Citing the major economic and recreational contributions made by hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy participating in sport shooting in the state, Gov. J. Kevin Stitt has proclaimed August as National Shooting Sports Month in Oklahoma.
National Shooting Sports Month provides the perfect opportunity for experienced target shooters and newcomers alike to head to a shooting range and experience what hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans have long appreciated — that a day at the range is a day of fun!
“If you are a recreational shooter, we encourage you to take someone shooting during August,” said Damon Springer, coordinator of the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program (OKSSSP) and Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP) for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “A day at the range can be the beginning of lifelong memories to come.”
This is why the Wildlife Department has introduced trap shooting into schools. More than 170 schools are competing in the OKSSSP. Also assisting with the FFA Clay Target Program, the Wildlife Department promotes sport shooting competitions for more than 3,000 students. And the Department’s STEP events allow more than 10,000 people each year to experience safe and responsible firearms use.
Those sport shooting programs, along with the Wildlife Department’s suite of other educational programs that bring archery, fishing, bowfishing and bowhunting into the schools, make Oklahoma a Top 10 State for outdoor education and a trend-setter nationwide among conservation agencies.
Springer said Oklahoma has had ties to recreational shooting dating to before statehood. In recent years, some shooting sports have become competitive events. Oklahoma shooters including Jon Michael McGrath and Zac Womack compete at levels as high as the USA Shooting Team.
The monthlong celebration of sport shooting, developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) in 2017, reminds people that everyone can enjoy these safe, fun and social activities. It’s also the perfect time for an experienced shooter to mentor a newcomer in a sport that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment at every skill level.
Sport shooting is one of the fastest growing sports in America, but has always been important in Oklahoma. The state has roughly 317,200 handgun shooters, 308,400 rifle shooters, 241,200 shotgun shooters and 76,000 muzzleloader shooters. These recreational shooters spend in excess of 10.8 million combined days annually engaged in shooting sports.
Recognizing the importance of sport shooting to Oklahomans, the Wildlife Department is engaged in a multi-year plan to renovate public-access shooting ranges for recreational shooting opportunities across the state for the benefit of shooting enthusiasts.
All of the time spent enjoying shooting sports has a big impact on the state’s economy. Oklahoma’s recreational sport shooters includes those who participate in action pistol shooting; long-range rifle shooting; shotgun clay target sports (skeet, trap and sporting clays); black-powder shooting; Cowboy Action shooting; and competitive shooting with handguns, rifles and shotguns. Combined, they contribute more than $1.65 billion annually to the economy.
“With National Shooting Sports Month here, we encourage you to go outdoors and enjoy a day of shooting with friends and family or brush up on those wing-shooting skills for the dove hunting season opener that will be Sept. 1 in Oklahoma,” Springer said. “And whenever you go shooting, be sure to take the time to introduce someone new to the sport.”