Author: Bryan Unsell

Annie Get Your Gun, You Too Taylor

SSSF-Thu-Taylor-1Participation by women – in this case perhaps girls – here in at the SCTP and SASP National Championships is, well, high. Girls account for nearly 1 in every 5 shooters with 19.3% of the total. By sport the numbers are more interesting.

In the shotgun sports of SCTP the girls make up 17.7% of the shooters. But when it comes to the pistol and rifle sports of SASP, girls are now 30.7% of the total shooters.

2016 Gender Participation

One of those girls helping to drive up participation is 11-year-old Taylor Diener of the Union Grove Shooting Club in Wisconsin.

Taylor started shooting trap two years ago and just this past March made the leap into rimfire rifle competition in preparation for this year’s SASP Nationals. On the range she’s hard to miss, unless of course she’s surrounded by a cluster of adults who all tower over her. Cute and confident she seems totally unfazed by either the flood of attention given to young new shooters like her or the pressure of competing at the national level.

Even when her rifle magazine has a feeding issue, a world ending disaster in the minds of many competitive shooters racing the timer, Taylor calmly keeps working the action and pulling the trigger.

A lot of the young shooters, and several of the young girls shooting, demonstrate this same poise under pressure. And after, rather than voice any frustration or disappointment, Taylor focuses on the future, as in next year when she plans to add doubles trap, maybe sporting clays and even rimfire pistol to her shooting schedule.

No wonder participation by girls – and of course women – continues to grow in the shooting sports.

Not So Fast…Wisconsin Beats Tennessee

Tennessee might have the largest number of shotgun shooters here at the SCTP Nationals, but over on the pistol and rifle ranges, where they’re competing in the Scholastic Action Shooting Program Nationals, it’s a different story. The Badger State overtook Tennessee as the top state in terms of shooter participation, edging out their rivals from the south with 19.8% of the shooters hailing from Wisconsin compared to 19.5% coming from Tennessee. It might be a narrow margin of victory but a win is a win.

SSSF-16 Top 5 SASP States

Amber Rasmussen, Ironwoman

Amber Rasmussen
Amber Rasmussen shoots a lot, something like 200 rounds a week during the season and about 5,000 rounds annually. She competes on the Union Grove Broncos Shooting Club team, out of Union Grove, Wisconsin, where her father, Wayne, is an assistant coach.

She started out shooting trap in 8th grade, picked up sporting clays and skeet her sophomore year and added handicap and doubles trap her junior year. In her freshman year she also found time to shoot pistol.

This past spring Amber graduated and is headed to Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she plans to study physical therapy. This made her final round of trap at the National Team Championships a bit tough.

“I started crying before my last round and by the time I was done I was a mess,” said the 18 year old describing her last day shooting in the Scholastic Clay Target Program with her high school team.

While her Union Grove career came to an end, for Amber it most certainly did not go gentle into that good night as Dylan Thomas might note. No, Amber went out with a bang – over 1,000 of them the be specific.

Amber, along with her fellow Union Grove teammate Michael Kopecki, are members of a small group here at the nationals that compete in every championship event. She took on sporting clays, skeet, trap, doubles trap and handicap trap shooting 200 targets in each. In doubles trap she finished 3rd Ladies Varsity in individual competition helping her team take 4th place.

She also shot 100 rounds in the Scholastic Pistol Program event. And, she even faced off in Friday night’s Last Competitor Standing shoot were, facing off against several hundred shooters, she managed to win a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of the NRA.

At the end of a long, hot week of competition, Amber was thankful her Union Grove team shot as much as it did through the year. But as for the reason for shooting so many events Amber pulls no punches, declaring emphatically, “Because I can.”

Young Women Make Up 18.4% Of Athletes At Nationals

A 2013 research report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation entitled Analysis of Sport Shooting Participation in the U.S. 2008-2012 found that not only were new shooters likely to be younger with 66% falling in the 18-to-34-year-old age group, but they were also likely to be female. NSSF’s findings showed that 37% of new target shooters were women.

Looking around the grounds of the World Shooting & Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois, it’s clear that young women are a fast growing segment of both the Scholastic Clay Target Program and the Scholastic Pistol Program.

At this year’s National Team Championships those young ladies with shotguns slung over their shoulders, and those with a pistol tucked away in their range bag, make up 18.4% of the total 2,800-plus athletes in attendance. Among the 2,466 shotgunners they are 17.6% while on the pistol ranges they account for nearly a quarter (24.3%) of the 345 competitors.

Gender Participation
If the broad smiles exhibited during Wednesday night’s Opening Ceremony are any indication, the number of young female athletes participating in the shooting programs of the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation is likely to grow.


A Personal Best…10 Times

Coach Rick Leach of the Ozaukee Scholastic Shooting Sports (Wisconsin) had a lot to be happy about this morning. Coming off the Scholastic Pistol Program ranges his team of 13 shooters finished the match strong. Real strong.

After going over the times, and double checking his math, Coach Leach confirmed that 10 of his 13 athletes had shot new personal records, and at the best possible time too, during the National Team Championships.

While each was a significant accomplishment both for the team and its coach, Leach couldn’t conceal his pride in the fact that one of those record times was that of his daughter Mikaela, who three years ago shot over 400 seconds at her first Nationals and was hoping this year to just break 100.

She finished this morning’s match with a time of 87.95 seconds.

Mikaela, who had already competed in the Sporting Clays and Skeet Nationals – where she also shot a personal best – is out on the trap fields competing in her fourth Nationals this week, the American Trap Team National Championship.

She freely admits to having what she calls “a gun powder addiction.”

Of course she couldn’t leave the pistol range without first reporting in to Ed Fitzgerald of Glock. Fitzgerald was there in 2013 when she first shot the Nationals and jumped in with some much needed shooting advice when Mikaela was struggling and missing more than she was hitting. So you could say he’s a little invested in Mikaela’s success and was happy to hear how her match went today…and it didn’t hurt that she blew through her sub 100 second goal with a Glock model 34 pistol.


Top Five States At The 2015 Nationals


Participation at the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation’s 2015 National Team Championships is broad reaching with 28 states represented. Nearly three quarters (74.1%) of the 2,800+ shooters come from just five states. Here’s how athletes from the SSSF’s Big 5 break out.

Tennessee (25.3%)
The Volunteer State accounts for 25.3% of all athletes with 601 competing in SCTP (24.4%) and 109 (31.6%) in SPP.

Illinois (18.6%)
The home of the World Shooting & Recreational Complex, the Land of Lincoln sent 484 (19.6%) of shotgunners and 40 (11.6%) of the pistol competitors.

Wisconsin (14.9%)
The Badger State athletes came to shoot with 371 (15.0%) in SCTP and 47 (13.6%) in SPP.

Iowa (8.1%)
The Hawkeye State rolled in with 200 (8.2%) of the SCTP athletes and 29 (8.4%) of those in SPP.

Missouri (7.2%)
The Show-Me State showed up with 202 (8.2%) SCTP competitors, and despite not having any shooters in the SPP Nationals they still hold down fifth overall on this list.


Coley Holding Court

Shane Coley
For those shooting in the Scholastic Pistol Program Nationals this week, program sponsor and firearms maker Glock brought in one of its big guns – Shane Coley.

Fresh from a six-year stint in the U.S. Army where he served with the famed U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Shane joined Team Glock earlier this summer taking on the role of team captain.

This week the 24 year old Mississippi native is working the pistol match helping the young shooters and along the way hopefully shedding some light on the secret ways of going fast for those looking to post personal records on the pistol ranges of the World Shooting & Recreational Complex here in Sparta, Illinois.

One secret Shane shared was on the subject of math, which probably wasn’t what most of the young shooters expected, or wanted now that school is out. But it is understanding the timing on each individual component of a shooting run and how they add up that he stressed. As well as the importance of working with an electronic shot timer.

For the parents watching Team Glock’s new top gun the questions during his morning seminar focused on reloading ammunition and whether or not an up and coming young shooter can make a living in the sport.

For Shane Coley the answer to that question is most definitely ‘Yes.’

Tennessee’s Real Pistol Powerhouse

Lacey Lane
Lacey Lane of McKenzie, Tennessee, just might be the most important woman in youth pistol shooting sports today. The 24 year old works for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, the non-profit arms of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, where she oversees the Scholastic Pistol Program (SPP) in the Volunteer State.

So, why is this young lady so important to youth shooting sports?

Well, with somewhere around 135 SPP shooters hailing from Tennessee, her kids make up 11.7% of the 1,150 participating nationwide, and at this year’s SPP Nationals, taking place at the World Shooting & Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois, her squads account for 31.6% of those competing for the national titles.

Working with young shooters comes naturally to Lacey since she grew up in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) when it was first founded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Today it’s the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation which serves as the national governing body of both SCTP and SPP, and is running the National Team Championships this week in Sparta.

With several years background competing in the programs, and armed with a degree in Natural Resources Management and Wildlife Fisheries from the University of Tennessee, she signed on with TWRF after they created the position of Tennessee State Director for SPP last November, putting the responsibility for promoting the state’s youth handgun shooting sports participation squarely on her shoulders.

Considering the prominent role her home state plays in SSSF’s youth shooting sports, and the ease with which she interacts with the staff and volunteers tasked with overseeing the national match, most of which are male and in many cases significantly older, it’s pretty clear that Lacey’s shoulders can handle the burden.

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