Of all the outdoor activities Americans participate in, camping remains one of the most popular. Roughly 48 million people go camping each year, according to the Outdoor Foundation. That means nearly 16 percent of the country’s population are campers. Camping grew in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as more people moved to the suburbs from crowded cities, and those suburbanites sought a more authentic outdoor experience for their families beyond the small squares of their backyards. It was a way to reconnect with America’s pioneering spirit.
Another way to connect to that pioneering spirit is learning to shoot. Firearms were the primary tools of those who explored America’s wild places, and while many of us don’t need to depend on a gun to provide our next meal, target shooting is still a great way to have fun. Just ask the 60 million+ (and growing) Americans who enjoy target shooting. Even better, it is the perfect activity to add to a fun camping weekend if you’re looking to add a little more excitement to your time in the great outdoors.
Odds are, whether you are camping on a private campground or roughing it on state or federal forest lands, there is a shooting facility near you. From a basic range where you can safely plink targets with a rifle, shotgun or handgun to a more action-based shooting area set up for shotgun-shooting games such as skeet, trap or sporting clays, the opportunity to mix the fun of target shooting with the relaxation of your camping weekend is always just a short drive away. In fact, if you are camping on federal or state public lands, many have shooting ranges on them as well.
Are you interested in adding a recreational shooting activity to your camping itinerary but you’re not familiar with shooting? Many sporting clays, skeet and commercial ranges have shooting instructors that are available to teach you all about shooting, including safe gun handling practices as well as good marksmanship skills. Likewise, virtually all these places will have firearms available to rent and ammunition and targets available for sale, so you don’t need to add any more items to your lengthy packing list. Just come prepared to have fun and learn safely. Should the weather turn bad, indoor ranges are also always an option for target shooting with rifles, handguns, and shotguns, and can offer a fun and informative escape from the elements when needed.
What’s more, recreational shooting is something virtually the entire family can enjoy regardless of age or gender. In fact, women are among the fastest growing demographics of recreational shooters. The shooting sports are one of the few sporting activities where everyone participating has an equal chance of success regardless of strength, athleticism, or gender.
Add a morning or afternoon of target shooting to your next camping excursion, and you’ll bring an entirely new and exciting dimension of adventure to the wonderful memories you carry home. In fact, it may even change the way your entire family and friends enjoy the outdoors in the future as target shooting delivers endless ways for everyone to have a great time.