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Do Gun clubs work better as a democracy or dictate

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by short shucker, Jan 16, 2010.

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  1. short shucker

    short shucker TS Member

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    Do gun clubs work better as a Democracy or Dictatorship?

    One of the local gun clubs elected a new group of officers last year. The new group of officers went about making wholesale changes to the club to benefit their interests.

    Well, 1 year later the club is bankrupt and membership is at an alltime low. One of the longtime members has offered to step in and "bail" out the club, but wants new board members elected and by-laws changed so that the club won't be put in this position again.

    As the by-laws are written now, an elected officer can't be removed before his/her term is up (2 yrs) unless convicted of a felony or has their gun rights revoked.

    Basically it has come down to the rifle shooters (the ones in power now) and the shotgun crowd (who is/was responcible for about 70% of the clubs income).

    The gentleman who's offering to bail the club out doesn't want to be an officer because he doesn't want there to be a conflict of interest. He just wants a system of checks and balances put in place so this won't happen again.

    I'm sure this isn't the first time this has happened and I was wanting some input on how to resolve this issue. Nobody wants the club to shut down, but it will if something isn't done quickley.

    ss
     
  2. jdsfarms

    jdsfarms Well-Known Member

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    That's why a democracy is better and by-law or policy can be changed by a motion and second from any member and a majority vote problem solved if you have the majority.Jerry
     
  3. Tron

    Tron Supporting Vendor Banned Supporting Vendor

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    They work much better if there is a designated club manager (paid manager is better) or owner. If a club is left for the members/volunteers to run, there is a very high burn out rate and the clubs quality tends to be very inconsistant....sometimes very good, sometimes VERY bad. The bad times can put a once great club out of business.

    Just my experience.
     
  4. TIPPEDWAD

    TIPPEDWAD TS Member

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    Having been involved in a Board of Directors for many years from Recording
    Secretary to President, I would offer the opinion that you need some of each
    along with a well thought out set of By-laws. If a club is a "multi-activity"
    body, Rifle, trap, pistol, archery etc) different factions will want to advance
    their agendas and need to be tempered with the over-all good of the order in
    mind,and yet not with an iron fist that disallows progress. When it is all said and done though, the By-laws must prevail, and it needs to be tough enough
    to change or amend those By-laws so that effort and a cooling off period are
    involved.



    Whit Haselton
     
  5. R.Kipling

    R.Kipling Well-Known Member

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    Actually, it's been my 45 year experience with gun clubs that they work better as a Republic, with elected/appointed representatives from each shooting discipline that is available at the club.

    Bi-laws that mandate equal powers will help keep things on a more even footing. Volunteers are motivated people, too often self-motivated. If your club is like those I belong to, 20% of the members do 80% of the work. That can breed an entitlement feeling. If you can't count yourself in that 20%, spending even a few minutes on the smallest of obvious projects, before or after your shooting day, goes a long way in reducing the conflicts. Crossing disciplines with your efforts goes even farther.

    The Izaak Walton League used to offer a guide and manual for clubs with volunteer leadership, it is a very good guide that could help your BOD understand what they've done, what they are facing, and how to repair the damage. Beyond that, it could also be of huge benefit to your new BOD.

    IMHO.
    Kip
     
  6. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    A couple of observations here.

    We can not institute any bylaw changes without a vote of the membership at a general meeting, and it has to have been published in a newsletter beforehand. Every menber has a voice in bylaw changes if he chooses to exercise it.

    Our board members have 2 or 3 years terms. a 2 year term is for a replacement director installed becuase of death, resignaton, job transfer, etc. The way it works is that approximately 1/3 of the directors are replaced each year. there are 15 directors. Every December there is a general meeting with an election, and the executive positions are always a one year term. This includes Prez, VP,Secretary, and Treasurer.

    We are a skeet/trap club, and we throw a couple million or a little less targets a year.

    Yes, 20% do most of it. And they burn out, and new ones have to be cultivated.

    IF you want to have an income instead of starving you need to do 2 things.

    Promote league shooting 2 or 3 nights a week.

    Sell beer.

    They go hand in hand. There are a host of shooters who shoot with their pals once a week, and that's all they do. They playcards and drink beer after shooting, and the club enjoys a decent income because of it.

    Registered shooting waxes and wanes with the desire of those running those programs, and is not a dependable source of income.

    So far it has worked, with the predictable ups and downs, since The 1950's.

    HM
     
  7. slayer

    slayer Well-Known Member

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    i am a member of a very successful club of 400 or so members. Halfmile is right about the beer. This is the one difference between our club and others locally that don't do so well. I have heard our membership referred to as a "bunch of drunks", but we are who they come to , hat in hand , when they need financial assistance. if your club is one that members feel they can come to to get away from everyday hassles, financial success will follow. If members feel a kinship there, they will work to make sure of it's survival. Bill in MI
     
  8. Robb

    Robb Member

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    A board is fine but there has to be one boss. His being the final word.

    Vote for the board and they hire a manager. IMO.
     
  9. Kingbang

    Kingbang TS Member

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    2 1/2 years ago when I was elected pres I changed the club's direction to multi venue,but still only shotgun sports.We were just trap. Now we can throw 7 different shooting sports. We then cultivated board members to committee chairs for each of the four major shooting sports with the other 3 sports under one of the "major's" umbrella. These 4 chairs are very well accomplished in each of thier areas of responsibility. There are other committees, financial and now planning,youth and communications. All these committee chairs then went out and recruited members to be on these committees.Its worked GREAT! We now are "grooming" members to be directors.The directors are no longer carrying all the load. These "standing" committees will also allow for smoother and better organized meetings, BIG PLUS.They also serve the club well in elections. For instance if a director who is the communications chair is not going to run again,the membership will know that that position will require skills and a desire to do that job.
    The new pres is taking this to an even more organized format that will continue to facilitate organization and move us to a "masterplan" that is being developed.
    This is working well for us. we have 13 trap field,2 skeet,2 5 stand 10 station sporting clays,wobble international wobble and chinese trap (more of a game.Not a huge club by any means,but it does require organization and communication to run effenciently. We have bumps, but its a far cry from the chaos of the past.
    My 2 cents.

    Dennis
     
  10. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    Clubs run when a few folks have a clear vision of the mission and do what it takes to get the job done. Another handful are the the support folks who once given good direction, can work un supervised to finish needed tasks and the rest are the schmoes who sometimes show up and need supervision to get the most basic tasks finished.

    Most not-for-profits can oust a loser, especially if there was negligence in running the club... putting the club in poor financial shape can be a D&O issue...

    Recheck the by-laws, maybe you can construe a felony, the way the club was run down!

    regards,

    jay
     
  11. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The two clubs I'm a member of is strictly a democracy.

    But, you cannot have a democracy when running events. Someone must be in charge and have the final word, and it's their responsibility to follow club policy and rules and enforce them fairly but firmly.
     
  12. chiefjon

    chiefjon Active Member

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    Some may know this, but, the Sacramento Trap Club (est. in about 1915) is completely out of business. The dictator that ran the club is being prosecuted for the theft of about $65,000.00 in club assets. On the line, safety takes a hard hand...but, as the club operates having as much member involvement as possible is a must.

    JON
     
  13. VNVET

    VNVET Member

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    This is a great question that has my interest since our club is a membership club and rely on volunteers, those that volunteer have taken over the club because they attend all the meeting where issues are voted on and they usually have the majority and the vote goes their way. Because everyone else is PO'd over the control issue and the constant bickering at the meetings, no-one attends the meetings and therefore no support for me as President, I can't get anything changed. The Board is 3 to 1 so their's no help there. If there's money in the bank account, what can we spend it on is the thinking of the power group. Spending can be good if it means throwing more targets, but giving away huge added money for a shoot that nets $75 over three days is a looser when you count the lose of revenue from the casual shooter who would have been shooting if the club were not closed for the shoot.

    Jim
     
  14. Kingbang

    Kingbang TS Member

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    Jim,
    You can set up your own committees.Set a planning committee and a finance committee. No project gets to the board without the approval of the planning group and then the finance group has to bless how its paid for.
    If the project wont pencil out it don't go befor the board.This stops knee jerk projects.It requires a complete plan including how its going to be paid for and WHATS THE BENEFIT to the membership. Pet project that benefit the few will all but stop.
    Unless your bylaws say otherwise you as president can do this.
    I fought through some of these issues as well. It took a year to get a board in place. You need to have a vision and set a direction for the vision. Its the boards job to get to the destination. The good of the club has to come first. All directors need to check thier ego's at the door. The membership elected you right? go get them to support you.

    Dennis
     
  15. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

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    RE: Well, 1 year later the club is bankrupt and membership is at an alltime low.

    My first thought on reading this. I find it hard to beleave that in only one year the club is bankrupt. I suspect problems started well before the election. A serious look at the books is a must....
     
  16. Barry C. Roach

    Barry C. Roach Well-Known Member

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    Republic. If you have a manager you have to let him/her have their head.
     
  17. smifshot

    smifshot TS Member

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  18. short shucker

    short shucker TS Member

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    Thanks one and all for your help! We had an emergency meeting last night and got the ball rolling on saving the club. We were able to have all the present officers and over 80% of the eligible membership on hand, I haven't seen this many people at the club at the same time in years.

    We laid the outline for what we'd all like to see and made arrangements to payoff all outstanding debts. The gentleman that offered to pay off all the debt, and provide a little capitol, did so as a gift to the club. The membership even voted him in overwhelmingly to chair the new board. He really didn't want to, but agree'd until things get going (He owns two very successful companies so I think his plate is a little full).

    The board is going to consist of 3 people from each membership (shotgun and rifle) with the 7th being the chair (has to belong to both memberships). One person from each for treasury purposes and minutes.

    It seems as if things were a little more urgent than what I was led to believe. The club had until the end of the month to get its affairs in order or it was going to be in a lot of trouble, financially.

    This club had been operating just fine for over 60 years and this was the first major crisis in the clubs history. It's always operated as "you raise the money, you can have it" type of club.

    The shotgun side of the club has always been active in raising money for improvements and free shoots. The rifle shooters weren't as active so their accomodations weren't as nice so this had created some resentment within the ranks. Club income was very one sided (75/25) so it was always a big issue when it was budget time for yearly club improvements.

    What created this mess was one of the newer members (of 2yrs) offered to loan the club enough money to build a small clubhouse and new benches for the rifle range. He said the club could pay him back "whenever" they had the funds to do so. That wasn't quite how the legal document was written, but the officers didn't bother to have it looked at. It seems as if the "loan" could be called in on a moments notice. Long story short, he called the loan.

    This guy didn't really want the money, he wanted to leverage the loan to become President of the club. Sort of a hostile takeover so to speak. He had his own agenda and thoughts about how the club ought to be ran.

    He's paid off now and has been excused from the club. The membership also voted to refund any and all money for memberships where people were "misled" into how things were going to be. A new set of by-laws are going to be written by the council and approved/disapproved by the membership. This is going to take a while, but nobody wants anything bad like this to ever happen again.

    The best part of this whole mess is what came after the meeting. It seems as if the guy that "lent" the money to the club was heavily indebted to the brother of the gentleman that bailed out the club (some sort of business dealings). I guess his brother is going to call the loan Monday effectively putting the guy out of business. Good Karma here folks.

    Sorry for being so long winded. I appologize if I forgot to mention something as I'm not a very fast typer(this took a while to compose).

    Thanks again for all the suggestions and PM's!

    ss
     
  19. cbxchris

    cbxchris Active Member

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    I am the member of a club in NC that has without a doubt stunted the growth of trap/skeet a great deal. The board is elected in segments so no new complete board can be installed at once. No mail in ballots. Attendance to the election is a must. Board members are elected at large so its possible to get a complete group not sympathetic to other shooting sports. Basically in the end the BOD has rented out the skeet,trap,5 stand and SC course to one man(who is one the board) to run as his private personal income source. Setting rates,letting non member friends shoot for free and/or at member prices. He pays 300 dollars a month to lease a 6 field club which includes the SC and 5 stand course. Most of the serious shooters in all shotgun sports have left for greener pastures. The 'manager" will not even report how much money he makes or how many targets he throws. leaving the shotgun end open to the public is the only way it has survived so far. No NSSA or ATA events have been held for years. Might be the "manager" owes those organizations for past events? He does. Whats really sad until a few age out nothing will change. Its just not possible with the club rules to vote enough of em out at one time to change the course of this club. People have just given up and its just a sad sad thing to see.

    So, as you see club rules can also stop a attempt to save a club as much as they can doom it.
     
  20. Kingbang

    Kingbang TS Member

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    Best of luck and keep the good momentum rolling!!!

    Dennis
     
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