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Young guns as a healthy pursuit

By Jim Smith
Unless you’re familiar with scholastic shooting sports, you may not recognize a guest I invited to attend OWAA’s June conference.
Bill Christy has been involved with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Scholastic Clay Target Program since 2000. The NSSF is the firearms industry’s “program bill-christy-webincubator,” and as such it hired Christy as a consultant to develop a shotgun program for youths. The Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) was the result. Over the last eight years, the SCTP has been the most successful youth-oriented program in NSSF history. The program’s success recently earned it its independence. In January of this year, the National Shooting Sports Foundation officially turned over the administration of the SCTP to Christy and the newly formed Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF). Christy now serves as president and executive director of SSSF.
Christy is attending the OWAA conference to explore the possibility of his organization participating next year as a supporting group.
Funding for the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation has come almost exclusively from the NSSF. But Christy is aware NSSF can’t do it alone. In the current tight economy, the Scholastic Clay Target Program needs all the help it can get, especially from the firearms industry – and outdoor writers. The very future of the industry depends on promoting the shooting sports to the next generations. The SCTP is a proven method for doing just that.  OWAA’s cadre of outdoor writers could give Christy and his programs some real assistance.
One company outside the shooting industry has stepped in to help. AIC, a credit card processing company that provides credit card transaction services for merchants, has designed a “no-cost” program that allows businesses to actively sponsor the Scholastic Clay Target Program. In addition, Christy is developing a sponsorship program to encourage industry leaders to help financially support SCTP. He’s already received commitments from such companies as Americase, Remington, Beretta, White Flyer, Winchester, Browning, Zoli, Federal, Bruce Bowen, Kolar, New Era Ammunition and SunBuster.
Hunter education brought the state wildlife agencies an effective tool to motivate our hunting cadre back in the 1960s. We are in line for another wave of involvement with younger generations in the outdoors. Last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, acknowledging studies that have shown that kids today spend more than half their time indoors preoccupied with video games and TV. The bill’s intent was to provide a new funding system for hands-on environmental education.
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation has 43 states involved so far. As a part of this new venture, the SSSF has been accepted as a national partner with the Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford University. The Alliance has very similar goals, that being, “transforming youth sports so sports can transform youth.”
Christy said he’s found the shooting sports to be very effective in reaching youths – providing opportunities for just about every young person to participate in a sport where he or she can reach a level of proficiency in a relatively short time. Proficiency enhances the probability for success. Success translates into fun and begets motivation, resulting in continued involvement with the sport. Participation in a team-based shooting sports program can have a positive influence on the growth and development of young people, he noted.
The Scholastic Clay Target Program is designed to be a program for schools, organized youth groups, church groups and service clubs to readily adopt.
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation’s seven-member board of directors reads like a Who’s Who of the sporting industry: W. Hays Gilstrap (chairman), Steve Sanetti, Richard Lynch, Russ Arnold, Dave Cassens, Dave Kaiser and Jon McGrath.
OWAA members who are interested in writing about or doing broadcasts about Christy’s programs have a great opportunity next month at the 2009 SCPT National Championships in Sparta, Ill., where, said Christy, “we hope to make this year’s National Championship an EVENT not just a shoot.” The championships take place July 23-26 at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta. For more information call Christy at 863-398-6767 or e-mail him at s3f4youth@gmail.com.
To learn more, contact: the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation, SCTP National Headquarters, 56670 Jewell Road, Shelby Township, MI 48315; e-mail S3F@comcast.net. Or visit the Web site, www.sssfonline.org, and download the program brochure. Then pass it along to grade school, middle school and high school teachers, state game and fish agency personnel or a young friend who may be interested in the Scholastic Clay Target Program.
Meanwhile, while you’re at the OWAA conference in Grand Rapids, if you see a fellow with a really big smile on his face walking around with me, stop and say hello. Christy exudes enthusiasm about his new foundation. Talk with him for five minutes and you’ll know what I mean.
jimsmithJim Smith, of Surprise, Ariz., is a freelance writer and photographer, and editor emeritus of MUSKIE magazine. He also serves on OWAA’s board of directors.
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