High School Shooting Teams Are Getting Wildly Popular

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Great article on competitive shooting from Time: http://time.com/longform/high-school-shooting-teams/

Comments:
Regularly-held, actively-promoted, formally-organized shooting events such as competitive shooting are the best approach (and arguably the only sensible approach) to earning pro-gun publicity and building a positive image of gun owners and gun ownership. We need to recognize active and successful firearm users and consistently get that message out. The firearm industry and related organizations have done a horrible job at this for a century.

Mr. Bogenreif’s quip, “Bet that one isn’t going in the yearbook” about a picture of a shooting team indicates a wrong-minded victim mentality that incorrectly blames the mythical anti-gun media.

Here’s an example:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/award-winning-pennsylvania-high-school-rifle-team-left-out-of-yearbook/

Yes, it’s easy enough to find an anti-gun slant but the lack of pro-gun coverage is our fault. We simply don’t have the participation rates and reportage to push a different narrative. Look at the numbers of high school students playing various ball sport games versus shooting teams.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/ball-sports-shooting/

Data on firearms at school indicates they are not inherently dangerous:
Schools that Allow Teachers to Carry Guns are Extremely Safe: Data on the Rate of Shootings and Accidents in Schools that allow Teachers to Carry
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3377801

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League championship bills itself as the largest shooting sports event in the world. With the bustling crowds and flood of corporate interest, it could be mistaken for, say, a scene on the NASCAR circuit, except that the stars are teenage boys and girls. And they’re armed. That’s the entire point, of course, in a shooting competition, but there are moments when the world beyond scorecards and ear protection edges into view. Bernie Bogenreif, coach for the Roseville Area High School trap team, detects one such instance as competitors from another school line up for a team photo: a couple of dozen kids arranged, shoulder to shoulder, guns in hand.

“Bet that one isn’t going in the yearbook,” -Bogenreif quips.

Then again, it might. In much of the country, the words guns and schools do tend to go together more often in horrific headlines than under a senior portrait, wedged between Class Treasurer and Spring Track. But more and more yearbooks are marking competitive shooting as a part of high school life. Even as mass shootings have inspired protests and walkouts in many schools, a growing number—-sometimes the same schools—are sanctioning shooting squads as an extracurricular activity. In 2015, for example, 9,245 students, in 317 schools across three states, participated in the USA High School Clay Target League. Since then, participation has spiked 137%: in 2018, 21,917 students, from 804 teams in 20 states—-including New York and California, as well as Texas—competed.

The uptick reflects at least two complex and relentlessly challenging realities—guns in America and adolescence. On one level, high school shooting teams weave themselves into the national debate over firearms. The NRA has funded these programs. From 2014 to 2016, the latest three years for which the NRA Foundation’s tax returns are publicly available, the organization provided more than $4 million in cash and equipment grants to schools and organizations that support scholastic sports shooting. The support dovetails with the group’s original emphasis on gun safety and training. But it also aligns with the NRA’s transformation into a political power-house that frames firearm ownership with a defiant cultural conservatism. There’s a reason Barry Thompson, a service engineer for medical equipment who has a lifetime NRA membership, helps coach the East Ridge High School team. “I’m upfront with the parents,” says Thompson, 59. “I am out here with an ulterior motive. These kids will be voting.”

To attract the youth demo to shooting sports, Sable proposed that schools form teams. At first, the sell proved difficult. In one of Sable’s first meetings with an education board, he learned a key lesson, he says. Never use the words kids, guns and schools in one sentence unless you want a predictable response: Are you crazy?

Sable, an avuncular pitchman who founded the USA High School Clay Target League and just retired as its president, refined his argument. He asked administrators to pretend, for a second, that he didn’t represent a shooting sports organization. Imagine instead that he was asking them to start an activity that causes concussions, broken collarbones and fractured legs. No way, right? He then reminds them he’s describing football.

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H.S. Ball Sports and Shooting

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https://www.statista.com/statistics/267955/participation-in-us-high-school-football/
1,039,079 total high school football players (11-player gridiron) in the 2017/18 school year (1,036,842 male, 2,237 female)

High school football participation continues to drop as concerns over cost, injuries persist
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/08/28/high-school-football-participation-continues-to-drop-as-concerns-over-cost-injuries-persist/

The problems facing high school football don’t appear to be going away, and according to new data released by the National Federation of State High School Associations, neither is the downward trend in participation.

Fewer than 1.04 million high school students played football in 2017. That’s 20,000 fewer athletes than in 2016, a 2 percent drop. [emphasis added.]

What does this have to do with gun owners? Compare the numbers.

A two percent drop in high school football player participation is about the total amount of current card-carrying USPSA or IDPA members.

And that’s just gridiron football. High school basketball has about the same total number with nearly one million participants.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/267942/participation-in-us-high-school-basketball/

Add in nearly a million high school soccer players, about a half million high school baseball players, another half million for volleyball, and a 1/3 million for softball and you have more active ball sport participants in high school than the NRA has total members.

http://www.nfhs.org/ParticipationStatics/PDF/2014-15_Participation_Survey_Results.pdf
https://www.nfhs.org/ParticipationStatics/ParticipationStatics.aspx/

And these numbers are active participants and does not count spectators, fans, supportive friends and family, and any other non-player that is involved.

As far as shooting, there are just over 5,000 high school marksmanship competitors (1,025 Air Rifle and 4,238 Riflery). And before you wrongly assume this is due to some anti-gun policy at the schools, consider that only about 2% of NRA members hold a Classification, something that can be earned by merely participating in a Sanctioned (Registered or Approved) tournament.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/nra-classification-fall-off/

These are the real reasons ball sports get media coverage and shooting does not.

Endurance Race: Safety and Participation

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About 2,500 Boston Marathon runners receive medical treatment

Boston Globe, April 16, 2018
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/04/16/marathon-runners-treated-for-injuries-wellesley/JhQbVspqLwJEy4XFKjvULI/story.html

The food, drinks, coffee, and roaring fire in the building’s front room took on a more serious purpose as more than 50 injured competitors streamed in, many suffering from symptoms of hypothermia.

“It’s just become this impromptu shelter for running refugees,” said associate pastor Ashley Murphy, who lives nearby and had already raided her pantry and linen closet for food, towels, and dry clothes.

More than 2,500 runners, including 25 elite athletes, received medical treatment, race organizers said. Eighty-one runners were taken to the hospital.

Given 29,978 runners registered for the 2018 Boston Marathon (and they had to pre-qualify to be accepted), this is more than a 8.3% casualty rate. Contrast this to the injury rates common at shooting or strength sport events, which are comparatively non-existent.

https://www.cleveland.com/news/2019/05/runner-22-dies-after-collapsing-during-cleveland-marathon.html

Please note, statistically speaking, running is a perfectly safe activity, especially when done for recreation and exercise. The vast majority of participants will find benefit. It’s just that lifting weights for any reason (recreation, exercise, training, or sport) is even safer and more beneficial. It’s worth pointing out that high-level running competitors advocate strength training for improved performance and injury prevention.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/running-fast-injury-free-gordon-pirie/

So why do endurance sports enjoy positive attention? The stats continue to show why non-shooting events receive attention while shooting events do not.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/tag/participation-rates/

29,978 runners registered for the 2018 Boston Marathon, supported by 9,500 volunteers, over 500,000 spectators, and $830,500 in prizes. There were another 10,000 participants at the BAA 5K around the Boston Common held just before.
The 2018 Boston Marathon: By The Numbers by Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes Magazine
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2018/04/16/the-boston-marathon-2018-by-the-numbers/#7ccf034b31d6

Contrast this to participation rates at shooting or strength sport events and you’ll have your answer.

Running and Shooting Demographics

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Running USA reported on road race participation numbers.
2016 State of the Sport – U.S. Road Race Trends
The second running boom appears to be backing off as runners retreat from non-traditional races.
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A Page From History: The First Televised Rifle Match

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Here’s a good bit of history. The following article was published at a time when about a third of the NRA membership held a formal NRA Classification. This is about 2% today.

NRA members receive a Classification (Marksman or higher) by merely participating in an NRA Approved or Registered tournament, or a Sanctioned league, regardless of score. This means 98% of the current membership has never bothered to show up to such events.

The ideas presented in this article will work today but only if people bother to attend and pay a little attention. Improving this among NRA members would be a tremendous help.

More stats and facts on this:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/high-school-shooting-range-1950s-and-today/

The First Televised Rifle Match
https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2016/12/1/a-page-from-history-the-first-televised-rifle-match/

From the April 1955 issue of American Rifleman, an article by Don Mohr on the first televised rifle match.

Television program ideas often develop from unusual occurrences. What we believe to be the first televised rifle match had just such a beginning.

The final construction phase of Allentown, Pennsylvania’s first television station, WFMZ-TV, was underway and any spare moments that were available from my Film and Arts Director position at the studio were spent in improving my shooting form. This was accomplished with a target range I had constructed in my home. The range involves firing from my editing room, through my dark room, and into a bullet trap located in my den. This area isolated from the rest of my home and with doors locked is perfectly safe; however, the initial reaction of visitors is one of disbelief.

Such was the case when one of our Directors, Don Tuckwood, paid a call. Upon questioning my wife as to who could possibly be hunting so close to a residence, and being informed it was merely her husband firing through the dark room, he was about to leave as quickly as he had arrived. It wasn’t long, however, before he became a regular visitor and participant in a number of impromptu matches.

Televise shooting?

One day the question arose, why not place this very thing before the camera? Why not indeed? You can imagine some of the problems involved: the safety factor, the range size, the safe coverage of target, and above all, the audience reaction.

Our large 60×60-foot studio makes a 45-foot range the most practical, and a lockout system plus close supervision by a number of range officers eliminates the possibility of any tiny holes appearing in equipment. Experimenting with my spotting scope and the TV camera, I found I could place the Bausch & Lomb 20-power spotting scope in front of the TV camera, and from a safe distance pick up the entire target, enabling the viewing audience at home to watch all five shooters place their shots, which is quite interesting to watch—even to a non-shooter.

The Remington flyspeck targets are used with 50 bulls, five-in-a-row, and ten rows. This allows our scope shooters to try their luck on two rows with a total of ten shots.

With the blessings of our Manager, Raymond Kohn, five .22 cal. rifles blaze away on Wednesday nights during our “Seven to Nine Show”. This program is planned around 120 minutes of local live entertainment and information. Most anything is presented, from arts to sports to industries to—yes, rifle matches.

Cover other activities with guns
To add interest to this quarter-hour of shooting for those of the audience who may have no desire to watch holes appear in paper (though we’ve discovered that many non-shooters are fascinated by the matches), interviews are conducted on some phase of shooting—cups and medals won by some of our shooters, law enforcement officers and firearms, gunsmiths, how to load ammunition, antique guns, etc.

The studio area is cleared 15 minutes prior to telecast so the shooters can zero in and, to keep the area safe, the match is presented at the very beginning of the show. Often the letters S-H-O-W of the Seven to Nine Show title are shot out by the five shooters as an opening feature.

The participants experience considerably more tension when firing over television as compared with the normal club match. They are well aware of the many eyes peering at every miss. Such stage fright, however, does not deter them from the usual heated discussion of ‘just on the line’ shots.

Scoring, by the way, provides a possible 200 with 20 X’s, and an X is any shot hitting the flyspeck but not touching the circle. A 10 is any shot hitting the flyspeck but touching the circle. Any shot missing the flyspeck is scored as a miss and down 10 points. This is a fast and easy method of scoring right before the camera which I do immediately following the shoot so as to present the winner for the night.

A tremendous amount of credit goes to the local gun clubs who aided me in laying the ground work for the first match. Nineteen men and one brave woman. Five shooters fired per week with each returning to shoot a second time. A local merchant donated a beautiful trophy to the high scorer and sterling silver tieclips for the three group runners-up.

Matches scheduled regularly now
This match proved so effective that we are not conducting a team match to last 10 weeks. At the close of 10 weeks, if enough interest in shooting has developed, we expect to begin a women’s match and a junior division match. The possibilities are endless. What started as another television experiment has blossomed into an interesting smallbore rifle contest, both for the participants and all viewers.

Television stations are always seeking new ideas for programs, particularly programs utilizing local talent and activities. If you approach the program director of your local TV station, perhaps arrangements can be made to program some of the activities of your local rifle and pistol club.


The author placed his Bausch & Lomb 20-power spotting scope in front of the TV camera to capture shots.

Facebook is not anti-gun

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Some guy who fondles an inflatable spheroid with his feet gets 23.2 times more love from Facebook than all the fans of the National Rifle Association combined.

Tom McHale had a great write up on Facebook’s policy to delete pages and posts about gun trades and sales from non-FFL holders. He also included a good breakdown of the demographics of shooting and pro-gun involvement compared to more mainstream interests, such as sport ball athletes and movie celebrities.

Facebook doesn’t care about you or your issues. Facebook cares about three things:

  1. How many people use Facebook.
  2. How many hours those people spend on Facebook.
  3. How many dollars marketers will pay Facebook for access to those people.

The same can be said for all media outlets. Replace the name of a broadcast or print media outlet or news program in place of “Facebook” and this is still true. It’s also true for pro-gun publications and websites, even though they are focused on a specific niche and demographic instead of the public at large. After Kim Rhode medalled in six Olympics in a row, some claimed her lack of media coverage was due to media bias. However, USA Today, the New York Times, CBS Sports, SB Nation, NBC, WGN, and the Chicago Tribune published articles about her. Other publications such as Time, Forbes, the Huffington Postand NPR published articles about Rhode’s accomplishments that highlighted her views on the Second Amendment.

This isn’t some nefarious anti-gun plot, it is simply catering to the majority. Gun owners are largely ignorant of organized shooting activity. Non-gun owners are even less aware and interested. This is the simple result of a market in action, not back-room politics trying to steal your guns. If the issue is controversial but of interest to a small minority, it’s probably easier to just avoid dealings and prevent alienating the majority, and especially alienating people and companies buying advertising/marketing trying to reach that general public.

Even among those gun owners that are active, activities such as golf eclipse them by a large margin. Again, the market speaks. If more people golf and are willing to pay for it, then more golf courses are built and more golf coverage is seen in the mainstream media because more people are voting with their dollars and feet. Gun owners are simply not as active, even when various reports claim that they are.

This is not an anti-gun plot. Garnering publicity and inspiring public interest is a tough row to hoe for every organization.

Common, accepted estimates place somewhere between 50-80 million Americans as owning at least one firearm. I don’t know why there is such a vast lack of interest in organized shooting events among them but given that there is, shooting will never be a mainstream activity. It’s not politics. It’s not anti-gun policy. It’s the result of the market voting with their dollars and feet.

Read the full article here:
http://www.ammoland.com/the-prying-business-of-facebook-and-guns

Shooting Sports Spectators

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Creedmoor-spectator
1877 International Match, Creedmoor, NY

Note the line of spectators along the left edge of the range. So… When did this come to an end? It ended when American gun owners in general, and NRA members in particular, stopped caring about such things.

“A match in Glendale Park, N.Y., in the 1880’s attracted more than 600 shooters and 30,000 spectators in one day alone. An 1898 shooting festival at that same location offered $25,000 in cash prizes.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/olympics/longterm/shooting/shthist.htm

Adjusting for inflation, those cash prizes would be over $600,000 today.

More than 5,000 spectators schlepped their way from Manhattan on river ferries and a special rail line built to accommodate the shooting range. The candlelit train ride was far from comfortable, the Times reported in a front-page story on Sept. 27, 1874. The fans meanwhile did not necessarily come to support the home team. Irish immigrants brought pride in their native land as well.

However, they all came for the premier sporting event of the year.

“From what I’ve read and learned about it, it was just about as popular as NASCAR is today,” said Kirk Bryan, co-owner of Shiloh Sharps Rifles, of rifle shooting in the 1870s.

https://zejwilliams.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/creedmoor-new-york-citys-shooting-legacy/

Why are gun owners of today failing to show the same level of interest and support? Something to consider when a gun owner that has never attended a formal shooting event or competition whines about the “anti-gun media.”

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