Hattier donates rifles to Boy Scouts
Shooting is part of Donald G. Hattier’s fascination with American history. Moreover, target practice is a memory shared with his father, the retired Sgt. Donald D. Hattier, who enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 15.
“All of my children have been target shooting since age 7 or 8,” said Hattier, who, if needed, can entrust home defense to the youngest of his four children, now in high school.
Hattier and his father passed the tradition on to the Boy Scouts of America by donating funds for two rifles — specifically, bull-barrel aperture-sight target rifles — at Camp Henson.
Shooting is just one part of the traditional campground activities at Camp Henson, located on Maryland’s Nanticoke River, just west of Laurel.
Students learn the safe way to properly use a firearm, respecting the mechanism in their hands. If people are careful and deliberate when handling guns, they should never have an accident, said Chris Jensen, shooting-sports director.
Hattier said most shootings are caused by someone who just finds a gun unsecured and treats it like a toy.
At camp, accidents are prevented through Jensen’s discipline on the range and with the two-part trigger, ensuring the gun doesn’t fire unless specifically triggered. The gun is also a single-shot rifle. Users must deliberately load and unload every bullet.
“You don’t want them constantly shooting. That’s called ‘playing Rambo,’” Hattier said.
Rapid shooting makes accuracy suffer, Jensen said. Instead, the boys learn the proper mechanics, breathing and follow-through to help them hit that bulls-eye.
As with many sports, they key to target shooting is consistency and physical control.
After years of running into his campers in public, Jensen said he has realized how memorable the program is. More than one camper has “dragged” their parents over to meet the man who taught them how to shoot rifles, shotguns or bows.
Beginning at age 11, Boy Scouts can learn how to shoot. (Cubs only practice with BB guns and archery.) Shooting is one of about 130 badge options the boys can choose to earn. Camp Henson has scouts from Delmarva, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and more.
“When you go to Camp Henson, you are stepping into an America that does not exist” anymore, Jensen said.
Camp is fun and has learning experiences even for an adult, Hattier said. While he’s a doctor and a member of the local school board, Hattier said he was surprised to meet a tattooed man with a ponytail at camp — and find they have a lot of similar ideals.
“Sometimes [children] see what a good adult role model can be, and it’s worth every penny you can put into it.”
The Hattier family has previously donated to Camp Henson, which has a full shooting range.
Hattier is a committee member and quartermaster for his son’s troop, Troop 281 in Ocean View, one of many Boy Scout troops in Sussex County.