The CDC WISQARS site, which I had long used for data on homicides and nonfatal injuries, has a cool new National Violent Death Reporting System page that lets you generate cause-of-death statistics in much more detail than I’d seen before (though unfortunately only for the 16 participating states).
So, if for instance, you wanted to figure out how many deaths happened each year as a result of target-shooting, you could check the right boxes (making sure that you check “Violent Death Counts and Percentages by Place of Injury, Pregnancy Status, Homeless Status, Military Status, and Known Circumstances of Death” under “Report Type”), and get the answer: 10 in the years 2005-07, in those 16 states, which roughly extrapolates to about 13 per year in the U.S. as a whole (since the population of those 16 states over those three years, as reported in a different report, amounted to 236,490,138 person-years).
This can’t be treated as precise, since there might be quite a few unclassified or misclassified incidents, and since the 16 states may not be entirely representative of the nation as a whole. And of course the data is still not as detailed as you’d like — you can’t tell, for instance, how many were at controlled ranges and how many were just in casual plinking in an uncontrolled environment. Still, it gives better data on many subjects than I’d seen before, and it lets you further subdivide things by age, race, and more. Much worth checking out, if you’re a data junkie like me.
[UPDATE: I originally reported that there were 7 target-shooting deaths in 2005-07 in the 16 states, because that’s what the query reported; but I take it that there have been some dataset updates since then, because when I checked again on Oct. 28, 2010, it reported 10 deaths, so I’ve revised the post accordingly.]