Join, Be Polite, Get to Know People, Volunteer to Help, Build a Movement, Save the Club

This seems to be going viral in the shooting community on social media. So much so that a reader from Colorado on Facebook sent me a message asking if it was my club. Then I noticed Illinois folks I know commenting. It is not my club. We were never this Fuddy at our Fuddy-Fudd Fuddiest, and we’ve gotten rid of a lot of the rules like this. This is a club up in Lycoming County, PA:

The rifle rule won’t even allow for high-power practice, and even bullseye rapid fire is 5 shots in 10 seconds. I suppose you could do your rapid fire string, and wait 50 seconds, and then shoot another one. But this does show this is not a club for actual shooters of shooting sports people are shooting today. Despite the fact that we’ve had our share of dumb rules, my club has always had the advantage of having membership that, for the most part, love the shooting sports. That’s not the case everywhere.

Yes, this club will likely die with the generation promulgating rules like this. The comments I see on social media are correct on that count. But I also think it’s incumbent on younger shooters to do what it takes to save places like this. Once we lose a place to shoot, we will never get it back. The club culture is also something unique that is worth saving. You won’t always succeed. There are clubs that are too far gone. But I found this advice seen on Facebook to be telling.

Fudds. I get it. But complaining will not help. Showing up at membership and board meetings will help. Showing up with a lot of guys helps more. Letter writing helps. Running for office helps. Being professional about it all helps. And if you “walk in the Fudd’s shoes” for a month you may discover the new policy may not be as stupid as you think. Sadly… 99% of rules exist only for the 1% that seems to mess things up for everybody. I would not put up with the new rules either and there may be an intelligent solution around it. Fudd’s do not care about complaining. They hear it all the time. You have to become a force.

That’s absolutely spot on, except for the part about “not be as stupid as you think.” I’d bet it’s about as stupid as you think. But that was clearly written by someone who has been very involved in club life. In most cases, club leadership is not as Fuddy as the caricature you’ve built in your brain suggests. Just in that position, you see a lot of idiocy, and it becomes temping to deal with that idiocy by rules. It’s the same temptation lawmakers face: when the only tool you have is a hammer…

The drive to do something, is huge. It’s not restricted to anti-gun people. There’s plenty of that attitude to go around.

27 thoughts on “Join, Be Polite, Get to Know People, Volunteer to Help, Build a Movement, Save the Club”

  1. Sadly… 99% of rules exist only for the 1% that seems to mess things up for everybody.

    I like to say that every rule has a name attached to it.

  2. I’m going to ramble on this, somewhat on the Fuddy side — I think.

    I was once, in the Dark Ages, president of a national shooting organization that was all-sporting — no politics at all — which, as I evolved ever more political, annoyed me — that involved an odd mixture (to most) of bringing together very old technology with absolutely the best modern technology at the time. The organization still exists, only slightly bigger than in my day. I only decline to name it because it always was adamant about staying out of public controversy of any kind. Only of late do I appreciate the wisdom in that. It is the only shooting association of which I remain proud of what I/we did.

    But the thing I’m getting to is: Gun owners are all into the existence of a “culture,” but have at any given moment a pretty strict idea of what that culture is supposed to embrace. I’m inclined to ask, call them Fudds or whatever (and I’ve used that word plenty myself) doesn’t a club have a right to the culture it chooses?

    I admit I have seen a lot of contradictions around that. For example, it is contradictory to say you value “growth” while at the same time eschewing contemporary culture. I had the same complaints at my club, mainly archaic “range safety” rules based on some incidents that occurred decades earlier; and the de facto dominance of one or two types of shooting activities over all others.

    But anyway: Maybe the club you are criticizing just wants to be happy doing what they do. Maybe they anticipate passing from the scene in a few years, and prefer not to fight it. Maybe like my old organization that I referred to, they don’t believe they “owe” political involvement (as an organization) to anyone, beyond what individual members choose to do on their own initiative. (With the muddy national political situation we are faced with now, a “shooting” organization would be more justified in that than ever; join the political outfit of your choice, and keep your shooting organization out of it.)

    Sorry, I’m just feeling extra philosophical today, I guess. But as a septuagenarian I get a little defensive around “them old guys just don’t get it” sentiments. Sometimes it’s true. But sometimes it’s people resisting a “change” to their culture that is very much analogous to the greater “culture war” we’re all encouraged to fight.

    1. Absolutely a club has a right to the culture it chooses. But it’s an irreversible loss to shooting as a whole if a club goes defunct because the existing stewards don’t want to change and the next generation of shooters doesn’t do anything except complain about the “Fudds.” What I’m saying to the people complaining is to stop bitching about it on the Internet and get involved, and don’t be dicks about it to the people who came before you. You just might change their minds, and at the same time keep a club open that might have otherwise closed in a few decades.

      1. Well stated. I don’t think we really differ. I just get testy at undercurrents of “those old guys don’t get it.” There really doesn’t seem to be much age correlation with “getting it.” :-)

  3. That sign… That means you don’t want Cowboy action shooters, anyone with a modern semi-auto, forget 3-gun, probably not even skeet shooters… What is the club for exactly?

    1. It appears they do have skeet shooters.

      I honestly forget whether I’ve ranted about this here, before, but one “cultural difference” that has occurred to me, between now and my younger days is, what was popular say, 50 – 60 years ago in terms of shooting sports were relatively pure “marksmanship” with the skills being applicable to all purposes, but in particular hunting or the military.

      What seems popular today are “combat” simulations, including Cowboy Action and 3-gun. Things that put an emphasis more on time than precision. I’m not implying there is anything wrong with that — skill is skill — but it is a difference.

      I used to be comfortable with the argument, that “when I was a kid, we had easy access to guns and were nearly awash with them; and yet we didn’t shoot our classmates. So, availability of guns isn’t the problem. What has changed?”

      I’m not implying this is the cause at all, but I observe that what has become popular now is, practicing for combat. Something has changed in the culture. And I say that as a guy who was open-carrying a S&W .45 ACP revolver in 1963.

      1. I’m not trap or skeet shooter but I’ve watched them at my club. They seem to go faster than 5 shots a minute if they are doing doubles.

  4. That club into whose ground the sign is stabbed into is absolute FUDD garbage. Burn that shit down. Put it out of its misery. Stay away and let them wave around their hunting rifles.

  5. There is a range in Lancaster County that has silly rules like this: They have something like no more than 3 shots per minute. I had a friend who tried to change the rules, but according to them the membership didn’t care and the board was full of FUDs.

      1. I may be a bit off on how they do it, but it was something stupid like that.

    1. “according to them the membership didn’t care and the board was full of FUDs.”

      I don’t think it is that the membership doesn’t care, they just don’t care enough to take a chance on putting themselves out there.

      Group dynamics are a funny thing. A guy a generation older than I am had a story about how his fellow workers were grousing all the time about their working conditions, so he suggested setting up a meeting with the bosses to air their grievances. He took on the task. When they got in front of the bosses, no one had a complaint in the world. So, the guy who had taken the initiative to set up the meeting was identified as a troublemaker, potential labor-organizer, and was fired and blacklisted.

      Club issues may not be that important, but usually none of us want trouble, or to be identified as a malcontent, so by a certain age we learn to “not get involved,” because we’ll probably be fighting the dragons alone.

      (Come to think of it, I think I’ve told my Old Stories before about how I learned that by taking public officials to court over gun and hunting issues.)

    2. I’m a member of this club. The board is not a bunch of Fudds and has stated in club meetings that the rules have quite a bit of flexibility. Basically, if there’s a sound rationale to shoot fast, it’s ok.

  6. Half of the time I see the rules of these places and think that they don’t care about having a shooting club as they do having an old man’s social club.

    1. “they don’t care about having a shooting club as they do having an old man’s social club.”

      I know what you mean, but aren’t “club” shooting activities like matches, etc., by definition “social?” Independent of age? I know I don’t need to be with 25 other people to punch holes in paper or make pieces of steel ring.

      On that theme, I used to run matches where we’d tap a keg of beer as soon as the last round had been fired and the guns cased. Now alcohol is banned from the club grounds; as I see it is at the Rules and Regulations Club that is the subject of this post.

  7. My local club was worried about rapid fire with the new subdivision that just opened up. 200 plus USPSA shooters that showed up at the annual meeting to talk about the end of the revenue stream that their matches represented brought the board around. Now the board is half under the age of 40 and we have a healthy and growing community and that new sub division? Lots of shooters, because who doesn’t want a 3 minute commute from their house to the shooting range that got everything from sporting clays to cowboy action and everything in between.

  8. Consolidated outside of Williamsport, I find that pretty unsurprising. Anything outside of trap, skeet, and NRA high power type shooting isn’t really welcome there. Luckily the president of the range I belong to is an NFA dealer and we have several other NFA dealers that use the facilities, but that wasn’t the case fifteen years ago. We had to member up and vote out the Fudd’s or it would still be a tiny pistol range and a few benchrest shoots every year instead of Cowboy Action, benchrest, subguns, trap, skeet, etc.

  9. My club also hosts several local police departments’ for their practice and qualifications for obvious political reasons. Wouldn’t work with that stupid sign.

  10. I’m laughing because, in the past week or two we’ve had people commenting favorably on the idea of secession or civil war to keep a new culture they don’t share from being imposed on what they believe is their traditional culture. Now we have comments favoring tactics for infiltrating gun clubs and imposing a new culture on their more traditional cultures. Far too funny.

    1. It’s a little of both.

      Best to just ignore the bad rules, appeal to common sense, and be a responsible human. It’s what our “betters” have always done, or claim to have done.

      Do you shoot .399 caliber?

      1. “Do you shoot .399 caliber?”

        I once messed around with a .401 Powermag with tight throats that liked its bullets sized .399, but it was too much trouble and I traded it off. Otherwise, no.

        1. “I once messed around with a .401 Powermag”

          I’ve heard of them being rechambered to .38/40, though it’s possible an original Powermag would have higher value as a curio than it would as a shooter.

          Continuing my .38/40 train of thought, I’m thinking it might be possible to form extra-strong .38/40 brass by forming and trimming .444 Marlin, or .307 or .356 Win. brass, whatever is most available. Then in a strong revolver you could run up the pressures a bit and have a really hairy-chested .38/40. But you might have to neck turn/ream the resulting brass, and there you are back to a lot of work.

          Years ago I knew a guy who owned a really sweet Colt Lightning rifle in .38/40, and I’m thinking a rifle/revolver pair shooting hotted-up .38/40s might be a lot of fun.

    2. There’s a saying that’s usually attributed to demographics that I think applies to here: “The future belongs to those who show up.” Whether you’re looking at atheist vs religious groups, or nations, or clubs, you need young people to continue on the tradition — and, to use the religous vs atheist example, when it’s typical for a religous family to have four, five, or even ten kids, while a typical atheist family only has one or two (if that), it’s not at all hard to see that religion isn’t going away any time soon!

      This isn’t to say that clubs need to *completely* change their culture to accommodate young people. It’s a two way street: the older generations ought to consider what they can do to attract young people, and young people joining the club need to take time to understand the club’s traditions. It’s one thing to come in and try to impose a hostile takeover of the club. It’s another thing entirely to come in, learn the traditions, and propose ways to alter those traditions (both in a respectful manner, and in a way to honor the original traditions).

      And this doesn’t just apply to gun clubs. Every organization needs to consider what to do to ensure there’s a new generation to pass a torch on to — and once that torch is passed, it’s up to that generation to decide what to do next. Sometimes preserving culture is the right thing to do, and sometimes it’s best to change things around a bit!

      But there’s no reason to do *either* in a hostile manner.

      And, regardless, whether it’s old fudds or young hipsters, or a mixture of both, the future of the club *ultimately* and *necessarily* belongs to those who show up! Because they are the only ones who have a say in things.

      1. I think the process you describe is what is evolving at Sebastian’s and my club, and I do consider it “evolutionary” rather than “revolutionary.” It is just that people spent a lot of years grousing about some of the “old rules” while nothing changed. Maybe the best example was the “5-round max.” rule. In my time (more than a decade ago) I actually heard officers say they were just so tired of it being brought up, that they weren’t going to allow it to be discussed anymore; and I saw at least one promising young guy thrown out of the club for violating the rule and then arguing with one of the old-timers about it. Several of the founding-era members have passed away in recent years, and while the people replacing them aren’t necessarily all that young, they don’t have their heels set to defend rules they consider “theirs.”

        That’s my take, anyway. Since I’ve only been a member for about 44 years, I fall somewhere in between. ;-) I can feel defensive about the old-timers, but open to changing things that don’t have my fingerprints all over them.

        1. I think it’s evolution as well. Most of the folks on the Board are still long time members, and at least 6 of them were on there when I started a decade ago (jesus, has it been that long?), and of the people who have replaced them, most are long time members. Jack and I joined about the same time. But only Tom P, Matt, and John are more recent than I am.

  11. This club in question sells memberships to any warm body that walks into any of the 4 locations listed below and plunks down $70.

    Membership is also available for sale from:
    • George Welding Supply, Montoursville, PA
    • Troxell’s Sporting Goods, Williamsport, PA
    • Creekside Market, PA Ste Rte 87, Williamsport, PA
    • Elery W Nau Hardware, Montoursville, PA

    There is a club near where I live that sells membership buttons at a local bait shop and a gas station for $50 without any vetting of the new member’s ability to safely handle a firearm.

    This is not a good risk management policy and why I do not belong to this club.

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