Clays shooting is growing in popularity for student athletes for many reasons—it's safer than golf, for one, and you don't have to be the biggest or the fastest to triumph. The sport of hunting, on the other hand, could use some help inducting the next generation of safe, responsible hunters. That's why Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors founded its Outdoor Mentors Shooting Sports Outreach Program, which challenges those student competitive shooters to put their skills to the test as hunters once competition season ends. It's something of a no-brainer, as is Savage Arms' sponsorship of the program.
If you haven't heard of Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors, it's an organization dedicated to teaching gun and hunting safety to those who may not otherwise have had a chance to try the shooting sports by matching new shooters with caring, well-vetted and trained adult mentors. Launched in Kansas in 2019, the Shooting Sports Outreach Program engages high school and college student athletes involved in the shooting sports with hunting and fishing opportunities, and participation has doubled each year since ... despite a global pandemic!
The program begins with student athletes from the USA Clay Target League and the Scholastic Clay Target Program. Observed Brittany French, VP of Pass It On - Outdoors Mentors, “Many of these youth have taken hunter safety, they have been taught hands-on safe gun handling, and have learned one of the basic skills needed to hunt.” Continued French, “Our goal is to increase their interest and motivation to hunt by providing as many different hunting opportunities as we possibly can.”
How do they do it? Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors partners with local chapters of NGOs, state fish and wildlife agencies, as well as private landowners to provide access. They recruit and train well-qualified volunteers. There's only one thing missing—funding—and that's where sponsors like Savage come in.
“With support from great companies like Savage Arms, we are able to expand our efforts to bridge the gap between target shooting and hunting,” said French. “Since launching this program, we have added three full-time employees to our team and are planning to coordinate over 500 events in 2022 serving over 1,250 youth in across Kansas and Iowa.”
Anyone who's been keeping an eye on Savage Arms knows the company is dedicated to the success of new shooters, so obviously the company's sponsorship of the Shooting Sports Outreach Program is a perfect fit. Remarked Beth Shimanski, Director of Marketing at Savage Arms, “We were so impressed at not only the mission of this organization, but the passion that all of their team members share for the work they do. Groups like this are what the future of our industry needs. We are proud to be able to support them as they continue to educate and grow our hunting and shooting population.”
Want to get involved with Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors? Check out their page for volunteer opportunities and more!