By Joe Beck
The pop, pop, pop of handguns and rifles fired by teenaged Boy Scouts learning how to shoot echoed through the shooting range at Golden Seal Enterprises in Winchester on Friday.
Cartridges sprang from the chambers, the spent casings flying through the air and rolling around on the floor as the Scouts fired away at silhouetted targets. The guns placed on four tables before them - an M4 carbine, an AK-47 rifle, a 9mm Glock pistol and a .38-caliber revolver - are among the models that have been flashpoints in the emotional debate about gun safety and ownership in Congress.
Political tension seemed to be far from the minds of Scouts Joshua Grady, 15, of Manassas Park, and Bryan Terrazas, 13, of Purcellville, as they inspected holes left in the targets with shooting instructor Frank A. Phillips, who is also president and CEO of Golden Seal.
The firm's website describes its services as security assessments, training, and personal protective services.
"You guys didn't do badly," Phillips told his students.
Terrazas beamed. "That was really cool," he said when Phillips asked him whether he had enjoyed himself.
Grady added, "That was fun."
Phillips and other trainers conducted the shooting lesson for 48 members of the Shenandoah Area Council, which serves Scouts in nine counties. The students -- 42 adults and six younger than 18 -- attended orientation and safety classes before taking turns entering the Golden Seal shooting range in small groups.
All of the participants were leaders in the Venturing program that offers what organizers call "high adventure'' experiences such as shooting, sailing, cave exploration, rock climbing, wilderness survival and aviation. The program is designed for older Scouts, ages 14 through 20, and is open to boys and girls.
Chip Bennett, a Council Commissioner for the Shenandoah Area Council, directed Friday's shooting lesson and other activities scheduled at Golden Seal over the weekend. He said he was pleased at the reaction he was getting from those who emerged from the firing range.
"There are a lot of smiles when they come out," Bennett said. "That's what we're trying for."
The day began in a soaking rain at the Scouts' Camp Rock Enon in Gore, where the participants left their gear, boarded vehicles and headed for Golden Seal on the other side of Winchester.
Before entering the shooting range, the students spent some time in the classroom learning the finer points of such concepts as "muzzle awareness."
Greg Beauvais, Golden Seal's director of trainer, said muzzle awareness covers safety practices such as never looking down the barrel of a gun.
"We're going to treat all firearms as loaded," Beauvais told the class.
Bennett said the goal of high adventure lessons such as shooting sports is to give Venturing program leaders ideas on activities they can organize and conduct with the help of experts in their community.
"These folks get charged up and go back to their own units and bring that experience with them," Bennett said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org