Kids, Competition & Guns in Federal Way: Training is Important to Character


A friend sent me an email asking whether he can bring his 10-year-old son to the Armed Defense Training Association event on May 3.

He and his son have been watching “Top Shot” since the show’s second season and have been cheering for Federal Way Police Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter this season.

I told my friend that the ADTA is still discussing ways for youth to get involved in actual shooting events. Meanwhile, we encourage parents to bring kids of all ages to hear our local “Top Shot” contestant talk about his experience on the popular History Channel program.

I expect that some members of the community will object to the idea of even talking to kids about guns. Movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Star Wars” deal with violent conflict.

But there is a difference in the minds of many of us. Maybe the difference is that bow and arrow, swords and light sabers have a certain mythical quality?

On the other hand, firearms are a hard reality on the streets of our cities and even in our schools. The fact that many people only see guns in movies is another factor that might cause many soccer moms to say “I don’t want my kids learning about guns.” Many action movies feature more blood and gore than most combat veterans see during their tours of duty.

As one school principal in Federal Way stated to me, “We don’t want to send the wrong message to our kids”. So why do we want to have our youth listening to a top police officer talk to the community about competing with all kinds of weapons, including military assault weapons and pistols that are designed not for hunting and other sports, but primarily to kill human beings?

I will use Dustin Ellermann as Exhibit A to make my point. Ellermann was the winner last season on “Top Shot.” According to “Top Shot” host Colby Donaldson, “Dustin may be the best shooter we ever had.” Everyone agrees that Dustin’s character made Season 3 very dramatic. The 28-year-old from Zavalla, Texas, probably has contributed a great deal to the show becoming one of the more popular programs on television.

Dustin taught himself to shoot at Camp His Way, a summer Christian kids’ camp where he is the director. He and his wife are foster parents and have three children of their own. The fact that he taught himself to shoot raises the question of how Dustin was so successful competing against the some of the world’s best shooters, including Navy Seals, USPSA champions and some elite law enforcement types. “Shooting is fun to me,” Dustin stated at one point. “I thank the Lord for the opportunity to be on ‘Top Shot’ and to now be able to share my passion for shooting.”

Dustin wasn’t just giving the kind of lip service to God that you often see on Monday Night Football or when Oscars and Emmy Awards are being handed out. Dustin’s demeanor and conversation on television were all about his commitment to the value of faith. Watch Dustin shoot and you will witness the discipline and sheer joy that he now wants to impart by organizing clinics for youth shooters.

The same combination of gentle strength and steady focus is apparent when you watch Kyle Sumpter leading his Red Team through various ordeals and challenges.

As you watch “Top Shot,” it soon becomes apparent that the study of character and group dynamics is a more important reason for the show’s success than flash and bang.

Think about how many movies and television shows feature the flash and bang formula — and how few ever attract a real audience. Yes, “Dancing With the Stars” also displays the character of the contestants.

Soccer, karate and other sports develop character and also put leadership on display. Teaching your son or daughter to handle a gun safely and effectively, however, will create confidence that in many ways is more practical than the alternatives.

If training with guns is not practical and important, why do taxpayers get so upset every time the politicians tell us they are going to cut down on the number of officers patrolling our streets?

The free public meeting was hosted by Jim Petrelli in his classroom at Genesis Real Estate School in Federal Way.

Over 100 of our neighbors attended. See more photos at Ed Streit Images.

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