Last year I was attending a lot of matches. All our Thursday night silhouette matches, all the air silhouette matches on the 3rd Sunday or 1st Monday (depending on season), CMP at my club, a few practical rifle over at Langhorne, IHMSA on the first Sunday, and I was thinking of trying out more. But this year I’m lucky if I can get out to the weekend air gun matches. Much of it can be blamed on my work schedule, but there probably is such a thing as burning yourself out on something.
- But it’s all been valuable. If I have to run a match or shooting program at some point in the future, I have learned a few things:
- Don’t start your match too early. If you do that, you’reÂ guaranteedÂ not to attract people with demanding jobs who have to catch up on sleep over the weekend. I’ve discovered 10:00AM is a great start time for a match, though I would consider as late as 11AM. You want people to be able to get home for dinner, so you can’t go too late. I think too many clubs want matches early to free up ranges by the afternoon for casual shooting, but that disadvantages the match in terms of attendance.
- Have fun. This is probably the most important rule. If you look like you’re having fun, others are going to have fun. If they are having fun, they’ll keep coming to your match. They’ll tell other people the match is a lot of fun too, and it’ll grow.
- Have lunch. Nothing convinces people to show up to shoot like a free or very low cost meal. Our 3rd Sunday silhouette matches always feature food, and a kitty to donate to the cause of lunch.
- Be welcoming and helpful to newbies. Help them get into your sport. Make sure they know that everyone started out struggling, and that you can become competitive with time and practice. Â See previous point aboutÂ emphasizingÂ fun over the competitive nature.
- Offer time to socialize. What’s good for that? See previous point about lunch. But at the same time a match that’s mostly standing around rather than shooting is no fun either. There has to be a good balance, for people to get to know each other, but still spend most of their time doing what they came there for.
There are obviously more things, but these are what I’ve noticed have been the difference between successful matches and less successful ones.