With the Tokyo Olympic Games in full swing, it’s always interesting to think about how the athletes made it to the world’s largest stage. For many of the shooting sports athletes, this road began on a youth shooting team attending competitions organized by the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP). These youth teams and national organizations are financially assisted through endowments managed by MidwayUSA Foundation.
One of those endowments belongs to Gatewood High School in Eatonton, GA. The high school of Vincent Hancock, Men’s Skeet gold medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and former SCTP shooter. That endowment has provided over $24,000 in cash grants to the high school shotgun team, offsetting the endless costs that add up for young shooters. Another gold medalist and teammate of Vincent is Amber English. English won the Women’s Skeet competition and her mother serves on the Board of Directors for MidwayUSA Foundation, proving the love and belief in the sport is a family affair.
The Olympic medals and connections to MidwayUSA Foundation don’t stop there. Sarah Hall, MidwayUSA Foundation Program Manager’s husband competed in the Tokyo Olympics too. James Hall was a top ten finisher in both Men’s Air Pistol and Mixed Team Air Pistol. Both James and Sarah started shooting at a young age and moved on to shoot in college which developed into careers in the sport. James is currently the Director of Development of International Disciplines for SASP.
“When you can take your passion, in our case shooting sports, and do it at the collegiate level it’s exciting, but to take that passion and make a career out of it…that is pretty special,” said Sarah Hall. She continued, “Every day I get to see more youth gaining the life skills and experiences from shooting sports that I received.”
Thousands of youth shooting teams and nearly 70 organizations, including SCTP and SASP, throughout the United States have a MidwayUSA Foundation endowment that is earmarked specifically for their program. The endowments provide annual funding that is critical to allow youth to continue participating in shooting sports. Supporters can even contribute to any endowment to help grow the annual cash grant, which is regularly matched by Larry and Brenda Potterfield, Owners of MidwayUSA. Larry Potterfield feels strongly about coming together to invest in the next generation.
“Shooting sports provide wonderful opportunities for our youth to make friends, develop confidence, and learn discipline and leadership skills. However, there is little to no funding. It is up to us to help!”
According to Southwick Associates, there are over 4.5 million youth target shooters in the U.S., and they are spending over $1.8 billion per year on firearms, ammo, and accessories. Seeing peers and role models in the Olympics encourages young shooting athletes to pull more triggers and that means additional dollars spent on ammunition, entry fees, targets, travel, and other crucial expenses. This is a good thing for the entire outdoor industry. As of Thursday, July 29, United States had 5 medals in shooting sports at the Tokyo Olympics, with more opportunities in trap and air rifle on the forefront.