The number of Swiss youngsters taking part in gun courses to learn how to shoot is on the rise, it has been reported.
The number of young people participating in so-called “Jungschützen” [junior rifle] courses to learn how to shoot has risen from 7,000 in 2015 to 10,079 in 2017, according to figures from Swiss Shooting, an association representing Swiss sports shooters, cited in an article in Sunday’s Aargauer Zeitungexternal link.
The courses are designed for teenagers aged 15-20 to prepare them for their call-up to the militia army.
The federal authorities contribute towards the training. Last year, it handed over 10,585 army assault rifles and 930,000 rounds of free ammunition to gun clubs, the paper reported. Defence ministry support to junior rifle courses amounted to CHF862,000. A further CHF65,000 goes towards the training of junior rifle leaders.
The rise in young shooters is thought to be linked to a change in the law in 2016, when the minimum age for participants in this army preparation course was reduced from 17 to 15.
Some clubs in Switzerland offer shooting courses to children as young as 8-10. Newcomers start with air pistols and rifles shooting over 10 metres. During 300-metre shooting practice, they can try out an army assault rifle at a range.
Switzerland’s gun laws and high rates of gun ownership reflect the country’s deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms and the needs of its militia army. Shooting clubs are also popular. The Swiss Shooting association, one of the country’s biggest sports associations, has 133,000 members.
Today, Switzerland has among the highest gun ownership rates per capita among Western countries. It is thought that around two million are in circulation.