Competitive shooting events should be more popular in the US, but they are not. As a percentage of the vast number of gun owners and NRA members here in the States, organized shooting has little support. Here are the numbers.
Looking at the National Rifle Association Competition Division’s own numbers, roughly two percent of the NRA membership has been classified in any NRA sanctioned event or discipline. For every 1,000 card-carrying NRA members about 20 have earned a classification at least once in the past three years. The other 980 members or so have never attended once. Not once in three years! Note you earn a Marksman classification simply by showing up and safely participating, regardless of final score.
According to their published rate card, the NRA’s American Hunter magazine boasts a readership of about one million yet Sporting Rifle, a shooting event designed for hunters, has only about 2,000-3,000 classified shooters. That’s 0.2-0.3%, or only one or two in 500 of the American Hunter readership. I have not yet met a hunter that is an NRA member subscribing to that magazine that has even heard of, much less participated in, Sporting Rifle. Even among serious High Power competition shooters the event is little known.
I have a copy of American Rifleman from June 1961 (see below.) Starting on page 23 of that issue is a detailed report of Operations in 1960. With a membership of 418,000 total, the NRA in 1960 boasted 120,367 classified competitors and the Marksmanship Qualification Program had 374,112 participants. That is, roughly 29% of the membership was classified in formal competition (about 290 out of every 1,000) and 90% participated in the MQP. Page 49 of that same issue details a drive for 500,000 members by using the Marksmanship Qualification Program and a push to get every NRA member involved.
Today, with a claimed 5,000,000, a more than ten fold increase, less than 100,000 members are classified shooters (about 2%) and the Marksmanship Qualification Program isn’t even tracked despite advances in information processing and computers. Even with so many more members we’ve seen a huge decline in participation.
Can’t blame this on the media because this is the percentage of card carrying NRA members, people that are PAYING the NRA fees to receive a direct line of communication from them, not participating and the failure to promote to them. This is a HUGE drop off in participation and a rather poor state of affairs for a growing pro-gun organization with more than a $100 million per year operating budget, not counting Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s million dollar annual salary. They should be capable of doing better than this, yet the NRA’s own published numbers show a large decline.
I’ve competed in AFSAM (an international NATO military shooting competition), Camp Perry, USPSA Nationals, IPSA Nationals, Single Stack Nationals, All Army and countless local events. Ask serious competition shooters about their opinion on this and you’ll find many of them echoing what I’ve written here.
This isn’t intended as a slam against the NRA. I’ve been a Life member most of my life. They have many great programs. I’m simply pointing out that there is much room of improvement and that not all our problems come from the anti-gunners.
I’m sure I’ll be lambasted for failing to toe the party line on this issue when I’m supposed to tilt the windmills but I am merely reporting the NRA’s own numbers to you. Call or write the NRA to verify these numbers for yourself. Considering how poorly gun owners receive organized shooting, perhaps part of our “anti-gun media” problem is our failure to keep people informed. We can improve a number of things for gun owners internally! Why aren’t more gun owners attending these events and how do we motivate them to do so?