NEWTOWN, Conn — On college campuses across the country, men and women are taking up target shooting in increasing numbers. From Harvard to Jacksonville University to the University of Colorado, the shooting sports are “in” as students discover how they can enjoy these safe, fun activities with their friends.
To encourage this growth trend, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, trade association for the firearms and shooting sports industry, last year began providing grants through its Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative to support the development of varsity teams for those students interested in competition and create clubs for students interested in the recreational and social benefits of target shooting.
“After just one round of grants, NSSF has seen participation in target shooting grow significantly at colleges,” said Zach Snow, NSSF’s senior shooting sports coordinator. “We’re just getting started, so the sky’s the limit. All it takes to form a team or club is for a dedicated coach, faculty member or student to step up and lead the way. Once that happens, participants follow.”
Here’s how NSSF’s Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative is making target shooting a common activity on campus:
Jacksonville University began a sporting clays, skeet and trap club program thanks to the work of master-level instructor David Dobson, who will join the JU faculty this fall to teach a class on the theory of wingshooting and continue as the program’s head coach. Dobson’s work at Jacksonville inspired one of his shooting students to launch a clays shooting club at the University of North Florida, a team Dobson also coaches. Said Dobson, “NSSF’s grant program has energized both coaches and student participants to promote collegiate target shooting. In NSSF, we now have a resource to turn to for funding and non-monetary assistance, particularly in the early stages of creating a program when support is most needed. NSSF’s support will be significant to our success moving forward.”
Trinity College and Schreiner University promoted introductory seminars where new shooters learned how to safely handle firearms and were introduced to shooting games for rifle, shotgun and handgun.
The first New England Collegiate Clay Target Championships, supported by NSSF, featured teams from Harvard, Harvard Law, Yale, Brown, Tufts and the University of Vermont.
Last month’s ACUI College Clay Target Championships were the largest ever with 40 teams participating, some new or expanded programs thanks to grants from NSSF.
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, assisted by a grant from NSSF, finished as the fourth-ranked air rifle team in the country at the inaugural NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship at Purdue University.
“We hope these success stories will give interested students or prospective coaches the incentive to start a varsity team or a club shooting group at their college or university,” said Sarah Morton, NSSF’s shooting development coordinator. “We’re here to assist them in getting the activity established.”
NSSF developed the Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative to provide a “next step” for hundreds of thousands of students already participating in youth programs such as the Scholastic Clay Target Program, Boy Scouts of America and 4-H. “When these students go off to college, many will want to continue participating in the shooting sports — just like athletes in other sports want to,” said Snow. “We have a great feeder system in place, but opportunities to shoot at the college level have been limited. With the Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative grant program, we’re expanding opportunities for experienced shooters and newcomers.”
Snow said NSSF developed the Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative for the following reasons:
Raise awareness of shooting sports and firearm safety at the college level
Provide financial and non-financial assistance in developing college shooting clubs or teams
Serve as a resource for colleges and students interested in learning more about the shooting sports
Help grow the shooting sports at the college level
Get details on how to apply for a Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative grant from NSSF at http://nssf.org/college. All grant applications must be received by NSSF no later than 5 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 17, 2010.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 5,500 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.