Having lived in Minnesota the majority of my life, I possess a certain pride, even mild smugness, toward the success of the USA High School Clay Target League. Just over a decade ago, the concept for the league germinated at a clay target facility a few miles from the Outdoor News office in Plymouth. Since then, League staff have become friends and colleagues, and when the time came for our publication to choose its Person of the Year in 2019, it was a no-brainer. This past spring, we gave this annual award to Jim Sable, the USA High School Clay Target League’s founder.
Outdoor News publishes seven newspapers across the Great Lakes region and maintains a strong, growing presence online at outdoornews.com and on social media. Covering the growth of this organization as it expanded the past decade, first across Minnesota and now the country, has been mind-boggling and inspiring. From a business standpoint, the League has provided the shooting industry and outdoor media a way to reach the next generation of recreational shooters. At state tournaments across the country, and at the National Championship in Mason, Michigan, our staff has interacted with thousands of kids who otherwise might never have set foot on a shooting range.
I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Target facilities on the verge of closing 15 years ago now bustle with well-mannered, fresh-faced youth eager to set a new personal record busting clays. At neighborhood barbecues and family gatherings across the region, discussions occur that I could not have imagined before the advent of the League: suburban parents chatting about their local high school’s clay target team and the confidence and camaraderie it has built within their youth.
Participating in their local team, families who may never have considered hunting or other outdoors sports have learned about responsible shooting and gun ownership. That has helped open the hunting traditions to a new generation of American youth. Via excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, plus new license sales, America’s clay-target shooting youth are contributing millions toward sound natural resources management across the country.
Outdoor News shares the League’s mission of introducing young men and women to the shooting sports. This spring, several League athletes shared their tips to our Junior Pro Team (JPT) membership in our weekly eblast. JPT emphasizes fishing as well as hunting and encourages members to share images of their success afield via social media, contests, and sponsored events. It’s a great place for young recreational shooters to share their stories, too. For more details, visit jrproteam.com. Both organizations aim to build a corps of young adults who appreciate the great outdoors and understand the importance of a mentoring mentality.
Since 2008, the team of editors and writers at Outdoor News has thoroughly enjoyed covering the Clay Target League’s events and pro- filing the best young shooters in the country. The pride they’ve taken in their sport, and the responsible firearms use they’ve demonstrated to the general public is amazing. We look forward to sharing more of their stories in our publications and digital outlets as the 21st Century reaches its third decade and beyond. Good shooting!