Imagine a school sport where anyone and everyone can participate on a relatively equal footing. A sport where kids in wheelchairs can beat the school jocks, where girls can outscore the guys and where freshmen can compete alongside seniors.
America’s clay shooting program hits all those points and maybe that’s why it’s America’s fastest growing school sport.
In basketball or football, where the better players get most of the time on the court or field, and everyone else warms a bench. However, in clay shooting, everyone on the team participates 100% of the time. Even less popular, less athletically inclined people like David Hogg.
Speaking of David Hogg…he likes to represent that young people don’t like guns, shooting, or the gun culture. How is it then that clay shooting programs are experiencing almost exponential growth in schools across America? Maybe it explains why the organization Mr. Hogg allegedly help found was funded by a tiny handful of dark money donors, not millions of school aged kids. And certainly not millions of dues-paying members like the NRA.
Maybe in addition to all of the above reasons, clay shooting ranks as the safest sport in schools today. That certainly seems to reassure non-gun owning parents nervous about the idea of their kids competing with those icky guns. And even new shooters who have never touched a gun before can listen, learn and improve their competitiveness in pretty short order.
The National Rifle Association touts the success and rapid growth of school clay programs in a piece at the American Rifleman:
Student athletes representing 651 high school and college teams—11,783 of the young enthusiasts, to be precise—are participating in USA Clay Target League (USACTL) programs this fall. In all, 34 states are represented. More than 7,800 local volunteers will serve as coaches, range safety officers and team staff.
“Despite constant challenges both last year and this year, we are pleased to have our largest fall registration numbers ever,” said John Nelson, president of the USACTL. “The record-setting participation this fall is the result of the incredible efforts of coaches and families to overcome ongoing issues with the pandemic and ammunition shortages.”
The League’s co-ed and adaptive nature are key attractions to schools nationwide. The League is fully Title IX compliant with both male and female athletes competing on the same team. Additionally, it’s an ‘adaptive’ sport, which allows students with physical disabilities to take part. The League is also the safest sport in high school and college, with not one reported injury since the inception of the League in 2001. Each athlete must complete firearm safety certification before participation.