School events

Benefits to clubs from school shooting

Benefits to Clubs from College Shooting

 

I was talking with to a couple of senior shooters from visiting clubs the other day about club memberships. We came to the conclusion that new members these days seem few and far between with the mean age of club shooters slowly increasing. Most clubs in our area rely heavily on a small group of committed members to keep the club alive, and I suspect that this is typical of a lot Clay Target clubs and even clubs of all kinds generally as the economic climate and busy lifestyles bites into spare time and discretionary spending.

So what’s the answer? Obviously there is no single answer, but for the Palmerston North Gun Club a big part of the answer has been College Shooting. Currently we have 20 Palmerston North Boys High School students shooting regularly or attending practice shoots. About 15 of those are not only financial members of our club but also affiliated to NZCTA. At Palmerston North we have found that an additional benefit of hosting school teams is that some parents are also joining and shooting regularly. In fact, this was my personal experience, and I cannot stress enough the pleasure I took from sharing this time with my son and competing with him. It was great to hear “smoked you Dad!” – referring to the 1 point separating us after a full days shooting!

I think clubs should be mindful of the contribution College shooting makes to our sport and to the longevity of our clubs. The 400 or so college shooters who compete at the Secondary School Nationals each year plus those who do not attend must clearly be boosting club memberships. For those clubs who have not yet tapped into college shooting, I suggest that it would be worthwhile considering close by schools with a view to approaching the Sports Coordinators about setting up a team. The benefits are not limited to increased memberships either – make no mistake – with a bit of coaching these kids can really shoot! We regularly enter the PNBHS Team into club team shoots with some outstanding results for the club. It is an amazing buzz to see a bunch of 16 &17 year olds beat 30 squads of adult club shooters in a major club team competition!

One criticism I have heard is that once the boys leave school they stop shooting. Yep, in most cases this is probably true. But if just 10% return to the sport when they are financially independent it will still represent a far higher membership recruitment to the sport than without them. Also, the 90% (if that is the case) who may not return to competitive shooting will have an appreciation and connection with our sport that would not have been the case otherwise. This support in the face of growing anti-gun sentiment has to be another ‘positive’ for all Clay Target Clubs.

We have set up a ‘School Liaison’ position on our committee. Very simply, the role involves liaising directly with the school sports coordinator or staff member in charge of clay target shooting with regard to calendar setting and risk management (which the school should deal with). We have found that direct contact with a designated parent to help organise shoots, finances, transport etc is also a big advantage. The role, for us, changes slightly each year depending on the amount of time parents are prepared to contribute and associated school staff commitment – we have been very lucky with both so far. Some flexibility is therefore an advantage. I would be happy to offer advice to any club considering taking on a college team.

Chris Beattie
President – Palmerston North Gun Club
chris@nztrout.com