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Gun sports, the real Great American Pastime

by Jack Harbinger

April 18, 2002 -- More Americans participate in the shooting sports than play basketball (America's favorite team sport) or baseball, football, soccer or tennis. More hunt than play tennis or baseball, in fact.


The number of rifle and pistol target shooters combined is slightly more than the number who go skiing. People choose gun sports over soccer 2 to 1. Are you listening, Million Soccer Mom Marchers?

We're mainstream, with 41.7 million or more sport shooters in a population of 270 million!

These numbers are from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's 2002 sports participation report. They reflect Year 2001 survey results, the most recent available. I believe the gun sports statistics are on the low side, because some people aren't going to tell a survey about their guns.

Next time someone tells you hunting is a vanishing cruel and outdated sport for inbred rednecks, inform them that 1.6 million more Americans (16,672,000) hunt (with a rifle or shotgun) than play tennis (15,098,000). Gun hunters log in at only 276,000 fewer than people who do aerobics, and aren't they everywhere? And if you add the 4,435,000 bowhunters.... Rifle target shooting follows close behind tennis at 13,979,000. Pistol target shooting has 11,402,000 devotees, darn close in popularity to the "mainstream" sport of canoeing (12,044,000).

The total number of firearm sports enthusiasts is reported at 41,738,000. That includes hunters, rifle and pistol target shooters, sporting clays (3,324,000), and skeet and trap (3,904,000). Compare that to several other sports:


Number of Participants

Basketball 38,663,000
Jogging/Running 34,857,000
Hiking 37,999,000
Baseball 11,405,00
Soccer 19,042,000
Football 22,075,000
Softball 20,123,000
Volleyball 24,459,000
Skateboarding 12,459,000
Canoeing 12,044,000
Aerobics 16,948,000
Snow skiing 12,325,000
Fishing 53,137,000
Bicycling 52,948,000

They can't try to marginalize guns and gun owners any more in the face of those statistics. We ARE America, as much as anyone.

And remember, there are another 40 million or more other gun owners who don't consider their guns "sports equipment" at all. Let them chew on that one.

There are probably 75 million or so of us who need to start sending letters and emails in defense of our gun rights, and not just so we can continue to enjoy our sport. The gun prohibitionists will never stop, not until the last .22 rifle and the last skeet shotgun are in the furnace or under the bulldozer (except for theirs, of course). They've told us that's their intent. They may lie about everything else, but we can believe them on this. We've seen them succeed in Australia and England.

We will not be silenced. We will not be disarmed.

We're not playing games.

Check out the sports participation survey at:

(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it, which can be downloaded at:


Printer Version

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? [...] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!" —Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (Chapter 1 "Arrest")

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