February 20th, 2024

Eagan, MN – The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League is one of Minnesota’s most popular high school sports. With over 12,000 middle and high school students participating on more than 400 teams, it is a top-ten participation sport and larger than Boy’s and Girl’s High School Hockey combined. The Minnesota College Athletic Conference and the USA College Clay Target League hosts more than 25 Minnesota colleges in clay target shooting sports. These three leagues are all managed by the USA Clay Target League – a 501(c3) non-profit organization.

Recently a number of Minnesota State Representatives, and one Senator, have introduced legislation to ban lead-based ammunition in the state. Their proposed legislation specifically identifies that “…the league must adopt league rules that prohibit using lead ammunition and require using nontoxic ammunition at all shooting sport practices, competitions, training, and other events.”

“Youth clay target shooting sports in Minnesota is NOT a public health issue,” said John Nelson, President of the Eagan-based USA Clay Target League, the largest youth clay target shooting sports program in the country. “By specifically targeting youth shooting sports, it becomes clear that this is an attack on a school-approved activity that they don’t like. The idea that there are over 50,000 Minnesota students that have participated in the League since 2001 that have never had an accident, never had an injury, despite shooting a shotgun over 100 million times, goes contrary to their preferred narrative. “

The proposed legislation would result in 12,000+ Minnesota students, their families, hundreds of shooting ranges, and the State of Minnesota, paying the price.

1. Non-Toxic Ammunition Will More Than Double Student Athlete Ammunition Costs.
Minnesota clay target student athletes would have to pay nearly $10 million in increased ammunition costs each year, an average increase of over $700 per student athlete. This is more than double current ammunition costs. The average team will face tens of thousands of dollars in increased costs, and low-income students and families will no longer be able to afford to participate due to this proposed law.

2. Non-Toxic Ammunition Supplies Are Very Limited Which Will Decrease Participation.
Since COVID, shotgun ammunition has already been difficult for teams and athletes to purchase due to severe shortages. Non-Toxic shotgun shells are even more difficult to find – particularly the type needed to shoot clay targets. The difficulty of finding and purchasing enough ammunition for students to participate will result in lower participation rates. Minnesota clay target student athletes will be prevented from participating simply because there simply wouldn’t be ammunition available to them.

3. Clay Targets Are Not Wildlife.
Non-toxic ammunition laws exist to protect waterfowl and the hunters and predatory wildlife that consume them from the effects of lead poisoning. Not only are clay targets not consumed by anyone, clay target sports take place in controlled areas where lead contamination is limited and regularly removed from the environment through reclamation. The potential environmental dangers posed by clay target shooting sports are already mitigated by the hundreds of responsible shooting ranges in the state. 

4. Less Clay Target Shooting Participants Will Shut Down Shooting Ranges.
After many decades of declining hunting and shooting sport enthusiasts, Minnesota shooting ranges, contractors, manufacturers, and retailers have experienced phenomenal economic and participant growth since the start of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League in 2008. Since then, millions of taxpaying citizen dollars have been invested into these shooting ranges to help create the next generation of Minnesota outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to acquiring new younger shooting range participants, more than 84% of participating Minnesota league shooting ranges have experienced an overall increase of non-youth participants. Increased lead-free ammunition costs will dramatically reduce the amount of ammunition purchased at shooting ranges, clay targets thrown, and clay target shooting sport participants that will result in a dramatic decrease in shooting range revenue. 

5. A Reduction In Clay Target Shooting Participants Will Decrease Minnesota DNR Funding.
The Minnesota DNR has received a substantial increase in Pittman-Robertson federal funding (excise tax on gun and ammunition sales) during the past two years. 78% of excise tax income comes from the recreational shooting sport industry – not hunting. Minnesota received $19.7 million in fiscal year 2021 from the Pittman- Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. In FY 2022 and 2023, it increased significantly to $32.25 million and $34.4 million, respectively. Less clay target shooting sport participants will purchase less ammunition and shotguns therefore reducing Pittman-Robertson excise tax contributions.

6. Less Clay Target Shooting Sport Student Athletes Will Have A Negative Impact On Many Students. 
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, students who participate in a school-sponsored activity experience many benefits over students that do not. These benefits include higher test scores and G.P.A., more likely to go to college, lower drop-out rates, increased self-esteem and self-worth, develop more and lasting friendships, less likely to use alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and they are more likely to volunteer, vote and participate in the community. 39% of Minnesota clay target student athletes do not participate on any other school-sponsored activity. By dramatically increasing clay target participation costs, less single-activity students will participate which may negatively impact the rest of their lives.

If these bills pass, Minnesota families and businesses will experience the negative impacts of higher ammunition costs, lower ammunition availability, less clay target shooting sport participants, less shotguns and ammunition sold, shooting range closures, and less federal funding for Minnesota wildlife and conservation efforts.

The League encourages everyone that supports youth clay target shooting sports to make their opinions known. Please reach out to your own Minnesota State Senators and Representatives and let them know that you do not support HF3813 nor SF3792.

Find your Minnesota district representative here:

Supporters that are represented by the following legislators are strongly encouraged to reach out and express their opinion of the proposed legislation.
Sen. Jennifer A. McEwen (08, DFL) (Duluth) – 651-296-4188 –
Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL) District: 45B (Minnetonka) – 651-296-9934 –
Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL) District: 44A (Maplewood) – 651-296-5363 –
Rep. Heather Edelson (DFL) District: 50A (Edina) – 651-296-4363 –
Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL) District: 66B (St. Paul) – 651-296-4224 –
Rep. Fue Lee (DFL) District: 59A (Minneapolis) – 651-296-4262 –
Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL) District: 65B (St. Paul)  – 651-296-9714 –
Rep. Larry Kraft (DFL) District: 46A (St. Louis Park) – 651-296-7026 –
Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL) District: 38B (Brooklyn Center) – 651-296-3709 –