Hottest new sport in U.S. high schools: Shooting

In 2009, the contest’s first year, it drew 30 shooters. In June there were 5,134, more than 20,000 spectators and sponsors including Benelli Armi SpA and SKB Shotguns. Trap shooting is the fastest-growing sport in Minnesota high schools, and was recently introduced in neighboring Wisconsin and North Dakota. While it may make anti-gun activists uneasy, it’s a boon for manufacturers and retailers that have stoked its growth.

“This is the best thing to happen to the shooting sports in 50 years,” said Dennis Knudson, a 74-year-old lifelong trap shooter, after watching his grandson compete. “It’s so fun to see the youngsters stepping up. It will preserve the sport, and they’ll do it for the rest of their lives.”

Therein lies the appeal for the industry. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates the average 16-year-old competitor will spend $75,000 over his or her lifetime.