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How to get more shooters to compete

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Post by mikemyers Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:32 pm

Not sure if this question belongs here, but it seems like the appropriate place.

I had a discussion about how well people are able to shoot in Bullseye competition.  Looking around on the web was no help - no place could I find typical targets.

I found pages like this:
http://www.nrahq.org/compete/natpdf/cp143-17.pdf
http://competitions.nra.org/national-matches/results-archives/2017.aspx

....but to someone who doesn't already know what these things mean, it's impossible to visualize how the competitors did.  What would be more meaningful (but impossible) is photos of the targets.  Of course, I'm a photographer, and I "see" with pictures.


I think two things could help promote Bullseye Shooting, regardless of what name it is called.  The first is simple - provide a class for people who shoot two handed.  It might attract a lot of people who otherwise think of it as "impossible".  ....and the second, print a brochure, designed for ordinary existing shooters, and use it to promote the benefits of Bullseye - not everyone wants to run around, getting down into the dirt or whatever - - - and with Bullseye, ANYONE can practice for it at just about any shooting range.  The brochure should have a photo of one of the champions, and another photo of an "average" shooter holding one of his targets and his gun (which should look like a normal gun).

Even just a web page would be a start, and probably easier to do than a brochure.


Heck, technically I'm not a "Bullseye Shooter" because my left hand isn't in my pocket, but I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the sport, the targets, the distances, the organization and especially the people I've met.  I think there are many more people like me, who could be tempted to get involved.....
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Post by BE Mike Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:14 am

This has been cussed and discussed ad nauseam. My opinion is the best way for the sport of "Precision Pistol" to grow is for everyone now involved, to ask friends and associates to try it. First informally at close distances and then to go to a match and watch and shoot. The sport was the king of the hill when there were few other options. The military supported it in the 50's-70's and had many teams all over the country. With the advent of many other kinds of pistol competitions and the limited participation by the military, the sport began loosing participants.
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Post by mikemyers Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:23 am

BE Mike wrote:.....My opinion is the best way for the sport of "Precision Pistol" to grow is for everyone now involved, to ask friends and associates to try it. First informally at close distances.....
How well is that working?


In radio control car racing, which is an international sport with World Championships, people start out on parking lot tracks, with whatever car and radio they already have, and are encouraged to drive the way they normally do, at "normal" speeds so they don't break their cars.  People (like me back in the 1980's) who enjoy it start getting more appropriate race cars, and learn how to compete better, and move on to better (and usually bigger) tracks.

If the NRA made an appropriate target (maybe they already have one) for a distance of say, 7 yards (or whatever), and got people involved in shooting 10 shots and scoring their results (like bowling), that would be a start.  Let them shoot whatever gun they already have, and use one or two hands.  Make the targets readily available, and include a box at the bottom for scoring, to make it easy.  No time limits for shooting - slow, rapid, whatever.  The club or range could post the "high score of the day" someplace where others can see it, and maybe get those targets and try it out.

Provide some encouragement, and try to get the magazines to promote this class.  For a name, just call it NRA Target Shooting.

This could happen in addition to what you suggested above (not instead of).  
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Post by cdrt Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:55 am

The current rule book allows for one or two hand probationary Precision Pistol matches.  See page 56, Section 24.  You can register them just like an approved or registered match.  Competitors receive a classification card for that specific event.  I ran one here in Amarillo for the new Junior shooters; seemed to work out okay.  It's one way to get the two-handed shooters interested in the sport.
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Post by gregbenner Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:59 am

Shooting (and guns) as a hobby is not nearly as popular as it used to be, many of the reasons are somewhat obvious. Unfortunately I think it will get less popular in the future,  not just Bullseye, but guns in general. In California at least, if I encourage some teenagers to go practice in a local parking lot, I suspect I would get in trouble (lol). As an Olympic sport it also seems to be dying slowly as well?   

Where I live, there are issues re: appropriate ranges with the appropriate equipment as well.  From what I have observed, running a match takes a huge commitment, not just for those in charge, but for everyone.  I seem to notice that some (many?) participants are willing to attend, but are not willing to really help.  Charging more for attendance so that each club could do some local focused advertising (business cards with match info, brochures at the local ranges, etc. etc) might well meet resistance?  

I am not familiar enough with the inter-workings of the NRA to tell if they have much interest in supporting this, it seems they are 110% focused on other areas and issues.  Perhaps others with more knowledge will chime in.

I agree that changes might help, but would be amazed if the NRA and the current Bullseye shooters could agree on what they might be? Perhaps this is better addressed at the local level?  i.e. if the local members can't or won't actively promote their sport then why should someone else try?

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Post by mikemyers Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:17 am

gregbenner wrote:.......I agree that changes might help, but would be amazed if the NRA and the current Bullseye shooters could agree on what they might be? Perhaps this is better addressed at the local level?  i.e. if the local members can't or won't actively promote their sport then why should someone else try?
Here's the schedule for Hollywood Rifle and Pistol Club:
http://www.hrpclub.info/10.html

Lots of matches for shooters with many different interests.
For the "bullseye" competitions, one or two hand shooting is allowed - the groups are scored separately.  They get a pretty good attendance for those matches.  They are already doing what I'm suggesting.  

I'm lucky to have found them!!
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Post by Jack H Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:40 pm

One of the biggest problems preventing BE growth is a lot of people don't want to be in the big leagues so to speak.  Time and money is not there.  And dedication is hard to come by.  Mikes RC comparison reminds me of my slot car experience.  We kids started out with HO scale vibrater cars.  That grew nicely until the pros took over.  The fun was not gone.  Just less available. 
Same thing happened in my raquetball life.  I was on my college tennis team, so I had some experience and skill.  But at a raquetball club after those tennis years, the slam bang stud players just took over.  No fun any more.

And I truly believe my tennis conditioning really helped my BE shooting.   Back then.     A long time ago.....


Last edited by Jack H on Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Wobbley Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:59 pm

Jack H has part of the answer.

All the shooting activities have suffered since the 1970s and really taken a hit since the end of the Cold War and establishment of the CMP. The military stopped supporting shooting. Except for the NG, Army and Marines, the services don’t support competitive shooting very much. The AF and Navy used to have a much better presence. It isn’t just pistol shooting either.

In the civilian side, there’s more glamor in the “combat” events. They’re better marketers, and the sponsorships are better. Maybe the skill levels are lower or not, I can’t say, but the participants seem to have fun.

Maybe that’s the real problem with Bullseye. We seem to have lost the fun?
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Post by Slartybartfast Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:52 pm

Jack H wrote:We kids started out with HO scale vibrater cars.  That grew nicely until the pros took over.  The fun was not gone.  Just less available.

As a newbie, have to say that if I didn't luck out and find a small club that focused on precision rifle and ISSF I'm not sure I'd know that Bullseye or ISSF/SFC competitions existed.

To address "the pros took over", I've seen at least once people being told that the way to compete is to put away a quite expensive 45 until they learn to shoot real well with .22 to become Master.

To thrive, the sport needs the involvement of the mass of people who will compete in all events and possibly never be any better than marksman. That competition level needs to be fun and involving for them to create more people that are interested in the more individual practice of dry-firing and mastering the art and becoming recognised Masters.

The lowest level of any sport must thrive so that people can come and go and while turnover might be high, people are exposed to the sport and higher achievement possibilities. So if there isn't a healthy competition between people using common firearms, don't expect growth of the top end with high end firearms.

My personal thoughts are that concentrating on the Marksmanship program and creating friendly matches are the way to grow the base. And most importantly communication.
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Post by willnewton Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:05 pm

We asked a young 20-ish year old that works at the range to start joining us for weekly BE League.

He said, “Maybe I will.”

Next week, he said he took his pistol and tried to hit the paper at 25 yards and only got a couple out of ten on the paper.

“You shoot with one hand? That’s not so bad for the first time.”, I said.

“Nah, that was with two hands rested on the bench.  I am never gonna do that again.  It is too hard.”

Right there you have the reason BE will never recover.
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Post by TexasShooter Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:18 pm

Thoughts from someone who only got into bullseye about 4 years ago, and still sucks at it...

Making the sport easier might bring in new shooters. Move the targets closer, make it easier to score well, let 'em use two hands, any gun they want, no time limits. Now everyone is shooting X's and you can't tell who won. It might bring new shooters to the sport, but the sport wouldn't be bullseye. Bullseye is hard and that is part of what makes it worth doing. Like a lot of clubs we allow newbies to shoot any way they want as long as they're safe. 99% shoot 1-handed from the beginning, not because they have to but because they want to try bullseye, not some watered down variation.

It's been suggested that a lack of appropriate facilities with appropriate equipment is part of the problem. Nonsense. To shoot an NRA sanctioned outdoor Precision Pistol match you need 25 yards, something to stop the bullets after they pass through the target, a target, and shooters. That's it. A dedicated bullseye range is nice but absolutely not necessary. Find a couple of friends, a place to stick a target, and have a bullseye match.

No one wants to be in the big leagues, and dedication is hard to come by. No argument. My question is why do we think they should want to be in the big leagues before we encourage them to shoot bullseye? Truth is, with even a little practice anyone can keep 'em on paper, have some fun, support the sport, and maybe learn something about marksmanship. Why do we tacitly discourage them by expecting everyone that shoots bullseye to set high master as a primary goal? Why can't enjoying the sport be the primary goal? We might also recognize that for many people enjoying the sport has little to do with score, and a lot to do with the people involved in the sport. I've met some of the nicest people I know shooting bullseye...and that has a lot to do with why I'm still around.

NRA isn't doing enough to promote bullseye? Of course they aren't. First, NRA isn't a shooting organization, it's a political organization. Second, NRA follows the money and bullseye doesn't have enough of a crowd to generate the kind of money to get anyone's interest.

Wobbley is certainly right - the action sports are better marketers. And one of the things they market best is that their sport is for anyone that likes to shoot. Next time you are promoting bullseye, listen to yourself. All too often it sounds something like this: "It's a great sport. We shoot 3" targets 50 yards away, holding the pistol in one hand. You can use the gun you already have but you'd kind of be wasting your time - you really need a custom gun that will hold that 3" target. Dry fire about 30 minutes a day for a year or so and you'll do fine." Gee, thanks, but I think I'll go to the dentist instead.

The first response is the one that makes the most sense. At the end of the day promoting bullseye comes back to local shooters promoting, inviting, and encouraging folks to come play...and doing that in a positive, welcoming way. Websites, brochures, posters, advertisements are all tools that can make it easier...but tools don't build the house, the carpenter does. Invite someone and don't be ashamed to say "the bullseye gives you something to aim at but you don't have to hit the dadgum thing. You can do this too, c'mon out and have some fun".

Rant complete...

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Post by Jack H Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:30 pm

Why am I not intimidated by BE "hardness"?  I started early.  With rifle.  And I grew up without a lot of competition activities. 

I shot 22 rifles when I was 7-8 years old.  Dad was a hunter extraordinaire.  I shot independently prone while dad shot his 721 down the line.  And this was in Santa Ana CA south? of town.  By 10, I had my own 30-06.  A couple years later I got a Rem725 270.  (that's why I am aka Rem725 or Rem720 on a couple other forums)  That 725 and me did a lot of hunting.
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Post by Paul M. Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:34 pm

I like Bullseye just the way it is. I am new to the sport and have had my share of struggles to overcome and I know that success will be achieved through time and dedication, but I enjoy the challenge of the sport. Unfortunately Bullseye shooting is not promoted or marketed on the outdoor and shooting media outlets like the "action pistol" sports or shotgun sports for that matter. Where I live in Southern Komifornia, there are not a lot of matches at the local clubs anymore, nor are there any indoor leagues to speak of. I remember years ago, Bullseye Match results were posted in the American Rifleman magazine every month, now there is nothing. When I was a kid shooting with my dad in the early 70s', I shot pistols at 25 yards and rifles at 100 yards, now everyone is shooting at much shorter distances at much larger targets these days.
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Post by JayhawkNavy02 Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:57 pm

gregbenner wrote:I agree that changes might help, but would be amazed if the NRA and the current Bullseye shooters could agree on what they might be? Perhaps this is better addressed at the local level?  i.e. if the local members can't or won't actively promote their sport then why should someone else try?

Greg nailed it. 

We're working some new ideas, things we're bouncing around (none of them are final, just random thoughts)


  • Non-registered/sanctioned, reduced (25 yard) 600 match for new shooters. 22/22 or 22/CF.  No alibis.  Coaching by experienced shooters.
  • Bullseye league, normal format, 600 during the work week in the PM for those who have weekend events.
  • Clinic for new shooters (that's how I got into Bullseye) ran on a semi-annual basis.
  • Draw new shooters from youth pistol programs into Bullseye who are leaning toward pistol games
  • Use facebook and forums to advertise the match
  • Attend the club general meetings to promote the match
  • Waive the first match fee for new shooters and connect them with someone experienced when they check in
  • Prize for the most new shooters brought to a match by the veterans or require at least 2 new shooter per regular per year, or give a match discount if a new shooter is present with another shooter.


Last edited by JayhawkNavy02 on Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by fpk Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:09 pm

The rules have already changed to make it really easy to get started.  They allow the 22 only to be used for the first year, with two hands if they want.

What is needed now is for everyone go find someone that shoots pistol at your range who does not come to matches, get them interested, and help them get started coming to the local match. Practice with them so they can see what it will be like at the match. It does not take much coaching for them to hit the target at 25 yards. Do this for one person, each year. That will fix the problem. We each individually need to put in the time to get people interested in our sport.

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Post by mikemyers Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:38 pm

Quick comment - - - all those fancy competitions, where people are running around shooting different targets from different angles - looks fun and exciting on TV, but I have a relative who wants to do it, and there are VERY few places where he can go and practice.

Meanwhile, one can practice Bullseye at almost any shooting range.  Maybe we should just hand out targets, and an instruction sheet, and let people try it out on their own.  ...but make it easy to score the 10 permitted shots.

Once people start, it might catch on, and the shooter might looking for a range where other Bullseye shooters hang out.
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Post by gregbenner Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:32 am

mikemyers wrote:
gregbenner wrote:.......I agree that changes might help, but would be amazed if the NRA and the current Bullseye shooters could agree on what they might be? Perhaps this is better addressed at the local level?  i.e. if the local members can't or won't actively promote their sport then why should someone else try?
Here's the schedule for Hollywood Rifle and Pistol Club:
http://www.hrpclub.info/10.html

Lots of matches for shooters with many different interests.
For the "bullseye" competitions, one or two hand shooting is allowed - the groups are scored separately.  They get a pretty good attendance for those matches.  They are already doing what I'm suggesting.  

I'm lucky to have found them!!


Thx Mike.  I checked Their Calendar, couldn't see any bullseye matches scheduled thru the end of the year?

I'm not really into Benchrest shooting.

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Post by mikemyers Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:47 am

Pistol Matches, and the "Old Shooter's Match" are based on Bullseye matches.  NRA targets, 25 and 50 yards, slow and rapid fire, etc., etc.  They guys who shoot one handed are at the left.  

The program is designed both for one handed shooters, and two handed shooters - they stand separately, and are scored separately.

For example:

http://www.hrpclub.info/24.html

http://www.hrpclub.info/26.html
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Post by BE Mike Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:11 am

mikemyers wrote:
BE Mike wrote:.....My opinion is the best way for the sport of "Precision Pistol" to grow is for everyone now involved, to ask friends and associates to try it. First informally at close distances.....
How well is that working?


In radio control car racing, which is an international sport with World Championships, people start out on parking lot tracks, with whatever car and radio they already have, and are encouraged to drive the way they normally do, at "normal" speeds so they don't break their cars.  People (like me back in the 1980's) who enjoy it start getting more appropriate race cars, and learn how to compete better, and move on to better (and usually bigger) tracks.

If the NRA made an appropriate target (maybe they already have one) for a distance of say, 7 yards (or whatever), and got people involved in shooting 10 shots and scoring their results (like bowling), that would be a start.  Let them shoot whatever gun they already have, and use one or two hands.  Make the targets readily available, and include a box at the bottom for scoring, to make it easy.  No time limits for shooting - slow, rapid, whatever.  The club or range could post the "high score of the day" someplace where others can see it, and maybe get those targets and try it out.

Provide some encouragement, and try to get the magazines to promote this class.  For a name, just call it NRA Target Shooting.

This could happen in addition to what you suggested above (not instead of).  
I works when current bullseye shooters make the effort. If you can't get current shooters to show enthusiasm to recruit new members, why would anyone else or any organization be motivated to do so? I used to shoot in both NRA Approved and Registered Conventional Pistol Matches. There was also an organization and club where the matches were shot at 25 yds. for the long line and 15 yds. for the short line. One organization would commonly get 50-70 shooters to attend these short range bullseye matches. Rarely would any of those shooters start participating in the NRA matches, as "it was too hard". Looks like your solution is to change the sport for beginners. I don't think it'll work, based on my many years of experience. I started a club shooting team and offered coaching and training for interested shooters. No experience necessary. That attracted several new shooters who stayed involved in the sport for several years.
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Post by BE Mike Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:19 am

mikemyers wrote:Pistol Matches, and the "Old Shooter's Match" are based on Bullseye matches.  NRA targets, 25 and 50 yards, slow and rapid fire, etc., etc.  They guys who shoot one handed are at the left.  

The program is designed both for one handed shooters, and two handed shooters - they stand separately, and are scored separately.

For example:

http://www.hrpclub.info/24.html

http://www.hrpclub.info/26.html
These Florida Police Officer's Assn. short matches are exactly the ones I participated in. They attracted large numbers of shooters, most of whom (almost none) never even attempted to try the NRA Approved/ Registered matches. They were fun matches and there was a lot of effort to recruit sponsors for awards. The people in charge really were go getters and make huge efforts to make the matches special. They usually had a sit down meal provided. They also had spouse matches, where spouses of officers competed against one another. They also ran PPC matches. It was a lot of fun and a family event, but wasn't any good for recruiting shooters for NRA bullseye.
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Post by gregbenner Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:51 am

mikemyers wrote:Pistol Matches, and the "Old Shooter's Match" are based on Bullseye matches.  NRA targets, 25 and 50 yards, slow and rapid fire, etc., etc.  They guys who shoot one handed are at the left.  

The program is designed both for one handed shooters, and two handed shooters - they stand separately, and are scored separately.

For example:

http://www.hrpclub.info/24.html

http://www.hrpclub.info/26.html

Thx Mike.  I wondered why I wasn't familiar with a "local" club.  I assumed Hollywood Gun Club was in Hollywood (and we all know there is only ONE Hollywood.  This place is in Florida for christ's sake Laughing 

Some good ideas though

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Post by AnthonyJ Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:09 pm

BE Mike wrote:...My opinion is the best way for the sport of "Precision Pistol" to grow is for everyone now involved, to ask friends and associates to try it. First informally at close distances and then to go to a match and watch and shoot. 

+1 for this. I shoot in a league near Boston and a couple of the teams have crazy good turnout almost every match (like 10-15 folks on any given night and 20ish that are in the regular rotation). The thing that sets those clubs apart is exactly this -- they actively recruit. They get together and practice on bye weeks and on the weekends, and when they do they tell everyone at the club what they're doing there, pull people into the practice, and get people excited to come on Tuesday nights. Some even pull in co-workers...which is probably a risky proposition for some unfortunately -- but I've seen it happen.

It sounds like a lot of work, but when you've got a good group -- it's easy and fun.

I think the reason some of the more action oriented sports get attention is because they look fun and exciting on their own -- bullseye doesn't really, so you have to rely on people. Luckily bullseye has a lot of great people and camaraderie, we just have to showcase it better.

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Post by CO1Mtn Fri Jul 22, 2022 7:05 pm

I remember that back when I was on active duty in the Air Force (yeah here come the jokes about the "chair force"  Laughing ) the base I was at was holding introductory EIC pistol and rifle matches every year, sometimes twice a year for each. It was totally free and would get participants out of work for a day. I tried getting my troops to go, and tried getting my supervisor to go, but they mostly responded as if they would rather watch paint dry. My supervisor acted excited about it at first, and registered to go, but then changed his mind an hour before the match. My troops acted like firearms were anathema to them.

I don't think any of them had ever touched a firearm in their lives except in Air Force basic training. Our weapons training was very limited in the Air Force. My basic training flight didn't even shoot during basic training. I was one of two people out of 50 in the flight who actually got to fire live rounds in a rifle during basic training. It was only because us two couldn't give blood that day because we had the "Lackland crud" flu and were on an antibiotic, and the other 48 guys were going to a blood donation appointment instead, because it got them out of PT. But even us two weren't actually scored for record because they had taken our gas masks away. So we didn't even qualify on any weapon in basic training. Our experience at basic probably wasn't a very military-like experience compared to what the Army goes through. I finally shot a rifle to qualify as marksman two years later when I was headed to Korea. I scored expert, 59/60. So when I went to the EIC matches the Air Force hosted, the instructor gave more weapons training than we got in basic training.

Since then, I've asked friends, and some acquaintences that I've met at the range if they'd like to go with me to a bullseye match. I offered to loan them a match-worthy .22. All have said "no thanks." I tried to do my part to help the sport grow, but I haven't had any luck. I don't know what kids do all day these days. When I was growing up, I had a rimfire rifle and an SKS, and I was at the range almost every weekend. Nowadays I think people are on video games every weekend.

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How to get more shooters to compete Empty Re: How to get more shooters to compete

Post by Jack H Fri Jul 22, 2022 11:55 pm

I scanned this thread again.  One thing comes to mind that I do not see mentioned.  Local programs need dedicated people with time enough and a facility to put them on.  Such a facility has overhead.  Overhead takes money and money takes people to operate the facility.  All this has to happen before competitors are involved except for a bunch of good old boys (gals too) shooting for fun.  Bottom line, money.
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Post by javaduke Sat Jul 23, 2022 11:43 am

Yes, money is always the bottom line. If only that well-known non-profit organization that we all love and support, could spend a one percent of one percent of all their income to help clubs around the country, we'd all have state of the art facilities will electronic targets, shooting benches made out of walnut and mahogany, and free lunches prepared by Gordon Ramsey.

For the practical shooting, I believe, most money comes from big advertisers. But while Glock can afford spending some cash on ads and award multiple guns to competitors, I don't believe our beloved vendors such as Joh Eulette or KC Crawford have such luxury (if anything, it's us who should support them so that they stay in business as long as possible).

I think Bullseye and similar shooting sports will always be a niche sport, and we'll never see as much attendance as it was during the golden days of shooting, before the internet, credit cards, plastic guns and paper drinking straws. I may be wrong though. Time will tell.

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