Why We Need to Improve Club Support
According to the NSSF, the non-shooting gun owners make up a $12 billion group.
One study done for them found that 49 million adults participated in shooting in 2016.
And they still believe that millions with direct access to guns, don't shoot at all.
Clubs make up the lifeblood of the organization.
USPSA would be nothing without the support of the clubs.
We need the activity credits the clubs generate.
We need the memberships.
And of course, we need the clubs to run matches.
And a bunch of other things...
And in return USPSA does a lot to help clubs become established.
They promote matches
They provide guidance
They collect data and run the classifier system
The USPSA rule book is used in almost every match in the USA.
And of course, the USPSA promotes international competition, funds teams and provides some support to those athletes representing the USA.
I also believe that President Mike Foley does an admirable job - often under difficult circumstances and sometimes in the face of heavy pressure.
The problem I have, is that in my opinion we need to do more. And again, I say this with respect, not as a hit on the organization.
Clubs and ranges need to do more to reach gun owners of all demographics.
And they need help in doing that.
Some of the projects I would like to see happen are:
Supporting clubs with Match management
Introducing and supporting scoring systems (if necessary through Practiscore)
Promotion of facilities
Connecting clubs with sponsors that can benefit from exposure to new shooters.
This especially applies to the smaller clubs that don't have the expertise to kickstart matches and stage design. I know of many small ranges that could benefit from having someone train them on holding matches. That would attract more shooters, and that in turn would generate more fees and memberships.
We should encourage more training of shooters at the club level, using the many professional trainers in our sport. Social media has made famous great shooters like JJ, Jessie Duff, KC, Williams girls and many others. We should exploit this, in a nice way of course, by bringing top shooters in contact with new shooters.
When clubs hold matches, use the opportunity to showcase the top guys that show up. Personally I also think the top guys, or all GM level shooters, should be encouraged (required?) to shoot main match. But that is a discussion for another day.
I recognize current shooters likely don't care about the top guys being there. And that is fine. To each their own. But as a draw for new shooters, I think its a good idea.
Personally I think that developing more shooters comes down to personal contact. We as shooters can do more by being kinder, more welcoming and building a relationship.
Not an easy task, I know. I talk to people all the time, and while some show up at the range, most do not. We should expand the "New Shooter" courses being used at Rio Salado. The classes are run by Kippi Leatham and her team (Yeah, Rob gets told by Kippi what to do). I love this as an entry into the sport. These types of classes should be strongly promoted amongst clubs and ranges. They actually train students on safety and skils, and sign off on them joining matches.
I am not saying they should be at USPSA expense. They should be privatized and purely promoted by USPSA.
I also like the Ambassador (Buddy) program at Cactus Match League. They have a new shooter meeting every Thursday, and then pair people up with an experienced shooter. There is no actual training though, only safety briefing. But it allows newbys to show up and feel their way in. Cactus calls them Tyro class - and winning a Tyro pin is something to be treasured.
I love this program, and often see 4-5 new shooters every week!
I know that I personally love helping new shooters. If this was made an organized function of our sport, I believe it would be very successful. By the way, one of the reasons so many of the top juniors became as good as they are is because parents took them through this first, very scary stage. This photo of al the Juniors was taken at Rio Salado after the Area 2 Match in 2013. Every Junior present had a parent that was heavily involved in our sport. And Christopher Oosthuisen, shown far left, went on to win High Overall in 2017, four years later. Yeah, I know what it's like to be beaten by your own kid.
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