Survey Shows AR Shooters Most Active
The recent surge in sales of modern sporting rifles is undeniable, but until now there’s only been anecdotal evidence to show that Americans have taken to the AR-platform. However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has now quantified just how big the ground-swell of interest in the AR has become—nearly 9 million shooters went to the range or field with an AR in 2009.
In fact, AR shooters were the “most active” of any category of sport shooters in the landmark survey.
“These findings underscore that modern sporting rifles are becoming commonplace in America and are among the most desired firearms by sport shooters,” said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF, a trade association of the firearms industry.
“Those who want to ban these civilian sporting rifles simply because they look like military rifles must acknowledge after seeing this study that AR-style rifles are exceedingly popular with millions of Americans. These rifles are our industry's high-tech, cutting-edge product—rugged, accurate, versatile, fun to shoot and easily accessorized—and they're here to stay.”
The study, “Shooting Sports Participation Survey in the United States in 2009,” was conducted for NSSF by Responsive Management through a random digit dialing telephone survey of 8,204 U.S. residents ages 18 and older.
To avoid confusion, the term “modern sporting rifle” was further defined as an AR-style rifle. Mark Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, explained the survey's methodology, saying “This was a highly scientific study with the sample meticulously developed on a state-by-state basis to construct the national number. Both landline and cell phones were utilized in the actual proportions they exist within the American population."
Duda said this type of telephone survey yields a 95 percent confidence level. The report's sampling error is plus or minus 1.08 percentage points.
The study showed that 15 percent of the U.S. population, representing 34.4 million people nationwide, went target shooting in 2009. This number surpasses all other previous survey estimates of annual sport shooting participation.
“Recreational shooting had a banner year in 2009,” said Sanetti. “Firearms sales were way up, so it's really no surprise that more people are enjoying the shooting sports than ever before."
Duda added: “This study measured all shooting participation, from hunters sighting in, to friends going shooting with friends who own firearms, to women practicing their self-defense skills.”
Other survey results include:
• 7.6 million people went trap shooting on 14.8 days
• 7 million went skeet shooting on 15.5 days
• 8.4 million participated in sporting clays on 13.7 days.
• Most modern sporting rifle users reside in small cities or towns (25 percent) and non-farm rural areas (25 percent) compared with urban areas (19 percent), suburban areas (16 percent) and farms/ranches (15 percent).
• Modern sporting rifles appealed to younger shooters, with 64 percent of users ranging in age from 18 to 44
• Modern sporting rifle users were 86 percent white, with Hispanic/Latinos the next largest ethnic group at 5 percent
• Men represented 84 percent of modern sporting rifle shooters and women 16 percent
• 34 percent of modern sporting rifle shooters had some college education or a trade school degree, 29 percent a bachelor's degree and 27 percent a high school degree or equivalent.
“We hope this survey helps shed light on the often misunderstood modern sporting rifle and demonstrates the tremendous appeal they have with recreational shooters," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF's director of industry research and analysis.