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School shooting teams were common through most of the sixties. They suffered an enormous decline with the war on guns, beginning with the Gun Control Act of 1968, extending to the turn of the century. Now, however,  they’re making a comeback.

The number of clubs are growing again, and even the Associated Press is noticing.


Their classmates took to the streets to protest gun violence and to implore adults to restrict guns, seeming to forecast a generational shift in attitudes toward the Second Amendment. But at high school and college gun ranges around the country, these teens and young adults gather to practice shooting and talk about the positive influence firearms have had on their lives.

What do they say they learn? Patience. Discipline. Responsibility.

“I’ve never gone out onto a range and not learned something new,” said Lydia Odlin, a 21-year-old member of the Georgia Southern University rifle team.

Shooting is a lifetime sport that practitioners can participate in until they’re old and gray. The interesting thing about the AP article is that it mentions the many positive aspects of the shooting sports while pointing out the fact that high school shooters learn how to be responsible gun owners.

There are an estimated 5,000 teams at high schools and universities around the country, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and their popularity hasn’t waned despite criticism after it emerged that the gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school had been a member of the JROTC rifle team. The youths who are involved, coaches and parents say there’s an enormous difference between someone bent on violence and school gun clubs that focus on safety and teach skills that make navigating life’s hardships easier.

Rifle teams used to be something governments all over the world supported. The reason was obvious. Armies with recruits that could shoot accurately had an advantage on the battlefield. In England, a personal friend told me of bicycling all over his area, .22 target rifle on the handlebars. Nobody blinked. That was then. This is now.

President Theodore Roosevelt thought children should be encouraged to learn to shoot.


“We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world…”

It may not be a coincidence that support for school shooting teams declined during the nuclear age. The control of nuclear weapons seemed to diminish the necessity for a nation of  riflemen. But we’ve learned differently. Experience in wars from Korea to Afghanistan have validated the need for the rifleman on the field of combat.

Times change. Technology changes. Perhaps in the future, riflemen may become obsolete. But we’re not there yet. Not even close.

The virtues instilled and promoted by the shooting sports — self discipline, responsibility, control of mind and body — have always been, and always will be, valuable and worthwhile.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


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  1. Good article. My high school had a rifle team I shot on. Years later I learned some damn liberal closed the indoor range down, disposed of all the awards and trophies without permission or notification, and the rifles too! The only good dumbassocrat or a liberal one is one 6′ under!

  2. My son recently asked me why on TV gun owners are shown as silly or dangerous, but I see the exact opposite at the range?

    I had to tell him the people who control the media and many others do not want people to own firearms and they do this negative portrayal to get public opinion on their side.

    We must present a positive image of gun ownership. Act as though there is a camera recording everything you do.

  3. My dad was on a HS rifle team way back in the 1920’s(in Kankakee,Il). Long gone by the time I was in HS in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Oh well…

  4. You would get even more kids into guns if they could use a suppressed rifle. But the cost is very high now. Tax stamp plus the Can cost as well. Hearing Protection Act?????

    Or use Aguila ultra quiet rim fire 22 ammunition. This stuff is so quiet you won’t need a suppressor. I’ve used them in my Henry Lever action rifle. Almost no recoil. You can’t use them in a semi auto rifle. They won’t cycle the gun. The Liberals would rather kids train on putting condoms on to a cucumber.


    • Donald Trump Jr did say it was a firearms education as a kid that got him the discipline he needed. He said guns kept him out of trouble. TTAG did have this story but I cant find it.

  5. In Australia up to 1950’s it was usual practice for Army cadets to take .303 rifles home with them. An actual “war weapon”. My father even carried a fully operational Bren gun around just before WW2 started. I can’t imagine the screaming if that happened now.

    Fully agree though school rifle teams are a great idea to have.

  6. I started HS in the fall of 80. Rode my bike to school with my rifle in its case. After class I had to ride to the old HS, it had be come an elementary school, and we shot in the basement. Believe it or not, I went to HS is Massachusetts!
    I still have that Mossberg 144 with the heavy barrel and Lyman peep sites. It gets some funny looks at the range until people see how well it shoots!

  7. Don’t look at all this as something from the past- there are huge shooting programs attached to high schools all across Iowa and Minnesota that I’m personally aware of. The Bemidji MN high school had over 100 young men and women out shooting trap every week and the club members were happy to help subsidize reduced price ammo for them. Other area high schools had similar programs and more than a few are shooting ATA. A couple schools in Iowa caused stirs because they initially didn’t want seniors to have yearbook pix with them holding their trap guns, some finally acquiessed.

    Once shotguns “got in the door”, some achools also managed to get rifle teams going again and at least 2 in the Des Moines metro area (not DMPS schools, though) also have bulleye pistol going. They usually have a table at our gun shows and raffle something for fundraising.

    The guns never show up at school but no school would now have a rifle or pistol range, let alone trap, skeet and sproting clays. All are run by certified instructors and have parent volunteers like any other school activity.

    Long before the Scholastic Shooting Programs began, more than a few HS JROTC clubs were shooting regular indoor airgun matches. The inner city school where I taught had national champions several years and they are still active and travel around quite a bit to shoot as well as participate in postals. There range is actually on school property in a room at the bus barn.

    If you have kids or time to volunteer, get involved in the program. Without replacing all us dinosaurs who grew up being able to have guns in our vehicles to hunt with after school or to allow kids to bring their Ruger Mk I in so I could show them how to put it back together during study hall (at least 3 times the first place I taught), there will be no one left shooting to carry on or even care about the Second Amendment, let alone the rest of the country. In urban areas especially, a majority of boys are being raised by a single female only and that’s killing it. More info on the HS and college programs at

    Oh, and 4H still has shooting programs not attached to schools, and now your tranny kid can participate…

  8. I would like such a club to be in my school or college. These classes provide practical skills for each student and develop them comprehensively. In my college I am overloaded with theoretical tasks that I do not know how to help me in later life. I use to perform them when the task has no practical use to me or I have more important activities. I recommend this resource to anyone who is tired of doing all the tasks alone.

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