ELYSBURG, Pa.–Registration at the annual Colonial Classic and Pennsylvania State Shoot is down 15–20 percent this year.
The problems are both the increase in the price of gas and the economy says Bruce Murphy, president of the Pennsylvania State Sportsmen’s Association, which sponsors one of the nation’s largest trap shoot tournaments.
With the price of gas averaging about $4 a gallon, and diesel running about $5 a gallon, “We’re seeing fewer shooters,” says Murphy. About 300 families bring campers; the average RV, with tanks of 50–100 gallons, gets about 7–9 miles a gallon. The price of a gallon of gasoline increased 5.6 percent in April, and about 20.9 percent over a year ago, according to the most recent data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average price of gasoline in June, compared to a year ago, is expected to be about 25 percent higher. The price of petroleum, now about $135 a barrel, up from $50 a barrel in January 2007, also affects ammunition and sports supplies.
Clay pigeons are made primarily of pitch and tar, petroleum byproducts. The increase over the past year has been 18–20 percent, according to Phil Murray, sales manager for Reagent Chemicals, Houston, which manufactures White Flyer clay pigeons. Most of that increase, says Murray, is the price of oil. “But the shipping costs have also increased because of the price of gas,” he says.
The cost of 12-gauge shells, the primary shell used for trap shooting, has also increased. The cost of Federal shells has increased 10–35 percent in the past years, depending upon the load, according to Jason Nash, communications manager for the Federal Cartridge Co., which has about one-fourth of the market share. At the State Shoot, the increase for premium shells has been $2 a box, to about $9 a box. Much of the increase is not only because copper and lead has increased in price, but so has powder and plastic inserts, both of them petroleum byproducts.
A competitive trap shooter, between practice and tournament competition, may easily go through 2,000–2,500 shells and an equal amount of clay pigeons, and spend over $1,500 for shells and clay pigeons. However, says Murphy, “what we’re seeing is that many shooters are reducing the number of events they enter.” He says he won’t know until the end of the nine day shoot, June 15, the extent of the gas crisis upon attendance and total entry fees.
[Dr. Brasch’s latest book is SINKING THE SHIP OF STATE: THE PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH]