It goes almost without saying that safety is the most important aspect of the USA High School Clay Target League’s (USAHSCTL) mission. The league has not had a single injury in more than 15 years of operation, and it’s always evaluating and re-evaluating policies in order to ensure that athletes are participating in the safest high school sport in America.
In order to keep up that impressive safety record, the League will unveil its new SAFE™ (Student Athlete Firearm Education) Program, developed as a way to ensure that all League athletes nationwide have had the same core safety training relevant to League participation.
“In the past we’ve relied on safety programs provided through state agencies,” said John Nelson, Vice President of the USAHSCTL. “One of the key deficiencies in other firearms training programs is that most of the content is not relevant in the context of clay target sports.”
State-based programs are taught from the context of hunting. While it’s very important to understand how to cross a fence or climb a ladder safely with a firearm, these are situations that are not relevant to student athletes that will be participating in clay target sports at their local shooting range.
The SAFE™ Program will be a two-session course. The first part is an interactive online system that goes through basic firearms and ammunition training, League safety rules both on and off the line, and provides an overview of clay target shooting sports. The online aspect of the SAFE Program takes about three hours to complete and includes a final exam to ensure that athletes have retained key information.
The second session of SAFE™ is Range Day. Held in tandem with the first practice week of the League’s season, Range Day is where team coaches will provide hands-on training to reinforce the online training the student athletes completed, familiarize them with the basics of the shooting range and clay target shooting, and shoot a round of targets.
Another reason for developing the program was to lower the costs and make training more accessible for new athletes. “The cost and availability of hunter education certification classes vary wildly from state to state,” USAHSCTL Founder Jim Sable said. “Athletes in some states were paying two or three times as much as athletes in other states. Many could not find classes, and were not able to complete the course before the League’s registration deadline. By having a League-created safety program, we can make it easier for athletes to join a team.”
The SAFE™ Program will be available to students online in December. ✪