For the past few months I’ve been filling in for Jim, our club’s Recording Secretary, who was on an extended summer vacation. Jim was elected to the job at the beginning of the year, but I think decided it wasn’t the job for him. A few weeks ago he came back, and apparently thought I had done such a good job, that he resigned, and recommended the Board of Trustees appoint me to fill the remainder of his term. Last night they did. But that’s not really the point of this post. What I mean to talk about are shooting clubs in general, and why I think they are worthwhile to become involved in.
I see often in forums and elsewhere, people saying “I won’t joint his club or that club, because this club has some stupid rule I don’t like, and that club doesn’t run any matches that look interesting, or their facilities are in bad shape.” I’m sympathetic to these statements, because it’s not like our club doesn’t have things I’d like to see changed, but I think clubs are too valuable to the community as a whole to eschew involvement in them because certain things aren’t to your liking, and you’d be really surprised how easy it is to change things. More often than not, the people in leadership positions at shooting clubs are happy to have people willing to be involved and help out. Demonstrate you’re one of these people, and you’ll have input. You might not be running the place, you might not always get your way, but at least you’ll have a seat at the table, and have a voice.
Clubs are an important component to the shooting community, and while mine is relatively healthy membership wise, that’s not universally true across the board. Some of them are desperate for people, and those that aren’t are still desperate for people willing to help out. Especially younger people. Yes, along with most other civic organizations, shooting clubs are getting older, and some are having a difficult time attracting new, younger members.
A lot of the blame can be placed at a lot of the older clubs running matches in shooting sports that younger people aren’t participating in. This is a problem, but it also illustrates why I think clubs are important, and why younger people should be seeking involvement with them. Because it’s not all that difficult to convince a club to run new matches. To convince a commercial range that you want to run a match, you have to convince them they will make money on it, or at the least appeal to their sense of supporting a shooting community (who they can then get money from in other ways). But ultimately a commercial range is in the business to make money, and that’s going to change their calculus when it comes to running matches. With clubs it’s a much easier sell, because a club isn’t putting as much as risk by approving a match. There’s not as much opportunity cost for turning a range over to a match for an afternoon. That’s why I think clubs are important to the shooting sports, and for the continuing survival of the Second Amendment. It would be a shame if many of these clubs die off because younger people aren’t joining. Once a club is gone, it’s gone forever. It’s a resource the community will never get back, and I think that will make us all worse off in the long run.