Guns for Our Grandchildren
The future of the shooting sports is brighter than ever
Only a few years ago, many in the shooting world fretted about the future of our sports, pointing to the preponderance of grey and missing hair on the firing lines of shooting ranges and in the hunting fields. Without younger shooters, the older shooters worried, the sports would simply dry up. Fewer shooters and hunters would also mean fewer gun owners and activists to stand against encroaching gun laws and fewer buyers of firearms and hunting equipment to fund wildlife and habitat conservation efforts.
Rather than stand by and allow the shooting sports to die by attrition, shooting groups and the firearms and hunting equipment industries, along with millions of individual shooters began actively working to make shooting more accessible to younger generations. Hunters lobbied for, and got, special mentoring licenses and game permits to allow novice hunters better and safer access to game fields. Clubs and industry groups created new training and competition programs for young people. Newer, more exciting, action-shooting games began surpassing traditional, more staid shooting disciplines. An unintended consequence of three wars in the past 20 years is a boon to the shooting sports as it has provided hundreds of thousands of young people with firearms training and sparked enduring interest in guns, shooting, and hunting in many of them.
With a rising tide of young shooters, many mature adults who had been raised in shooting families, but had drifted away from the sports, began drifting back – and introducing their own children to the fun, challenging, and character-building world of competitive shooting and hunting. And as the younger generations take over the run-and-gun world of action shooting, their parents and grandparents are reinforcing the once-dwindling ranks of the more traditional, precision shooting sports.
After years of declining numbers, participation in hunting and shooting sports is on the rise according to reports by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade association, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This in spite of increasing loss of hunting lands to residential sprawl, efforts to close ranges and shooting areas by encroaching neighbors, government bureaucrats, and the “guns are bad” crowd, and the steady shift away from rural communities and customs toward a more urban/suburban society and standards.
Gun sales spiked dramatically in 2008 and have continued at record high levels with not only existing gun owners acquiring additional guns, but millions of first-time gun owners entering the market. Careful analysis of polls regarding gun ownership over the years indicate that the percentage of households with guns in them is right at, or a bit over, 50%, and that this rate has remained relatively stable for decades. Best estimates suggest that more than 80 million Americans own firearms at an average rate of 4 guns each. NSSF also reports that the firearms and ammunition industry, including makers of targets, accessories, and hunting gear, were responsible for almost $30 billion in economic activity and more than 183,000 jobs in 2010. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute says that as many people go shooting every year as go golfing, and that the shooters spend more money overall in connection with their sport.
Years ago shooters and hunters imposed a special excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and hunting gear with the revenue earmarked for conservation, safety programs, and construction of public ranges. Between these taxes and various licensing fees, NSSF estimates that shooters and hunters generate 3.5 million dollars a day for these programs. What’s more, while more people own more guns than ever before, the rate of firearm-related accidents is at an all time low and crime has been dramatically declining as gun ownership has been increasing. So much for the assumption that more guns equals more crime.
What it all boils down to is that shooting is fun, shooting is exciting, and shooting is safe. It really is fun for the whole family and there’s something for everyone. Shooters need to keep spreading this message – and all gun owners should be active shooters! It’s up to you to share your passion with your family, friends, and coworkers. You might be very surprised at how many takers you’d have if you offered to teach a basic firearms safety class to the folks at your church – especially a class specifically for women. NSSF has tons of helpful information about available programs, competitions, and places to shoot at their web site, www.NSSF.org.
The Second Amendment isn’t about the shooting sports, but the shooting sports are very dependent on the Second Amendment. I hope to see you, and your family and friends, at the range – and in the fight for individual liberty and responsibility at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
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