Yesterday I took a bit of a ride to Cicero, NY, about 90 minutes away, to go see Andre Gross shoot 3-position at the Cicero American Legion. It was a bit of a wake-up call as I was amazed to see a ratio of almost 50/50 boys and girls. The other wake-up call was there were so many of them. They had 20 targets set up and essentially had matches all day. Andre did really well with a final score of 595/600, which means he got all X's except for 5. This would be the equivalent of archery getting all 11's.
So the participation was through the roof and it was all kids in grade schools (through 12th). Larry, the organizer, filled me in on some of the details. The Legion provides all of the equipment for the kids. They have the option of getting their own equipment, but it is never required. The highest ranking kids locally then go to the next level, state I believe. Those winners then go to the national. And if I remember correctly they are then up for a $10K scholarship if they win. 3-Position also ties in with the JROTC of which there are additional incentives, scholarships and such. And I believe the Legion sponsors the kids all the way through to the nationals.
All of this loaded me up with lots to think about since the field target sport is finding it very difficult to bring in new people, let alone younger competitors, and almost unheard of are female competitors.
Maybe we need to figure out some way of working with the Legion to get field target in there or come up with scholarships similar to theirs in order to bring in the younger generation(s). Would it be feasible for a club to sponsor kids in the junior division to go to a state grand-prix. And then sponsor them to the nationals if they place in the grand-prix. And then the nationals might start out with a $1,000 scholarship for the winner of the junior division.
3-Position might have 50,000 + kids participating nationally while field target might have 500 people nationally. Eventually our numbers will dwindle unless we have some channel to bring in new people. And for some reason field target isn't nearly as popular as it is in England for instance -- probably due to powder burners being so highly regulated over there.