Shooting Leagues are the Places to Be
If you’re wondering how to get motivated to pack up your gun and gear and head to the range, one of the easiest ways is to join a shooting league. Some of the best advice for starting any new habit is to do it with other people, who in turn come to depend on you to be there to shoot with them.
Organized much like a bowling league you’re probably familiar with, league shoots can be about individual competition, competition between groups or teams of shooters or both. Leagues are generally shot over several weeks and even several months at a time, with courses of fire changing each week. Scores for each week for each shooter and team signed up for that league being tabulated throughout until the champs are declared at the end of the league season.
All sorts of gun ranges and clubs offer shooting leagues, including many public and park-run facilities. The leagues are often centered around themes, such as bowling pins, metallic silhouette targets and sporting clays and other shotgun clay games, and tailored to specific firearms. The competition ranges from friendly to fierce, but the idea behind them is to get more people out shooting. Since finding a league to shoot is usually as easy as dialing up your local range and asking what they have on the schedule, I thought I’d provide you a few that emphasize participation by youth and women.
The NSSF offers a great resource listing youth shooting leagues. It includes the following options:
- ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships program
- Boy Scouts of America Council Challenge Grant program
- Academics, Integrity, Marksmanship program (trapshooting)
- Collegiate Shooting Sport Initiative
- National 4-H Shooting Sports
- Scholastic Clay Target Program
- Scholastic Pistol Program
- DIVA Women Outdoors Worldwide—“Women love the camaraderie and sharing their accomplishments of shooting skills,” said Judy Rhodes, founder of the organization that promotes handgun, rifle and shotgun skills, along with clinics on dog handling, 3-Gun and holster carry – to mention a few other benefits. DIVA WOW has taught thousands of women to shoot safely and offers a blueprint at its website on how to start a league in your area.
- The Well Armed Woman—“The response to The Well Armed Woman (TWAW) website and Facebook community was so profound that it was clear to me that women were not only hungry for respectful information and products designed for them, but for the opportunity to explore shooting and training in a less intimidating environment and connect with other women shooters,” says founder Carrie Lightfoot. The Well Armed Woman boasts more than 200 chapters nationwide.
- A Girl and A Gun—“The top six barriers [to shooting I heard] were ‘I don’t own a gun,’ ‘I don’t know what kind of ammo to buy,’ ‘I don’t know how to shoot,’ ‘I don’t want to hurt myself or anyone else,’ ‘I don’t have time,’ and ‘I am afraid,’” said A Girl and a Gun founder Julianna Crowder. Each chapter facilitator schedules clinics on topics that range from gun cleaning and holster selection to low-light shooting and MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) builds. The leaders also host instructors for special classes and, of course, get members out to matches.
Start Your Own
The National Rifle Association offers information on the various disciplines that you can tailor to form a shooting league of your own. Competitions include the following types of firearms:
- Action Pistol
- Air Gun
- Conventional Pistol
- High Power Rifle
- Smallbore Rifle
Found a group of shooters to form a league but need a place to hold it? Remember to check out WhereToShoot.org, a service offered by the NSSF that lists state-by-state shooting ranges for archery, handgun, instruction/rentals, retail, rifle, shotgun and women’s and youth programs.