A surefire approach to building interest in the shooting sports
Megan Magro got her first taste of the shooting sports during childhood visits to her grandfather in Wales, where he would take her pheasant hunting. It wasn’t until she was attending the University of Ottawa in 2020, however, that her interest in sport shooting really took off after she started volunteering with the Canadian University Shooting Federation (CUSF).
Three years later, the 25-year-old is now the non-profit’s executive director, and it’s her mission to bring more young Canadians into the fold. “We really believe young people are the future of the firearms community and shooting sports in Canada,” Magro says. “We want to keep the sport growing into an activity that everybody can enjoy.” Here are three key areas the CUSF focusses on, as should anyone encouraging young people to get involved in the shooting sports.
One of the biggest misconceptions about sport shooting is that it’s dangerous, Magro says. “You’re not going to show up at one of our events and be given a gun and told to just go for it,” she adds, noting that first-timers instead get a full orientation from a qualified shooting coach or instructor, or range safety officer. “You’re going to first learn the different parts of a gun and how to pick one up. You’re not going to be going off on your own. You shoot under direct supervision.”
According to Magro, sport shooting is appealing because it gives like-minded people the chance to connect while they develop their unique new skill set. To that end, the CUSF has several different leagues and competitions, ranging from trap and skeet to target shooting. Herself a turkey and waterfowl hunter, Magro adds that competitive shooting doubly serves as a stepping stone to get into hunting. It’s also a great way to unwind, she says, and become more open-minded. “Shooting a round of trap helps me destress and feel better. It has also helped by giving me a different outlook on life, and to see a different perspective on things. It’s helped me listen to what people have to say before I go and judge them about it, because I know how it feels when somebody starts judging me about my sport.”
Currently, the CUSF has approximately 400 members in 25 different chapters at colleges and universities across Canada, providing plenty of entry points for interested students and alumni. And it’s always looking to grow, Magro says, offering funding to help start new clubs. As well, the CUSF provides new members with rebates on the cost of their firearms licence. “That’s been a super-successful program,” she says. “If the ultimate goal is to grow the shooting community, we need to get licences in the hands of young people.”
Visit www.cusf.ca to learn more about the Canadian University Shooting Federation.