There are few better ways to instill accountability, responsibility and core values in a young person than by teaching them how to safely handle a firearm.

In an effort to catalyze such character building, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) founded the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) in 2007 with a mission to get more school-age youths across the United States involved in shooting sports.

Through a combination of athletics and education, SSSF provides student athletes ranging in age from elementary school through college with a supportive, safe environment where shooting sports serve as a conduit for teaching them life lessons and skills that emphasize character building and citizenship values. SSSF holds a variety of fun, team-based shooting tournaments in both its Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) that focuses on safe firearm handling, teamwork and leadership.

Until recently, however, only athletes or volunteer coaches in SCTP or SASP could be a part of SSSF and its mission to enhance the growth and personal development of student athletes throughout the nation. That all changed when the Foundation launched its new Supporting Member level of membership earlier this summer dedicated to securing the future of youth shooting sports in the U.S.

This new membership opportunity allows individuals who are interested to be involved with youth shooting sports even if they don’t have children of their own who shoot or if they are not a coach or team volunteer. With several affordable options, it’s a means to contribute to SSSF’s mission of youth development through shooting sports.

SSSF Browning Knife SetSSSF is currently offering the first 500 people who join as Supporting Members a one-time deal to be part of the “500 Club” of inaugural members. According to SSSF, each 500 Club member will receive an exclusive Browning two-knife set in a commemorative whitetail tin designed by Russ Kommer. 500 Club members will also be recognized in SSSF publications, like Clay Target Nation, for their leadership in supporting youth shooting sports.

Rates start at $40 annually with additional options for five-year, life, and shooting range membership.

Even more recently, SSSF announced another new membership campaign called Vision 20/20 that is aimed at growing the numbers of children and young adults involved in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and SASP to more than 20,000 annually by 2020.

Vision 20/20 will require donations from local team supporters and many others who are involved in the industry and believe in providing youth development through shooting sports. SCTP and SASP member teams have been invited to participate in a special fundraising effort to provide support to existing teams and to recruit new teams.

As part of the Vision 20/20 campaign, SCTP and SASP teams have been invited to participate in a special fundraising effort from October through mid-December to provide support to existing teams as well as to provide SSSF and its programs with the support required to recruit new teams where none currently exist.

According to SSSF, in addition to direct funds for teams to use, teams will receive one set of Rudy Project XX2i glasses kit for every $250 raised. These retail for $100 and include three lens sets, a hard case, a screwdriver, blue and red temple tips and nose pads, and a microfiber lens cloth. Teams are encouraged to use these glasses sets to raise more money for their local SCTP or SASP team. Additionally, the top six fundraising teams will earn funding for their Team Endowment account at the MidwayUSA Foundation with a championship prize of $10,000 in Team Endowment funds.

According to SSSF, current annual youth membership for the SCTP and SASP totals nearly 15,000 student athletes being led by more than 3,000 volunteer coaches across the country. Through organized shooting teams, young shooters are offered a firearms education and the opportunity to practice and compete in the clay target and action shooting sports at local, state, regional, and national levels. SSSF also claims that “SCTP and SASP teams help young families develop a ‘shooting sports lifestyle,’ giving kids opportunity to participate in organized programs from elementary school through college and […] continue shooting well beyond their scholastic careers.”

For more information on SSSF and its membership opportunities, go to www.sssfonline.org/donate.