Shooting Sports’ Numbers are Swelling Among Teens

Shooting Sports’ Numbers are Swelling Among Teens

The kids today, well they seem to be doing all right. At least the ones who have hitched their stars to the fast-growing extracurricular activity of sport shooting.

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Yes, breaking clays and nailing bull’s eyes have gained traction among American teens and young adults. Not long ago, we pointed out a feature the Washington Post did on the uptick of competitive college shooters.

Now, of all places, Bloomberg News notes the growth of high school athletes crowding the firing line.

As shocking as it might be, the namesake media outlet of one of America's most notorious anti-gunners (Michael Bloomberg) does a fairly decent job documenting this trend.

One of the article’s main focuses is the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Championship. And this one competition in and of itself shows exactly how fast high schoolers’ interest in shooting sports has blossomed:

In 2009, the contest’s first year, it drew 30 shooters. In June there were 5,134, more than 20,000 spectators and sponsors including Benelli Armi SpA and SKB Shotguns. Trap shooting is the fastest-growing sport in Minnesota high schools, and was recently introduced in neighboring Wisconsin and North Dakota.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune from a year ago also noted traps growing popularity with teens, as well. In fact, it points out, shooting sports have more prep participants now than hockey in the Gopher State!:

…[S]o many kids are involved that about 1,800 were turned away this year, because of a capacity shortage at ranges. A recently approved $2 million legislative grant program is intended to help alleviate the deficiency.

In both articles, Jim Sable is pointed to as a catalyst to the resurgence of youth shooting sports. After retiring as an advertising executive in 2001, the Minnesota resident founded what has become the USA State High School Clay Target League.

His motivation in creating what has become one of the prime movers in competitive youth shooting was breathing life back into what he feared to be a dying sport. Sable’s work appears to be paying off since the Great North Woods isn’t the only place where a renewed interest in shooting sports is taking root.

According to the Bloomberg article, schools in Arizona, South Dakota, Illinois and Kansas are all set to field teams next year. No matter how you cut it, this is incredible news for anyone who loves shooting — competitive and otherwise.

These young men and women are the voices and guardians of our Second Amendment Rights in the not too distant future. It is heartening to hear their ranks are swelling.

More importantly, this emerging trend is wonderful for these young athletes. There are the obvious benefits of learning sportsmanship, discipline and competitiveness. But also, these youths are picking up an activity, more aptly a passion, that lasts a lifetime.

There are few things, particularly from high school, that can make that claim.


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Elwood Shelton is the Digital Editor for Gun Digest. He lives in Colorado and has provided coverage on a vast spectrum of topics for GD for more than a decade. Before that, he was an award-winning sports and outdoors reporter for a number of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains. His experience has consisted of covering the spread of chronic wasting disease into the Western Slope of Colorado to the state’s ranching for wildlife programs. His passion for shooting began at a young age, fostered on pheasant hunts with his father. Since then, he has become an accomplished handloader, long-range shooter and avid hunter—particularly mule deer and any low-down, dirty varmint that comes into his crosshairs. He is a regular contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and has contributed to various books on guns and shooting, most recently Lever-Actions: A Tribute to the All-American Rifle.


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