By Kyle Jillson | April 22 2013 17:58

United States' increased interest in firearms leads to growth of NRA programs.

Children hold up their targets at an NRA Day in Virginia

Fairfax, Virginia - Americans' interest in firearms has seen a surge in popularity over the past five years. More people are getting involved with the shooting sports, personal safety and hunting than ever before. And to help everyone from beginners to experienced firearms enthusiasts fully enjoy their Second Amendment rights are 178 NRA programs.

Places where we've seen the most growth are in our popular courses like NRA Basic Pistol and the female-focused Women On Target Instructional Shooting Clinics, designed to introduce citizens to firearms. You can't teach these courses without being a Certified Firearms Instructor or supervising safe shooting activities unless you're a Range Safety Officer.

Demand for these positions to teach these courses is so high that the NRA is rapidly approaching 100,000 trained Certified Firearms Instructors and Range Safety Officers. Specifically, there are 97,755 where just five years ago there were only 58,526.

We've previously covered how popular the Women On Target program has become, but it's astounding. Since 2008 participation has risen 67%. Last year the program reached 12,142 women were reached through 384 clinics.

“We’re encouraged about the state of firearms in America by the increasing success and reach of our programs,” said Bill Poole, Managing Director of NRA’s Educational and Training Division. “Providing citizens with ways to safely exercise their Second Amendment rights helps them discover new interests and ensures our shooting traditions will be a lasting heritage passed on to future generations.”

Youth is another important area that has seen massive growth. A good measuring stick for the future health of the industry, both Youth Training and the Youth Hunter Education Challenge are getting larger every year. Nearly four million youth were taught proper firearms use in 2012 by instructors utilizing the NRA’s safety and training program, two million more than in 2008. YHEC, which is North America’s most comprehensive outdoor skills and safety training program for young hunters, doubled its events and attendees over the five year period, hosting 10,176 juniors over 106 events last year.

All of this data and more is being collected by the National Shooting Sports Foundation for a research project on hunting and shooting sports participation called Task Force 20/20.

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