Wyoming led the nation at 19.9 percent, followed by Montana at 16.9, South Dakota at 15.2, Idaho at 13.0 and Arkansas at 12.4.
West Virginia did, however, rank higher than all but one of its surrounding states. Kentucky came at 9.1 percent, Pennsylvania 7.8, Ohio 6.0, Virginia 4.5 and Maryland 3.6.
Mountain State recreational shooters appear to favor long guns over handguns. The survey found that West Virginia has 113,800 people who target-shoot with rifles, 92,600 with handguns, 81,400 with muzzleloaders and 79,600 with shotguns.
Think about that. Of the 161,980 people identified as target shooters in this state, 70 percent shoot rifles, 57 percent shoot handguns, 50 percent shoot muzzleloaders and 49 percent shoot shotguns.
The muzzleloader figure is particularly mind-blowing. The nationwide per capita rate is 18.5 percent. West Virginia's is nearly triple that.
Researchers found that West Virginians spend an average of 6.9 days a year shooting rifles, 5.6 days shooting handguns, 4.2 days shooting shotguns and 2.5 days shooting muzzleloaders.
Shooting that much costs money - a lot of money. According to the survey, West Virginians spend $29.9 million a year on target shooting with rifles, $25.6 million with handguns, $15.7 million with shotguns and $8.8 million with muzzleloaders.
That's a total outlay of $80 million in retail sales of firearms, ammunition, optics, loading supplies, travel, range fees and instruction.
That's impressive. And when you add that to the state's per capita participation rate in archery, which leads the nation; and in hunting, which is one of the nation's highest, you end up with an argument for the shooting sports that's pretty darned hard to punch holes in.