(Nov. 20, 2020) Fifteen-year-old Connor Smith spent six months working on his Eagle Scout project, and celebrated its completion with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 5.
“At the beginning of the summer, I had a conversation with one of the firearms instructors who teaches at the Worcester County Firing Range. [He] said that there was a need for a structure for shooters to shoot from at the 100-yard line. I then decided that it would be a great Eagle Scout project for me to build,” Smith said.
The Worcester County Firing Range is located in Newark, Maryland, and is open to the public and local, state and federal police agencies.
“The purpose of the firing range is to help train police and the public to shoot guns in a safe environment. I led the construction of a three-sided structure with a cantilever roof. I also built a shooting bench and a gun rack,” Smith said. “This Adirondack will allow the public and police to train in all sorts of weather, because when they go to the range, they must sight their weapons that day … It will also give them a covered area to shoot at the table I made, or prone (a laying down shooting position that is the most stable), to help keep the sun glare out of their gun optics/sights. [They can also] use this building to scope in their rifles in a controlled environment.”
Smith, a freshman at Stephen Decatur High School and a member of Boy Scout Troop #281 out of Ocean View, Delaware, had assistance to complete the project. It took 360 hours to build the 9-foot wide by 14-foot long by 8-foot high structure, with a concrete floor and four windows.
“I have been at the range multiple times in the past and I ran into Ret/Lt. Mark Doyle (OCPD), who is an instructor at the range and also a family friend, and he said that he and Lt. Rick Moreck had discussions in the past that this was a very needed structure at the range,” Smith said. “I did lead this project with a lot of help and direction from Lt. Rick Moreck. Several people helped me from my Boy Scout troop and various police officers from several departments in Worcester County.”
Smith wants to thank family, friends, local businesses and organizations that donated to his project. Without their help, he said he would not have been able to build his project.
Lt. Moreck, Ocean City Police Department Human Resources Division, commander Quick Response Team, said he was pleased with the final results.
“The finished product was excellent and we have received many positive comments on its design and quality. Connor was responsible for much of the design and the attention to detail that went into the final product,” Lt. Moreck said. “In my opinion, the result of the project was a very ‘professional’ shelter. Connor was on his game every step of the way as the project proceeded.
“I know for a fact he learned a lot not only about how to ‘build,’ but how important planning and organization are to the ultimate result,” he added.
Lt. Moreck said Smith was “hands on” throughout the project and had to make decisions regarding all aspects of the construction schedule.
“The result of his project is an excellent addition to the firearms training facility. The time and effort put into the completion was impressive,” he said. “All of the adults who have seen the completed structure have nothing but the highest compliments about its quality and functionality. I can assure you the structure will last many years because of the quality of Connor’s workmanship and attention to detail, as well as the pride he put into its construction. The public users of the range will enjoyed the benefit of Connor’s work for many years to come.”
Smith’s mother, Jennifer DeGiovanni, was also pleased with her son’s work and said she is proud of his accomplishment.
“He has never built anything like this before and he faced the challenge and accomplished it. He had some ups and downs, but he adapted and overcame the challenges he faced, which will help him be successful later in life,” she said. “His step-father, Lt. Greg DeGiovanni (OCPD), is a firearms instructor along with Lt. Rick Moreck and Ret/Lt. Mark Doyle. We have taken Connor and his twin sister down to the range numerous times in the past and Ret/Lt. Mark Doyle and Greg have taught them how to shoot.”
His step-father also participated, helping Smith build the shooting table and gun rack.
“Lt. Rick Moreck was an excellent instructor in how he taught Connor the process of building a structure like this,” she continued. “When Connor started this project he was only 14 years old and he had no idea the steps it took to build something like this. Connor had just turned 15 when he was on the verge of finishing his project.”
Smith, who has been a scout for nine years, is completing his paperwork, which he will submit for review. He will then have an interview in front of an Eagle Scout board, he said.
“If I pass the interview, then I will become an Eagle Scout,” he said. “I am super proud of my accomplishment in finishing my project and now my plan is to complete what is needed to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.”
To learn more about Worcester County Firing Range, visit https://worcestersheriff.com/service/public-firing-range.