College shooting programs are hardly new, but they have been quietly undergoing a revival. Nearly 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer shooting programs.
Russ Arnold, who heads up intercollegiate events through Shooting Sports Consulting, said that the 2015 Association of College Unions International (ACUI) National Championships had 681 shooters from 76 different colleges and universities. “The shooters shot six different events and we threw over 300,000 targets,” said Arnold. “That is about a 13 percent increase in shooters over 2014. On average, the college participation at nationals has grown from 10 to 20 percent annually. When I add in the 11 2014-2015 conference events, we had close to 1,200 individual shooters participate.”
This 10-20 percent growth at ACUI’s National Championships isn’t an anomaly, according to Zach Snow, manager of shooting promotions for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). “There has been some significant growth at the college level,” said Snow. “This is partially due to our efforts through our Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative. To date we have awarded $1.2 million to college programs across the country.”
The NSSF says they have:
• Supported more than 150 schools since program inception
• Helped implement more than 80 new shooting clubs/teams at colleges that did not offer such a program
• Supported more than 70 schools’ shooting programs expand or sustain an existing club or team
“When we launched the initiative in 2009 there was only a National Championship that ACUI held,” Snow said. “Now they’re holding regional championships across the country that lead up to the Nationals that have grown from 30 colleges the first year I attended it in 2006, to over 60 colleges. Now that the program has blossomed, we’re only able to assist colleges looking to start brand-new programs.”
If you’d like to find a college with a shooting program in your state, the National Rifle Association has created an online search tool that allows you to search by state and shooting discipline. The NRA also offers shooting scholarships.