Why Has Competition Slowed?

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http://gunsmagazine.com/classic-guns-magazine-editions/
Review these old gun magazines and you’ll see the importance of competition back in the 1950 and 1960s.

http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1956issues/G1256.pdf
page 5-6, lists various match results

http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1958issues/G0258.pdf
page 5, Bill Toney, Askins, Hebard competition shooters writing articles with content about competitions
“My Favorite Gun” section features a conventional pistol competitor.

http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1956issues/G0756.pdf
page 14, “Why Doesn’t Shooting Go Professional?”
That issue began with an interview with pistol champ Harry Reeves.

http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1960issues/G0260.pdf
Four competition articles. The magazine has a specific “Competition” section because it regularly published enough material on this in every issue to warrant a dedicated section.

Consider the state of the NRA membership and its Competition Division back in 1961.

Back then, with a membership of 418,000 total, the NRA 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 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 over 4 million members, a tenfold 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.

Some time ago, I was considered for a writing job sponsored by a nationally-recognized firearm/outdoor distributor and edited by a nationally-recognized publisher with a readership of around a quarter million subscribers. The Editor-In-Chief, who knew me from my various writing and editing work as well as my competitive shooting background, told me plainly they would not entertain any formal marksmanship instruction material and specifically shunned competition-specific coverage. This wasn’t due to a bias from the company, publisher, or editor, rather, it was due to them tracking reader feedback. Detailed marksmanship training beyond introductory fluff tracked the lowest interest and anything competition specific was notably poor. The subscribers simply weren’t interested. They were rather interested in gear reviews, product releases, and gun politics. So the general gun owning public is vitally interested in being told what toys to buy and maintaining their right to continue doing so but has little interest in how to actually use the stuff beyond a novice level.

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Tony Brong on Marketing

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Precision Pistol shooter Tony Brong provides wisdom

http://tonybrong.blogspot.com/2016/08/during-entire-tenure-with-bullseye-ive.html

During my entire tenure with bullseye, I’ve heard nothing but how far the sport has declined. From a practical viewpoint, I really haven’t been around that long. And I don’t have firsthand personal experience about how things were back-in-the-day. Apparently, fifteen, twenty or more years ago there must have a lot more bullseye shooters.

I still hear stories about how the census of pistol shooters at the Nationals numbered around one thousand in the early 1980s. Today it’s generally about 650.

Time changes everything. In prior posts even I’ve lamented about how the shooting pie has been carved up by cowboy action shooters, practical guys, clay smashers and the benchrest dudes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that even WWII and Civil War reenactors have had a slight drain on our census. From the 1930s through the 70s bullseye might have been pretty much the only game in town, but that’s not the case today.

Social transformation is like death and taxes, something everyone can count on. A lot of emotional effort has spilled over the turbulent ‘decline’ of Bullseye, and it’s been marked with the same breathless, excitable, often crude and always knowing style that typifies the old hardcore elite: by doing things the same old way.

My own experience getting into the sport wasn’t exactly easy. My kids went off to college and I searched for an interesting and challenging hobby. I now had some leisure time. It took me the better part of a year to find out that competitive pistol shooting was only four miles away from my front door. And I doubt with the passing of about a decade, access or visibility hasn’t gotten any better. Today, the general promotion of our sport to the public and potential new shooters is simply by word of mouth.

Many of us mourn the slow erosion of our sport, and ponder: is it too late to revitalize it?
I don’t think so.

There are a few success stories around. One bright spot is occurring now in New Jersey. It’s a quantifiable success story, playing out in a state that’s considered very anti-gun. Within the confines of the Garden Sate, individuals such as Ray and Mary Badiak, John Gemmill and Frank Greco are consistently blazing a trail by developing new bullseye shooters—both young and mature.
They’ve been successful in a state which has the most draconian gun laws in the country. It’s a process that reproducible, but no one seems to notice their success.

If you can do it in Jersey, you can do it anywhere.

After a little head scratching I looked at some of the other disciplines and noticed how they do things. One observation that’s fairly obvious, they compete, compete for new members and promote themselves to the general public.

So, what are the glaring things we don’t do?

It appears most state associations don’t know how to run a modern marketing organization—and whether they know it or not—that’s what they’re in business to do. They should be promoting (which means marketing and advertising) the shooting sports. After that’s established, as a secondary issue, handle their respective lobbing tasks.

How many news releases do they routinely offer to the local media outlets? Your guess is as good as mine.

Those same state organizations should attempt to forge regional coalitions for the promotion of various disciplines, since many of us routinely cross state lines to compete.

A national or regionalized websites should be crafted and have match announcements, results and signup functionality. As well, background information for consumption by the general public should be amply provided. Points of contact should be visibly listed so budding bullseye shooters can get started. And it should have good and consistently updated content.

Let’s consider the following:

• Who hasn’t been to an NRA banquet? Well, what’s being done to raise money for the orderly operation of our sport? The truth is the NRA no longer sees us as a priority. It would be nice to see not just bullseye but various other competitive shooting disciplines on the American Rifleman television show much more frequently. [That’s code for picking up the phone and calling Larry Potterfield and others like him.] Yes, money drives television programming. But keep in mind, individuals paying for programming have every right to maximize their investment by targeting their audience. Maybe they should be made aware we are their consumers too.

• Have there been any real efforts in recruiting bullseye shooters over the past 10 years? IPSC, CAS, USPSA, IDPA … they do. I can’t recall the last time any of us have seen the following: A dedicated NRA webpage for Bullseye Pistol; national leadership for the promotion of our sport; junior development; and a mechanism to recruit women.

• Even though there’s a historical claim, the simple truth is there’s no functioning leadership for our sport. We’ve relied on the NRA to do all of this in a vacuum. And as a matter of course, they’ve simply done things the same old way for the past half century. And in the process, they’ve lost their way.
I’m not suggesting they not be responsible for this mission. But we, as competitors, have lacked the will to actually lobby them. I highly doubt that the Competitions Division rarely hears from shooters except when they want something for themselves. And the same may be true of the state associations when they approach the NRA.

Walt Walters, an NRA board member, over the past two years has attempted to rework this model. He can recall a time, in the not so distant past, when the NRA had state and regional competitive shooting ambassadors. These individuals were readily available to provide guidance and insight to local clubs, state associations and government. Walt’s goal is to rebuild that old army of supporters so they can be of assistance throughout the country.

Even though Walt is a board member, he’s facing a tough uphill road with accomplishing his goals. Unfortunately, I think he’s looking at the past to address his present concerns about competitive shooting’s current neglect.

Here’s my basic observation. For a group of people who traditionally think of themselves as competitors, that’s precisely what we don’t do in the open marketplace of ideas. We all want to shoot (and I’m guilty of this too) but few of us want to roll up our sleeves. Over the past three decades we’ve allowed an enormous number of people to gravitate to other disciplines.

The other shooting sports embraced potential shooters, or we allowed them to leave our discipline even before they had an opportunity to arrive. They were marketed to, invited, sold—and best of all—greeted with open arms. For the most part the majority of those newbies didn’t even know we existed.
The future can be ours. All we have to do is be involved.

Get Gun Owners To Be Shooters

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https://ricochet.com/422134/taking-it-off-the-streets/

Taking It Off the Streets
By Kevin Creighton

There’s been a tremendous increase in gun ownership in the past few years, but that gun-buying bubble will pop unless those new gun owners find something to do with their guns other than keeping them unloaded under their beds and hoping they will keep the bad guys away.

Owning a gun should not be a fad. CB radios went away because people found out that there was little to do with a CB except talk to truckers. If we want guns to be something other than tactical pet rocks, we need to introduce gun owners to activities they can do to improve their ability to use a gun under stressful conditions, without throwing them into the ring of competition right from the start with little or no training.

Enter Shoot and Scoot Range Days, put on by Step By Step Gun Training.
https://stepbystepguntraining.com/ssgt-scoot-and-shoot/

This event features simple, easy to follow practical shooting stages that use reactive steel targets to give instant feedback on whether you hit the target (or not) and easy-to-follow courses of fire that use shooting boxes to delineate what targets must be engaged from which positions. The round counts are low (under 25 rounds per stage) and most importantly, the focus of the Range Day isn’t on winning a match, it’s on improving your skills and getting comfortable with carrying a gun in a holster.

A typical Shoot and Scoot Range session consists of two pistol-shooting bays set up for easy-to-shoot courses of fire for people who want to work on drawing from a holster and safely moving with their gun and a bay with a more advanced course of fire that brings in the defensive use of a rifle into the mix. In addition to range officers (who get a big discount on the practice fee in return for their services) on each stage, there’s also a instructor dedicated to teaching first-time attendees how to safely draw from holster and move with their gun. The sessions are three hours long, which is enough time to run through all the courses of fire at least three times, and while timers are in use on the stages, scores are not kept, and the time is used more to gauge personal improvement than who recorded the fastest time on the stage.

Shoot and Scoot Range Days aren’t there to give people a chance to win a match, they’re to give people the experience of being at a match. Attendees get a taste of what it’s like to safely operate a firearm under a small amount of simulated stress, without the stage fright and anxiety that comes from being judged by your peers on your performance. More importantly, people at this event get a feel for what it’s like to carry a gun around on your hip for hours on end.

You would think that’s a common thing among people who have their concealed carry permits and own a defensive pistol, but you’d be wrong. At a recent industry-only event put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, some participants were amazed by how few people within the firearms industry itself had any experience drawing a gun from a holster and putting rounds on-target. [This same problem exists among uniformed military personnel.]

If this is the case inside the firearms industry, imagine what it’s like for those on the outside. If we want “Gun Culture 2.0” to truly become a culture, that means that the having a defensive firearm on you or near you needs to be as natural and as normal has having a smartphone on you or near you at all times.

Memes Don’t Matter

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Words of wisdom from a skilled firearms instructor.

I’m overwhelmed by all my gun-owning friends posting statistics, facts, and memes to convince the gun grabbers that they are wrong.

Here’s something to consider. Emotional arguments are rarely successfully countered by facts and statistics. The facts are very clear in this case. Do you think that re-stating them endlessly on Facebook is likely to change someone’s mind? I don’t.

Can you think of a single occasion where you have had a major change of opinion after reading a Facebook post or meme? I can’t.

You aren’t going to change a stranger’s worldview by posting more on the internet. Instead, focus your efforts on making positive changes through personal contact with the people who are close to you and who already respect you as a person. Don’t waste your time arguing with strangers on social media.

Instead of posting on Facebook, I taught 27 students how to be safer shooters, more formidable fighters, and better tacticians this weekend. Each of those students will undoubtedly use some of the skills I shared to make their own tribes more robust and resilient.

In the long term, those small, personal changes are the fuel for positive societal evolution. CNN soundbites and Facebook memes are merely annoying background noise.

Do work that matters.

Forbes Journalist Investigates Firearm Industry

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Forbes contributor Elizabeth MacBride spent six months specializing in the firearms industry, investigating and then summing up what she learned.

Takeaway: The most important influencing factor towards positive coverage of shooters, gun owners, and firearms is a consistent, open dialogue that showcases safe and skillful use, humanizes firearm users, and is inviting to everyone. Much more than political rhetoric, turning positive usage into a story and then consistently telling people about it is the best path forward.

Often, the problem is that negligent and criminal misuse is more sensational and easier to report. This is not the media’s fault as it falls inline with human nature. Skilled firearm users are rare compared to casual gun owners and not vocal enough to maintain a consistent voice.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethmacbride/2018/06/30/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-gun-and-8-other-lessons-from-the-gun-business-beat/

I started covering the business of guns in part because the decline of high-quality print journalism in the past two decades means nuance is being lost. I believe nuance is crucial to sustain a pluralistic society, here and abroad. That’s part of the reason I covered the Middle East for three years; we all suffer from many Americans’ inability to see that region without prejudice.

And business, which tends to be a reasonably neutral and thankfully numbers-based lens through which to write, is a good platform for exploring topics on which there are many points of view.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned in my first six months.

1. Most of the gun community is open to fair-minded coverage.

2. The world of gun businesses is far more nuanced than I imagined, and in different ways that I imagined.

3. Marketing, politics and business are almost inseparable.

4. There are no good numbers.

5. It’s a business with a declining customer base.

6. Many more people like guns than I realized.

7. The West is different. Gun owners and gun businesses out West see guns as tools, one element of a practical, inherently nuanced way of existing in the world.

8. Violence marketing is more powerful than we realize.

9. There is no such thing as a gun. The technology has evolved faster than the language, so much so that we have reverted to broader words

Competitive Shooting Support

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May 2015
SIG SAUER® Introduces Team SIG, Sets Standard for Support of Competitive Shooting
https://www.ammoland.com/2015/05/sig-sauer-introduces-team-sig-sets-new-standard-for-support-of-competitive-shooting/

October 2016
Team SIG is Disbanded
http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/10/06/team-sig-sauer-disbanded/

Competition Shooting Cost

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“I’d love to try competitive shooting, but I don’t have the money it takes”

Is this actually a valid reason to avoid competition? It might be for a person that doesn’t already own a firearm and isn’t already going shooting on a semi-regular basis. Otherwise, probably not.

For a person that already possesses a firearm, dry practice is free. The cost to attend a local match will be about the same as plinking the same number of rounds.

While attending an event at a range new to me, the Match Director gave me a tour of their facility. Mid conversation we heard someone in a different bay rip off an extended blast while bump firing probably two dozen rounds.

“Oh, that’s just one of the locals that never attends our matches because he says he can’t afford to shoot competition,” the MD said with a laugh.

At a different event, Bill Wilson informed our group that his company’s “Texas Barbeque Special” outsells their competition-specific models even though the BBQ gun is more expensive.

If a gun owner wants to become more skillful and test skills in a competitive environment, they’ll likely be able to find a way.

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