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Thread: NOW I'm starting to worry...

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    NOW I'm starting to worry...

    I just downloaded the Nationals team positions, and it tells a tale. Phase 1 musket has enough teams to fill out 56 positions...I can remember when the end of the line was around position 65 (the McGregors drew it frequently). Phase 2 goes to position 31...about the size of the Potomac Regional when it's healthy.

    It's a worrying trend.

    Part of the problem is just that the economy is lousy. People are hurting, and have been for quite a while. Skirmishing has to take second place to paying the bills. I think this is why the Civil War Sesquicentennial has been such a bust (far smaller than the 135th and 140th events)...people could not afford it.

    Another problem is that the precision shooting sports are all under pressure. A lot of the younger shooters want run-and-gun...they think 10 yards is a long shot with a pistol, 50 is outrageously far with a rifle. I won't mention the looks I get when I put up a target to practice 50 yard revolver.

    I'm wondering if we can leverage any of this to help recruiting. Eventually, the economy will truly recover - though if the early 1980s are any indication, this will not happen until around 2020. But it will happen. And I think the younger shooters will tire of running track with a gun. We should have some recruiting opportunities if we play our cards right.

    Yes, I'm venting. We're all worrying about the situation. I just needed to get it off my shoulders.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  2. #2
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    Mike,

    All good observations and very true.

    It is worrisome to say the least. The only answer I have is to ask our members, units and regions to put a renewed emphasis in attracting new members.

    I can tell you that our National Recruiting Officer, Melinda Litvinias is working very hard on helping units do the above. As a younger member, she is driven to keep the association she loves going, and that brings a new, fresh view to our recruiting efforts.

    All we can do is keeping on working on the above, which many of us are. And I thank you for the efforts you have put in recruiting. It is not easy that is certain.
    Regards,


    Phil Spaugy

  3. #3
    jonk is offline
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    I noticed this myself when working in the tower at fall nationals. Naturally, it's a combination of things. Declining membership, aging membership who don't make the trek to VA, economic concerns about making it there, that sort of thing.

    I have posted in other threads about why I think that some of this is happening, and I think that you hit the nail on the head to a certain extent with what interests younger shooters.

    Beyond that, and what I have said previously, I'll add this. I think that the group for many years in its stronger days gone by didnt' have an issue. Word of mouth, a few guns hows here and there, interest in the Civil War anniversary (100th, 125th), that sort of thing, combined with a robust economy meant that not only weren't we hurting for members, we had too many to easily accommodate them all for musket matches at nationals. I think that while in the 2000s many probably started to notice, "Oh, my, membership is going down a bit, that's a tad concerning," it wasn't until this decade that it became a pronounced enough concern to really bear down on the issue.

    Granted I'm only in my fourth year, but that's the impression I've gotten.

    I'm pleased to see that we ARE now putting more effort (and funds) into the issue, and I hope they pay dividends. We don't need 100,000 members, we need at minimum a replacement for every guy or gal who retires from the sport, passes on, what have you... at minimum I'd say a few dozen per year. Ideally more; build our membership back up. Because if we don't, we will die a slow death, and in 10, 20 years, that will be that.

    I know I have been talking up the organization whenever I meet someone interested in shooting, black powder, the Civil war, etc. I've had a few guys at my local range take a few shots with my guns just for fun. I restarted the midwest website. It's still basic, but version 1.0 will soon be replaced with 1.1 with pics, links, etc. (Sometime this week). That way I can direct interested parties to the website easily.

    Anything we can do, we gotta do it!

  4. #4
    MR. GADGET's Avatar
    MR. GADGET is offline Moderator
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    Some other shooters and I had a long talk about this at the regonal this past weekend.

    There were not many shooters like there was just a few years back.
    Many could not even fill a full team. Several could not even put on 5 for a musket team.

    It is very sad but maybe this is the time we need to look at some of the other sports and maybe change ours a little.
    We have a very high cost for targets and maybe this is the time we shift to steel to cut down on clean up and target cost.

    Also at our shoot there were a many people that only made it on Sunday. Maybe it is time for some of the smaller shoots and region shoots to shift over to Sat for most the team shooting.
    Some people can not be there for 3 days and others do not want to shoot paper.

    Also maybe we need to step back and look at the good old boys club and see what we can change.
    There is not a lot of training or any classes to teach new people how it is done and most don't want to give out any pointers on how to help other shoot better as they may miss out on a 2$ metal.

    Maybe we need to do some run and gun for say. That is what is selling.

    Would be easy to set a station for timed matches shooting different targets and ranges all at one time and not leaving the line.

    Think of it like the Ruger challenge or some of the steel cowboy matches.

    People like a change of shooting and different targets.

    Just some thoughts.

    Several I have talked to were talking about going to shoot cowboy matches or Highpower just for the change and come back later if this shooting keeps going.

    We need to keep what we got #1 and bring in new shooters #2.
    Last edited by MR. GADGET; 05-05-2015 at 01:02 PM.
    MR. GADGET
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    Rowan Artillery


    Just remember!
    When a pot needs stirring, someone needs to do it...

  5. #5
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    Just a thought being one of the new kids in town.

    With the youth, has there ever been a discussion of letting them shoot say a .22 in competition as opposed to bb guns. My son is 11 and I think a .22 would be something that may keep his interest more than the bb guns. now I don't know if anything is available but is there such a thing as a youth size blackpowder gun? I would think that something could be set up to allow kids 5 to 10 would shoot bb guns and kids 11 - 14 could shoot something else.

  6. #6
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    Mike is right about the "run and gun" aspect.

    I've tried to entice friends to come out for repeat visits to Nationals, and/or partake in shooting at my local range, but they're only really interested in shopping for antiques a the suttlers; or they consider muzzle loading to be "boring between shots"...

    The only area in sports that's really thriving is Three-Gun. Skirmishers shouldn't complain about costs - folks in Three Gun, even novices compete not only for the thrill, and challenge but also to gain sponsorships to fund their hobby. Maybe its a generational thing in that everything need to faster, louder, shinier (or maybe I too am becoming a crotchety old man).

    Having the facility/range (Fort Shenandoah) we could develop a modified Three Gun course. But given the median age of our competitors, a jammed packed National Schedule, and all that would be involved in attempting to develop/organize/execute such a program is unfortunately a "bridge too far" with the potential of minimal gains in public interest/prospective members.

    But Mike and Phil are right - we're staring down the barrel of a very real & serious situation re membership and the very existence of our wonderful organization. Age-wise and it's impact on recruiting, I fear, we may have gone past the tipping point, i.e. not many 60 yr olds know personally or relate to strangers in their late teens or early twenties. As for new comers, enticing them to participate is further hampered by the demands of modern-day real life on young adults: school, work, family, young kids, etc... Its a very hard nut to crack, but so long as we don't give up the ship, and well meaning, dedicated folks continue to work hard at the grass roots level, there's always a chance. But at this point it requires everyone to pitch in in some fashion.

    I'm off the soap box now should anyone else wish to use it...
    Semper Fi,
    Rob Freeman
    WBR
    Col, USMC (Ret.) '87 - '19

    The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. - Vince Lombardi

  7. #7
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    As I've mentioned before, I think part of the solution is to hold dedicated Recruiting Skirmishes at ranges we don't normally use. In the greater National Capital area, N-SSA events are held at Fort Shenandoah...and nowhere else. It undermines recruiting. We used to get out a whole lot more.

    Not to mention getting the uniform and equipment requirements under control - especially in public. Skirmishing used to be a cheap sport, we need to get back to that.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  8. #8
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    I'll add that working with a lot of young engineers, they seem to respond well to humor. There's no sense pretending we're kids...but we can win them over by not treating the young people as children and a dollop of self-deprecating humor.

    I tell stories about the Good Old Days, when we flew Pterodactyls and had to keep the flight schedule on cuneiform tablets. And it was a PITA to spell Pterodactyl in cuneiform.

    Honestly, if I wanted to shoot fast, I would not even consider the tactical stuff. I like my speed undiluted...Olympic Rapid Fire. Five shots in four seconds...at five separate 25-meter targets. The 100-meter sprint of the shooting world.

    The biggest point, as Rob mentioned, is that everybody has to help.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  9. #9
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    Well, it's a very small sample size, but I posted a query over on the Competition Shooting subreddit over on Reddit:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Competition...tion_shooters/

    Out of 8 responses, only 1 had even heard of the N-SSA.

    I think we really, really need advertising. We need some full-page ads in the NRA publications and the more popular shooting magazines. Guns and Ammo. Guns of the Old West. Etc. Etc.

    The cost is what it is. There's not much that can be done about that. You're looking at about $1000 to get in the game with one gun. You can do it a little cheaper if you can find some used gear, but realistically you're looking at about a grand to get started, and about $200 a skirmish - if you shoot one gun.

    Steve

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maillemaker View Post

    I think we really, really need advertising. We need some full-page ads in the NRA publications and the more popular shooting magazines. Guns and Ammo. Guns of the Old West. Etc. Etc.
    That...but smart advertising, keeping in mind the audience. That means people shooting. Targets with great scores. Piegons exploding. Downplay the uniforms.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

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