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!


CloseRange_300x250This 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.

campchef abmThe 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!”

thermacell_logo_squarelow 150Tip of the Week

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.

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9 thoughts on “Participation in Target Shooting Soaring Across United States

  1. THAT IS GREAT NEWS. i believe that their should be a storage at the schools for their and loaner shotguns with ammo. i know there will be a lot of people that think that is crazy. i also believe teachers that want to and have concealed weapon permits should be allowed to have their guns in class. i started shooting at, gosh, i am not sure now, but i think my first bird license was 12 for duck hunting. boy, my dad was sure i knew where the barrel was pointing at all times. he was a great teacher. he told me years before i heard it from any one that at close distances bird shot was worse then even slugs. he was right!! fight fire with fire.if there is a school invasion arm those students. stop the threat before the police will even come in. perhaps identifying hats or garments for identifying the good guys also. i know there will be no chance of this happening. it is like the war on drugs. prohibition never works but we never learn. legalize, keep the prices reasonable, put the black market out of business. just as it did during prohibition. make sure the cartel with all their money does not start a legal business, keep them out of it. crime will come down, and there will be less access to drugs by the kids. less addicts, less policing, and we can fill our jails with the real problem people. will we ever learn, i doubt it. we have been brain washed by the government and the deep pockets running it.

  2. I coulda told them that. Membership in our gun club is way up, new monthly matches have been added to the shooting calendar, and a whole new 4 bay action pistol range was completed a couple of years ago. We’ve got more female shooters and more young people shooting too.

  3. This is great news to be reading! This combined with more safety and training classes for females will go a long way. It’s great to see with all the strict gun laws trying to be passed that we are seeing such a boom with target shooting. I hope we are able to keep the trends going in the right direction!

  4. Oh really ! When I was shooting in the 1983-1995 era of highpower and long range you had to pre enter months in advance to get a slot to shoot. Attendance was restricted to 880 shooters and when I won the US LR in 1990 1993 an 1995 as well as the Course rifle in 1994 and 1995 those attendances were 850. This last year the course rifle event only had 285 , hey folks that ain’t a gain thats a loss. Maybe NSSF needs to tell us where these gains are. I’m now in NZ and we’re having the same numbers in losses of members here in Fullbore shooting, at the current rate of decline 10 years for this organization will be its life time before its over with. Yes pistol shooting is up huge amounts which has 3950 members which is the Pistol New Zealand great guys and gals, but the NRA here has 300 at the most ! Show me the numbers !

      1. I’ll show you the numbers , just look at the attendances at the US nationals ove the last 20 years , In the Mid 1960’s that was over 2500 in attendance its now 285 , that only 11% of what it was . You show me the actual numbers in competition, the only real gainer I see is IPSC and pistol shooting , not rifle nor shotgun.. Show me the numbers !

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