Similar to hunting, a lack of access is cited as one of the primary barriers to participation in the shooting sports. School-based programs offer opportunities to participate in shooting activities at a young age which is essential in maintaining and increasing the number of hunters and recreational shooters across the United States.
Trap, skeet, sporting clays, and other recreational shooting programs provide several benefits for youth when incorporated into school programs. These programs provide physical activity, teach discipline and responsibility, educate students on recreational shooting and hunting, encourage the safe handling of firearms, and serve as a primer for real-life hunting scenarios.
Research by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Responsive Management indicates that youth who are introduced to the sport of recreational shooting at a younger age with a consistent and reliable mentor are more likely to continue shooting into adulthood. Thus, early exposure, participation, and mentorship are essential to maintaining and further increasing the number of hunters and shooters in the United States. As with hunting, lack of access to recreational shooting is cited as one of the primary barriers to participation in the sport. School-based programs offer youth an opportunity to participate in a safe and regulated environment, which results in more active participation into adulthood.
Exposure to, and participation in, recreational shooting and hunting at a young age with consistent and reliable mentorship is essential in maintaining and further increasing the number of hunters and recreational shooters in the United States. In 2018, approximately 15.2 million U.S. residents held hunting licenses, representing nearly 5% of the total U.S. population. More than 16% (56 million) of the total U.S. population participated in target or shooting sports of some kind. Given that both hunters and recreational shooters contribute to conservation funding through the purchase of firearms and ammunition, increasing the recreational shooting population also serves to provide additional funding for fish and wildlife agencies throughout the nation.
Points of Interest
- Via the National Rifle Association Collegiate Shooting Programs, various shooting programs are offered through colleges and universities including SB Rifle, Air Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun, Skeet, Trap, ROTC, NCAA, Varsity, Club Sport, Outdoor Range, and Indoor Range.
- Nearly every state (and Washington, DC) has recreational shooting programs in at least one institution of higher education.
- Pennsylvania leads the nation with 12 of their colleges/universities having some form of a recreational shooting program.
- The Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) – sponsored by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) – is the largest clay target program for youth in the United States. Over 12,500 elementary, middle, and high school students participated in trap, skeet, and sporting clays through SCTP in 2014-2015. These programs provide a supportive environment with adult, NRA-trained coaches with a focus on the safe handling and use of firearms. Local state representatives of SSSF can be contacted for more information.
- According to Southwick Associates, nearly 80% of all firearms sales revenue is assigned to non-hunting purposes. Increases in recreational shooting participation will help to ensure that state fish and wildlife management agencies are adequately funded through the American System of Conservation Funding.
- In 2012, Missouri passed a concurrent resolution (HCR 43) encouraging every school district in Missouri to promote and include trap shooting as a high school sport.
- Indiana HCR 57 and South Carolina SB 784 both passed in 2013, recognizing the success of respective shooting sports teams.
- In 2014, Kentucky passed HCR 11, encouraging the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, local school districts, and schools to voluntarily promote trap shooting as a high school sport.
- South Carolina Honorary Resolution 5264 was adopted in 2015, recognizing and honoring the W. Wyman King Academy Girls Sporting Clays team, coach, and school officials for an outstanding season.
- In 2017, North Dakota passed HB 1419 establishing an appropriation for a shooting sports grant program which may be used to provide grants to promote and facilitate shooting sports in schools, clubs, and organized youth groups in the state.
In consideration of the individual, economic, and conservation benefits of supervised shooting sports programs, legislators should explore and pursue legislative opportunities to make these programs more available in schools.