School club readies for its 2nd marksmanship expo for public

Skeet, silhouette, long distance, smallbore rifle, even cannon – these are just a few of the demonstrations that will be put on by experts at the Marksmanship Expo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Williamsport Area High School, 2990 W. Fourth St.

The expo is organized by student members of the Millionaire Marksmen Club.

Brian Soars, club adviser, rifle coach and metalworking teacher, said the expo not only showcases the club but brings together the community and the people who participate in shooting sports.

The Millionaire Marksmen Club has been around since 2008, and Soars said the student-run club’s mission is to help foster the development of marksmanship skills with a safe and structured environment.

Members are in ninth to 12th grades, and the club’s numbers vary from about 15 to 50 students.

The Marksmanship Expo is designed to introduce other students and the community to various kinds of shooting sports, Soars said.

“We really have had good support from the school board this entire time,” he said of the club and the event.

Soars said the event will bring in national- and state-ranked youth and adults, in hopes that youth attending can see what can be achieved in shooting sports.

Many exhibitors will demonstrate an array of shooting sports.

“It’s not a gun show. They are not here to sell their wares,” he said. “What we have done is try to think of every single shooting sport we could.”

There even will be tomahawk throwing and archery Even though it’s not a shooting sport, fly fishing also will be available.

“Pennsylvania has a somewhat unique history. Pennsylvania shooters usually are some of the best in the nation, by far,” Soars said. “Because it is so diverse in this area, we are fortunate that we have a very diverse assembly.”

Sportsmen clubs; period shooters such as those from the Civil and French and Indian wars; rifle leagues; cowboy action shooters; Boy Scouts, the Penn State University shooting club, along with shooting clubs from other area high schools have been invited to attend.

“The kids (in the club) will have two or three tables and all are going to bring their favorite hunting rifle,” Soars said.

He hopes that will show that the members have an element of “ownership” in the club. The students also will be able to help educate others who may have an interest in hunting or shooting sports.

“I have never seen another show like it,” Soars said. “I don’t know how unique it is, nationally, but from what I understand, I don’t think there is any school in the country … that is doing anything like this.”

The club

In a world where it seems students are immersed to technology, Soars said the school’s marksmanship club encourages them to get up off the couch and do something.

Because the club is student run, members are encouraged to make connections, explore their communities, engage with adults and set up shooting programs.

“A lot of what we do is leadership training,” he said.

He said some former members have graduated from the school and now have jobs but still participate in shooting sports.

“Some of them are coming back to help the younger crew come up,” he added.

“A lot of guys enjoy shooting sports and, in order for that to continue, we recognize that we need involved youth,” he said. “It helps that a kid have something else to do, something to strive for, and good role models and influences in their life.”

Students involved in the club build their own rifles, work with gunsmiths and go to the shooting range.

The expo is a segue for the club to bridge a gap in the community.

“We are looking for community involvement. I would like to see the shooting community who may have been previously disconnected with the school district to come here and say, ‘I didn’t know this club existed,’ ” Soars said.

The opportunity exists for older adults to mentor the youth.

“Kids love the activity. They just need that introduction, that connection,” Soars said. “They can come here and maybe they really like to do 100-yard shooting. There are probably guys that would take that kid under their wing.”

At the expo, the marksmanship-oriented sports representative’s table may have firearms at it. However, they are limited to types that are used in hunting or competition, according to school officials and the club.

Small-group instruction, hourly seminars and presentations will be available.

State laws will apply during the expo. Legal firearms will be permitted for demonstration, but no one may bring ammunition, powder primers or other ammunition components of any kind.

No one may carry concealed weapons on school property.