General News: Izaak Walton League Chapters' Successful National Shooting Sports Month Events

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Event at Lynchburg Chapter - credit Mike Frazier

Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, several League chapters across America managed to introduce members of the public to recreational shooting sports as part of National Shooting Sports Month.

This event occurs each August and provides opportunities for people of all ages and ability levels to try recreational shooting sports for the first time. In 2020, the League promoted National Shooting Sports Month events in partnership with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Several League chapters based in Iowa and Virginia hosted such events throughout August.

In Iowa, the Waterloo Chapter is best known locally for its complete trap, skeet and sporting clays facilities and offerings of shotgun-shooting instruction for novice participants every Saturday. Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place in August, a limited number of event attendees were still able to give shooting sports a try.

The Dragoon Trail Chapter (Ankeny) has some of the most extensive shooting sports facilities of any chapter in Iowa. At their event, guests were offered a smorgasbord of activities, including a five-stand shoot, a friendly trap shooting competition and a practical shooters match.

The Warren County Chapter (Indianola) provided weekly evening opportunities for the public to experience trap shooting and .22 rimfire riflery under the guidance of experienced mentors. Both events, which were open to non-members, generated interest in joining the chapter from the participants. In addition, they hosted a weekend event: a 3-D archery shoot also open to the public.

Rick Cerwick, Iowa Division president, commended the efforts of these Iowan chapters. “We are proud to be helping new audiences learn about and enjoy the recreational shooting sports.”

Young participant at Alexandria Chapter - credit Mike Scherr

Virginia’s Lynchburg Chapter held another successful National Shooting Sports Month event tied to their annual open house. While some health and safety adjustments were made due to COVID-19 concerns, all ranges were open to the public under the supervision of their trained range safety officers. More than 200 visitors, some novice shooting sports participants, completed rounds of trap and were able to shoot rifles. Many families tried their hand at archery under the guidance of experienced archers. Much like in 2019, this daylong event generated 60 new chapter members.

The Alexandria Chapter (located in Stafford County south of Washington DC) opened its ranges for six hours on a Saturday. It was great day with a steady flow of families coming to tour the chapter grounds and try their hand at recreational shooting. The visiting non-members also shot more shotgun, rifle and pistol ammunition than planned, almost 2,600 rounds. Five families from the more than 50 guests ended up joining the local chapter. As an added bonus, many of the guests returned to the chapter to later take scheduled NRA basic pistol training courses.

The Winchester, Virginia Chapter did its part to introduce others to shooting sporting clays using their five-stand course and wobble traps. A steady stream of new members has since been generated from the one-day guest list. Also, guests claimed that they had more fun than they had imagined!

The Virginia Division’s President and Chairman of the IWLA Shooting Sports Conservation Committee, Ernie Padgette, agreed. “Holding a local National Shooting Sports Month event is a great opportunity for any chapter to introduce others to fun, safe activities they can enjoy. Chapters everywhere should start planning and budgeting now for their 2021 event.”

Five-stand sporting clays at Winchester Chapter - credit John Sutter

Planning for 2021 National Shooting Sports Month

Chapters are encouraged to plan ahead and host an August 2021 event. Keep in mind an important objective of National Shooting Sports Month is to encourage participation by people who are not already recreational shooting sports enthusiasts.

Hosting such an event doesn’t have to involve a complicated planning process. If your chapter periodically opens its range to beginners for an introduction to shooting sports, simply consider doing so in August this year.

If your chapter has never hosted a public shooting sports event, NSSF offers support with its First Shots program curriculum for easy use at your chapter during National Shooting Sports Month. These resources are adaptable for all shooting ranges and all types of firearms, including handguns, rifles and shotguns. Plus, you’ll be eligible to receive support in the form of eye and ear protection, targets, ammunition and participant handouts.

In addition, the League can assist your chapter with event marketing and promotions for your August event. Learn more or email questions to

Generations of Americans have discovered recreational shooting sports at League chapters. National Shooting Sports Month is a great opportunity to raise public visibility to introduce more people to shooting sports while recruiting new chapter members.