Tag Archives: shooting sports

The Kids are Alright…

One of the stops I did while on the road filming last month was to drop in on America’s fastest-growing school sport at the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship in Alexandria – which for the record is the world’s largest shooting sport event – with over 6,500 student-athletes in 300 high school teams taking the field over the course of nine full days of competition.

It was pretty impressive.

In Other News, the number of Youth in the Shooting Sports is on the Rise

I think it is no secret that I spent my childhood immersed in gun culture. Growing up in the Gulf South in the 1970s and 80s under the watchful eye of my grandpa (a retired 30-year SNCO) I got my first pellet gun at age six, my first .22LR two years later, and harvested my first deer– with a milsurp 8mm Mauser as tall as I was– before I left grade school. Added to this was Scouts, JROTC (where we fired Mossberg 442s in class against a sandbagged target trap every Friday!), hunting trips with my friends, and neighborhood turkey shoots, followed by working in a local gun store in my teens.

However, over the past several decades, the numbers of kids given the opportunity to shoot safely have greatly decreased, a sure bet that the number of responsible gun owners would shrink moving forward.

But, things may be changing a bit.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s hunting license sales index showed a 29 percent jump in new hunters taking the field in 2020 when compared to the previous year, climbing from an estimated 2.3 million in 2019 to over 3.2 million, gaining a legion equivalent to the population of Jacksonville, Florida, or Austin, Texas. Many of these were teens.

Besides apprentice hunters, the clay fields are also seeing big gains.

Following up on a record Fall Season, the USA Clay Target League told me last week that they will have a record 27,577 student-athletes representing 1,308 high school and college teams in 34 states participating in the league’s programs this spring, supported by 7,800 volunteers serving as coaches, range officers, and staff.

Maybe the kids will be alright.

Vale, Art Cook

After falling in love with smallbore riflery while at Boy Scout Camp as a kid, Arthur Edwin Cook, “Art” or sometimes just “Cookie” to his friends, went on to become pretty good at it, winning two National Junior Smallbore Rifle Championships in high school– and pitching in to help train Navy personnel in marksmanship during WWII although he was too young to enlist himself.

Speaking of youth, while attending the University of Maryland as a member of their All-American rifle team, he took a break to represent the U.S. at the XIV Olympiad in London, pulling down the Gold in the 50m Free Rifle Prone rifle, both setting a world record at the time with a score of 599 in a 60-round course and becoming the youngest American– at age 20– to bring back the gold in Olympic shooting sports until 2008.

Air Force veteran, gold medalist, and renowned shooting sports coach and icon Arthur Cook just left for that big shooting match in the sky last week, aged 92.

This is how you keep a sport alive

When I was a kid, there were lots of ways to participate in the shooting sports in school. In elementary school, there were Cub Scout and Boy Scout units affiliated with the campus and both types offered marksmanship badges in various disciplines at camps. Later, as an adult and certified instructor, I pitched back in on this same program to pay it forward. Besides Scouts, there was 4-H, regular hunter’s education classes (which I also teach now for the same reason), and lots of chances to go hunting with classmates. Then in high school, there was JROTC, where we shot Remington 40X .22s in class every Friday (on campus!) while we used M1903A3 drill rifles to learn the manual of arms.

Sadly, a lot of those opportunities are not around for today’s kids. Which is why I thought this piece of news was exciting.

In The Show Me State in 2013, the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance established the Student Air Rifle program, which uses school-aligned units with standardized equipment and training to introduce youth to target shooting. In short, the program supplies the air rifles, pellets, targets, et al to teachers interested in establishing a program at their school then certifies said educator as a Basic Air Riflery Instructor through a workshop and supports them in their efforts.

The popular National Archery in the Schools Program, which has instructed around 3 million youth in archery since 2002, has a similar format.

The SAR program has expanded to Iowa and now to Pennsylvania.

More in my column at Guns.com

Hope you aren’t a fan of the 50m Prone Rifle and Pistol events in the Olympics

Moving towards being “more youthful, more urban, and more women” the International Olympic Committee approved a host of changes to the shooting sports for the upcoming Tokyo Games.

The group last week announced they agreed with changes proposed by the International Shooting Sports Federation, the governing body for Olympic-style shooting, that aims toward a larger goal to boost female participation while appealing to more youth.

The IOC will remove the current Men’s Double Trap, Men’s 50m Rifle Prone, and Men’s 50m Pistol events to make room for new ones.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Shooting sports events at Modern Olympics since 1896 zapped

American Sumner Paine picked up the first Olympic Gold Medal in Free Pistol at the 1896 Athens Olympics. The event will likely be cashiered in 2020.

American Sumner Paine picked up the first Olympic Gold Medal in Free Pistol at the 1896 Athens Olympics. The event will likely be cashiered in 2020.

The International Shooting Sports Federation, the governing body for Olympic-style shooting, has recommended a host of changes that could see more gender equality in the Tokyo games.

The ISSF Administrative Council, meeting in New Delhi, India last month, unanimously approved a plan to meet Olympic recommendations to stimulate women’s participation and involvement in sport by creating more participation opportunities at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

The upside of the plan: create new Trap Mixed Gender Team, 10m Air Rifle Mixed Gender Team, and 10m Air Pistol Mixed Gender Team events.

The downside: to make room it would remove the current Men’s Double Trap, Men’s 50m Rifle Prone, and Men’s 50m Pistol events.

More in my column at Guns.com