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 shooting programs provide a number of 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 while in the field, and serve as a primer for real-life hunting scenarios.
Research by the National Shooting Sports Foundation indicates that youth who are initiated into the sport of recreational shooting at a younger age are more likely to continue shooting in the years to come. As with hunting, a lack of access 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 later in life.
Exposure to, and participation in, recreational shooting and hunting at a young age is essential in maintaining and further increasing the number of hunters and shooters in the United States. In 2011, there were approximately 15.5 million U.S. residents participating in hunting each year, representing 5% of the total U.S. population. Additionally in 2011, a resounding 20.1 million people (roughly 6.5% of the total U.S. population) participated in sport shooting. Given that both hunters and shooters contribute to conservation funding through the purchase of firearms and ammunition, increasing the shooting population will serve to provide increased funding for fish and wildlife agencies throughout the nation.
Points of Interest
- From the National Rifle Association Collegiate Shooting Programs, various shooting programs are offered in schools 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 shooting programs in at least one of their schools.
- Pennsylvania leads the nation with 12 of their colleges/universities having some form of a 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. In 2014-2015 this program provided over 12,500 boys and girls in the elementary grades through high school in 42 states the opportunity to participate in trap, skeet, and sporting clays in a supportive environment taught by NRA-trained and supportive adult coaches focusing on the safe handling and use of firearms. Local state representatives of SSSF can be contacted for more information.
- According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, roughly 70% of ammunition sold in America is for 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.
In consideration of the individual and economic benefits of supervised shooting sports programs, legislators should explore and pursue legislative opportunities to make these programs more available in schools.
For more information regarding this issue, please contact Soren Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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