For as long as he can remember, Trevor Goin has been shooting guns. Now, all of that has paid off, as he was named one of the 2017 National Youth Shooting Ambassadors for the National Rifle Association (NRA). Goin is a junior at Longwood University, and a criminology major. The ambassadors are selected from across the United States, and Goin is one of only three Virginians to have ever been selected.
Goin said he didn’t know anything about the ambassador program until the NRA announced the Outstanding Achievement in Youth Award. The first place winner would get a $5,000 cash reward, and Goin won. After that, the top four winners were selected to be interviewed for the ambassador program. At the end of his interview, Goin was informed that he would be a good choice for the ambassador program.
“That’s how I found out about it, I had no idea about the ambassadorship until (the interviewer) told me that, and I thought, ‘Oh, this sounds interesting, I like talking to people, so let’s do it,’” Goin said.
The NRA is a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to protecting gun rights, and Brownells manufactures and sells firearms, firearm accessories and shooting sports equipment. As an NRA and Brownell shooting sports ambassador, Goin said his long-term focus is to invite more youth interest in the organization.
“We’re focused on promoting youth to join the NRA,” said Goin. “That’s where it’s lacking right now, and we need to have a youth development within the NRA; we have to make sure the organization continues on.”
Goin said he will also travel to industry trade shows alongside other ambassadors to help promote NRA membership, such as Pennsylvania’s Great American Outdoor Show, an event presented by the NRA.
“Just to get the word out that there’s youth involved in NRA, too, not just old people,” he said.
Goin’s first serious introduction to the firearms world was when he was 11 years old and join the Virginia 4-H. This was also when he discovered his preference for shotgun shooting, and he has been hooked on shooting sports ever since.
“From there, it’s just turned into a career of shooting,” Goin said.
Goin said he felt his upbringing and introduction to firearms at an early age influenced his decision to major in criminology. “I wanted to do something that involved firearms, and law enforcement, they carry firearms,” Goin said.
“That’s not the reason I really want to,” he continued. “Through my involvement with 4-H, I’ve learned not only to shoot, but also to handle firearms safely, to talk to other people, to be outgoing, to just be an influence in my community, and feel like I can do that, as a law enforcement officer.”
Goin is not only passionate about promoting the NRA’s message, but also promoting firearm safety. He recalled the difference between seeing children at the 4-H and how they are safer around guns than many of the adults he has seen on gun ranges.
“When I started out shooting with my dad on the farm hunting, he (said) ‘Keep your finger off the trigger and point the gun in a good direction, don’t point it at anybody,’” said Goin. “But that’s not really proper gun safety, that’s just the basics.”
On the other hand, he said 4-H didn’t let the children shoot until they had learned the rules of real firearm safety, which they built on once they were allowed to shoot.
“I go to 4-H competitions, and they do not have a problem with safety, because it’s in their minds, it’s in their fundamentals, it comes second nature to them,” said Goin. “But then you go to other shoots, and you see grown adults who’ve never had that training, and they’re being unsafe with it.”
Goin plans to be a member of the NRA in the future, though he has not considered employment with the organization. The NRA requires participants in the youth ambassador program to be under 21 years old and active in a shooting sports program. The winners for the 2018 program will be announced next year.