Participation in the nationwide 4-H Shooting Sports Program, which includes archery, hunting, pistol, rifle, and other firearms, has nearly tripled since 2009 and last year drew 336,558 program participants nationally. The actual number of youths involved is doubtless somewhat different than that, as some sign up for more than one offering and not all states report, but the trend is clear.
Also, after a long decline, participation in hunting in the US increased by 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, and one of the main reasons appears to be an array of youth recruitment and retention programs sponsored by local clubs and national youth organizations, according to a recent study funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Throughout the region, junior shooting programs with names such as “The Projectiles” and “The Hot Shots” are generally open to children age 10 and up. The ranges are packed with boys and, increasingly, girls.
Shooting appeals to young people for unexpected reasons; the sport is unlike the standard competitive fare offered at most of their schools, they say, and measures their individual skill in ways that team play does not.
Many parents of young shooters like it, too. Not only do the demands of target practice improve their children’s focus, they say, but the programs demand a high level of personal responsibility. There are no-exceptions safety rules on the range. And youths are routinely asked at some clubs to bring in their report cards — good grades can be a condition of participation.
Articles like this are incredibly satisfying to read, reach a large audience who may be fence-sitters or somewhat anti-gun, and help show such people one of the many positive aspects of firearms. People in cities like Boston might not otherwise see firearms in a positive light and may have a mental image of gun owners as overweight country bumpkins or inner-city violent thugs, so having a major newspaper cover youth shooting sports in a positive light is a big thing.
Truly, the future of not only the shooting sports, but of our rights and liberties, rests in the hands of young people and it’s good to see young people getting involved in the outdoors, shooting sports, hunting, etc.
While I don’t understand why they would bother contacting such an irrelevant “group”, the Globe contacted Josh Sugarmann at the VPC and he made a statement that shows how extreme and out-of-touch the anti-gun side is:
“The fact is, children don’t have the developmental skills to hold highly developed military weapons,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington.
I have no idea what “highly developed military weapons” are, but whatever they are and regardless of where Mr. Sugarmann gets his “facts”, the article clearly shows that there are children who have the developmental skills to not only hold and use such firearms, but additionally have the discipline and proficiency such that they compete and excel in high-level competitions.