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 Post subject: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:09 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:56 pm
Posts: 123
Maybe this is not the right place but I checked the other topic zones that don't apply.

My concern is the disappearing gun clubs. For two decades I have watched gun clubs going downhill for many reasons but similar. The first one was a clays and trap club taken over by a guy with a serious attitude problem, ie, not to mention alcohol issues with DNR and police, lost 100% members. The second club I really wanted to get involved with the board so I attended the meetings. Well, that cured me in three meetings. Never in my life could I imagine a room full of 40 to 60's year old men, foul mouth, shouting each other down, schoolyard bullies with no agenda. Alcohol issues with DNR lost 75% members.
My third club was like the same circus different clowns. Lost 80% membership in 1 year!
A fourth club, same circus different clowns, a fight to take over the club presidency.

This club was different because I helped install a 13 station sporting clays course with 8 trap and 8 skeet fields already existing. It was an old club that had been relocated. Less than two years after the clays course was installed the takeover happened and lost 90% members.
Next club was limited 300 member trap, rifle and pistol club and if you were not on the board, no matter how long you were there or how much you shot, you were always treated like an outsider, don't talk, don't have fun, just shoot and beat it! And of course [open bar].That lasted less than two years and goodbye.

My latest club problems escape me even though there have been a few arguments and that's normal but this club is run by 120 Charter members with a total of 1200 members. This is a very good and somewhat wealthy club and prime location. Only 125 members shoot trap, skeet, and five stand. The rest of the club is rifle and pistol shooters which are pretty steady but the clay shooters are losing members since 2008 from 250 to 125.

We have tried invites, competition between clubs, registered events, 4-H shooters, special events, sponsoring youth shooters, Anny Oakley's, protection events and nothing seems to pull in new shooters. And on a side note; we have exactly 3 women shooters in the whole club, what's with that? Of all the clubs I have been at over many decades I can count the number of female shooters I've been with on one hand! And that includes sporting clays clubs! I could never figure out the lack of interest from the ladies in clay shooting.

This is my last club, I'm not driving 50 to 100 miles just to shoot trap and skeet weekly.
Sixty-two years of shooting clay and I'm running out of clubs to shoot at.
Go ahead, give me your best shot!




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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:20 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:25 pm
Posts: 2228
Location: NW, CT
You don't say what state you are in but where I am there is no shortage of clubs. I love my club and it is an hour drive away (in Mass). Very few have gone away that I know of, and CT has the oldest continuously running club in the nation (since 1884), although not at the original location.
I would guess it is more of a regional thing.
Our club has arguments at the meetings as well, but all seem to be able to have a beer afterwards and no feelings seem to get hurt.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:22 am 
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Location: Oregon
I thought this was going to be about Remington Gun Club shells. Our gun club is going strong.

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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:25 am 
Field Grade

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:09 am
Posts: 72
I suspect the large influx of tacticool shooting sports to be hurting the more traditional sports. Which isn’t really a bad thing, just different.

I personally see less correlation to alcohol and more correlation to snootiness...

I hear a lot of clubs getting snooty with guys who bring out pumps or autos, getting snooty with guys who hunt with O/U’s or autos over a SxS, etc... we do a better job of destroying our own sports than the Anti’s. A large part is that people need to let others participate even if they’re not using the equipment you blessed as appropriate.

I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve talked to who were shoved out because they didn’t have an O/U or the money to commit to a decent quality one. Just let them shoot their pump or auto. It’s not the end of the world! You’re hurting the sport far more than they are if you push them out!

I do think any alcohol consumption should be done off of club property. I never mix guns and alcohol. The guys can meet at the bar, pub, or at someone’s backyard after the shoot. That is what I do.


Last edited by NMGuy on Sun May 13, 2018 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:27 am 
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Please don't join our club. We'd like to keep it open a while longer. :wink: :D

Seriously, I don't know the answer. I suppose that the answer is that things, trends, and attitudes keep changing. What may have been popular a few years ago may not be popular today.

I would suggest trying to keep some fresh blood on the board because often times the ones who have been there for a long time don't recognize or want anything to change.

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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:46 am 
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Waiting lists and hefty initiation fees at Dallas Gun Club and Greater Houston. Greater Houston bought an additional 160 acres last year and is expanding. Westside Sporting west of Houston has effectively doubled their capacity in the last 3 years and have upgraded all their equipment. Corpus Christi Rifle and Pistol added a sporting course last year with a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Clubs have to adapt to changing trends. Nothing can offset poor management, but clubs that do adapt seem to be doing well, at least in Texas.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:55 am 
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Joined: Sun May 17, 2015 6:25 pm
Posts: 2144
Location: On the wrong side of the river, Austin TX
I see clubs in decline mostly because some sports are in decline. Does anyone still shoot skeet? The four skeet fields at our club mostly get used by hunters practicing for bird season. We still have a trap league, and 9 people showed up for it the last time. Sporting clays is the life blood of our club.
If the majority of the people participating in a sport are senior citizens, the sport will die when they do.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 11:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:36 pm
Posts: 275
Location: Add 1500 to the number above!
Skeet numbers have been in decline for some time. Some clubs do better than others, obviously, but ours is "struggling" with Skeet. Money isn't a problem - the two skeet fields will be renovated soon as part of a capital expansion plan, but in ten years it seems there won't be anyone around to enjoy it. I almost wish we would have had the foresight to plan something multi-purpose. We currently use one for 5-stand once a week, but beyond that it sits unused for the rest of the week, occasionally opening for skeet on weekends when we have more than a couple of squads, which has become rare. League shoots are also dwindling.

Ironically, trap is still going strong, with high weekly participation and regular league shoots. The average age is probably close to that of skeet, but I do see some new shooters from time to time. Between that and pistol shooters, revenue remains reasonably strong.

That being said, gun clubs are a tough sell in suburban communities. Most of my local clubs date back to at least the 50's if not the 40's. The "not in my neighborhood" contingency is strong. Increasingly, parents and kids view guns as "bad". It doesn't take much to shut a club down. Noise abetment, lead levels, etc. all can make keeping a club open a losing proposition. Sporting Clays courses seem to still have some steam, but they don't have the negative connotation that a "gun club" has. I also worry that Sporting Clays could experience the phenomenon that Gold clubs did not long ago - too many courses, not enough players. There was a glut and many failed or became public.

And then there's the simple fact that clay shooting sports are expensive and real wages haven't really risen in some time. Around here, when you factor in ammo, a round of skeet or trap is probably around $10.00. If you average 10 rounds a week, that's ~$100, and I could average double that when I was shooting more seriously. That adds up fast. It's easy to deceive yourself if you've already bought (or in my case made) the shells, but the cost is still in there somewhere. If I had to buy my shells at the time I shoot them, it would have more of an impact. It's a car payment, a nice vacation, or a retirement fund for many people. Sporting Clays is no cheaper - probably worse factoring travel. As a club, you hate to raise prices - you know it's tough for the working man to make it work - but short of that, whats the alternative?

So... it's a tough gig.

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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:05 pm 
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If it wasn’t for 4H, I’m not sure there would be a trap field in Texas. Skeet is stronger, but still hard to make a club survive on skeet alone.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:56 pm
Posts: 123
First, thanks guys for the quick response to this post.
Second, I did not want to localize my area but I will say it's in Michigan.
No, no one discriminates against shotguns high or low price and anyone with a clean record can and does join my club. We take Mossy 500's and C. Guerini's alike. New walk-in shooters are always greeted with open friendship and taken under wing so-to-speak about gun safety, rules, and club etiquette. We have several club officials to do that personally. And I can assure you snubbing or Newby wisecracks are dealt with quite severely at this club.

Alcohol is not a problem at this club as it is not permitted anywhere on club grounds!
But I have to admit, age is most assuredly a rising problem in all shotgun sports.
We have had 3 deaths in 14 months and one 15 year member escorted off the club grounds for violations. He was warned 3 times about using shot larger than 7&1/2 meaning #5 & #6 express loads on the trap and skeet fields and his membership was permanently revoked. I might add that he was 70 years old.

As far as shotgunners go we have about 70% over 60 years old to 80 something.
We tried to hold games but lack of outside participation was very disappointing.
Competition between clubs was OK for a while but pooped out after a year or two.
We even hosted pump shoots, side X side shoots for the general public, poor turnouts.
Even our winter league has been dwindling down for the last four or five years now.

I like this club a lot and very comfortable shooting there with many friends but I think the guys that run the club are tired of trying to promote new membership.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 1:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:09 am
Posts: 72
Part of it may be the age of those running it. My local club up till recently was run by mostly all retired guys in the 60-80 year range. Nothing wrong with that but as pointed out. Some hit hard times with health, family, etc...

The opposite is true of younger people such as myself. I’m busy in life with other things. Work, family, new dog, etc... I don’t have enough spare time to organize club events and do everything else.

You have to find people who have a certain amount of free time in their lives. Such as folks with older kids or no kids. Retired or a job with lots of free time or weekends off, etc... then you have to find people with moral fiber. Someone who is not going to run it into the ground or turn it into a “look at me” or “I’m in charge” show.

Our local club seems to have lots of trouble when it comes to spending money. They don’t want to spend money on anything to improve the general club grounds such as the plinking range. Which begs to question where all the money from the general memberships go. As our trap range, silhouette range, pistol clubs, etc... all require individual sub club memberships and minor fees. And a lot of their stuff is actually done with donated time and materials from local guys who shoot in them. I’m not sure how the whole thing works though and how the city lease land works or what it cost. So maybe there is no money left to upgrade at years end.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 1:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:36 pm
Posts: 798
Location: California Gold Country
Of the 7 clay throwing clubs I have shot at here in California, 3 are gone due to lead or noise issues, and 1 is under pressure to close . Even after switching to steel shot or meeting EPA standards.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 2:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:01 am
Posts: 301
Location: SW 0hio
I am decididing on joining the club I go to for open skeet, 5-stand, and trap on weekends. It's tailored for retirees that shoot during the weekdays. Not really worth the $300 first year, $150/ annual for those under 65 that work during the day.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:22 pm 
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Alembic wrote:
I am decididing on joining the club I go to for open skeet, 5-stand, and trap on weekends. It's tailored for retirees that shoot during the weekdays. Not really worth the $300 first year, $150/ annual for those under 65 that work during the day.


Let's assume that you do decide to join and shoot about 30 weekends per year for the next 10 years. That's 300 weekends of shooting! This means that your initiation fee of $300 cost you $1 per weekend of shooting while the annual dues will cost you $5/weekend of shooting.

I respectfully suggest that the $6 per weekend will be dwarfed by the cost of targets, ammo, and transportation to/from the range. I'll let you do the math, but I would estimate that the cost of membership/dues is less than 10% of your total shooting costs.

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Please post For Sale items in the proper Classified section.

Semi-Auto Classifieds is ONLY for Complete Semi-Auto shotguns.
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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:36 pm
Posts: 333
Location: Claremore, OK
Scatergun71 wrote:
First, thanks guys for the quick response to this post.
Second, I did not want to localize my area but I will say it's in Michigan.
No, no one discriminates against shotguns high or low price and anyone with a clean record can and does join my club. We take Mossy 500's and C. Guerini's alike. New walk-in shooters are always greeted with open friendship and taken under wing so-to-speak about gun safety, rules, and club etiquette. We have several club officials to do that personally. And I can assure you snubbing or Newby wisecracks are dealt with quite severely at this club.

Alcohol is not a problem at this club as it is not permitted anywhere on club grounds!
But I have to admit, age is most assuredly a rising problem in all shotgun sports.
We have had 3 deaths in 14 months and one 15 year member escorted off the club grounds for violations. He was warned 3 times about using shot larger than 7&1/2 meaning #5 & #6 express loads on the trap and skeet fields and his membership was permanently revoked. I might add that he was 70 years old.

As far as shotgunners go we have about 70% over 60 years old to 80 something.
We tried to hold games but lack of outside participation was very disappointing.
Competition between clubs was OK for a while but pooped out after a year or two.
We even hosted pump shoots, side X side shoots for the general public, poor turnouts.
Even our winter league has been dwindling down for the last four or five years now.

I like this club a lot and very comfortable shooting there with many friends but I think the guys that run the club are tired of trying to promote new membership.


3 Deaths in 14 months??? That rings a BIG alarm for me! What the heck is going on there?


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:56 pm
Posts: 123
Well, let's have a little clarity about the 3 people that died from our club.
People get old, they have health problems, then they die of one thing or the other.
Nobody lives forever and much like golfers shooting their age, I would like to go out shooting 100 straight on my 100th. birthday. I just want Bob Hope to open the gate for me when I get there!
That's my story and I'm sticken to it!


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 8:45 pm 
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Posts: 275
Location: Add 1500 to the number above!
We've had more than three in the last year - these are people that were in their 80's and 90's. There's a lot of them. Sometimes it all goes to hell in the 70's. I assure you that no one is getting gunned down at the club :)

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IMO, shooting registered targets at the club is like eating a "registered cheeseburger". It's the same cheeseburger, but you pay more for it and everyone knows you ate it...


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 06, 2004 6:08 pm
Posts: 1336
Location: Colorado
I belong to two in the Minneapolis area. One is mostly rifle and handgun, but they have a trap league. I believe there is a two year line to get in to it.
The other is mostly a sporting clays place that has five courses. It’s very busy.


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:05 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2004 2:59 pm
Posts: 136
Location: camden nc
over the years we have lost 6 clubs within a hour drive to EPA and other issues like noise and the building of housing developments. Some of the clubs were short sighted in the fact that they Leased the land instead of Buying the land as land values went up the lease was ended and now there is a housing development where the club was and local politicians will not allow new clubs to open I now drive 1.5 hours away to shoot skeet. I don't shoot skeet competitions (except rarely) anymore as I cant practice enough to justify the high costs of hotels, gas and entry fees. 1 club only does Skeet on Wed and Sun mornings and expect to be there 4 hours and maybe 2-3 rounds The other I open the skeet field when I want (RFID card system) but I need someone to pull and finding someone is a problem I am looking a getting a clay delay to help with that issue. I don't know the answer and I fear the we may be in the end times of trap and skeet


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 Post subject: Re: Gun clubs falling away for one reason or another.
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 8:00 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:46 pm
Posts: 310
Here in Canada, our worst enemy is people moving in next to ranges, and complaining about the noise. The counties and municipalities are closing down ranges, and very few are being built. I did belong to one club run by a corrupt executive, that treated the range as their own. Their interests were handguns and biathlon, so that is where the money went, and they seemed to do what they could to discourage the shotgun sports. I retired and moved a few hundred miles away to a range that is being threatened by people moving in around It, but at least the executive works together for the benefit of the club. And the club that I left voted in an entirely new executive for 2018, and they are rebuilding for the benefit of all members.




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