SIDNEY — In many ways Aaron and Blaine Simpson are your typical 11-year-old twin boys.
They are involved in Boy Scouts, they are on a swimming team, they have played soccer and baseball, and they show dogs in 4-H.
But what makes the Anna Elementary School fifth-graders a little different is that they are shooting enthusiasts, famous at NRA conventions, and hope to go to the Olympics one day.
Their grandpa, Don Simpson, started teaching them how to shoot when they were about six-years old. But before that, they were attending the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Annual Meeting and Expo each year since they were three.
Don built the boys an archery range, an outdoor shooting range, and an indoor shooting range. He taught them range rules, and how to handle firearms safely. Grandpa was a Frogman on the Underwater Demolition Teams right before John F. Kennedy commissioned them as Navy SEALs.
“It’s all guns all the time at our house. … So you can imagine their Christmas list is always full of guns and gear,” Lori Simpson, the boys’ mom, said. “They just love it. And it’s something they get to do with Grandpa.”
The boys shoot Junior Rifle League, Junior Pistol League, and Junior Shotgun League with a shooting club in Lima, they also make up a shooting team, “Shoot Two”, that compete in Scholastic Shooting Pistol Sports.
For a lot of the national competitions they have to be 12-years-old, so they are almost ready to take part in those, but in the mean time they are hoping to secure a sponsor or two to help them out with the huge cost of equipment.
Aaron and Blaine enjoy Project Appleseed Shoots the most. At the Appleseed shoots, the Revolutionary War Veterans Association teach rifle marksmanship and early American heritage.
“The Appleseed shoots are fantastic because they teach three-point position shooting, and and they teach them the history of the Revolutionary War. They enjoy the history part just as much as the shooting part,” Lori Simpson said.
This year at the shoot in Gibsonburg, Ohio, in October, Blaine earned his Rifleman Patch. He was the only youth shooter of 24 shooters, to earn his Rifleman Patch. You earn this patch by taking the old army qualification test, which is timed, and scoring 210 or better.
That weekend he also cleared his RedCoat target with a perfect score. He was the only shooter of adults and youth, that cleared a perfect RedCoat Target. He did this by shooting from three positions at 25 meters, but with targets scaled to simulate shooting at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards.
Blaine enjoyed the Appleseed competition so much he did his 4-H Living History project on it, and the history of the Revolutionary War this past summer, and qualified for the state fair with it.
“It’s amazing their maturity level because they are shooters. They are interviewed all the time by the press when we go to the NRA, especially about the Second Amendment,” Lori said.
At the most recent NRA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, they were interview by the Outdoor Channel. And this winter they will be in the new Henry Repeating Arms infomercial.
Their photo has been published in the New York Times, and they were interviewed by a German television station about America’s Second Amendment, which the boys thought was really cool.
The boys have become quite popular at the NRA, people are looking for them to be there, Lori said. They are part of the ribbon cutting when they kick the convention off, and each year they get a picture with one of their favorite shooters, Max Michel, a world champion, and Olympic pistol shooter.
“You name them and they know who the boys are,” Lori said. “I just get them there, they truly are friends with all these people.”
They’ve received special attention from people like Anthony Imperato, the president of Henry Repeating Arms, one of the top-five long gun manufacturers in the United States. After meeting him at the NRA, he has sent Aaron and Blaine rifles with their own serial numbers on them, twice.
“The manager of the NRA range at the headquarters invited them to come shoot. They got a special handler, got a tour of the NRA museum, got to shoot anything they wanted to shoot on the range,” Lori said.
Blaine said,”We took our test and got our range cards. We walk into this room, he opens a big safe, and shows us all these guns and tells us to pick out a few.”
Aaron said, “We shot an AK-47, an AR-15 and a Glock with a silencer.”
Attending the conventions and staying up to date on their gun and gear knowledge, by reading the NRA and Guns and Amo magazines, and watching the shooting channel, and similar, on TV, the boys like to impress the people in the business with their knowledge. It also helps them advance their shooting careers.
The boys are getting ready to go train with a world class shooter in Springfield, Bill Carter.
In the future they are especially interested in learning how to shoot mounted on a horse. The boys are really good friends with a trick shooter, Deke Rivers “The Pistolero”, who does skills and tricks the boys would love to learn one day.
Lori said shooting has taught the boys sportsmanship, leadership, and discipline.
“It teaches us lots of patience, because in shooting if you get mad and get your heart rate up then it’s impossible. So you have to slow your breathing down,” Blaine said.
Long term the boys are Olympic hopefuls and want to get college scholarships for shooting. Blaine wants to go to the Coast Guard Academy and be on their shooting team, then he wants to be on the six-hour shooting team. Blaine wants to make world records and be as good as Max Michel.
Aaron wants to go into the Navy first thing. “I decided by life isn’t going to be like Top Gun because I don’t want to be a fighter pilot,” he said.
Lori said she won’t let the boys play football, but they can shoot forever.
“This is the future of the NRA. They’re well versed on the Second Amendment and what that means, and why there is a second amendment. So it’s fun for me to see that at 11 they know so much,” Lori said.
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