LAS VEGAS If you watched Sunday's Super Bowl football game on television, you know Budweiser paid plenty of attention to its next generation of consumers. Even if you tried not to watch the commercials, it was near impossible to miss at least one Bud Light advertisement.
But where in this country will you find any national attention directed toward recruiting the next generation of target shooters and hunters?
"We've already lost two generations who say they didn't hunt because their dads didn't hunt," Leon Measures said. "If we lose one more, this whole (SHOT Show) will be over. There will be a large enough segment of the public who don't shoot and enough votes to get this whole thing outlawed."
At first thought, the 74-year-old Texan's statement sounds like a bit of a tall tale. There are many programs sponsored by the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation that encourage youth participation.
But Measures wants you to take a closer look at that word "youth."
"There's nothing to get a 5- or 6-year-old kid shooting," he said. "There's nothing in this whole SHOT Show that's dedicated to the 6-year-old kid."
Measures thinks that once a child reaches the age of 10 and has gained no experience in shooting, you've probably lost him for the rest of his life.
But how do you put a gun in the hands of a 10-year-old, much less a 6-year-old?
Measures has a lifetime of experience that speaks just to that subject. It's why he has developed his "Shoot Where You Look" program. It all starts, just like he did, with a slow-shooting, but accurate BB gun. And since BB guns, however slow-shooting, aren't possible in some situations, Measures has created the "Beamer" training tool that fires a harmless white dot of light.
Both simple tools, the BB gun and the Beamer, can be used to train a skilled shotgunner, according to Measures. And he has a track record as proof.
He has been teaching his "Shoot Where You Look" method since 1950. He has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and ESPN television. Just about every national outdoors magazine has written about Measures and his method, from "Sports Afield" and "Outdoor Life" to "Guns and Ammo" and "North American Hunter."
But since he's just one man and one advancing in years, Measures has created a DVD version of his teaching method to spread the word faster. As with everything he does, Measures offers a money-back guarantee.
"With this DVD and adult supervision, you can take seven kids, ages 11 to 13, boys or girls — girls are actually better because they haven't developed any bad habits," Measures said. "In the fourth week of this program, you can take them to a skeet range and without them ever firing a shotgun before or seeing a clay target before, they'll break 15 to 18 out of 25 targets with a 20-gauge shotgun."
That sounds like another tall tale from a Texan. But when you do a little research on Measure's "Shoot Where You Look" program it's easy to find proof that he's been teaching both children and adults how to do things like break aspirin tablets in the air with a BB gun after only a few hours of his training. And he's been teaching it for over half a century now.
Once you can dust an aspirin tablet with a BB gun, picking up a shotgun and hitting a duck or a quail or a goose or a clay target seems simple. Most importantly, it's a natural progression. Sure, it's fun to powder aspirin tablets with a BB gun, but once you can do that, you have a natural desire to pursue other shooting sports. And you have the gun handling and gun safety awareness to make it fun.
This all sounds so simple. And it seems like such an easy program for the shooting sports industry to adopt until you realize one big obstacle in Measures' way — there's no longer an accurate BB gun available in this country that shoots at the safe speed of 300 feet per second. (He defines accuracy as being able to hit with a second BB the hole in a piece of paper made by a first BB shot 20 feet away from the target.) The "accurate air guns" on the market fire BBs at speeds two to five times that fast and, therefore, are potentially dangerous weapons in the hands of a youngster.
Measures is trying to work his way around this problem by designing an accurate, low-power airgun and with ideas like the Beamer that won't fire a projectile at all. (With the Beamer, an executive could practice his shotgun skills in his office during coffee breaks, before a weekend hunting trip.)
In his native Texas, Measures preferred target with a shotgun has long been quail. Even at age 74, a much younger man's legs will be mush after trying to keep up with Measures and his dogs during a day of quail hunting.
"I've got seven dogs now and a new litter of seven," Measures said. "I guess I'm down to 14."
The most he's ever owned at one time?
"Forty-two," he says.
The "Shoot Where You Look" method got started when the six-year-old Measures was given a discarded BB gun missing a sight. Measures was the son of a west Texas oil field worker, living in a 20-house "oil town" near Midland. With little else to do but shoot that BB gun, Measures quickly advanced to the point where he was putting dots of Karo syrup on the wall opposite his family's front porch swing, then, from the moving swing, killing flies with a BB when they landed on one of the sweet spots.
He's been teaching other people to shoot since he was 12 years old. Over the years he has developed some world class shotgun shooters in skeet, trap and sporting clays, in addition to many satisfied hunters.
As in any discipline, there's no substitute for practice. Measures simply has developed a safe, inexpensive way for anyone at any age to practice on a daily basis.
There's nothing new here, Measures explains. His program employs variations on techniques that go back to Biblical times and a young man named David with a smooth rock. He had, one, time; he was a shepherd and there wasn't much to do while watching over his flock. Two, there were rocks everywhere, so David had plenty of ammunition. And, three, he practiced. With all that time on his hands, David got in plenty of practice.
"By the way," Measures asks, "do you remember how many stones David put in his pouch?
"Go back and look it up; it was five.
"Why do you think he put five stones in that pouch?"
In case he missed?
"I like to think it was because that giant had four brothers," says Measures as his sticks out his hand to say goodbye, then walks down the Las Vegas Convention Center SHOT Show floor to find another potential convert to "Shoot Where You Look."
(For more information on Leon Measures and the "Shoot Where You Look" program, go to www.shootwhereyoulook.com or call 800-201-5535.)
Set your sights on the show floor in our 2008 SHOT show Las Vegas gallery.