Attitudes Toward Guns Change as High Schools Embrace Shooting Sports

Sarah Bard, of Gilbert, shoots at Caswells Shooting Range, Tuesday, April 6, 2010 in Mesa,
AP/Matt York

In 2009 the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League championship featured 30 competitors. In 2015 the same championship featured 5,134 and “more than 20,000 spectators.”

Amid the rapid grown, Wisconsin and North Dakota joined the ranks and high schools in both states embrace shooting as a new school sport as well.

According to Bloomberg Business, the move is good for manufacturers such as Browning, Benelli Armi SpA, SKB Shotguns, and others, all of whom get to expose a younger generation to a firearm-based sport in which they can participate for decades. This means buying equipment such as shotguns and shotgun accessories throughout that time frame as well.

For example, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) “estimates the average 16-year-old competitor will spend $75,000 [on trap shooting equipment and supplies] over his or her lifetime.”

But it is not just about the money. Rather, it is about the fact that the participants love the firearm-based sport.

For example, 17-year-old Stephanie Petsili, who shoots “a $1,430 Browning BT-99 Micro [shotgun]” for Wayzata High School outside Minneapolis, said, “It’s just cool because I get to use a gun.”

Another competitor, 15-year-old Zac Olson of Lakeville South High School, uses “a SKB Century III 12-gauge” and says he likes the sport because it comes down to discipline, not just strength or speed. This opens the door for all kinds of participants, as long as those who wish to take part have the discipline to hone their skills.

Olson’s involvement in the sport has already changed his mother’s position on guns. She says she went from being anti-gun to actually buying guns for her son to use, including a Glock 17 9mm handgun that she believes will “nurture his newfound interest in becoming a police officer.”

Courtney Olson concluded, “To see your kid this happy is incredible.”

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