Shooting. It’s just squeeze, bang, reload, repeat, right?
Not so. Competing in shooting sports can yield life skills that are useful on and off the firing line. There is a myriad of opportunities available as well, from collegiate scholarships to the Olympics.
I have been participating in the rifle discipline of shooting sports for 10 years. In that time, I have found that shooting sports is not simply about being a good marksman. There are many more virtues that can be gained through this sport.
Participants learn how to competently use a firearm and safely handle it in the field and on the range.
There are 10 rules of safe gun handling that are taught, from “Treat every gun as if it is loaded” to “Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.”
The most important rule of safety is “Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.” If that rule is followed, many accidents are prevented.
When it is layered with all of the other safety rules, virtually all accidents are preventable. These rules apply not only to firearms but bows as well. Safety is always the first priority of the shooting sports program.
Along with safety, patience, concentration and perseverance are learned. I have seen this through personal experience. Not only have I noticed this in myself, but I have seen it when I have coached younger shooting sports participants.
In some disciplines of shooting sports, you are on the range in the same position for 30 minutes or more. At first, especially when I was younger, it was difficult to sit still the whole time. Even after just a year of competing, it was easier.
Shooting sports may not be as much of a physical sport as football, but it is definitely a mind game. Mental concentration can be the difference between hitting a bullseye and hitting one ring outside that.
There is not just one target either. In BB gun competition, there are four positions with 10 shots per position. In air rifle there are only three positions, but there are 20 shots in each position.
Shooting sports may not be a workout for the muscles, but it strengthens the mind.
I mentioned BB gun and air rifle. These are only two possibilities of a wide spectrum of disciplines.
In the rifle discipline, which contains BB gun and air rifle, there is also smallbore .22, centerfire, service rifle and many other categories.
Archery is just as diverse. You can compete in barebow, which is a bow with no sight, compound, recurve, among other possibilities.
The categories of pistol are similar to rifle: air pistol, smallbore .22, and centerfire.
Trap, skeet, and sporting clays are shotgun competitions.
There are many competitions available to participate in, sponsored by 4-H, the Civilians Marksmanship Program, National Rifle Association, as well as USA Shooting.
Since shooting sports is a lifelong sport, many competitions are open to all ages. There are scholarship opportunities available through shooting sports, and there are shooting sports events at the Olympics, both the winter and summer. Shooting sports is a diverse activity with many opportunities.
It is more than simply pulling a trigger. Competitive shooting is a lifelong sport in which I have learned skills and built friendships that will last a lifetime.
Schmidt, 16, will be a junior level home-school student and finished first place overall in Gillespie County competition in 2015 through 2017 and advanced to state and national competitions.