Saving the Shooting Sports

Michael Bane makes some great observations and offers suggestiosn on saving the shooting sports.  I noticed a very good comment that made a very frightening observation:

The next generation is not oriented to shooting or hunting. They spend more time on their computers then outside. In my club of 250 members there are NO children. There is dam little shooting allowed in school programs. SCTP IMO is growing because it is held AWAY from school. If you tried to have indoor ranges for rifle or pistol (as did exist several decades ago) it would fall flat on its face.

My club is composed of 240 guys, 10 women, average age is 50. Not to mention there are almost no minorities. That is another area which is not confronted honestly. You do not see representative percentages of non-whites in the shooting sports. America in not to long, will have to deal with a majority non-white population. All the demographics point in the wrong direction.

What troubles me, is my observations of club demographics is similar.  This might surprise you, but the solution is to get more women into the shooting sports.  I think women are far more likely than men to get their kids into shooting, and keep them in shooting.  I’ve seen a lot of dads bring their kids to the range and do a good job of passing the tradition along.  I’ve also seen dads that are doing their best to make sure their kid absolutely grows up to hate shooting.  I’ve never seen a woman at a range with kids in tow not doing a good job with the kids.  They are far better teachers than men are.

UPDATE: Overall there’s excellent commentary on that post.  I can only read a little bit at a time because Michael’s color scheme is very harsh on the eyes.  I can still see the text lines burnt into my retina for a minute or so after taking a break.

22 thoughts on “Saving the Shooting Sports”

  1. That white on black scheme is hard for me to read too.

    General agreement on need for ranges though.

  2. We have good junior participation (including race and sex diversity) and only use 1/6 of our range-length!
    One problem we encountered this year with Junior ROTC was that even though our “event” is held away from school, some of the battalions were intimidated-from allowing or did not trust their youth to shoot. We believe they have been pressured by the School District to not-participate based in misleading arguments.

  3. *nods*

    +1 on unhappiness with non-standard layouts. Xavier does it on his site, too. It’s just hard on aging eyes to try and read that stuff, and occasionally it’s so bad I have to click and highlight the passage so it’s readable.

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months now. I’ve got a big question.

    I did a small amount of hunting (VERY small – once or twice).

    I want to learn to hunt (don’t remember much of anything). I want to get into target shooting for fun. I want to teach all of the above to my kids at an appropriate age (they are currently 9, 7, 4, 1). I cannot afford to spend thousands doing so and I cannot seem to find a place to help me learn what I need to know. The usually reply is look online (case of too much information).

    I think that a simple step by step process on how to get involved would be nice. If I want to learn a sport (say, baseball), I can sign up for the league, have equipment provided, and have practices that teach me the rules and techniques. I see nothing like that for shooting sports.

    Thanks for any info you have.

  5. I guess the first question is what you mean by involved? Are you looking for a club, a public range, to get training? Competition?

  6. I’d say a little bit of all of the above. I’m not sure about a club. Training would be good as would a public range. My biggest problem is that I have no clue what I want because I’m not sure what’s available or what I might enjoy.

  7. The best place to start is probably the local public indoor range. Just about all the major metro areas have a few of them. If you know a friend who still shoots, ask him to take you. That’s how I got started.

    Looks like for St. Louis area, Bullseye Indoor Shooting Range is the same kind of place I learned at getting (re)started into the shooting sports.

  8. What about learning to hunt?
    I have a good introductory (.22 LR) indoor rifle club at my college, where I’ve been shooting for a year, but I’m a suburban kid and never had a chance to learn how to hunt. Are there any groups out there that have programs to help completely inexperienced people learn how to hunt?

    Actually, isn’t that what the AHSA should be? ;)

  9. Michael’s color scheme is very harsh on the eyes.

    I think that it’s the font more than it is the color.

  10. I’d look for Hunter Safety Courses in your area and then go talk to the people that run them. Especially if they are run by local gun clubs.

  11. The best way to get boys off thier games and into shooting is through the BSA. local clubs should contact Scout Leaders and offer the ability to loan shotguns and rifles for those badges. This will get the boys into shooting . Especially if they make it steel or shooting at toys for fun. A reactive target is more fun that paper.

    Offer Scouts discount for their families and fun shoots. Same for Girl scouts but add defensive shooting.

    For hunting get a local hunter and DNR visit a meeting and offer the Hunter Safety course and organize hunt for bird or game.

    After all for boating the kids have to attend the Boating course and then borrow a boat to go water skiing for that badge.

    I arranged to go to Seabase and scuba certification and then in the summer we went to the Keys as a adventure for the 14 and up boys who wanted to do this.

    So ranges could offer to loans rifle and then a good deal to sell rifles to the boys and their parents.

  12. I belong to a relatively small club in northern NJ. Our membership seems to also be in the forty to fifty year old range, but there are some bright spots. For one we have an active junior club that we provide with rifles and ammunition, and while not all of our juniors become adult members some do. We also have tried with some success to bring women into the club. A few years ago we were able to open up our membership which was restricted to only local residents to include residents from surrounding towns which has doubled our membership.

    There are some factors that may scare young people away from the shooting sports, especially in NJ. One is the rather daunting requirements for the NJ FID card. Another is the shear cost of guns today. Few members are contented to shoot a used .38 Special revolver like I was when I joined 25 years ago. Another problem is that housing in the area is prohibitively expensive with no one under the age of thirty moving into the area.

  13. Part of the problem is that even those interested in joining a club have a difficult time. We’re an internet generation… we search for the clubs online. We find sub-par websites with little to no information. Like this one…

    I and a co-worker are looking for a local place to shoot. We’re interested in getting a bit more competitive too. Would like to find an affordable club near-by.

  14. There are some factors that may scare young people away from the shooting sports, especially in NJ. One is the rather daunting requirements for the NJ FID card.

    Which is precisely the purpose of that requirement.

    Part of the problem is that even those interested in joining a club have a difficult time. We’re an internet generation…

    Bingo! It’s a huge problem, and it will end up killing a lot of gun clubs if they don’t get their act together. Part of the problem is, as Michael points out, is that your typical mechanisms of coming into the sport are changing, and we have this old, antiquated club system that’s not ready to cope with it.

    This is a disaster waiting to happen, because we need clubs to survive. We desperately need them to adapt and attract younger people.

  15. If the clubs do a little bit of work to get some younger people, they may run into some volunteer help with the skills to deal with their online communication problems, which would, in turn, snowball their membership efforts in a positive way. I do web sites for about 6 churches and a couple of ministry groups on a volunteer basis because I’ve got the skills and I want to help.

  16. “If you know a friend who still shoots, ask him to take you. That’s how I got started.”

    If you shoot, remember to ask others if they would like to come to the range with you. Not only that, but if you find going to the range boring, then try taking others with you.

    I started shooting again in April when I got my handgun. I take my 1911 and my mini M1 carbine (.22 cal) every Wednesday and have one regular friend who comes along and a third who will also be joining us after coming out one Wednesday. We have our own little party.

    Luckily I have the NRA range nearby. There seems to be no shortage of women or minorities coming in there. I also dropped by on a weekend and it was packed with dads and kids. They must be doing something right. I have seen

    I am still trying to get the wife to come along but there are the kids that need watching and a general lack of interest at the moment. She has shot a pellet pistol and really enjoyed that.

    As for kids and video games, the media want all of us to believe that these video games are driving these kids to go on murderous gun rampages. How is that possible if they won’t put the game down to handle a real gun? My kids are too young, but already my 3 yo daughter wants to go play ‘bullseye’ once she is old enough. I am just not sure when that is, yet…..

  17. Patrick, one solution might be a site which is an index of sites and with each entry there can be a summary and place for people to comment on each clubs. If there is a site that does that now, it probably suffers from the same design/quality problem.

  18. Outreach needs to done. NRA is involved with most clubs since theri members are also NRA members. Does the NRA have a person that does to the club meetings to discuss outreach programs like working with local JROTC and Boy Scouts troops.

    The shooting clubs websites are dependent on the skills or lack of skills of the member that set up and maintains the website. Now that many gunbloggers are savy webmasters, those gunbloggers can volunteer their services to their clubs to improve the websites.

  19. There’s a Clubs and Associations director within NRA, yes. But I actually don’t think NRA does nearly as good a job working with its clubs as it could.

  20. Many gun clubs are their own worst enemy. Older members are often reluctant to open up membership and do what needs to be done to have the club become viable for the future. These same members like the atmosphere of a small club of just a handful of friends many of whom don’t even shoot anymore. Many older pistol clubs in NJ won’t have anything other than NRA Bullseye shooting. Many newer shooters are more interested in practical shooting, Cowboy action shooting, combat anything other than Bullseye.

  21. Howdy All,

    1. I agree with the OP. we must expand the shooting pool to have the next generation survive.

    2. The Lady and I are doing our part. In concert with our church, we host a youth shooting camp in the local area. A day of safety fundementals, shotgun and rimfire rifles range time. next year will be the third annual!

    3. What can you do at your place with your friends?? It’s our responsibility!


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