Shooting Sports for Seniors: Tips for Getting Started

Aging adults have a unique set of considerations when it comes to hobby selection. Often, they seek activities that are mentally stimulating to keep them sharp, socially-driven to help combat loneliness and low-impact but still good for supporting their physical health. One activity that ticks all of the above boxes, yet is often overlooked by seniors, is sport shooting. Squaring up with a shotgun and taking aim at clay targets is one of few low-impact activities that requires a strong fusion of mental and physical fortitude with little experience needed.

Think you’re too old to shoot? That’s probably not true. While there are certain physical conditions that may bar you from taking a stab at the sport, by and large, if you’re strong enough to hold and balance a shotgun, you can take part in clay shooting. And it will pay off, too. Sport shooting is an excellent test of mental discipline, physical strength and focus, all things that will help you live a happier, healthier life as you age. It’s for these reasons that the activity is becoming increasingly more popular among older adults, with shooters age 55 or older making up over 20 percent of target shooting participants.

If you’re looking to get started in shooting sports, here are some great tips that will help you get ready for the range, even if you’ve never even held a shotgun.

  • Start with a Rundown on Safety—Even if you think you already know everything there is to know about firearm safety, ask for a rundown just in case before you get started. Since you might not have wielded a shotgun in years—maybe even decades—it’s best to start with a thorough rundown on firearm handling safety before beginning.
  • Join a Group with Other Seniors—As the aging population shows more interest in sport shooting, various seniors-only shooting groups have formed around the country. These groups cater to older shooters, so they may be more accommodating to those with physical concerns and anyone who may not move as quickly as they used to. Of course, joining up with people around your own age will help connect you with others who share similar interests, helping you grow your social circle.
  • Take it Slow and Dial Back the Power—As tempting as it may be, don’t reach for the most powerful shotgun on the rack when it’s your first time shooting (or your first time in a while). Heavy, powerful shotguns can injure those with physical limitations, previous injuries or weak bones, so always start with the least powerful gun available to you. Remember to move at your own pace and to take several breaks between shots if you feel yourself getting tired.
  • Turn to the Professionals—While there are plenty of backyard shooting setups that are perfectly safe and arranged by very competent, safety-focused shooters, the best thing you can do when you’re getting into any shooting sport is to head to the range. Not only will the pros know exactly how to warm you up for your first attempt at shooting, an actual facility will have services such as rentals so that you don’t have to borrow or buy your own equipment.

  • Don’t Worry When You Miss—Give yourself the freedom to underperform and you just might find that you have a lot more fun than you did when you piled on the pressure. Remember that in all shooting sports, misses are inevitable, and they shouldn’t deter you from trying again (and again and again). The fun of it is making tiny, micro-adjustments until you hit your target. Nothing is quite as satisfying!
  • Wear the Right Gear—One of the biggest differentiators between young people and older folks on the whole is that seniors know that the wrong gear or attire could seriously ruin an otherwise great outing. Ill-fitting glasses, sun in your eyes, a shirt that’s too hot—all of these things can prevent you from enjoying your visit to the range, so be sure to take some time to get your gear right. The same goes for the firearm. Make sure it’s the right fit before pulling the trigger and don’t compromise if something feels off.
  • Protect Your Eyes—Any shooting sport will require participants to wear protective eyewear to keep the eyes safe from blowback and shards of clay. Beginners typically rent these from the club or range when they don’t have their own, while seasoned shooters may have prescription shooting glasses made to ensure that their vision isn’t compromised by their safety gear. If you have contacts, be sure to wear them to the range (in addition to protective glasses or goggles) so that you protect your eyes without affecting quality of vision.
  • Buddy Up with Someone Your Own Age—You already know it’s a good idea to work with a professional or a guide, but it may also be smart to begin your shooting journey alongside another shooter around the same age, especially if you can connect with someone who has more (or more recent) experience than you do who may be interested in showing you the ropes.

You’re Never Too Old to Try Something New

If you’ve always wanted to try sport shooting but never had the opportunity, we’re here to tell you now’s your time. Not only can shooting help provide you with an array of positive mental and physical health benefits, it’s also a plain-old fun way to pass the time. If you’re concerned at all about your physical abilities, it may be a good idea to ask your physician for the go-ahead. Once you get the thumbs up, head to the range and show them what you can (still) do!

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1 comment
CharlesSipe says May 13, 2019

Nice tips you share about sport shooting for seniors.

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