Shooting Sports Revealed as a Favorite Seasonal Activity

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I
advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives
boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the
ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no
character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of
your walks." - The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division

Ohio fifth in nation for number of shooters

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- 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 warm-season

Click 'Read More' for the entire story from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

In fact, participation in shooting sports tops tennis,
softball, jet skiing, water skiing, mountain biking, most team sports and
virtually all of the seasonal technical sports like 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.

"With three years' worth of data, we now have a more
complete and clear picture of the comparative popularity of all shooting
sports," said Doug Painter, president of the nonprofit trade group National
Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

Along with comparisons, the sheer numbers in shooting are
also impressive.

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

Per capita, ASD shows Idaho as the most avid shooting
state (18 of every 100 people participate), followed by Utah, Wyoming,
Montana and Arkansas.

In overall numbers, California is No. 1 with over 2.1
million shooters, including the most rifle, handgun and shotgun shooters of
any state. Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio follow, according to ASD.

"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 Painter.

NSSF operates a Web site,, offering
where-to and how-to information.

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.

Venues can be as humble as a local gun club to the world
stage of the Olympic games.

Painter said new shooting leagues are popping up at ranges
around the country with handgun sports emerging as a growing attraction,
especially for women. NSSF is partnering with ranges nationwide to offer
"First Shots" clinics for newcomers. Those who have attended the clinics
have enjoyed their first experiences. In fact, surveys show 92 percent of
First Shots attendees say they will likely continue participating in

Shooting is among the safest sports. Accidents and
injuries are exceedingly rare, especially when compared statistically with
other forms of outdoor recreation.

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, NSSF's free, one-stop clearinghouse of information for
firearm-based recreation.

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