America’s favorite summertime sports have long been played on trails, waters, fields, courses and courts. And, now we know, they’re played on shooting ranges, too.
Statistics gathered over the past three years show that target shooting — with rifle, handgun and shotgun — is actually more popular than many pastimes historically considered mainstays of recreation.
Participation in shooting sports tops tennis, softball, jet-skiing, water-skiing, mountain-biking, most team sports and virtually all of the seasonal technical sports such as rock-climbing and kayaking, according to the most recent numbers from American Sports Data (ASD), a consumer research firm for the sporting goods, fitness and health club industries.
ASD monitors participation in all shooting sports. It has tracked rifle and shotgun shooting participation for many years, and began tracking handgun target shooting in 2003.
Research from ASD shows more than 18 million Americans enjoy the shooting sports. Actual numbers may be even higher. In a 2006 survey commissioned by NSSF, 17 percent of Americans, or about 50 million people, said they had been shooting with a rifle in the past two years. Fifteen percent went target shooting with a handgun and eight percent with a shotgun.
“Target shooters say their sport is challenging, a great activity to share with family and friends, and just plain fun. Plus, there’s an added benefit — shooting hones self- and home-defense skills that give citizens confidence and peace of mind,” said Doug Painter, president of the nonprofit trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Shooting sports vary widely. Shotgun games include fast-action trap, skeet and sporting clays. Rifle shooters can choose from infinite forms of target sports, from composed precision to boisterous cowboy shooting. Handgun options range from simple practice on paper silhouette targets to elaborate, reactive obstacle courses that test competitors’ athleticism, speed and accuracy.
Wildlife conservation funding in America is generally attributed to hunters, but shooters also are vital contributors. An excise tax on all firearms and ammunition is earmarked for wildlife restoration, management and habitat programs.
To learn more and find a shooting range near you, visit www.huntandshoot.org, a free, one-stop clearinghouse of information for firearm-based recreation.
BIG GAME DRAW RESULTS
The fall big game draw has been completed by Arizona Game and Fish Department and the 117,421 applicants can find out if they have been drawn by visiting the department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov/draw.
Hunt-permit tags will be mailed to successful applicants no later than Aug. 10. Refunds will be mailed out no later than Aug. 24.
There are 1,192 hunt-permit tags for deer and javelina remaining on a first-come, first-served basis, which will be available by mail only (not online) on Aug. 20.
Fishing hot spot
Willow Beach: Giant striped bass and desert bighorn sheep are providing a fun double feature around Willow Beach, which is the tailwaters for Hoover Dam at the north end of Lake Mohave (head for Hoover Dam on Highway 93 and watch for the signs). Huge stripers are coming into the Willow Beach area for a snack during the weekly trout stockings. Swimbaits or other trout-imitating lures are the trick. You might as well catch a few trout while you’re at it. Also, bighorn sheep are in the rut right now. You might hear them or even see them butting heads.
P.O. Box 859, Mesa, AZ 85211