In case you haven’t noticed, participation in target shooting in the United States is growing at an incredible rate! Our ranks are growing by millions (yes, millions) of new shooters year over year.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recently released an infographic (reproduced below) announcing that from 2009 to 2012, participation in target shooting increased by 6.4 million shooters from 34.4 million to 40.8 million. Now that’s not solely shotgunning, but all forms of target shooting. That’s 2.1 million shooters a year! No wonder it’s still so hard to lay our hands on rimfire ammo!
This incredible growth jibes with what I’m seeing around me, too. I live in Minnesota, where high-school trap shooting’s popularity is rocketing off the charts. Get this: the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League started in 2008 with three schools and 54 students participating. In 2014, the number grew to 380 schools with more than 6,100 students participating. Some 4,000-plus shooters participated in the Minnesota State High School League shoot early last summer!
At the little local club where I shoot Wednesday night summer trap league, it’s no longer the “Old Boys Club.” There are entire teams made up of teenage shooters—boys and girls—shooting right alongside us. It’s wonderful to see!
In fact, I believe the major limiting factor on high school trap shooting in Minnesota right now is available range time and space. The local trap clubs, especially in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, are maxed out for practice and meet time as they try to keep their traditional clientele happy, too. Getting preferred ammo and targets can be a bit of a problem, too, but in the big picture these are good problems to have!
While Minnesota’s growth leads the way, youth clay target sports are growing across the board. Some 7,900 young shooters participated in the Scholastic Clay Target Program in 2012, and the Amateur Trapshooting Association has launched the AIM (Academics, Integrity, Marksmanship) Program to bring thousands more clays-crazy youngsters into the fold.
The NSSF infographic reveals interesting perspective into who is joining the wonderful world of target shooting. The demographics are changing—we old dudes are resembling brontosauruses more with each passing day.
Look again at the infographic above. The “experienced group” averages 43 years old, is 78 percent male, and 34 percent urban/suburban dwelling. New target shooters average 33 years old, are more than one-third of that number is female—and nearly half live in metropolitan areas or suburbs!
And here’s a real change: Of the target shooters with more than five years’ experience, 81 percent of us started our shooting careers before we were 18 years old. Of the new target shooters, 77 percent got started after age 18!
There’s no question—things are looking mighty bullish for the world of target shooting. I, for one, say, “Bully! Bring it on!”
Those of us in the North Country can be pretty certain we won’t be bothered by mosquitoes again for a few months, but that sure doesn’t mean we’ve scratched the ThermaCELL repellant units and lanterns off our Christmas wish lists! They make perfect stocking stuffers, as do refill packs! Lots and lots of refill packs!
These insights brought to you by Federal Premium Ammunition, ThermaCELL, Camp Chef, and the Quebec Outfitters Federation.