Nate Tenney doesn't think it's a big deal.
The Warren Area High School senior has been shooting guns pretty much his entire life, and he wouldn't hesitate to teach something he's learned to a fellow shooter.
But it was a first when the Warren County Scholastic Trap League high school shooter also became a certified coach.
Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler
Like father, like son
Dave Tenney, left, and son, Nate, recently completed the National Rifle Association (NRA) Level 1 Shotgun Instructors Course together. Nate Tenney is the first Warren County School District student in the Warren County Scholastic Trap League to attain the coaching certification. Two Corry shooters also completed the course.
Taking a course along with his father, Dave, Nate recently completed the National Rifle Association Level 1 Shotgun Instructors Course.
"We shoot a lot; it basically just falls into what we like," said Nate, who shoots along with his twin brother, Mike, on the Warren Blue scholastic trapshooting team at Kalbfus Club.
"(My father has) been helping at Boy Scout camp teaching kids how to earn their shotgun merit badge for the last four or five years," said Nate. "With how much I help out with gun club, it just falls with that."
Dave has the "basic" shotgun instructors course certification you need to be an official scholastic trap club coach, so he helps coach Warren Blue. Nate does not have that certification, but only because you must be 21 years of age to get it. He needed to be 18 to receive the Level 1 certification from NRA to coach at the local level.
"I was going to take the (Level 1 coaching certification course) anyway," said Dave, who asked Nate on a whim when he found out there were two openings for the two-day course in Corry.
"The youth on youth working together, you can adapt easier," said Nate, as a fellow student shooter. "With the class, we actually learned quite a few different ways to (coach/teach trapshooting). They teach you how to teach. The way the course is designed is you're actually having the kids self-diagnose their problems."
"Sometimes kids will listen to their peers more than they'll listen to the adult," said Warren Blue coach Jim Nowacki. "He actually brings a different perspective."
Tenney learned to shoot a gun about the time he learned to walk.
"He started shooting shotguns when he was seven - competitively - in the Tri-County Sporting Clays League," Dave Tenney said of his now 18-year-old son, Nate. "The guys used to laugh at him and his brother (because they were so little).
"We'd be loving every minute of it," Nate said.
"They never owned a BB gun when they were little," said Dave. "They started out with a .22."
"He'd take us out when he'd go hunting and trapping and stuff," said Nate, "basically as soon as we could walk and keep behind him. At the old Cornplanter ... we'd go up there as a family and (dad) would teach us how to shoot. We had to tell him the parts of a gun before we could shoot."
It was a family affair.
"Mom doesn't shoot the long guns," said Dave of his wife, Beth.
"She shoots handguns," said Nate of his mother.
"We don't like to shoot handguns with her because she's a better shot than us," said Dave.
It's no surprise that, a few years later, the Tenney boys were within earshot when the scholastic trap league was conceived.
"Our scoutmaster Bill Wilson did all the legwork," said Nate. "Basically the idea arose out of us and Bill at our scout meeting - us meaning the kids. (Bill did a lot of) research and stuff, and he tried to base it on the Chautauqua County (scholastic) trap league that they have up there... Ours was the first one in Pennsylvania to be part of the school system. It's not really (considered by the school district) a sport; it's an extra-curricular activity."
The Warren County Scholastic Trap League is not funded or organized by the school district.
What it is is a lot of fathers passing it down to sons, daughters and their peers at area gun clubs.
"Carl Black has three sons very competitive shooting, you have Nowacki, every one of the coaches you see had kids they taught to shoot," said Dave.
"It's a family-oriented sport," added Nate.
The camaraderie is actually what Nate enjoys the most, not competing.
Trapshooting and sporting clays are entirely different groups, he said. Nate said trap gets a little more competitive, and he wasn't as big into trap, but then the scholastic trap league was formed.
"There's just a lot more opportunity to shoot in trap," said Nate. "Believe it or not, there's college trap teams. And there's just more shoots you can go to for trap."
Nate really enjoys passing on what he's learned - and the sport is growing among his peers.
"We were the youngest people up at Kalbfus for the longest time," said Nate. "Now you go up there and there's teens shooting all the time."
"Every time you go work with a person that's the next level up like we did, you learn a lot personally," said Dave. "We have a lot of fun practicing what we learned (in this course)."
"We have a girl that hasn't shot clay pigeon in her whole life and Monday she shot five (out of 25)," said Nate. "She's hopefully going to want to keep getting better."
You can clearly sense the camaraderie between father and son.
"... Bill (Wilson) and I were going to make him drive (to Corry for the course)," joked Dave as the reason he wanted his son to attend the certification course.
"The clincher was he was paying for it," returned Nate.
The truth is, Dave Tenney considers himself lucky to have been able to share this part of his life with his sons. After shooting 2,700 birds already this year, sharing it with his father is what they'll remember.
"They're going to graduate and I won't have anyone to load my bullets," said Dave. "It's always been a friendship between (me and) both boys."