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NRA rules for safe gun handling:

• ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

INTRODUCTION Numerous opportunities exist for young people interested in pistol shooting sports. The Olympic events include Men’s and Women’s Air Pistol and Smallbore (.22), Men’s Free and Rapid Fire Pistol events as well as the Women’s Sport Pistol event. The junior event created to lead to these events is called Junior Progressive Position Air Pistol (PPP). USA Shooting and the National Rifle Association both support this event and hold a jointly sponsored National Junior Progressive Position Air Pistol Championship annually. Several other organizations, including 4-H and Boy Scouts of America Venturing, offer youth programs for pistol shooting. Contact local chapters to find out if the program is offered in your area. Some schools and many local shooting clubs provide youth shooting sports programs as well. Another great place to find local information is your state level shooting association PPP is a great introduction to shooting sports as equipment, particularly the ammunition, is cleaner, quieter and inexpensive. Temporary ranges can easily be set up in any large area (for instance a gym), as these guns do not require a permanent backstop or special ventilation system. The firing distance is only 10 meters (just under 33 feet). The rules provide for a logical progression in positions from fully supported with the pistol fully resting on a table and using both hands, up to the International

one-handed position. By providing appropriate support for developmental level young athletes, they can experience early success while learning proper technique. The PPP program is designed and intended to be a developmental vehicle that allows junior athletes the opportunity to learn the foundation skills of shooting sports and have the opportunity to participate in competitions. This provides the opportunity for the development of confidence and knowledge at an early age with a minimal investment. There are three positions in this program: the basic supported position, standing supported position, and the International position. The supported positions should be used as transitional tools along the path of athletic development while the athlete develops the upper body strength and skill level needed to shoot in the unsupported standing position which is the foundation of all international and conventional shooting sports. The rules of the first position are written very broadly, so coaches can progress athletes incrementally within the position without being forced to go to the next position before they are ready. Supported positions are not intended as an end in themselves. Coaches should encourage their athletes to progress to the standing supported position and then to the one-handed standing position as they become proficient with basic skills and their hands are large and strong enough to do so safely.

STARTING A PROGRAM Starting a program can feel overwhelming, but there are several resources that can be helpful. For example, if there is a similar club in the local area, consider arranging a visit. Seeing a facility, watching the shooters, and talking to someone who

understands the challenges of starting a program will help in identifying any possible problems: not to mention it will help discover ways to recruit future competitors and support before even beginning!

To find a program in the local area, check out these resources: • • • • • • •

NRA clubs, classes and tournaments by zip code: Competitions by state: USA Shooting clubs: Local ranges by state: Shooting Sports Camps: Collegiate Shooting Guide: State shooting associations:

Once you have established the club, register with the NRA, by contacting the Clubs & Associations Department at, call (800) NRA CLUB (672-2582) or visit their website at For more information about NRA Endorsed Insurance Programs call (877) 487-5407 or visit

FUN DING Many new programs need help to secure funds and receive support. There are several places that might help answer this need: the NRA Foundation, Inc., local Friends of the NRA, and good old-fashioned fundraising. The NRA Foundation, Inc. helps fund programs that educate the public about shooting sports, safety, and history, and improves marksmanship skills. Grants are available to fund specific programs or ranges. For more information, guidelines, and applications, visit: statefund.asp or contact: The NRA Foundation, Inc., 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 (800)423-6894(Toll Free) (703) 267-3985 (Fax) Another possible source of support is the local Friends of the NRA chapter. The Friends of the NRA program (FNRA) is a grassroots fund-raising program that fosters community involvement, raises money, and gives 100% of the net proceeds to qualified local, state, and national programs. This program allows a community based group to raise funds and then return those funds to local, state and national groups to help foster shooting programs. FNRA is a certified 501(c)(3) organization. To find a Friends of the NRA event or representative locally, visit: http:// Fund-raising can really challenge a group’s imagination and creativity. Events can be as simple as bake sales and car washes. Also consider an event that will give the club and programs publicity, such as an air gun shoot, a turkey shoot or a gun raffle. Direct requests from the community or at a local gun show may also prove successful. Just remember to check on the state guidelines for fundraising and games of chance. 3

RANGES AND EQUIPMENT Air gun ranges are some of the easiest ranges to set up and can be set up just about anywhere, provided there is a safe backstop. “Safe� means no doors or openings where someone might enter unexpectedly and no windows, lighting fixtures or electrical wiring near the line of fire. If any of these are present, protect the area by locking doors and covering windows and lights, but be mindful of the fire code. Air guns need 10 meters (32.8 feet). An additional area is necessary behind the firing line for a place from which to shoot, and some space is needed behind the targets for the pellet trap. An overall distance of about 40 feet provides a comfortable sized range either indoors or outdoors.

or B-40/4 (four bull) targets may be used. For a list of licensed target manufacturers, visit:

Once you have located a space that can be safely used, it is time to construct a backstop and pellet trap. Pellet traps can be purchased from a variety of vendors and usually use a steel plate to stop pellets. An additional backstop can be made of a large, heavy duty curtain, hung behind the pellet trap for additional protection. If you want to set up your range so that several people can shoot at once, the recommended amount of space is a 4 feet shooting space for each additional competitor.

Electronic or paper targets may be used. Authorized paper targets will have the logo of the ISSF, USA Shooting, or the NRA printed on them. If paper targets are used, either B-40 (single bull) 4

Air pistols vary in price and can cater to all ages. Here is a small list of sources for pistols, pellets and backstops: USA Shooting also has a pistol for sale. For pricing and more information contact: Youth Programs Manager 1 Olympic Plaza Colorado Springs, CO 80909 719-866-4889

BUILDING A T-STAND A useful training tool for younger shooters is the T-stand. This piece of equipment is inexpensive, easy to make, and allows smaller competitors to employ the techniques that will be needed to shoot later on, whether they are heading towards Action Pistol or International style shooting. The T-stand is made from the following parts: 12”x12” wood base 1 ½” PVC cap 1 ½”x 1 ½“x 1 ½” tee PVC schedule 40 48” of 1 ½” PVC pipe (2) 1 ½”x ¼” bore pulleys (2) ¼”x 2 ¼” bolts/nuts (20+) ¼” washers (2) 1/8”x ¾” fender washers 3’ of 1/8” steel rod 10 lbs. braided fishing line ¾” washers or suitable material for counterweight 24” of 2” PVC pipe 2 ½” hose clamp 2” PVC cap or 6”x 6” drain trap 2” PVC connector 1. Start the project by grinding the top of the 1½” cap flat so it lays level on the base board. Then screw the cap down to the board. It may be easier to purchase a bell drain trap and coupling and attach these to the vertical pipe. The length of the vertical pipe will depend on the height of your table and the height of your shooter. For a table that is 36” high, a good length to start with would be 36” and shorten it from there, if needed. The recommended lengths for the adjustable model is 24“ for both the 2” and the 1 ½” pipes. To make the 2” pipe: Hold the slip fit 1 ½” and make several cuts 4” long down one end. Enough

material (kerf) must be removed so that when the clamp is tightened, the inner pipe is held tight. 2. The cross arms are made of 1½” pipe 4” long on the weight side and 6” long on the shooter side. This offset gives the shooter room to move the pistol and reduces the intrusion into the next firing point. 3. It is recommended that you not skimp on the pulleys, as they must roll smoothly or the shooter will not be able to hold the pistol in their normal area of hold. Drill the axle back from the end of the cross arm the radius of the pulley plus 3/8”. Keep the pulley centered by shimming the ¼” axle bolt with ¼’ washers. Cut a notch no more than ¼” wide and ½” in from the line to run through. This will be used to trap the fender washer and keep the pistol hook from being pulled into the pulley, derailing the line. 4. Build the pistol hook and the weight bracket. I have found the 1/8” steel rod is heavy enough to work well and can be formed by using two pair of pliers. It is recommended that you do not put an up turned hook on the horizontal bar that the pistol rests on. It serves no real purpose and snags the pistol if the shooter does not lift the pistol all the way up. Cover the bare metal with something to keep the gun from getting scratched and slipping off the bar. A Plastisol base tool dip is recommended, but duct tape, electrical tape or a small rubber hose slipped over the metal will work. 5. Run the string through the pulleys and thread through the fender washer. Leaving the washer free, tie the string to the pistol hook. Repeat the process for the other side, making the string long enough so that when the weight is just touching the base, the pistol hook is touching the cross arm.


RULES The official PPP rulebook, in its entirety, can be found on the USA Shooting website: php.

There are three positions in this program: basic supported, standing supported, and International. Basic supported position- an athlete may be seated or standing, with 1 or 2 hands on the grip. Athletes are encouraged to progress to a one-handed position as soon as they may safely do so considering the size of the grip and weight of the pistol. The grip (and hands) may be rested on a firm support or a counterbalanced T-stand. If a firm support is used, the shooter may rest any part of either or both hands and the butt of the pistol on the supporting material. The firm support should be designed to provide an erect position with proper sight alignment and an extended arm. If the T stand is used, the support point may be anywhere between the elbow and muzzle. The competitor’s shooting arm should be fully extended with the sights at eye level. The non-firing hand may provide support for the firing hand or the butt of the pistol. The maximum age is 13.

Standing Supported- an athlete must be standing with one hand on the grip. A T-stand may provide counterbalance support between the elbow and muzzle. The athlete’s shooting arm must be fully extended, with the sights at eye level. There is no official minimum age, however, a club or other governing body may establish a minimum age within its jurisdiction. The maximum age is 15. International- an athlete must shoot standing, unsupported with one hand on the grip. The suggested minimum age is 13. Teams consist of three members of either or both sexes. Teams may be broken into the following categories: Supported Position Teams- consist entirely of members who are in the supported categories. Mixed Position Teams- must have one member who shoots in a supported category. The other two members must shoot in the International category. Unsupported Position Teams- are composed entirely of members who shoot from the International position.

TRAINING AND COACHES One suggestion for running a safe range is to have everyone involved in running the range become an NRA Range Safety Officer. To find a class locally or to set up a class at your range, visit: or contact: National Rifle Association of America Training Department 11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax, VA 22030 1-800-672-3888 One of the key areas of training available for adults wishing to work with young athletes is the Coach Education Program 6

in which USA Shooting, NRA and the Civilian Marksmanship Program partner to educate and certify coaches. Every youth shooting sports program should have at least one certified coach. For more information on this program, to look for classes in your area, or to schedule a class at your club, check out http://www. or contact National Rifle Association The Coach Education Program 11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax, VA 22030 703-267-1401

BEGINNING COMPETITION To foster a competitive spirit in young athletes, introduce the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. This program is an informal, year-round recreational shooting activity that provides incentive awards for developing and improving marksmanship skills. Standards are set and patches, certificates and pins are available for purchase to celebrate each athlete’s accomplishments. This program is a great way to encourage young competitors to improve at their own pace. For more information, visit: index.asp or contact: National Rifle Association of America Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program 11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax, VA 22030 1-800-672-3888

Postal matches are an easy way to test and compare shooting skills at home. Postal matches are competitive shooting activities in which participants fire a predetermined course of fire on their home ranges. Witnesses are present to verify that the match and safety conditions are followed. The score sheets and targets are mailed to the NRA for scores to be certified. A results bulletin is prepared and awards mailed are to the winners of the match Postal matches are ideal venues for youth shooters to build their competitive skills before actually entering formal competition, as well as excellent practice matches for the more experienced competitor. Membership in the NRA is not a requirement for these matches. For a complete list of available NRA sponsored postal matches visit: compete/dept-postal.asp or contact the postal program coordinator at /(703) 267-1482.

SPONSORING A MATCH Once the club is established and there is a consistent team, it is time to start thinking about hosting an event. The first step is to decide when the match will take place, who the match officials will be, and what the course of fire will be. Once these things have been decided, visit the USA Shooting website for policies, program outlines, and sanctioning guidelines: http://www. or contact:

USA Shooting Competitions 1 Olympic Plaza Colorado Springs, CO 80909 719-578-4883 The NRA wishes you the best of luck in developing your program! Please let us know if you need any help and let us know what a success your juniors have become! 11250 Waples Mill Rd. Fairfax, VA 22030 1-877-NRA-MATCH 1 Olympic Plaza Colorado Springs, CO 80909 719-866-4670

Photography By Dawn Faught

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