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Common Ground with Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation

On Nov. 17, the Vista Outdoor Foundation announced its 2021 Grant Partners. The Foundation’s Board of Directors chose ten organizations that promote conservation, encourage youth and veteran participation in outdoor sports, and work to improve diversity and inclusion in the outdoors. The recipients received over $600,000 in grant funding.

We often hear these stories when they are first introduced or announced, but we wanted to dive deeper so our employees and external stakeholders can learn more about the Foundation’s partners, their missions and how they are putting their grants to good use.

This month, we continue our “Common Ground” feature highlighting the excellent work of Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation.

Next up: Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation
Website: https://sssfonline.org/

Why Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation?
“The Vista Outdoor Foundation is committed to supporting non-profit organizations that get people outside and facilitate a positive experience for their members and surrounding communities. When it comes to the shooting sports, the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation is a great example of how to recruit, develop and retain the next generation of competitive shooters at all levels,” said Jason Nash, Vice President of Marketing for Sporting Products.

The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF), offers a scholarship program to reward deserving, graduating seniors in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) with needed college assistance. The main objective is to award as many scholarships as possible to qualifying SCTP / SASP graduating seniors.

Since 2013, the SSSF has awarded over $640,000 in scholarship funds benefiting over 730 student athletes, from nearly all 50 states in the Scholastic Clay Target and Scholastic Action Shooting programs.

Scholastic Shooting Sports Mission: To provide and enhance personal growth and development opportunities for student athlete members; pass on to future generations the legacy of lifelong, safe, responsible enjoyment of the shooting sports.

Serves: the athletes, coaches, and adult volunteers of the Scholastic Clay Target and Scholastic Action Shooting Programs. Participation in shooting sports proves to be a safe outlet and team activity for developing youth, while teaching a passion for a healthy lifestyle of outdoor recreation into adulthood. Fun fact: shooting sports is among the safest of outdoor activities. It is reported that recreational walking incurs more injuries on a yearly basis. 

The SCTP and SASP offer athletes a level playing field with no such thing as being benched. This removes barriers to entry that are often seen in traditional sports. Athletes with disabilities or prior injuries from other sports enjoy individual success and fulfillment in shooting sports, while still benefiting from the team-based aspect of the SCTP and SASP. Opportunities continue for athletes that wish to compete at the highest level. The SCTP and SASP are the official youth feeder programs for Team USA, these programs offer a path to Olympic dreams. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, alumnus, current athletes, and staff were among those who represented the United States in the disciplines of multiple Olympic shooting sports.


What members say about the SSSF’s Scholastic Clay Target and Scholastic Action Shooting Programs:

“The Scholastic Clay Target Program helped me develop and get out of my comfort zone. The positive environment of the Scholastic Clay Target Program helped me become a better person and help others. The people I met and interact with are now some of my closest friends. Thanks to the Scholastic Clay Target Program and my coaches for helping me to continue to develop into a better young person.” – 9th grade SCTP Athlete

“SCTP helped me to become a better person on and off the field. Throughout the past four years of shooting, I have become more team-oriented rather than self-oriented. Reaching personal goals is important, but helping my teammates meet their goals is part of my responsibility as a leader on the team. These leadership skills will be beneficial to me in the future.” – 8th grade SCTP Athlete

“My son has gained confidence and skill in using a firearm and enjoys shooting very much. Shooting SASP has helped him learn gun safety, channel his energy, and mature as a young man.” – Parent of 6th grade SASP athlete

Using support from the Vista Outdoor Foundation, the SSSF will expand existing coach training programs and the development of new efforts using online and hands-on training.”

Grant Power: 
To date, more than 1,000 coaches have gotten certified through the SSSF Basic Shooting Coach Education Program, with hundreds of others having completed the online curriculum. 

“As a national youth development organization, our efforts to grow youth shooting sports focuses on empowering confident and capable coaches to guide youth on and off the range,” said SSSF President and Executive Director, Ben Berka. “Our coach education program leverages convenient online training plus a national network of skilled trainers delivering in-person education to our local teams’ coaches and parents. Trained coaches and parents in turn are developing our youth who will become our leaders for future generations. Using support from the Vista Outdoor Foundation, the SSSF will expand existing coach training programs and the development of new efforts using online and hands-on training. This exponential growth in adult volunteers will grow active teams and establish new ones to create opportunities for young people where none exist today.”