There is a growing level of interest in getting more young people involved in shooting sports. In fact, many of the instructor certification classes that I teach are strictly for youth coaches.
I always make a point of stressing the importance of recognizing and promoting the positive benefits that shooting sports can have for youth participants (or participants of any age, for that matter).
Shooting sports can provide exactly the same benefits as other more widely recognized adventure-based, outdoor activities such as white water kayaking or hiking. However, the benefits of shooting sports remain largely ignored and are not usually promoted in shooting sports literature or in training programs. Instead, the focus is placed on competition or hunting.
Shooting sports offer a fun-filled, exciting, and challenging venue for learning some of the most important values of our society. A greater sense of personal and social responsibility, the value of respect, a feeling of pride in the hunting traditions of our country can all be learned on the shooting range or in the field.
Solidly based shooting programs always bring other rewards and benefits as well. There is a distinct feeling of accomplishment and gratification when any art is even partially mastered. This is especially true when dangerous activities are safely managed and conquered. Think of all of the so-called “extreme sports” that are attempted. Why do folk do that? They do it to get the feeling and knowledge that they have accomplished something difficult or unusual, and done it well. Coming home safely from a successful day of shooting sports activity ranks right up there with the most extreme “X-Game”.
This post only covers a few of the innumerable positive benefits of shooting sports. The benefits are real, and far outweigh any negatives or objections that may be raised. The shooting community just needs to do a better job of advertising the positive benefits, and the enjoyment that shooting brings to those who choose to participate.