-servicemen who would have been grateful if they had known more about a rifle and shooting before they had gone into service. Parents and students, when asked for their opinions on the proposed training in rifle shooting, were enthusiastic about the idea, and a club was organized at the school.
The Board of Education of New Brunswick decided to go ahead with the plan to organize the club for rifle training in the High School. A standard 50-foot range was constructed in the sub-basement of the school. It is now completely equipped with return carriers, range officer's desk, and shooting mats. Behind the range some space was made into a class room with desks. That space can be used for observers, when there are exhibitions. There is an arms locker where rifles, targets, and other equipment are stored. The Board of Education provides four Mossberg Model 144 rifles for use in the course and all ammunition.
There were discussions about what to do to enlarge the club so that more youngsters might be taught to shoot. It was decided to conduct a course in rifle shooting during school hours.
The course was to be offered to boys. Seniors were to be given first opportunity to enroll, inasmuch as most of the boys would be going into service soon after graduation. It was felt that the results would be worthwhile.
At present, the New Brunswick High School conducts three rifle training classes during school hours and the rifle club is still active, with a membership of both boys and girls. The boys whose schedules do not permit them to enroll in a rifle class during school hours are encouraged to shoot with the club. There is also a club for senior girls.
The course is given by instructors Clinton W. Compher, Carman Raciti, and G. E. Lintern, all of whom are ex-servicemen rifle instructors.
The content of the course is divided into the following:
a) Safety and range discipline
c) Firing positions
f) Intra-mural competition
As a text for the course New Brunswick is using the manual "The Guidebook to Rifle Marksmanship", prepared by the National Rifle Association, furnished by O. F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. The AMERICAN RIFLEMAN and other publications supplement the manual.
The rifle training course runs for two semesters. However, if a boy's schedule is such that he can attend for only one semester, he takes the one semester, and at the end of it, another boy who can attend for only one semester takes his place. Mr. R. C. Carlson, the principal of New Brunswick High School, does his best to arrange schedules so that boys who want to take the course in rifle shooting have the opportunity.
During the course a record is kept of each student's scores. Toward the end of the year the students in the course hold round-robin and team competition. Each class and each club forms a team and these teams compete for the school championship. At the end of the school year the championship team and the highest individual have been established.
The entire school is keenly interested in these rifle shooting contests. So far New Brunswick has not attempted to develop rifle teams for outside competition, although the formation of such a team is being considered. The primary purpose of the rifle shooting course is to give instruction to the greatest number of students. In the event a rifle team is formed to shoot outside contests, it will probably be made up from students of the regular classes.
New Brunswick shooters have a game they use for practice in rapid fire. The students love it. They set up six lighted candles. Then they put three students on the firing line, each with a magazine containing five cartridges and with five extra cartridges also. The object is to see who can put out the most candles. The rules are these. On command they start firing. Each student must put out his own candle first. After he has snuffed out his own candle, he may shoot at another boy's candle. If he puts the second boy's candle out, before the second boy does, then the second boy drops out. Any shooter who hits the candle itself must drop out. Also, after a shooter has emptied his magazine, he may use his extra cartridges but they have to be loaded and fired as single shots. This game is fun and it gives good training. Each boy fires against two others and he learns to fire rapidly and coolly under pressure.
New Brunswick High School officials feel that the results of the rifle, training course are worthwhile. Servicemen on leave who drop in at school think that the facilities should be enlarged. Ex-students who are now in service tell school officials the course in rifle shooting made things a lot easier in basic or boot camp.
School officials feel that the boys and girls, whether or not they go into service, get training in self-discipline and safety from the course in rifle shooting that is invaluable, and they all learn the fun there is in shooting as a sport.