The USA Clay Target League this summer has nearly 16,000 high school athletes from across the country participating in state tournaments and championship events. No less than 47 events collectively totaling 62 days of individual and team competition were held in June alone across the nation. The largest of these was the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship in Alexandria – which for the record is the world’s largest clay target shooting sport event – with over 6,500 student-athletes in 300 high school teams taking the field over the course of nine full days of competition.
The League’s priorities are safety, fun, and marksmanship – in that order – and participants have fired more than 75 million shells since its inception with a spotless safety record. Each student-athlete must pass a safety certification before becoming active in the sport and safety equipment was mandatory. The League – which bills itself as the safest sport in high school – has not logged a reported injury since its founding in 2001.
At least 53 colleges and universities sponsor varsity shooting sports teams, many with scholarship opportunities, and international clay pigeon has been an Olympic sport since 1900 – an event that America has historically done well in. Even if these student-athletes don't continue competing past high school, the sport itself is enjoyable and widespread. It's also one that can be safely practiced informally well into the later years of life. Going past that, the kids that are standing at today's clay stands will be tomorrow's community leaders, business owners, lawmakers, and, possibly, the team parents and coaches for the next generation of sports shooters