Hunting and shooting is every bit as challenging as mainstream ball sports. If raw numbers of participants and equipment owners are any indication, hunting and shooting is the mainstream. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it plays out in the media.

The sports that do make the mainstream media appeal strongly to the spectator. Ball sports are filmed solely for the benefit of the watcher, not the doer. Consequently, they garner the recognition of millions of fans, not to mention billions of advertiser dollars. Hunters and shooters often quip that their activities appeal only to the participant and not to the spectators. A national champion shooter’s only fans are other shooters trying to emulate their skill.

The solution? Find a way to make shooting and hunting appeal to the spectator while providing a proper and interesting challenge to the hunter-shooter.

Take all the elements of shooting skills crucial to a hunter-shooter (field marksmanship) and create a sport that tests those skills in a realistic fashion. Make the system easy and inexpensive enough so a couple of poor kids shooting in an old quarry (with adult supervision, of course) could set up events, but advanced enough to simulate virtually any shooting situation a hunter-shooter might face afield.

The system must emphasize realism. To accomplish this:

  1. Targets should look realistic (like a deer, for example) and/or be of realistic proportions. No tiny bulls-eye’s here. The targets must also take proper shot placement (target angle) into account. Some events should feature a target that reacts when hit, but only if hit in the proper place, while other events should have a completely static target, forcing the hunter-shooter to call shots good or bad.
  2. Real world hunting arms, the kind already in the cabinets and cases of millions of real world hunters, are fully competitive. “Match grade” is neither needed nor desired.
  3. Beyond the target, the scoring system must take stress (“buck fever”) into account.

Once the basic format is established, create several types of events that appeal to the spectator while providing good sport to the hunter-shooter.

Hunting simulations featuring ever-changing scenarios that allow participants to shoot “freestyle.” Hunter-shooters won’t know the exact challenge until they’re faced with it. How they solve it is up to them. May the better shot win. For small events or individual practice a basic, inexpensive target can be used. Events for “public consumption” feature targets that provide immediate feedback and reset themselves automatically while still providing a proper hunting situation to the participant.

Shooter vs. shooter events, with hunter-shooters engaging reactive targets. This is drag racing with hunting guns. Two arrays of targets in mirror image span the field. Hunter-shooters are paired off and the first to clear his/her array wins the bout. Best two out of three (or three out of five) advances. Depending on the entry list, participants can be paired off and shoot “round robin” or double elimination. A handicapping system allows hunter-shooters of all skill levels to compete as equals. And with two good hunter-shooters going full throttle on reactive targets, the spectator appeal should be obvious.

Finally, create a system that promotes these events nationwide. “USA Today” might not cover us nationally, but the “Smallville Gazette” will locally. Create a fully automated system that alerts the local papers near each club with press releases every time an event is scheduled. If every local paper, radio and/or TV station in the country starts covering shooting sports in their area regularly we have created nation-wide coverage.

That’s HunterShooter in a nutshell.