Nothing can get a hunter better prepared than practicing on targets. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, has made it simple for you to learn of convenient shooting opportunities. Hunter’s Handbook has compiled this list of hunting aids into an easy-to-use resource for beginners: is the homepage for NSSF, and from there you can find some handy resources. For example, by clicking on “Shooting” and then on “Find a Range,” you’ll be taken to an easy, customized search where you can plug in your needs, your location and more and then be given a list of conveniently situated ranges.

Or, if at “Shooting,” you click on “What’s New in Your State,” you’ll find out about some of the most recently announced shooting and hunting opportunities. Another great resource is the monthly newsletter, “Pull The Trigger,” which offers a wide variety of tips for the shooter and hunter, many of which are linked to really helpful videos. You can find that at


“First Shots” is another great program to get you and your family started in shooting. This learning opportunity, first in a classroom setting and then live-firing on the range under close supervision, is a great way to strengthen your understanding of the fundamentals of firearms and shooting, and firearms safety, as well as ownership regulations in your area. Learn more and find a seminar in your area at

A great place to get real field experience under conditions that maximize your chance to get in some shooting at live game is a bird hunting preserve. These preserves are often open before a state’s regular hunting season and stay open after the general season closes. Locate preserves convenient to you at

When you can combine shotgunning practice with being with friends, making it competitive and even building character, you’ve got a very special way to improve your shooting skills. One such very special opportunity is the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). It’s been called the “Little League” of shotgun sports—trap, skeet and sporting clays. What’s more, competitors can win state and national championships, trophies and college scholarships. More than 10,000 young shooters are participating this year, and the SCTP is always ready to welcome more. Developed by the NSSF and now administered by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation, SCTP gives elementary to college-age students in nearly every state the opportunity to compete as a team at local, state and national levels.

In an SCTP survey, nearly all parents said competitive shooting is a positive influence in their child’s development. Parents observed improved responsibility, teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership skills. In fact, 98 percent of SCTP parents believed shooting is just as important as other sports, and 94 percent said they would support shotgun sports as a schoolbased athletic program. Learn more about SCTP at

Terrence Gordon