What do youth shooting sports do for teenagers? Do they instill confidence? Boost self-esteem? Foster friendships?
Yes, yes, and yes!
A prime example of how shooting competitions put the ‘fun’ in the ‘fundamentals’ was on display last week in the desert during the sixth annual U.S. Open Youth Clay Shooting Championship. Held at the Clark County Shooting Complex just outside Las Vegas, NV., the event drew an impressive 600 youth shooters ranging from 3rd – 12th grade competing in trap, skeet, and sporting clay events.
Participants from every skill level and every corner of the country were having fun in the sun – putting safety first and supporting fellow shooters who quickly became great friends!
“I’ve made a ton of new friends,” said 15-year-old Emily Inserra, of the Twin Falls (Idaho) Hot Shots. “I practically know all the teams here.”
Safety is emphasized from the beginning, said Dave Tanner, president of the Youth Shooting Sports Federation, which runs the competition.
“We start them off the very first thing is they take a safety training program. Each team is responsible for that. It’s something they go through diligently to make sure the kids are safe,” he said. “…We make sure that they are safe before they advance.”
“You know I think what’s really fun about this competition is the camaraderie between the athletes, no matter what team they’re from or who they shoot for,” said Allan Garza, head coach of Team Coon Creek of Rio Oso, California. “They all get along, they all support each other, they help each other out when they notice one of the athletes is struggling.”
“I sorta started it to kinda get me a little bit better at hunting, but then I started to shoot a little bit more,” said 15-year-old Breyer Meeks of the Twin Falls Hot Shots. “And it got really exciting and fun and decided to try more with it.”
“Practices are fun and then when you get to the competition, you have fun down time with your team but then you have to go out on the line and focus and it becomes more competitive,” said Stephen Caputo, an 18-year-old member of the De La Salle High School Trap Club in Concord, CA. “But it’s still fun. Fun takes priority in the sport.”