Building handgun skills for young people:
The Scholastic Action Shooting Program.
By Larry Weeks
Editor Huntington and I were talking about where the future generations of shooters — and defenders of the 2nd Amendment — come from. SASP (Scholastic Action Shooting Program), run by the NSSF, is one of those places, and perfect for handgunners.
Based on four stages similar to the Steel Challenge, SASP lets kids from age 12 through college hear that satisfying “ding” when a bullet hits steel. They compete against other youth, nationwide, using virtual scoring on the SASP website. Live, team-against-team competitions are available for State, Regional and National Matches. A nearby team runs monthly, informal matches to give shooters a chance to shoot against other teams, in person rather than online.
Centerfire guns are limited to striker-fired 9mm and .38 Special revolvers. Due to transportation rules for those under 21, it’s suggested the team owns the guns. That means parents don’t have to attend every match. Guns have to fit the IDPA SSP “box” with no permanent, external modifications, though trigger work and new sights are allowed.
Classes also exist for .22 LR pistols and .22 LR rifles and are a great way to start the younger shooters. When we shot our State Championship, the majority of shooters were in the .22LR classes.
Before moving to the next stage, the coach gives tips and instructions, including shooting and etiquette.
These kids don’t get participation awards, winning requires solid performances from all team members.
Only one gun is needed per team as there’s only one shooter on the line at a time. The Virtual scoring eliminates travel, unless a team wants to travel to Regional, State and National matches, then they can do that. The kids in our local program were asking about going to the State Championship after just three-weeks — they want to compete! Targets aren’t that expensive, and last darn near forever.
The Mechanics Of It
SASP started in 2012. The founders felt the NSSF would be the best “umbrella” with the resources to market and administer something this important. Shooters are divided into grade-based divisions with consideration for those in their first year of competition.
A set of 20 targets (five per stage) and at least one gun are used. Target sets are made by Action Target, GT Target and MGM and all offer substantial discounts for teams. Guns are available through Glock, S&W, Ruger, CZ and Sig-Sauer and, again, prices for teams are downright cheap.
What it takes is someone who cares to get things rolling. Check the website (sssfonline.org/scholastic-pistol-program-spp) Contact Tammy Mowry (email@example.com) or Ben Berka (firstname.lastname@example.org). Teams can be made up of neighbors, church groups, 4H clubs and our kids also shoot the SCTP trap program.
Coaches need to apply through NSSF/SASP and a background check is required. NRA “Instructor”, USPSA Range Officer, or IDPA Safety Officer credentials are a big help in getting approved.
What could be better than a group of happy kids after a day at the range!
As with all shooting sports, young women are an ever-growing part of the success.
Challenges We’ve Had:
Trap shooting focuses on the bird, pistol shooting requires focus on the front sight. The modern, square-to-the-target stance is different than what they’ve done in trap. Squeezing the gun really, really tight is unfamiliar and squeezing, not slapping the trigger is another new concept. The thing is, kids learn fast and soak up knowledge like, well, a sponge.
It’s a team sport, and loading mags for the next shooter keeps competition moving.
Coaching is encouraged and safety is the #1 priority. A coach and the RO watch a young shooter get ready.
One stage down, three to go. Kids are given responsibility in these matches and moving gear,
guns and magazines is all part of it.
What’s In It For Dealers?
With an ear to the ground, and a presence at the local range, an aggressive dealer can find out about the program and offer help. The guns can be purchased directly through the manufacturers though they still have to be shipped to an FFL. Our little club owns two guns and is waiting for two more. Ammo is the big reoccurring item the dealer can get involved with. Our small club with only 13 shooters goes through almost 5,000 rounds weekly. Of course cleaning supplies are also needed. If Mr. Dealer gets involved with the program, they can offer to teach the cleaning procedures, and they will become the gun expert for the kids, their future customers.
While all of our shooters have eye and ear protection, not all clubs will be drawing from the SCTP ranks and there are sales to be made there as well. All of this takes getting involved, and being present, so both parents and kids will get to know involved dealers.
All in all, this is a great program introducing young shooters to the sport of shooting. It also teaches them safety, coping skills as they compete, teamwork and a bit of work ethic as they help to set-up, break down, clean guns and support their fellow team members.