In the year 2000, a problem became apparent. The number of shooting ranges in Minnesota had dropped by more than 10% in the past ten years, and many others were worried about closing their doors. Shooting ranges had seen a large decrease in the number of members, the number of leagues, and the number of rounds that were shot.
The Minnesota DNR conducted an informal independent survey of gun clubs throughout Minnesota in 2001. It was determined that the average age of gun club members was almost 57 years old. It was apparent that unless something was done to attract younger shooters, the future of shooting sports would be in jeopardy.
The solution to this problem seemed simple enough, attract young people to the shooting sports. But how? Several organizations started youth programs many years ago, but they were primarily short-term programs that attracted shooters to a couple events in the summer – it wasn’t a strong enough inducement to make young people want to take up shooting sports.
If these organizations weren’t successful, what approach might be successful?
Jim Sable was named Youth Program Director at the Plymouth Gun Club in Plymouth, Minnesota and given the responsibility of attracting young people to the club and to the shooting sports. When the president of the Plymouth Gun Club asked Jim where he was going to start, Jim responded, “In the schools – that’s where the kids are.”