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Thread: Start up costs

  1. #1
    jonk is offline
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    Start up costs

    One of the commonly stated reasons for lower participation is the formidable start up costs for a new shooter. Assuming they had to buy everything and started with just musket, I'd say they'd be looking at the following to do it on the cheap:

    Used European repro musket: $350
    Uniform: Varies a bit by team, but figure a shirt, pants, suspenders, and hat would run about $100 on the cheap. We'll assume that the new recruit has some hard leather shoes that could be used.
    Leathers: About $150 for serviceable ones, could be cheaper used, or more expensive for good ones.
    Mold: while the gun in question may dictate this, it would be $20-$100. Let's go to the middle of that for a decent new Lyman and say $75.
    Caps: one sleeve, $75.
    Powder: Figure at least 2-3 pounds for one gun, say $45.
    Lead: Figure at least 25 pounds at $1.65/lb. About $42.
    Lead melter and dipper. While an iron pot works and a recruit may or may not have a Coleman stove, let's assume they need this, and say about $80 for a larger Lee pot.
    Tubes: Figure $10 at least.
    Cleaning jag, nipple wrench, etc. Figure $30.
    Cleaning rod: $20
    Bullet sizer, lube, cheap volumetric powder measure, etc. $40 Minimum.
    Various other costs included, that's going to be a minimum of just over $1000, assuming no existing gear. That's being generous. For shooting one gun, on the cheap.

    Granted, many of these costs are one time purchases.

    Further, most units have some extra gear lying around to lend out for the first year or two.

    Still, the biggest costs of gun, caps, powder, tubes, lead, etc. are kind of non-negotiable, so a new recruit should be expecting to shell out at least $750 up front I'd say, unless they borrow guns and such as well.

    While that sounds like a LOT, consider... lots of people shell out half that much for the latest cell phone, for a few months worth of cable, etc.

    Of course, membership dues, gas, etc. aren't included.

    I'm just wondering, does anyone see a way to reduce this substantially in any fashion?

  2. #2
    Scott Lynch 1460V is offline Moderator
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    Start up costs

    I have a proposal that will be considered by the Board in January that will combine charitable giving, (of equipment), utilizing NMLRA and NRA certified firearms instructors, and out reach to youth groups such as 4-H, schools, churches, and the Scouts to put donated equipment into the hands of young people so that they can start shooting. The goal is to recruit new young members that can earn ownership of this equipment after completing a probationary period. This would be organized at the region level. Region commanders would appoint a trainer from their region to handle the distribution of equipment and firearms, and instruct new members on safe loading and preparation of ammunition. The association would advance money to the trainers to defray the cost of expendables, powder, caps cleaning equipment etc.

    Benefits include
    Tax deductible donations to the N-SSA
    Cleaning out those uniforms and equipment that magically shrink in the closet
    Making room in your safe for more stuff, (always a good thing)
    Getting young shooters and setting the hook, without them having to shell out lots of cash

    Scott Lynch
    Chesapeake Region Commander
    Property Management Committee Chair
    Finance Committee Chair

  3. #3
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    I think it would be very, very hard to uniform a Skirmisher for $100, even at the cheapest level. On the other hand, a lot of the bullet-making gear can be borrowed.

    The big thing is to get people trying the sport.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  4. #4
    RaiderANV's Avatar
    RaiderANV is offline
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    That sounds awesome Scott.

    See if they'll wave the N-SSA's initiation fee new members have to pay on top of the N-SSA's $80 dues plus whatever team dues there are also. At a time when membership is declining we should be glad people are joining and not charging them extra???
    Never squat with yer spurs on!!!

    Pat "PJ" Kelly #5795V
    Virginny & Texas
    540-878-8024

    MAYNARDS RULE!! & starr's DROOL!
    Hence the rust. MAYNARDAE LAUS DEO!

  5. #5
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    If you want to participate in the N-SSA you have to be willing to drop about $1000 to get started in the game and you have to be willing to spend about $1000 a year doing it.

    Here is a breakdown I posted once before in another thread:

    Cost Estimates

    Clothing
    Jean Cloth Trousers: $73
    Suspenders: $16
    Muslin Shirt: $18
    Brogans: $75
    Kepi: $29
    Belt: $18
    Cartridge Box: $58
    Cap Box: $20
    Belt Buckle: $9

    Total Uniform Cost: $316

    Firearm-related
    Pedersoli P1853 Enfield, new: $800
    100 .58 cal cartridge tubes: $11
    Cartridge Storage Box: $24.75
    Cleaning rod: $25

    Total Firearm-related cost: $860.75

    Total Cost: $1176.75

    You'll notice I did not include a coat or bayonet in the prices. If you want those add in some more money.

    Skirmish-related
    I was talking to my teammates a couple of weekends ago at the Eva skirmish and we agreed it costs about $250 to attend a weekend skirmish and shoot 3 guns. So not only does your family have to have the financial means to support that, they have to be willing to support that for one family member to have a good time for the weekend. I think this is insurmountable for a lot of families today. If the family is going to go blow $250 on a weekend's worth of entertainment it's going to have to be something the whole family can do. Put it this way - for less than the cost of one skirmish for myself I can get 4 season passes to 6 Flags over Georgia for my entire family.

    Here's a run-down of my typical costs to go to our most common skirmish site, Briarfield Iron Works. I drive my Class C RV to the event to stay in:

    $90 - Ammunition for 3 guns @ 100 round each
    $84 - Gas for 280 miles round trip @ 10 MPG @ $3/gallon
    $40 - Campsite fee
    $30 - Food
    $20 - Individual targets (Grand Aggregate)
    $35 - 3 team events @ $7 per team event
    ----
    $299 - Total

    Now this can be offset. Often a teammate stays with me in the RV and they chip in which defrays the cost. Also you could drive a regular automobile and spend half as much in gas, but then you will either need to stay in a hotel or primitive camp in a tent. Still you are probably looking at $200-$300 for the weekend.

    If you only shoot one firearm and stay in a tent you can cut your expenses to about $150.

    And again, this is just for one family member to go. If you bring your family, the cost goes up. But unless your children are old enough to shoot (and then the cost goes up some more), I can't see that most mommies are going to want to haul the kids to a skirmish so that they can babysit in the woods as opposed to babysitting at home. So I don't really see skirmishing as a family friendly activity unless your whole family shoots, and if they do you can figure another $50 per person in cost if they only shoot one gun. $100 or more per family member if they shoot 3 guns.

    If I were to go to a Nationals event, it would cost me about $400 in gasoline to drive my RV there and back. I have no idea what entry fees are at the Nationals, but I expect I'd be looking at over $700 to attend a Nationals, plus using up a week's worth of vacation. My wife doesn't get vacation, and both my kids are in elementary school anyway, so this would basically be an expensive vacation for myself. That's not really fair or justifiable for our situation.

    Dues are also expensive. With the latest increase in dues my membership renewal for our team was $100. Much of this is to pay to maintain a shooting range I will probably never visit. I don't really mind that so much but for other younger people who will likely never go to Nationals either it might be off-putting.

    Ideas to reduce cost
    One idea for reducing cost may be to expand upon the new concept of individual memberships, which now, as I understand it, are basically temporary until you can get yourself situated with a team (but I am fuzzy on the details). Perhaps an individual might want to come to a skirmish and only shoot one gun and only in the individual matches, then go home. Perhaps we even eliminate uniform requirements when shooting individual matches, at least during local skirmishes. Perhaps you even have a lower-cost, "individual-only" level of membership that prohibits team shooting and prohibits participation at National events.

    This trims a lot of expenses. First, you can just "day trip" the event - you show up Saturday morning, shoot your target with your (perhaps) one gun, and then go home. No uniform requirements eliminate a lot of start-up expense. Shooting individual only for one gun means you will probably shoot less than 25 rounds, which reduces ammo costs. Basically, if you already own the musket, for $40 or so you can spend the morning shooting with friends and maybe win a medal.

    The only downside to this approach is people will want to get their medals before they go home, so you'd have to have scoring done and individual medals ready to hand out by noon on Saturday. Typically they are handed out Sunday.

    This makes for a very low-cost way to participate in and try out the N-SSA. But being involved might "set the hook" for people to try more kinds of guns and maybe they will eat a hotdog while they watch the team shooting get underway, and get excited about that, too.

    Steve
    Last edited by Maillemaker; 11-20-2014 at 06:00 PM.

  6. #6
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    See if they'll wave the N-SSA's initiation fee new members have to pay on top of the N-SSA's $80 dues plus whatever team dues there are also. At a time when membership is declining we should be glad people are joining and not charging them extra???
    Yeah, I had forgotten about the "initiation fee". I think those are kinda cheesy. I get the idea is probably to incentivize people to not let their memberships lapse, but I don't think we should be trying to milk new people for an extra fee.

    Steve

  7. #7
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    Steve: that is a very interesting idea you are brewing. An expanded version of the individual membership where a shooter could come to a regional skirmish, shoot a single gun event and leave might well encourage some new shooters to come try the sport out. And as you pointed out if they really enjoy the game it might lead to shooting additional guns and skirmishes, perhaps team participation. I think that concept deserves serious consideration by the BOD. Just my two cents.
    Tom Montgomery, 14th MS

  8. #8
    Chris Sweeney is offline
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    Just as a reminder: NOTHING gets done by the BOD based on good ideas presented on the BB. If you're serious about an idea, you need to bring it to your unit andor regional commander so they can get it on the agenda. Lots of good ideas come here to die, because someone thinks someone else is gonna pick it up and run with it . . .
    Chris Sweeney
    Commander, 44th NYVI

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I differ... For OUR team...

    Cost to start as a new member:

    Dues: $80
    Musket: Borrowed Zuoave - Free. Purchase Zuoave - $300
    Pants: White painters pants, all loops, pockets, etc removed $20
    Shirt: S&S firearms any: $15
    Straw Hat: Dirty Billy - $30
    Leathers: Borrowed
    Caps: 1 sleeve $75
    Ammo: Made by teammate/mentor - Reimbursment for lead/powder. $50 year
    Cleaning Rod, etc: Borrowed from team - Free

    So start-up costs is anywhere from $200 to $500. Cheaper if you buy your caps 1 tin at a time...

    Y'all can make this as expensive or as cheap as you want for YOUR particular needs. But if you want to MAKE it expensive, then gold plate it. Is it CHEAP to skirmish? Nope. Nothing's cheap. Is it TOO expensive to skirmish? Depends on your income but go find a large caliber rifle for $300 and ammo for it that costs less than 30-cents a round anywhere...

    We need to stop thinking like Old Men that rue the good ole days of cheap supplies. Yup, I'm sure you bought that first car for a nickle, but it took you a month to save up that much. Tell a new-comer to shooting that it only costs $100 for a full weekend of shooting, camping, and good times and he'll more likely say "Wow! That's cheap". Look at it another way - How much does it cost to go to the movies for 90 minutes? In 'my day' you only paid $2 and watched 2 films, 3 shorts and they massaged your feet for you (LOL). But the current generation (or total new-comers) have a different perspective. They compare it to what other CURRENT past-times cost, not what you paid 10 years ago.

    Personally, I enjoy Skirmishing WAY TOO MUCH to be hindered by the costs. I make it as cheap as I can - I pick lead from the backstop, fixed up an old camper and left it at the fort so I can drive my 40MPG car instead of my 10MPG camper, bring my own food, buy powder in bulk, make my own shirts, and still shoot the same musket I started with. At the end of the day, a local skirmish ends up costing me about $200 (5 guns individuals and team events). Is that chump-change? Nope. Is it going to put me in the poor-house? Nope. Would I drop out if it cost $250 or $300? HELL NO!! I LOVE this stuff and the cost of owning and shooting my guns does not exceed my desire to use and enjoy them.

    My point is (BTW) that I believe COST is not the driving factor UNLESS you scare someone away by telling them it take $1000 before you pull your first trigger. Get them IN first, then slowly bleed them dry of all their money (LOL).

    As with all leisure activities, I believe the biggest factor is TIME. Too many young families are spending so much time on soccer, ballet, etc, that few have time for a whole weekend of shooting. I submit that we need to remind potential recruits with ONE GUN that its Sunday morning Team competition.... So come out Saturday night in your tent, then shoot Sunday morning and go home.... ONce they get hooked, they'll want more guns and to shoot more. (Didn't we all???)

    I also offer that we should ask OURSELVES what go us turned-on to skirmishing. Why would those reasons not apply to the current generation??? So, I'll make a new thread - Why did you become a skirmisher? How did you find out about N-SSA? How do we get that message to potential members.

    YMMV

    -Mike
    Mike 'Bootsie' Bodner
    Palmetto Sharpshooter's, Commander
    9996V

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Steve: that is a very interesting idea you are brewing. An expanded version of the individual membership where a shooter could come to a regional skirmish, shoot a single gun event and leave might well encourage some new shooters to come try the sport out. And as you pointed out if they really enjoy the game it might lead to shooting additional guns and skirmishes, perhaps team participation.
    Thanks, Tom. I've been trying to think of how we might get more "casual" shooters involved in a way that requires less financial commitment, yet still can "set the hook" with the thrill of competitive black powder shooting.

    It still hinges, though, on finding people who already own a Civil War-era black powder arm. I don't know how common that is. I thought about maybe allowing any kind of "black powder" arm, like (gasp) inlines and the like, but I don't see any way to fairly allow those. My thought was with the advent of primitive hunting seasons many hunters went out and bought modern BP arms to take advantage of the extended season. There's probably a lot more potential members out there with an inline sitting in the closet than a 3-band Enfields. But like I said I can't think of a way to make that work.

    So, you're limited to the people out there who already own a CW arm and a belt, cartridge box, and cap box.

    Another thought: Maybe you don't even require memberships at all for people who shoot individual only. Just make them pay a "non-member surcharge" at the gate. My medieval reenactment group (SCA) does this. You do not have to "pay to play". Anyone can attend events, but non-members pay a $3 surcharge. Their annual membership fee ($40) basically pays for itself if you go to one event a month. But you can't earn awards or hold office in the SCA unless you are a member. This is how they encourage membership. Maybe you let anyone come shoot individuals and charge a non-member fee. Or maybe you can sell "instant individual memberships" at local skirmishes. I don't know how this works out with safety and such though if you let anyone, possibly someone who has never shot before, just show up and start shooting without being a member and no oversight though.

    Steve

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