Integrity in Shooting Sports: Passing Down Traditions to the Next Generation

David Stewart, CEO and founder of ShotKam, smiling in a collared shirt against a leafy green background outside
Written by David Stewart, CEO of ShotKam

As the CEO and founder of ShotKam, I have had the privilege of witnessing the profound impact that shooting sports can have on individuals. These sports are not just about skill and precision; they embody values that go far beyond the range. At the core of shooting sports lies an unwavering commitment to integrity, a principle that ensures fairness, respect, and safety. Through my experiences and those of respected shooters, I've seen firsthand how these values are preserved and passed down to future generations.

Exemplifying Integrity in Shooting Sports

One memorable event that stands out in my mind occurred during the Jack Links Cup prelim here in South Florida. The Jack Links Cup is one of the most prestigious events in the shooting sports calendar. It draws top shooters from across the country, competing for significant prizes and awards. The Jack Links Cup Prelim serves as a crucial warm-up for competitors the day before the main event.

During this time, I was shooting alongside Zach Kienbaum, a champion shooter well-known in the shooting community for his skill and sportsmanship, and Desirae Edmunds, another world-class shooter and prominent figure in shooting sports. What impressed me most about Zach was his unwavering honesty. As usual, I was performing decently well, perhaps dropping a target here and there. But Zach had already run through several stations while maintaining a perfect score, and you could see the trappers instantly recognized him as a champion shooter. It was clear they were hesitant to call a “miss” on his shots.

At one point, Zach took a shot and I didn’t see anything off the first bird, but he would break the second one. When the trapper called “dead pair,” Zach really showcased his humility. He would turn to the trapper and say, “I don’t think I broke that target.” He’d then ask Desirae or the other squad members, “Did you see anything off it?” If no one saw anything, he would respectfully tell the trapper, “Please put that down as a “lost and dead” for the pair, because I’m pretty sure I missed the first target.”

This didn’t just happen once. There were three occasions where Zach respectfully corrected the trappers, who were under noticeable pressure. His honesty and respect for the sport, even in the face of potential mistakes to his advantage by the trappers, were truly impressive. This level of integrity is what defines our sport. Much like in golf, where players are expected to call penalties on themselves, clay shooting demands a high level of self-regulation. Cheating not only tarnishes an individual's reputation but also erodes the trust and respect essential in our close-knit community.

The ShotKam Advantage

The ShotKam gun camera is an excellent tool for analyzing your shooting performance and can even help with the occasional misread of a “miss”. I frequently review my ShotKam footage to assess any hits or misses with precision. A common misread occurs when shooting a chandelle in sporting clays; both the ShotKam Gen 3 and Gen 4 have high resolution, allowing you to see when a single pellet punches a hole in the clay that you didn’t notice at the time. Another frequent misread happens with rabbue targets. A quartering or going away rabbue often has chips (not dust, but enough to count as a kill if you can see them) which come off of the far ridge on the target. I shoot 1200fps 7.5 pellets at everything, but the going away rabbue is one target where I would emphasize the advantage of faster and harder shooting.

Teaching Integrity and Respect to New Generations

Integrity in shooting sports is not just about fair play; it's also about safety and respect. Using a firearm requires a high level of responsibility. Shooters must trust those around them to adhere to strict safety standards. This trust is built on a foundation of honesty and integrity, which guarantees that everyone remains safe while enjoying the sport.

I believe that the best way to instill these values in new shooters is through example. Young and inexperienced shooters are highly impressionable and often look up to seasoned shooters. When they see high-level competitors demonstrating integrity, they are likely to emulate that behavior. This is especially important when teaching young shooters, who must learn to respect firearms and the rules of the sport.

When I taught my own children to shoot, I emphasized the importance of respecting both safety and competition rules. This respect extends beyond the shooting range to hunting, where the excitement of the hunt can sometimes overshadow the need for safety and ethical behavior. Teaching young hunters to consider factors like clean kills and the safety of their surroundings ensures that they develop into responsible and respectful participants.

Ensuring the Future of Shooting Sports

In an era where social media and other distractions vie for the attention of young people, it's crucial to encourage outdoor activities like shooting and hunting. These activities teach invaluable lessons about respect, safety, honesty, and integrity. Maintaining these values is essential for the future of shooting sports. I remain optimistic, noting that new shooters continue to display the same level of respect and integrity as their predecessors.

In conclusion, the integrity of shooting sports lies in the hands of those who participate and lead by example. By upholding high ethical standards, seasoned shooters ensure that the tradition of honesty, respect, and safety is passed down to future generations. Whether on the shooting range or in the field, these values remain the cornerstone of a sport that continues to inspire and teach important life lessons.

Integrity in Shooting Sports: An Insightful Perspective

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