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Gunclub Membership Alternatives

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by GrandpasArms, May 30, 2013.

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  1. GrandpasArms

    GrandpasArms Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    872
    Location:
    About 40 miles west of Chicago, IL
    In my limited experience, clubs have two to three levels of shooters. The full members get the best prices and are often allowed to use the facilities during off hours. Shooting members pay more per round and are often not allowed to bring guests. Sometimes non-members are allowed who pay the most per round and sometimes a daily shooters fee.

    Some folks chose shooting memberships when they can because there seems to be a cost to being a full member that doesn't appeal to them. No, that cost isn't exclusively in dollars. It's in the many things expected of a full member that many shooters may prefer to avoid.

    ** One is the mandated labor. Yes, a member can often buy out, but only after the first year or two of servitude.

    ** Next are the politics. Of course a member can try to ignore the political environment, but it is very difficult.

    ** Then, there are meetings - often required.

    ** Finally, there is an expectation that members become familiar with how the various machines operate - and the responsibility for access keys.

    What would happen if all memberships were free of obligations to work and involvement in the operations of the venue? What if there was one level of membership and several levels of shooting fees – each based on the member’s projected volume of shooting? Each member would pre-purchase shooting rounds. No, the member would not pre-pay for the rounds, but a fee that would qualify her to purchase rounds in the future at a specific rate. For example: Club membership could be $100.00 per year. The cost to shoot a round of trap/skeet for that basic level of membership is $10.00. The member may purchase an advanced member card for, say, $50.00 (any time during the membership period) that would allow her to pay $7.00 per round. Another fee might be $100.00 and allow the shooter to purchase rounds for $5.00. And so on.

    Each member could assess for herself what level of member card to purchase (and when) based on the amount of shooting she plans do. Shooters could upgrade cards at any time in the membership period (1 year or multiple).Shooters could elect to join several clubs and buy special rates as they see fit.

    Would there be sufficient income from the memberships, the shooting-card fees, the rounds shot, and other activities to allow the club to pay outside services for maintenance and even staff? It could work – except in situations where current bylaws would prevent such a restructuring.

    This could be a profitable operating approach. But, is that a bad thing? What shooting club today wouldn't like to have a cash surplus every year? It seems an approach like this could increase levels of shooting without having to deal with the headaches associated with begging for volunteers and managing them . People who really enjoy manning a counter or pulling weeds could still do it – for pay (either as cash or one of the higher level cards that allow shooting at a lower cost per round). Everyone would buy in at the same rate and enjoy identical privileges – except for the actual price they pay for a round of shooting.

    As always memberships may revoked when a member violates any of the listed rules of the club. There could be a paid board to adjudicate potential problems. Keeping members away from machines may also reduce the liability from harm caused by improperly trained volunteers messing with dangerous equipment.

    It is far more efficient to manage employees than volunteers - and may actually be more profitable.
     
  2. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    9,417
    All the fixed costs of the club should be paid for with members dues. That is the best way to keep the price of shooting low. HMB
     
  3. alf174

    alf174 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    499
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    My club has a flat target price structure for all visitors; members and non-members pay the same. If you want to support the club, its $75 for an annual membership. No work time requirements, strictly voluntary. As a member, you can shoot practice anytime (except during ATA).
     
  4. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    4,348
    Location:
    Prairie State
    I don't see the difference between offering more expensive Full/Senior memberships and lower cost shooting memberships... typically those who shoot most pay more for the privilege of paying less per round... or having ancillary benefits... vs. an ala carte system - not saying it wouldn't work, just seems more complicated.

    Good volunteer labor is a valuable asset, but some seem reticent to enforce work requirements...

    We have one level of membership... if you shoot you work... patron members get a pass on hours...

    Jay
     
  5. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,475
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    With perhaps one exception, all the clubs in my area - central Pennsylvania - are member-owned. We pay dues ranging from $10 to $100 per year and have free access to the various shooting ranges on the club's 100 to 175 acres except the clay target ones, which are open to the public during shoots and where everyone, member or not, pays to shoot. Very few have a member discount at the clay target facilities but our dues are reasonable given the rest of the facilities available. Life memberships are an option after a specified number of years of annual membership and range from $300 to $700.

    Guests usually are permitted to use the "member-only" facilities on a one-time basis but one local club has banned non-members from doing anything but observing. They were charging $5.00 for one-day guest passes but there wasn't always someone around to enforce that rule and rather than allow a potential new member to find he/she liked the ranges for free (heaven forbid!), they did away with guests altogether.

    While it is hoped that members will pitch in to help run shoots or maintain ranges, it is not required and typically 10% of the members do 90% of the work. Politics can abound and do in many such organizations; all you can do is laugh at it. Some clubs' officers and directors drive you nuts with an attitude of "better to spend a buck to do something instead of a buck and a quarter to do it right" but again, all you can do is grin and bear it. That is the fifteen minutes of fame in their lives.

    Regardless of all of the above, we HAVE to support our local clubs via membership dues (I belong to three) or see them fold up one by one as the work becomes too much for the few who are doing it, offers from developers become too good to refuse or local ordinances bring about a forced closure. And just because it takes a vote by the membership to permit something like selling to a developer to happen, meeting rooms can be "stacked" with those in favor of such a move fairly easily. That's one reason why attending those often boring monthly meetings is important. I've been an officer and director of two clubs and sometimes had to scrounge bodies in order to have a quorum.

    Around here, we have no pay-to-shoot handgun and rifle ranges that I can think of. Gun clubs are the sole source of those facilities except for some state-owned public ranges; there, a valid hunting license affords you permission to shoot. But I'm told that some of the crazies you encounter at those ranges give you reason to belong to a gun club.

    Ed
     
  6. Leo

    Leo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    3,044
    I belong to several clubs. There is no multi tier membership, you are a member or you are not. Non members pay more per round but no other fees. Two require a certain amount of donated work hours, or you can pay extra to offset other costs. As it stands, about 10% of the members do almost all the work.

    The mistake we made years ago was to exempt retirees from the work hours/work payment. This was done to honor some of the old timers who started the club. Of course the club is aging. Now that costs (like insurance) and going through the roof, our revenues are going down and less and less people are working on maintenance and general operation. When there is so much work to be done and so little budget to work with, it is hard to listen to a bunch of guys who have discounted memberships, get out of their new Escalades only to sit around and complain about maintenance that is falling behind. It is not like $10 extra per month would harm them.
     
  7. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Raise the dues. HMB
     
  8. Tailbuster

    Tailbuster TS Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Messages:
    254
    Here are some of my thoughts. It's for you to decide to agree or not.

    I have found that clubs operate in various manners in regards to membership and work hours and although they differ, they seem to do just fine for their market area which is the ultimate goal.

    I also believe that every club has a smaller number of members that do most of the real work. The clubs are lucky to have them. Should they have slightly special privileges. I think so. You may not.

    Politics, as it is thrown around, occurs because (1)there are always differing opinions and 2)because there are always the guys that really do the work and planning and then there are the guys who always know how to do it better - but never do. If you want to be on the inside get in there and help out.

    I also believe that members of a club should have special advantages not bestowed to non-members. After all, members have to pay dues and usually do the work for the club. So, why on earth should non-members expect to pay the same price as a member for shooting rounds? Yes, I've heard your answers before but I don't really buy it.

    Having employees is a club decision based on finances and desires. Employees are expensive and although some clubs function well that way, it does soak up profits that the club might have for improvements etc. It's a club decision based on their size, finances, and goals.

    The other thing that I have learned is that in business you must not be afraid to raise fees. You are always afraid shooting will go down or you will lose half of your members or oh my goodness, everyone will complain. In the real world businesses must keep improving which costs money. Make no mistake- no matter your tax structure- your club is a business and should be treated that way. Your costs to do business (targets, insurance, taxes) will always increase and a failure to adjust to it is a critical mistake which will actually hurt your club in the long term because you are stagnant.

    I may have strayed a bit. Apologies.
     
  9. Ljutic111

    Ljutic111 TS Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,730
    You can`t compare clubs that have a small 20-25 member base to those with 500-1500 members or just a 2 trap club verses a full rifle, pistol (Indoor-outdoor) 5 stand and trap and skeet. Small clubs must have a working membership or they will some be out of business . Ours is a 25 member club 2 trap club with a 95% working membership that should be 100% . We also have had a 15 year lifetime membership with no dues, range duties or work involved but we work just the same, just no dues or duties .
     
  10. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    4,348
    Location:
    Prairie State
    Someone has to explain to me why rifle/pistol operations rarely have fees to their club members?! There are any number of perceived expenses which have to be dealt with, but most multi-discipline clubs just charge fees for their clay operations...

    Clays have more visible expenses, but many programs have maintenance expenses, nominal utility costs, etc. While a segment of folks might bitch, wouldn't a nominal cost of a $1-2/day to replace target stands, consumables used on the range or maintenance costs be understood and appreciated...

    We price our clay-only operations to be profitable based upon our range fees. Dues cover capital expenditures, not daily operating...

    Like American Express... membership has its rewards, but they come with a few responsibilities...

    regards all,

    jay
     
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