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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm 45 years old and have been shooting shotguns on and off for the past 15 years. I recently joined 2 clubs so my 13yr old son and I can do some shooting together. We both enjoy trap, skeet, sporting clays, and 5 stand. Both clubs have been around for at least 50yrs and the "regulars" at each club say that the membership is down. Also, I don't see many kids at these clubs. Is the shotgun sports seeing a decline in interest nation wide? If so, what are some of the reasons????
 

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Lots of reasons. First, with wages stagnant or falling over the last 20 years, there just isn't the disposable income that there used to be. Next, kids don't get or even ask for a BB gun when they are 8 years old and a lot of parents buy into that "guns are bad" mentality that is sweeping the world. Instead, our nation is raising useless, pathetic couch potatoes that may be great around video games and computers, but utterly useless otherwise. It's not just guns either! They are not taught in middle or high school how to use shop equipment like mills, lathes, band saws.....etc., because of our sue happy out of control legal system.

We are in BIG TROUBLE if there's another major war!!!
 

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What Tron said, and have you looked at the price of shells lately ?

At over 5 bucks a box, even on sale cheap ones, factor in the cost of a round, and you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 bucks...Not hard to understand nowadays .
 

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Another aspect is to look at family size and make-up. Pre Birth Control days, families would be Father, Mother, and three, four or more children. Post birth control family size might be Father (maybe), Mother and one or two children (maybe) . A lower number of infants born each generation of those in a financial position as to allow family activities then compared to lower income, more working hours, fewer children, higher taxes, more costly regulations all combine to reduce the number of potential shooters. Couple this with the ease of just plunking the kid (notice singular) down in front of the Playstation, X-box or PC as a baby sitter and the effect is cumulative. Fewer potential members equals even fewer actual members. Then combine that with the "work ethic" of previous generations to volunteer to help the club function versus the more modern "I pay my dues and I should enjoy all the benefits." attitude and you can see clubs having less available services to offer members which, again in turn, reduces the desire to join a club and work to improve it.

The situation is also compounded by those who do have the babies often times not being able (or even considering the needs) to actually support the children they bring into the world, instead relying on YOU to pay their kids needs via increased taxes and charity campaigns. That also would reduce YOUR available funds for shooting or other such recreational activities.

This last aspect of "I paid my dues" attitude is shown in one example by club elections of officers. How many people were even willing to accept a position for a club officer or similar position the last time you had an election and how many, if any, were of the "grey hair brigade" compared to the 20 or 30 year olds of say 30 years ago that formed the core membership of a club?
 

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It's not the cost of targets, shells, or any other excuses. It's just the efforts we make (or don't make) to promote trap shooting. I think some folks in Minnesota figured out how to do it:


One of the article’s main focuses is the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Championship. And this one competition in and of itself shows exactly how fast high schoolers’ interest in shooting sports has blossomed:

In 2009, the contest’s first year, it drew 30 shooters. In June there were 5,134, more than 20,000 spectators and sponsors including Benelli Armi SpA and SKB Shotguns. Trap shooting is the fastest-growing sport in Minnesota high schools, and was recently introduced in neighboring Wisconsin and North Dakota.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune from a year ago also noted traps growing popularity with teens, as well. In fact, it points out, shooting sports have more prep participants now than hockey in the Gopher State!:

...so many kids are involved that about 1,800 were turned away this year, because of a capacity shortage at ranges. A recently approved $2 million legislative grant program is intended to help alleviate the deficiency.
 

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Agree, politics of guns has driven away many. True, price of fuel drives up everything, but I think the demand and shortages (powder and shot) placed against our shooting resources and reduced number of shooting facilities has also played very big. Don't forget other shooting disciplines have grown in spite of the decline of trapshooting.

Inflation effects us all differently because of factors of time and disposable income. Our point of reference is often tied to when we started. In my case, I started in 1972 when

AA's were $3.00 a box
Targets $2.00 a round of 25
Shot for reloading $6.00
Price of 100 targets for a singles event $15.00 ( not counting fees, options and purses)
Imported high end o/u trap gun $ 2000.00
A gallon of gas at 35 cents

Since 1972 the inflation factor according to most inflation calculators is 467.2 percent meaning $20.00 then bought what $113.85 does today. The items listed above should cost today:

AA's $$17.08 a box
A round of 25 targets $11.38
Shot for reloading $35.15
A singles event of 100 birds for the targets $85.39
Imported high end o/u trap gun $11385.00
A gallon of gas $1.99

A few cost increases have been less some more, than what would be expected if all things were equal.

In 1995, I could by a box of AA's for $4.97 a box. Today that cost should be $7.76 with a 56.1% inflation rate between 1995 and 2015. As we all know retail price for AA's is around $10.00 a box, yet my local WalMart sells them for 7.87.

The club I belong to increased it's membership from 500 to 1000 about 20 years ago and has a 3 year waiting list of about 300. Denver has lost at least 4 shooting facilities since I started in 72. We have asked our club to sell "trap only" memberships but the BOD has killed this idea every time it is presented. Lack of parking is often the reason, but the trapshooting is the only discipline that generates revenue whenever a person participates. There is no revenue generated when other members come out to practice or sight in.
 
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We live in Mass. just north of Boston, and the clubs I belong to membership is UP, and at the one I am most active in, we capped new members to 20 per month and we are doing that most every month. We charge $2.50/round of trap, and there is a good turnout and we offer "Intro Classes" to trap, skeet & 5 stand and those classes are full. I am seeing a younger average age and we offer a youth safety class once a month (required for kids to shoot and be on active ranges with parent) and that class is usually full. May just be a regional thing. Steve
 

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Little effort to go after bird hunters.

A couple clubs I shoot at have yearly fun shoots directed towards hunters, to include shooting out of a boat and blinds. Clubs always end up selling memberships and picking up new shooters. If I hear one more time from one of the attendees that he lives 30 minutes from the club and didn't know it was their.....

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Fewer and fewer clubs offering fun shoots and/or league shooting.

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Set days a week (and set hours) is not today's life style.

Put in coin operated machines and/or target keys and let members visit the club seven days a week on their own schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Little effort to go after bird hunters.

A couple clubs I shoot at have yearly fun shoots directed towards hunters, to include shooting out of a boat and blinds. Clubs always end up selling memberships and picking up new shooters. If I hear one more time from one of the attendees that he lives 30 minutes from the club and didn't know it was their.....

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Fewer and fewer clubs offering fun shoots and/or league shooting.

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Set days a week (and set hours) is not today's life style.

Put in coin operated machines and/or target keys and let members visit the club seven days a week on their own schedule.
The reason I joined 2 clubs was to increase the days per week we could shoot. Both clubs are only open 3 days per week and the hours are limited which seems odd to me. Why not be open 5-6 days per week?
 

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Maybe the reason for most clubs not opening more than a few days/week is the poor sucker that loads the traps and opens the doors isn't always available. He's likely over 70 with a creaky back and knees with a few doctors appointments for him and the wife too. Volunteer your services on those off days and see the response!!
 

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The question was answered above. If you set it up and do some hard work with a great attitude the shooters are out there.
Even in a state like MA. Even with 8 to 10 dollars total round cost.
The midwest must have some hard working volunteers with a great outlook. The numbers are staggering for new young shooters from the trap side.
 

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Set days a week (and set hours) is not today's life style.

Put in coin operated machines and/or target keys and let members visit the club seven days a week on their own schedule.
The local club by me is closed Friday's and Monday's which are my two most likely free days to go.

We've been going for organized shoots once a month but just getting out on a Wednesday say to shoot a round or two is hard, but if they offered a key situation like our pistol and rifle range. I would be there two or three days a week.

A prepay deal for rounds would be great, say a swipe card good for X amount. The only drawback may be the cost of the hardware and lack of supervision which may frighten the club owners.


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There are many reasons why a clubs membership is up or down and just looking at just one or 2 clubs is not a way to put a lable on the success or demise of any one shooting discipline whether is be trap/skeet/sporting clays/bunker ect. Take a look at the club you are joining ---if they are offering leagues( Remember the majority of clay target shooters are recreational and shoot little to no registered)If your club has a open atmosphere toward new shooters (meaning when new faces walk thru the door the people operating the club have a plan in place for working with new shooters to make them feel welcome. The we just smelled a turd look does not work. In the warmer climates I would tend to agree that many shooters are participating a lot in sporting clays,in the nothron climates where for a 4-5 months out of the year there is snow and freezing temps. it is much harder to maintain a sporting clay facility than trap. I have been an operating board member of my local club for 16 years, we run a winter league that is very well attended along with a spring league and I can tell you that maintaining and operating a club in the winter months to keep the grounds open and safe can take a lot of time and effort. In ref. to hrs. of operation many clubs are volunteer run so will be open only limited hrs. Keep in mind when looking at participation as compared to other sports ect. that the majority of clay target clubs/shooting facilities are membership or privately funded. The atheletic fields such as soccer/baseball/football/volleyball ect. are all on publicly funded facilities so there is a very different dynamic there. Shoot Well George
 

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Economics may play some part, but I believe it's a very low percentage. Your board members need to take the lion's share of the blame. Board members need to know how to run a profitable business and have skills in marketing. We had a club that was run by the "old boys' club" mentality that ran us into a deficit, with only 89 members. A complete flip of the board increase membership 20% per year for six years straight...2008-2014. Those board members have been term-limited out and are now replaced with the "old boys' club" once again. Losses the first year...over $10k and hemorrhaged 25% of the membership. When questioned, they tell you to STFU.

With gun sales hitting records practically every year Obama's been in office, club's should not be losing members.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've always wondered why the clubs in my area request members to "work". They must not be privately owned. Are all the clubs operated in this way? I thought they were structured like a private business. Please excuse my naiveté.
 
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