Shooting Sports, Community Engagement and Conservation

When you think about conservation — whether it’s ecology research, improving habitat, building forest resiliency or the myriad of other ways that the NWTF implements its conservation delivery —shooting sports are not usually the first thing that comes to mind as a driving force, but they most definitely are.

Many of us are aware of the saying “hunters are America’s true conservationists,” which is an accurate statement, but so are those who are involved in shooting sports. Trap shooting, sporting clays, long-range shooting or simply target practice for fun — all help fund conservation efforts and are an excellent bridge to introduce someone new to hunting.

As a quick refresher for how hunters are America’s leading conservationists, the excise tax on long guns, bows and arrows, and ammunition is 11% and 10% for handguns. This price is figured in to the MSRP and is paid for by the manufacturers. This money is then transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which appropriates funding to states proportionally. (For more information on hunters as conservationists, click here)

Whether you only like to hunt, shoot sporting clays every once in a while, own a firearm and ammo for self-protection or all the above, you are contributing to the greater conservation good and are providing crucial funding for states’ conservation projects, many of which the NWTF is involved in.

Funding generated from the thousands of people involved in shooting sports is substantial to say the least. This, coupled with the NWTF encouraging more people to enjoy a healthy, outdoor lifestyle,  is why the NWTF is committed to introducing as many folks to shooting sports as possible.

“The shooting sports are an important part of our hunting heritage,” said Mandy Harling, NWTF director of Hunting Heritage Programs. “The NWTF and our partners support many programs to teach the safe handling of firearms and for our participants to try target shooting for the first time, enhance their skills or be reintroduced to shooting.”

One recent event the NWTF is a proud sponsor of is the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship, which also happens to be the world’s largest shooting sports event.

Located at the Alexandria Shooting Park in Alexandria, Minnesota, the event is hosted by the nonprofit, USA High School Clay Target League.

The league’s priorities are safety, fun and marksmanship – in that order. It attracts student athletes who have earned their firearm safety certification to participate in shooting sports while creating a “virtual” competition among high school teams at no cost to the schools.

In addition to the NWTF, the event is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and many other outdoor organizations.

“We are proud to support this event year after year,” said Linden Anderson, NWTF’s Minnesota State Chapter president. “With around 9,000 kids participating during the event, we get all types of people coming through and get the chance to talk to them about the NWTF mission. We’ve signed up a lot of members and families simply by just being there and talking to them.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was cancelled in 2020.

“The seniors last year were really upset that they had to miss the event, but you could tell this year that the kids were beyond excited to be back in action and having fun,” Anderson said. 

Like the USA Clay Target League, the NWTF sees shooting sports as an accessible activity for youth of all ages and encourages families to get outdoors and try it.

“Introducing kids to shooting sports in any capacity is a great bridge into hunting, and even if hunting isn’t their thing, it’s a great way to stay active, involved and benefit conservation,” Anderson said.

To see what NWTF events, including shooting sports, are happening in your area, visit :

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