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Thread: NSSA going forward

  1. #1
    PoorJack is offline
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    NSSA going forward

    This thread is an offshoot of the one about old members. What can we do to grow? I've got a couple suggestions and observations.

    1) Let's compare the number of members on the rolls to the number of members active on this forum and/or social media. It's pitiful. Of the folks registered on this forum, not everyone is a member of the NSSA and there are some registered who only come here to sell guns and stuff. We have a very low participation rate. It needs to change and the way it will is through new members who use electronic media. Our board needs a subforum for NSSA MEMBERS ONLY that can be seen only by members where we can speak very frankly without worry about public image. This isn't hard to do. Other forums have them, why can't we?

    2) Skirmish Line content. Take off the rose colored glasses and take a hard look at our rag. As I see it, we have the Poohbah Gallery (BoD et al comment columns), Nationals scores, Obituarys. Nearly zero other content. For a new member, it would be very helpful to have content on shooting technique, casting, gunsmithing, history, and other CW shooting interest stuff. From what I've heard from the old timers, it used to. Why not now? Even if you don't have a current submission, there's a wealth of stuff that could be reprinted for the new guys to learn from. The staff could also be a bit more responsive as well. I submitted an article that hasn't run yet and it was over a week after I submitted the article before I heard from anyone. I submitted the same article, same day to the NMLRA Muzzle Blasts and heard back the next day. Go figure, I got more response from the NMLRA than my own organiztion, the NSSA.

    3) On uniforms. I'm completely ok with keeping uniforms in the picture, but let's not get into the "thread counter/farby" food fight that reenactors do. We are a COMPETITIVE SHOOTING organization that happens to shoot ACW firearms. I like the uniforms but I'm not going to get wrapped up in some new guy having something that looks farby so long as he's on the line shooting. His kit can improve later. We need members NOW. And yeah, if the SASS cowboys can dress appropriately, so can we. If we get reenactors or former reenactors as members, then the uniform issue goes completely away. Just sayin. One other angle to look at this, we shoot in a number of different categories. The unit a given team is named for most likely did not ever shoot some of the types of guns the team does.

    4) I'm biased on this one, I'll freely admit it. We need to get youth involved in shooting black powder guns. Part of the idea of the youth program this summer working with the Scouts and others in the future is a direct action taken on this subject. Of the Scouts/Scouters we worked with, NOT ONE knew of us, not the "instructors" at the camp, nor the guy who gave us our instructor training for certification. That cannot be allowed to continue. We can't keep playing "Where's Waldo" in the shooting sports world. In my many, many conversations with shooting sports directors, NMLRA members, TMA members, and other black powder shooting sports guys, very very few knew anything at all about us! And that's with folks in OUR part of the shooting sports world. Another example, if you'll take a look at the Rifle Shooting Merit Badge pamphlet for the BSA in the muzzle loading section, you'll see a Scout handling a Springfield musket. If you review the requirements, they aren't allowed at a Merit Badge only session (not camp sessions) to use anything other than a 50 or 45cal gun. Say What? Who wrote that? I know who. I've spoken to him and I know why. It's up for review next January as a result of our conversation, as will a mention of NSSA competition in that section of the pamphlet. All it takes to initiate change is to speak up and act.

    So I'm right in there with Rob on we need to make a bunch of changes and we have a lot of work to do in order to survive long term. Some toes will be trod upon, but we can't continue as in the past.
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
    Rudyard Kipling

  2. #2
    Lou Lou Lou is online now
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    I agree that uniforms are not an issue. Three of my units new recruit this year had complete uniforms before signing up.
    A lot can be said for actively recruiting , even in anti gun NYS
    Lou Lou Lou Ruggiero
    Tammany Regt-42nd NYVI

  3. #3
    PapaRob is offline
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    I posted this on the other discussion too

    I can only relate as to what we as a new team do to get recruits and that is use every avenue/venue or anything else we can think of....there's no trick to this, it's work plain and simple, and you have to have a passion for doing it and that will come through in all the ways you do recruiting. Also we are very happy to help new people find other teams if we aren't their cup o' tea and we very actively do this.

    We have a team philosophy of "We don't give a damn how well you shoot as long as you are safe doing it. If you want to get better at it you will, if you don't, you won't. Just have fun.".

    Other "things" we have in place for new guys is a set of easy and affordable resources for them to get what they need to do this, that includes uniforms, weapons, accessories etc. We have put together a paper/form/whatever the hell you want to call it of easy to find places and what to ask for at each one and all of it with an eye towards affordability. Are we tough on the uniform thing? Kinda, but we aren't stitch nazis or thread counters. We don't find the uniform to be a detriment at all, just the opposite as a matter of fact.

    We have an online/electronic presence which also tends to be a point of communication for our members. This is the 21st century and we use the tools available to us for coordinating, recruiting, and quite frankly showing some pride.

    All of us that were members before have loaners of all kinds of things that new guys can use to see if it's something they want to do. Most of us have no "safe queens" that we won't let someone use to give it a go.

    We are approachable (too many out there seriously need to work on this), friendly and we LISTEN to them and their concerns and don't ever outright dismiss them. (btw this happens way too often out there)

    We regard our team members as the family we choose and that's how we gauge recruits. If you won't fit into our "family" you won't be in the 48th Va, period. We'll help ya find someone you will fit with though without rancor or heartburn.

    We make teaching the Arts of shooting these weapons ie bullet molding and making, a TEAM activity. Nobody gets set out on an island to "figure it out" for themselves.

    We will NOT put anyone on the firing line until they have passed our safety instruction and can meet our safety standards. If someone on the 48th has not been thoroughly checked out by us they won't fire a shot in a skirmish until they do pass our requirements and at their first skirmish one of us old sweats will be standing behind them to keep them calm and safe. No exceptions. We have been called "Mother Hens" because of this and you know what? We take pride in that.

    We march. In the 48th unless you have a medical condition, at Nationals you march or you don't shoot, period. Why do we do this? because after you boil it all down this is about Remembrance of the people who did this for real and this is one way we honor their memory. Funny how quickly all the bellyaching and bitching about marching goes away once we begin our march too.

    Are we successful in our efforts? Time will tell I suppose, but we have 16 members (potentially more after Nationals) only 5 of which had ever skirmished before so I think thus far we are doing alright.

    Rob
    R. Harrison
    Commander
    48th Virginia Infantry
    "Mountain Boomers"
    PSALMS 144 1-9

  4. #4
    jonk is offline
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    I agree, that despite the new focus on advertising and such, we are still a very much unheard of organization. Then again, I think that if you are tacti-cool black gun sort, you probably have never heard of the NMLRA or whatever either.

    The way I see it, we bent over backwards to try to get re-enactors, and have tried many times. While some have joined us (and vice versa) I know I have ZERO interest in re-enacting. Different interest in the history side of things. I also don't have time. Some folks enjoy hauling around an A frame tent and full period dress and sleeping in hay. I don't. Some folks don't want to shoot live ammo. I do.

    My point is, I think we have to get away from the temptation that re-enactors are a solve-all to our problems. They have guns and uniforms. That's hard to let go. But let's let it go. We've been barking up that tree for decades and it has yielded a handful of members. I'm not saying not to tell them we exist or invite them to come observe. Do so, absolutely. Just give up on the idea that they will join our ranks en masse.

    I think we need to focus more on people who enjoy competitive shooting first and foremost. Whether that is high power, sporting clays, cowboy action, bench rest, you name it. They have the drive to come out and SHOOT, we can help them get the rest going later on.

    As to the idea that not enough members use the board here... guys I hate to tell you this. I'm 40. Even for me bulletin boards on the internet are soo1990s. This isn't cutting edge tech that will attract milennials or even guys and gals in their 30s.

    We have facebook pages. This is good. Do we have a twitter feed? I don't tweet, I don't know. If we don't, we ought to get into that game too. It's free. Do we have banner ads on Midwayusa or Brownells or whatever? I don't think so. I've never seen one.

    As to the skirmish line... if you love it great. I'm of the mentality myself, "Let it die." At least in book format, published. As pointed out, it is largely a series of announcements and stats. Stuff that could be posted online or distributed as a simple mass-photocopied format. That we publish a magazine with little interesting content also isn't interesting to new recruits. It costs a lot. That money could be diverted to other more useful marketing avenues.

    I don't know what background the marketing people in the N-SSA have. For my part I would suggest getting some college marketing major interested in an internship and see if they could sell us. Cheap, provides real world experience. Or price out proper marketing firms on how we can brand ourselves and make ourselves known.

    Sad fact of the matter is, a lot of guys in the organization, while some of the most friendly people I have met, LIKE us being fairly low key. They are of the mentality that "if you build it they will come." I.e., if someone wants to join us as we are, great, but let's not make any real effort past word of mouth or a few booths at gun shows (which are great, btw, but only a small step).

    Have we considered hosting an NMLRA or Cowboy Action shoot at the Fort? Get some volunteers to shoot against them at breakables, on paper, whatever. Let them handle our guns under supervision. Do we advertise in the SASS publications? Etc.

    All this takes time and know-how and money. A second sad fact is that those of us with time likely don't have the know-how. Those of us with know-how are likely working and don't have time. And we have limited money.

    No solutions, just thoughts.

  5. #5
    PoorJack is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonk View Post
    Sad fact of the matter is, a lot of guys in the organization, while some of the most friendly people I have met, LIKE us being fairly low key. They are of the mentality that "if you build it they will come." I.e., if someone wants to join us as we are, great, but let's not make any real effort past word of mouth or a few booths at gun shows (which are great, btw, but only a small step).

    Have we considered hosting an NMLRA or Cowboy Action shoot at the Fort? Get some volunteers to shoot against them at breakables, on paper, whatever. Let them handle our guns under supervision. Do we advertise in the SASS publications? Etc.
    I agree with this idea and I'll take it one further. In the Scouting world, lawyers have intervened in the shooting sports to the point of many Scouters are afraid to do anything. As a result, the number of approved ranges for Scout use is often an impediment to getting a troop shoot organized. We should get the Fort approved so Scouts can shoot there as well. Let the local councils hold camporees there, even while a regional is going on. There's method to this idea, Scouts and adults will see how Skirmishing works, they'll get to camp onsite, and we can even put on an artillery demo for them in the evening. That's something they can't get anywhere else.

    I'll also carry that one further. I've spoken with the National Shooting Sports Director for the Royal Rangers, a church based youth org paralleling the BSA. He knew nothing of us and invited us to their week long event at their home facility in Missouri to instruct in muzzleloading that entire week, advertise and run a booth, and to put on shooting demos with all the stuff we compete with including live artillery fire. We'd be interacting with people from all over the country and even other parts of the world. Royal Rangers is currently second only to the Boy Scouts in size, think that one through.

    As for NMLRA, from what I've heard, our BoD gave them a cold shoulder a while back and there hasn't been much high level contact since. Here's a radical idea- let's seriously consider either a merge or a partnering with the NMLRA. They have nearly identical interests in muzzleloading. They are about 4x our size and I'd say a sight better organized. Their range problem is their big shoot is in Friendship, Indianna and that's a serious hike for anyone much past NC. Other positives, they also are connected/partnered with the NRA. If we combine Skirmish Line with Muzzle Blasts, we add our content (such as it is) and gain a much wider audience, hence recognition (an incentive to improve!). We also gain more of a "seat at the table" for working with youth shooting sports.

    One more radical thought, the NRA at one time wanted to set up youth 22lr shooting at the Fort but it was also turned down for whatever reason. WHY? If the NRA ran an annual youth shooting event at the Fort, then there is a premier level shooting venue that people who would otherwise never, ever heard of us will now know about. If we allow the NRA to host this type of event, we should get a quid pro quo and gain exposure and publicity from the NRA, win/win.

    We have some serious systemic problems that need to be addressed guys and only a dialogue like this will get this ball rolling.


    PapaRob- great work my friend, keep it up!
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
    Rudyard Kipling

  6. #6
    P.Altland is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorJack View Post

    One more radical thought, the NRA at one time wanted to set up youth 22lr shooting at the Fort but it was also turned down for whatever reason. WHY? If the NRA ran an annual youth shooting event at the Fort, then there is a premier level shooting venue that people who would otherwise never, ever heard of us will now know about. If we allow the NRA to host this type of event, we should get a quid pro quo and gain exposure and publicity from the NRA, win/win.


    PapaRob- great work my friend, keep it up!
    Probably because BBs won?t fly a mile over the backstop if someone accidentally skies a round.


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    21st Va. Md Guard Co. B

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonk View Post

    ...My point is, I think we have to get away from the temptation that re-enactors are a solve-all to our problems. They have guns and uniforms. That's hard to let go. But let's let it go. We've been barking up that tree for decades and it has yielded a handful of members. I'm not saying not to tell them we exist or invite them to come observe. Do so, absolutely. Just give up on the idea that they will join our ranks en masse.

    I think we need to focus more on people who enjoy competitive shooting first and foremost. Whether that is high power, sporting clays, cowboy action, bench rest, you name it. They have the drive to come out and SHOOT, we can help them get the rest going later on.
    ...

    ..Have we considered hosting an NMLRA or Cowboy Action shoot at the Fort? Get some volunteers to shoot against them at breakables, on paper, whatever. Let them handle our guns under supervision. Do we advertise in the SASS publications? Etc.

    .
    Concur 100% with your assessment that chasing reenactors is a dead end.

    WRT the NMLRA, many Skirmishers are members of both organizations already.

    WRT the CAS crowd, we had some at the 100th Nationals. They found the standard of marksmanship too demanding.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  8. #8
    PoorJack is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by P.Altland View Post
    Probably because BBs won?t fly a mile over the backstop if someone accidentally skies a round.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    And a cannon ball won't?

    Here's how an NRA Smallbore Youth match works. The NRA organizes, promotes and conducts the event. The event is run by their rules and procedures right down to the ratio of shooters to RSOs, coaches and instructors. Before the event can occur, a Waiver of Subrogation is signed by the NRA meaning their insurance is in force and they are responsible for the duration of the event.

    So with those facts in mind, again, if the NRA/NMLRA are willing to put cash into range improvements, why aren't we even exploring this?

    Back to the liability issue, we as an organization face far more liability from allowing guests to shoot in any form than from any outside organization using our range.
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
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  9. #9
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    I don't think uniforms are a fundamental aspect of what we do and I would not want to see that change. In the Deep South Region, there is no "thread counter" attitude. I suspect most of us buy our goods from "mainstream" sutlers like S&S firearms. I do have some high-end things like a hand/machine sewn Charlie Childs coat and a quality kepi. The shirts and pants and suspenders I wear are all sutler-row stuff. Nobody around here cares.

    I suspect there is a set of people who might find our kind of competition interesting but find the "dress-up" aspect of the hobby off-putting. I don't see any need to pursue this crowd.

    Interestingly, Friendship, Indiana is about half the distance to the Deep South Region as Winchester, Virginia is. 350 miles vs. 650 miles.

    I like BBS formats such as this. Media like Facebook is a terrible format for conversations and it is not really designed for them. It's more of a broadcast media. So is Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. The thing is if you don't have subscribers then there is no point in broadcasting as nobody hears it. And companies like Google/YouTube deliberately age-restrict any firearm-related content which means if you are not logged in (as an adult) it won't show up in any search results.

    Maybe you can buy targeted advertisements from facebook to hit our demographic?

    Steve

  10. #10
    P.Altland is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorJack View Post
    And a cannon ball won't?
    Doubtful with the powder charge restriction set by the N-SSA.
    But, a 22LR will absolutely travel 1.5 miles and there are houses well within that range.



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