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The Thing about Shooting Clubs

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.

3 Responses to “The Thing about Shooting Clubs”

  1. James Nelson says:

    The biggest problem with the gun clubs That I see is twofold. They tend, like so many organizations, to be run by the kid of people who get off on being charge and running things. And many of them are far behind the times in terms of tactics and training in the actions they allow. I discussed this with a high official of a club I used to belong to, who felt that epitomy of traning was how the local police department did it. Another club I looked into, ran concealed weapon training classes but didn’t allow any concealed carry on their premises, anywhere. I’m no longer young and don’t feel like joining and fighting with the powers that be to change things, I just find other venues to shoot.
    It’s too bad, the clubs could be center for training and political action, the ones I looked at seemed to be more involved in control and ego tripping. That phrase probably dates me.
    One other thing about the local clubs is that my primary interest is pistol shooting and many of them give shotguns and rifles and even archery priority, with very limited time and space for handguns.

  2. Sebastian says:

    It depends on the club. Some are certainly beyond hope in terms of having people in charge who are set in their ways, and intent on preventing change. Those clubs are probably lost.

    But I think most are at least open to some change, even if it’s not wholesale change. My club, for instance, was reluctant to institute air gun programs, but they’ve been pretty successful because a lot of people are shooting air gun these days. Langhorne Rod and Gun Club next door runs a practical rifle match that’s so popular, I don’t often shoot it because it’s just really crowded, I feel like I spend too much time waiting and not enough time shooting. But it’s a fun match, and people come.

    What I’m essentially arguing in this post though is that I think we, and when I say we, I mean younger shooters, owe it to the community to try to get involved, and bring new ideas into these organizations. If we don’t, once the older generation dies off, we lose the resource, and lose it for good.

  3. Jeff says:

    The health of our gun clubs is one of the few things that’s actually good about being a shooter in Massachusetts. There are only two commercial ranges in the state while there are ~150 private clubs listed on the GOAL website. There are several excellent clubs within a short drive of my house, including all different sorts of matches and training.

    I’ll second what you said though. If you don’t like some policies at a club, particularly a smaller one, start volunteering. The powers that be are often so thankful for the help that they’ll listen to what you have to say and often make changes.

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