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UK Scout Leader David Tyler uses the indoor gun range at the Chester Rod and Gun Club. (ADAM SWIFT PHOTO)

Group of UK scouts were hunting for a good time


DERRY - A group of Boy Scouts from the United Kingdom got a glance at a different side of American culture on Saturday when they were guests for the day of the 4-H Junior Rifle and Archery League at the Chester Rod and Gun Club.

Scout leader David Tyler of Hampshire, England, first contacted Mike King of the 4-H program about 10 months ago wanting to bring the Boy Scouts to the rod and gun club.

Last week, Tyler and fellow Boy Scout leader Nigel Cridland brought seven scouts to the United States and Canada.

Tyler, who has a brother in Barrington, said he found out about the Chester program while doing an Internet search.

"We kept in contact over the months. Originally, he wanted to do an air rifle competition between his kids and the 4-H kids," said King. "But we decided that instead of doing an air rifle competition, we would show the UK kids how we do it in the United States."

Instead of the competition, the offer turned into a full-day of activities that included rifle shooting, archery and a self-defense class.

With stricter gun laws in the United Kingdom, Tyler said people are mostly limited to shooting air rifles, or other approved guns at indoor ranges.

"Historically, it's a very different culture in the United Kingdom," said Tyler.

Although the gun laws are less restrictive in the United States, Tyler said he was impressed with the attitude toward guns he found from those in the 4-H program and at the Chester Rod and Gun Club.

"What impresses me the most is the way they stress the importance of training and safety," Tyler said.

Education is the key to stressing that guns are weapons and not toys, he added.

The 13- and 14-year-old Boy Scouts were experienced air rifle shooters, but many said they were excited at the prospect of testing different types of weapons at the range in Chester.

"We're treated more like adults," said Cridland's son, James Cridland.

Taking a break from working on some self-defense moves with Cridland, Boy Scout Callum Gooding said he was impressed with the day of activities with the 4-H participants.

"It's been fantastic," he said. "I really like the shooting."

In addition to the day in Chester, the UK group is heading to Boston, Niagara Falls and Toronto. During their time in New Hampshire, the Scouts seemed most impressed with the snow.

"In Hampshire, if we get an inch of snow, the whole country collapses," said James Cridland.

Cridland's father said he has been to the United States before, but never to the East Coast or a more rural setting like New Hampshire.

"I like the country, where everything is more spaced-out compared to the cities," he said.

From King and the 4-H kids to the people they have run across at area restaurants, Tyler said the people of New Hampshire have been overwhelmingly friendly.

"Everyone will come over and ask what can they do for us," he said.

"Everyone has been really nice."

aswift@unionleader.com

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