Dispatch from America’s Heartland—shooting guns as a character building competitive school sport

Mar 27, 2018

Coach Tim O'Connor teaches firearms safety at Heartland Public Shooting Range's Sporting Clays Range in Grand Island, Nebraska
Credit Thomas Wilmer

I spent some time at the Heartland Public Shooting Park, located on the outskirts of Grand Island, Nebraska to visit with Tim O’Connor, a shooting-sport coach at the local Catholic high school. 

O'Connor shares examples of how competitive shooting sports teach students critical life lessons, to not only challenge themselves to achieve more, but to work as a team. Firearms safety is an essential ongoing part of the program.

The culture of the shooting sports, and hunting, remains firmly imbedded in the cultural fabric of the American Heartland.

Tim O'Connor supervises a student at Heartland Public Shooting Range in Grand Island, Nebraska
Credit Thomas Wilmer

There’s a dramatic difference between the urban dweller in Miami, Florida or Phoenix, Arizona who struts their stuff by packing a pistol whenever they head out to grab a bite to eat at the local McDonald’s than the folks in Nebraska where hunting is a multi-generational part of the cultural fabric. The gun culture is also a part of the lives of those who don’t hunt but simply love to engage in shooting at targets as a competitive sport.

Tim O'Connor shooting sport coach at Heartland Public Shooting Range in Grand Island, Nebraska
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at the Heartland Public Shooting Park, located on the outskirts of Grand Island, Nebraska for a visit with Tim O’Connor at the Sporting Clays Range, followed by a visit with Todd McCoy, and the range safety-officer at the rifle range.

Target practice with 22. rifle at Heartland Public Shooting Range in Grand Island, Nebraska
Credit Thomas Wilmer
Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer NPR One, Apple Podcast album art
Credit Kornreich Design, San Luis Obispo California

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR Podcast travel show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer via: 

Apple Podcast

NPR.ORG Podcast Directory

NPR One (APP)

Stitcher.com

Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer

Culture Editor @360magazine

Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer winner of the Lowell Thomas Award 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013
Credit SATW Foundation