LAKEWOOD RANCH — At 16 years old, Joshua Simon knows a thing or two about the Second Amendment.
He got his first BB gun at just 8 years old, and a .22 rifle when he was 10.
“(When I was 12), I (was invited) to join my dad’s hunting camp (group),” said Simon, who also shoots with the Gulf Coast Scholastic Shooters.
Simon, a student at The Out-of-Door Academy, recently was selected as one of 45 students nationwide to participate in the National Rifle Association’s annual National Youth Education Summit June 25 to July 1. During the seven-day, expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., Simon will learn the significance of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, while developing an understanding of government and participating in it.
He also will get to tour the NRA’s headquarters and the National Firearms Museum, take informative tours on historic sites in the D.C. area and meet national leaders from Capitol Hill and the surrounding area.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Simon said.
As a participant in Y.E.S., Simon will have a chance to compete for a $10,000 college scholarship, announced at the conclusion of the Y.E.S. program, as well as $20,000 more in scholarships available to participants after completing the program.
Simon said he applied for the summit, after his mother read about the opportunity. At first, Simon admitted, he didn’t want the educational experience to cut into his summer vacation, but soon, he began realizing its potential to impact his future.
“I thought maybe I could go into politics (after college) or help support the Second Amendment,” Simon said.
Simon’s interest in shooting began in elementary school when he first started shooting BB guns, he said. Since then, however, he’s progressed and now shoots sporting clays competitively, among other related activities.
Since learning he had been selected for the Y.E.S. event, Simon said he’s been thinking hard about what he’d take away from the experience.
“I guess I’m looking to get the knowledge out of it and the experience of being in such a highly selective group,” Simon said. “I enjoy the Second Amendment as a way to exercise my freedom through shooting and hunting, but it’s also a matter of self defense.”
Simon, who also enjoys kayaking, sailing and fishing, this year is playing lacrosse at ODA, as well. In school, he particularly enjoys his science classes.
“I really enjoy learning about the natural world and I like teaching people about it, too,” Simon said.
Simon said he hopes to attend college at the State University of New York College of Science and Forestry but isn’t yet sure what he wishes his future career to be — possibly helping to run a fishery, or taking alligator counts in the Everglades.
“There’s a lot of options in that field,” he said.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].