Running and Shooting Demographics

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Running USA reported on road race participation numbers.
2016 State of the Sport – U.S. Road Race Trends
The second running boom appears to be backing off as runners retreat from non-traditional races.
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A Page From History: The First Televised Rifle Match

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Here’s a good bit of history. The following article was published at a time when about a third of the NRA membership held a formal NRA Classification. This is about 2% today.

NRA members receive a Classification (Marksman or higher) by merely participating in an NRA Approved or Registered tournament, or a Sanctioned league, regardless of score. This means 98% of the current membership has never bothered to show up to such events.

The ideas presented in this article will work today but only if people bother to attend and pay a little attention. Improving this among NRA members would be a tremendous help.

More stats and facts on this:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/high-school-shooting-range-1950s-and-today/

The First Televised Rifle Match
https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2016/12/1/a-page-from-history-the-first-televised-rifle-match/

From the April 1955 issue of American Rifleman, an article by Don Mohr on the first televised rifle match.

Television program ideas often develop from unusual occurrences. What we believe to be the first televised rifle match had just such a beginning.

The final construction phase of Allentown, Pennsylvania’s first television station, WFMZ-TV, was underway and any spare moments that were available from my Film and Arts Director position at the studio were spent in improving my shooting form. This was accomplished with a target range I had constructed in my home. The range involves firing from my editing room, through my dark room, and into a bullet trap located in my den. This area isolated from the rest of my home and with doors locked is perfectly safe; however, the initial reaction of visitors is one of disbelief.

Such was the case when one of our Directors, Don Tuckwood, paid a call. Upon questioning my wife as to who could possibly be hunting so close to a residence, and being informed it was merely her husband firing through the dark room, he was about to leave as quickly as he had arrived. It wasn’t long, however, before he became a regular visitor and participant in a number of impromptu matches.

Televise shooting?

One day the question arose, why not place this very thing before the camera? Why not indeed? You can imagine some of the problems involved: the safety factor, the range size, the safe coverage of target, and above all, the audience reaction.

Our large 60×60-foot studio makes a 45-foot range the most practical, and a lockout system plus close supervision by a number of range officers eliminates the possibility of any tiny holes appearing in equipment. Experimenting with my spotting scope and the TV camera, I found I could place the Bausch & Lomb 20-power spotting scope in front of the TV camera, and from a safe distance pick up the entire target, enabling the viewing audience at home to watch all five shooters place their shots, which is quite interesting to watch—even to a non-shooter.

The Remington flyspeck targets are used with 50 bulls, five-in-a-row, and ten rows. This allows our scope shooters to try their luck on two rows with a total of ten shots.

With the blessings of our Manager, Raymond Kohn, five .22 cal. rifles blaze away on Wednesday nights during our “Seven to Nine Show”. This program is planned around 120 minutes of local live entertainment and information. Most anything is presented, from arts to sports to industries to—yes, rifle matches.

Cover other activities with guns
To add interest to this quarter-hour of shooting for those of the audience who may have no desire to watch holes appear in paper (though we’ve discovered that many non-shooters are fascinated by the matches), interviews are conducted on some phase of shooting—cups and medals won by some of our shooters, law enforcement officers and firearms, gunsmiths, how to load ammunition, antique guns, etc.

The studio area is cleared 15 minutes prior to telecast so the shooters can zero in and, to keep the area safe, the match is presented at the very beginning of the show. Often the letters S-H-O-W of the Seven to Nine Show title are shot out by the five shooters as an opening feature.

The participants experience considerably more tension when firing over television as compared with the normal club match. They are well aware of the many eyes peering at every miss. Such stage fright, however, does not deter them from the usual heated discussion of ‘just on the line’ shots.

Scoring, by the way, provides a possible 200 with 20 X’s, and an X is any shot hitting the flyspeck but not touching the circle. A 10 is any shot hitting the flyspeck but touching the circle. Any shot missing the flyspeck is scored as a miss and down 10 points. This is a fast and easy method of scoring right before the camera which I do immediately following the shoot so as to present the winner for the night.

A tremendous amount of credit goes to the local gun clubs who aided me in laying the ground work for the first match. Nineteen men and one brave woman. Five shooters fired per week with each returning to shoot a second time. A local merchant donated a beautiful trophy to the high scorer and sterling silver tieclips for the three group runners-up.

Matches scheduled regularly now
This match proved so effective that we are not conducting a team match to last 10 weeks. At the close of 10 weeks, if enough interest in shooting has developed, we expect to begin a women’s match and a junior division match. The possibilities are endless. What started as another television experiment has blossomed into an interesting smallbore rifle contest, both for the participants and all viewers.

Television stations are always seeking new ideas for programs, particularly programs utilizing local talent and activities. If you approach the program director of your local TV station, perhaps arrangements can be made to program some of the activities of your local rifle and pistol club.


The author placed his Bausch & Lomb 20-power spotting scope in front of the TV camera to capture shots.

Facebook is not anti-gun

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Some guy who fondles an inflatable spheroid with his feet gets 23.2 times more love from Facebook than all the fans of the National Rifle Association combined.

Tom McHale had a great write up on Facebook’s policy to delete pages and posts about gun trades and sales from non-FFL holders. He also included a good breakdown of the demographics of shooting and pro-gun involvement compared to more mainstream interests, such as sport ball athletes and movie celebrities.

Facebook doesn’t care about you or your issues. Facebook cares about three things:

  1. How many people use Facebook.
  2. How many hours those people spend on Facebook.
  3. How many dollars marketers will pay Facebook for access to those people.

The same can be said for all media outlets. Replace the name of a broadcast or print media outlet or news program in place of “Facebook” and this is still true. It’s also true for pro-gun publications and websites, even though they are focused on a specific niche and demographic instead of the public at large. After Kim Rhode medalled in six Olympics in a row, some claimed her lack of media coverage was due to media bias. However, USA Today, the New York Times, CBS Sports, SB Nation, NBC, WGN, and the Chicago Tribune published articles about her. Other publications such as Time, Forbes, the Huffington Postand NPR published articles about Rhode’s accomplishments that highlighted her views on the Second Amendment.

This isn’t some nefarious anti-gun plot, it is simply catering to the majority. Gun owners are largely ignorant of organized shooting activity. Non-gun owners are even less aware and interested. This is the simple result of a market in action, not back-room politics trying to steal your guns. If the issue is controversial but of interest to a small minority, it’s probably easier to just avoid dealings and prevent alienating the majority, and especially alienating people and companies buying advertising/marketing trying to reach that general public.

Even among those gun owners that are active, activities such as golf eclipse them by a large margin. Again, the market speaks. If more people golf and are willing to pay for it, then more golf courses are built and more golf coverage is seen in the mainstream media because more people are voting with their dollars and feet. Gun owners are simply not as active, even when various reports claim that they are.

This is not an anti-gun plot. Garnering publicity and inspiring public interest is a tough row to hoe for every organization.

Common, accepted estimates place at least 80 million Americans as owning at least one firearm. I don’t know why there is such a vast lack of interest in organized shooting events among them but given that there is, shooting will never be a mainstream activity. It’s not politics. It’s not anti-gun policy. It’s the result of the market voting with their dollars and feet.

Read the full article here:
http://www.ammoland.com/the-prying-business-of-facebook-and-guns

Shooting Sports Spectators

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Creedmoor-spectator
1877 International Match, Creedmoor, NY

Note the line of spectators along the left edge of the range. So… When did this come to an end? It ended when American gun owners in general, and NRA members in particular, stopped caring about such things.

“A match in Glendale Park, N.Y., in the 1880’s attracted more than 600 shooters and 30,000 spectators in one day alone. An 1898 shooting festival at that same location offered $25,000 in cash prizes.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/olympics/longterm/shooting/shthist.htm

Adjusting for inflation, those cash prizes would be over $600,000 today.

More than 5,000 spectators schlepped their way from Manhattan on river ferries and a special rail line built to accommodate the shooting range. The candlelit train ride was far from comfortable, the Times reported in a front-page story on Sept. 27, 1874. The fans meanwhile did not necessarily come to support the home team. Irish immigrants brought pride in their native land as well.

However, they all came for the premier sporting event of the year.

“From what I’ve read and learned about it, it was just about as popular as NASCAR is today,” said Kirk Bryan, co-owner of Shiloh Sharps Rifles, of rifle shooting in the 1870s.

https://zejwilliams.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/creedmoor-new-york-citys-shooting-legacy/

Why are gun owners of today failing to show the same level of interest and support? Something to consider when a gun owner that has never attended a formal shooting event or competition whines about the “anti-gun media.”

A History of Shooting Sports

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Source: 1995 USA Shooting Media Guide
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/olympics/longterm/shooting/shthist.htm

The History of Shooting Sports

Formal target shoots involving the bow and arrow and the spear were first used as military training activities, but Homer’s “Iliad” indicates that Greeks also held archery contests to shoot pigeons on top of tall poles in honor of the gods. Indians, Persians, Slavs, Celts, and Germans engaged in similar activities.

By the tenth century, marksmanship evolved into a social and recreational sport. Regarded as the progenitor of great shooters, Swiss hero William Tell gained honor during the 14th century after successfully shooting an apple off his son’s head. A tyrannical Austrian bailiff forced Tell to use a crossbow to perform the legendary feat.

The First Shooting Clubs

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High School Shooting Range: 1950s and today

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Back in 1960, 28.7% of the total NRA membership maintained skill Classifications in competition and there were almost as many Qualification awards recognized as total members (89.5%)

Today, only 2% of the total NRA membership maintained skill Classifications in competition and 0.2% participate in the Qualification program.

Despite a ten-fold increase in membership, less NRA members hold a Classification today than did in the 1960s. Part of the reason for less organized shooting activity in public schools is gun owners are less interested in participating in organized shooting activity.

Some stats:

https://firearmusernetwork.com/nra-classification-fall-off/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/history-of-the-marksmanship-qualification-program/

https://www.scribd.com/doc/192788709/NRA-Competitions-Division-stats-1961

Golfing and Shooting Demographics

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Golf Week magazine reported on golfing participation numbers.
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