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Shooting range opens in city native's memory
Scouts dedicate range to Edwin Penn
Martinsville native Laura Penn fired a shotgun for the first time in her life Saturday in a shooting range dedicated in memory of her brother, Edwin Penn IV. The range is at the Boy Scouts’ Camp Powhatan in Pulaski County. (Contributed photo)
Monday, June 4, 2012
The Boy Scouts honored the late Edwin G. Penn IV, an Eagle Scout and avid hunter from Martinsville, on Saturday when the “Penn 5 Stand Shotgun Range” was dedicated in his memory at Camp Powhatan in Hiwassee.
It is the Boy Scouts’ first five-stand shotgun range anywhere in the country, according to Dan Johnson, Scout executive of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council.
“To my knowledge, there are other skeet and trap fields on Boy Scout property, but this is the first time a five-stand range has been in place,” said Johnson following Saturday’s ceremony at the Pulaski County camp. “A Boy Scout camp typically would have a .22 range, a rifle range, archery range and a shotgun range. So this is an opportunity for us to build a more in-depth, five-stand range, and it gives a young man that’s mastered the skill of shotgun shooting a little more challenge. It emulates a little more what he might find in a real hunting situation, perhaps.”
The range features five shooting stalls, and it will have five different “traps,” which launch clay shooting targets from different angles and with varying trajectories. Participants rotate from stall to stall, each time shooting at one target from each of the five traps.
Penn, who grew up as a member of Martinsville’s Boy Scout Troop 63, was 25 when he died in a dirt bike accident in November 2007. While growing up, he stayed at Powhatan as a camper at least four summers before receiving his Eagle Scout ranking — the highest advancement rank in Scouting. After graduating from Martinsville High School, he remained involved with Scouting and Powhatan by serving as an assistant Scout leader with troops from Martinsville.
The shotgun range was funded through memorial donations made in Penn’s honor following his death, a donation from the Penn family and a donation from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The total cost was not disclosed Saturday.
Penn’s father, Edwin “Trippi” Penn III, thought the shotgun range was a perfect gesture.
“When they said something about it, I thought, ‘Man, that’s about as fitting as you can get,’” he said, “because Edwin loved the Boy Scouts, and he loved Powhatan, and he loved hunting.”
The Boy Scouts and its Shooting Sports Committee had been planning the shooting range for nearly four years and broke ground on the structure about 18 months ago, according to Johnson. Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was the range’s official unveiling and marked the first time shots were fired on site.
Roughly two dozen people attended the ceremony, including Penn’s immediate family: his father; his mother, Alice Penn; his sisters, Margaret Penn Smith and Laura Penn; and his brother, Michael Penn. Close friends, Martinsville-area troop leaders and Boy Scouts officials also attended the event, with many of them shooting from the five-stand range.
The wood-and-metal shooting structure is marked with a permanent plaque that reads: “Penn 5 Stand Shotgun Range; In Memory of Edwin G. Penn IV; Eagle Scout, Troop 63; Martinsville; 2012.”
Johnson said more than 10,000 Scouts from 26 states attended camp at Powhatan last year.
This summer, there will be a new activity available in the form of the shooting range.
“Shooting sports is a big part of a Boy Scout’s experience. He learns discipline, responsibility and focus,” Johnson said. “This provides Scouts from across the country the opportunity to come here and experience shooting sports like they’ve never been able to do.”
Near the end of Saturday’s ceremony, William Baptist, a co-founder of the Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, announced a donation that will pay for two Scouts from the Martinsville area to attend a week of camp at Powhatan this summer.
Rooster Walk is a memorial event that remembers Edwin Penn IV and the late Walker Shank, both of whom graduated from Martinsville High School in June 2000. In three years, the group has donated $15,000 to the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship at MHS.