One thing that the trapshooting community can agree on (which is rare!), is that the youth are the future of our great sport. Furthermore, it is agreed that we must do everything we can to introduce them to, and engage them in the sport.
Where the disagreement occurs is in discussions about “HOW do we accomplish this goal?” One fantastic method for this is a high school scholastic trap league. My hometown trap clubs did a great job in organizing their league and gaining access to the local high schools. There are six teams with varied degrees of participation, but all range from approximately 7-20 shooters. Not too shabby for a town of 10,000.
These clubs also participate in 50 bird non-registered summer and winter trap leagues. While turnout for the scholastic league is strong – including family and friends, these usually draw a larger crowd than the more established leagues – it has been nothing short of challenging to convince the kids to return for leagues, non-scholastic related practice nights, registered shoots, etc.
Sure, the “freebies” (deeply discounted/free targets, shells, and food) don’t exist outside of the scholastic league, but there are still incentives to be involved. The least of which are the reduced target prices – admittedly not AS reduced as during the scholastic league.
Where is it that we lose these young shooters? Is the time commitment too significant? Are the XBox, iPad, cell phone, and other social obligations taking precedent over the rest of their lives? I am of the belief that people make time for the things that are important to them….family, friends, work, sports, rest…..the list goes on.
My question to anyone reading this (experienced trapshooters, new shooters, parents of youth trapshooters, the ATA/AIM, SCTP) is simple: “What is standing in the way of making trapshooting a priority for our youth shooters?” Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion.
PS – If you’re not convinced what impact trapshooting can have on you and your child, please check out our Ask the All-Americans column. All three writers were youth trapshooters and competed at the highest level. They are in total agreement that the sport has shaped their lives, for the better.