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Here is one plan, from the latest issue of Trap & Field, to attract more shooters in the 23-45 demographic. I'm curious if anyone already has done this at their club. Feel free to email me with questions or comments.

Dean
 

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Dean, I for one applaud your valiant effort to come up with a plan for increasing our sports over-all numbers. Other than attracting kids to all the shooting programs geared toward them, ATA doesn't really have a problem attracting new shooters, we have a dismal rate of retention numbers wise!

Till that problem is truthfully addressed, attracting the "working class" shooters again, once the main-stay of ATA shooters, I can't personally see this program gaining much ground either.

In your article, you explicitly outlined the problems you felt weren't applicable. Not easy targets nor tougher targets? Trapshooting has always been a very expensive sport from day one. How did we once attract those working class shooters to join our ranks? Many of whom are now in the older class of 55 to 80 years of age.

The game of trapshootings perceptions have changed drastically in the last few decades primarily due to rule changes. Once upon a time, the perception was, one didn't have to shoot a perfect score to at least stand a chance of a win, place or show in the game of trapshooting! By destroying that perceived perception once held in our sport, we lost the ability to attract and keep that working class shooter.

Till we address how our game is perceived by that class of shooter, it will be business as usual till we run out of the old stock and they are dwindling at a rapid pace!

Gene Hapney
 

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Respectfully, there is a huge disconnect between "trapshooting" and "ATA trapshooting". Look at the level of disrespect shown toward those who choose to shoot "practice" and league-only programming. It's not very difficult to read between the lines within this BB.

What is the estimated number of disenfranchised trapshooters?... 200,000 or more?

We encourage ATA from a couple of perspectives, but 85%+ of our membership has not shown much interest... and we work at it... while the governing body (ATA) is oblivious.

However, our overall operational success is UNBELIEVABLE. Yes, I'm perceived as being arrogant on this point, but our 2013 numbers YTD are surpassing 2012 and 2012 was a phenomenal year for us... in a recession - and 2013 is better.

Recruiting and retention... no adequate superlatives.

Our marketing plan is simple, everyone is a suspect, those with the money to afford the activity are the prospects and we welcome everyone with open arms and smile. I don't care if you're White, Black, Yellow, Red or Brown - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Agnostic or whatever - I thank everyone for their business and ask them to come back.

We offer a very structured season of GREAT annual programming - Leagues, Hunter Ed, Open House, member-only programming and community instruction... every year and folks rely upon it, just like hunting seasons...

Youth-focused programming is not our deal. We want guests and members who can afford our avocation. We respect our elders and keep them included, regardless of how much they shoot or can afford to shoot. We have a "donut hole", but it is what it is...

We're in business to throw rounds, and could care less if they're ATA rounds, "practice" or League... they just have to be profitable and plentiful.

Respectfully responding,

Jay
 

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Good paying production jobs that once provided the income to participate in ATA registered trap are mostly gone. The culture has changed from hunting to internet deversions for young people.

Companies that have brought manufacturing jobs back to the US are utilizing robotics, instead of people.

The middle class is pretty much gone and with it the pool of shooters that once fueled the ranks of the ATA.

Those of us that began registering targets in the 60s and 70s are aging out, or being eliminated by retirement incomes.

ATA shooting has always been expensive and fewer can afford it.
More targets are being shot by fewer shooters.

Social nonregistered trapshooting continues to have an
appeal in many area.

For many, the rewards of ATA shooting does not justify the added expense.

My .03 cents.
 

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Spitter, what does "youth-focused programming is not our deal" mean?? THANKS.....BUD
 

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money is a big problem,one local range charges 9 bucks for 25 targets and 9 bucks for a box of shells. who can aford to shoot a hundred with their kid?
i meet lots of new shooters at my club and its the same,once a month ok, but cant swing it every week. joseph
 

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If we want more people in the sport they must have disposable income. When you have a house payment , car payment , washer & dryer payment , school loan payments , on & on. You won't and don't have much left at the end of the month. I was lucky and was taught from a young age & seen it first hand debt is dumb. I have tried to teach this to my kid we will see if it sticks. Totally different thinking these days on purchasing things. Used to be how much is that going to cost me. now it's how much are the monthly payments on that. Our banking culture has done a fine job of selling us a dream it just robs you of your financial freedom. But it sure secures there's.
 

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Time is also valuable. At many shoots after completing the first event there is a 2 or 3 hour wait to compete in the next event. Then another 2 or 3 hour wait for the final event. Many shooters do not have this much time to invest. HMB
 

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hmb, If you have wait that long, you are shooting the wrong clubs. You may have a 1/2 hr to 45 min. changing to doubles, but thats about it.

I've always felt a "hunters class" similar to sporting should be considered. A new shooter gets to try ATA trap on 4 event days before they have to classify.
During that time, they can win medals, but not money.

And don't let new shooterss read Trap and Field! We don't want them to be scared by all the 200 straights in singles and 100's in caps.
 

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The casual shooter is the core of American trapshooting. That's always been the case and the percentage of those who have the desire for a greater level of competition has always been fairly small ... that being said, if we can increase that number of folks who desire that great level of competition by, say 10% and keep them, ATA registered trap shooting can and will enter it's new golden age.
 

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True Barry. a "no risk venture" to try it is important. At our club, we've had around 8 people become avid sporting shooters cause they could try it out with their friends, and 6 stayed with it. They don't shoot a ton of targets, but they still sign up.

When I tell a Future ATA guy he has to get a membership, get classified, and spend $30 a hundred to shoot all the events, he thinks for awhile and tries 1 event, sees his score and thinks about what it takes to be competitive.

No thanks.

Of course, it is important how his friends "prep" him for the out come. I had a rather persistant friend that pushed me to continue, but I came from a hunting/shooting background. Not many of those around these days.

Few have the time, money, and the desire.
 

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Some still believe shooting is too expensive for the younger crowd. That is not always true. Understandably, the typical 20-35yo without an education cannot afford to participate. The kind of job in a mill or assembly line that paid decent wages with benefits has mostly disappeared but is often replaced by technical positions requiring higher education and affording much higher salaries. Sporting Clays courses tend to attract that type of clientel more so than Trap.

Money is always out there but you need a desired product to sell. I'll betcha most younger plumbers and other tradesmen might also disagree with the statement "these kids have no money". I sell an awful lot of high priced guns to this group!!
 

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The number of young people (and couples) that I see shooting sporting on any weekend is something to see after hanging around a few old school trap or skeet clubs. The high cost of 100 targets does not seem to deter.... and for registered shooting, they have hunters class (all are welcomed)!

In regard to registered ATA.

For skeet and sporting clays shoots they close off entries and start a waiting list when the magic number is hit.

ATA trap. No magic number that I've ever seen. No cutoff (If a club has one, have not seen it yet) and you end up with overbooked shoots and shooters waiting around to not only shoot there first 100, but also the second. Makes for a long (to long) day!

ATA (clubs) tried pushing 10 targets per post down are throats to get more shooters through. That worked really well, didn't it?

In the case of shooting 50 targets on a field and then move to the second. Take two boxes with you and no break between 25's. Another brilliant idea to get more shooters through. Squad leader given you a dirty look when you go to the bench to get a drink of water. Didn't sign up for that.

In an effort to push through more people you end up taking the FUN out of the sport when you do things like that (speed trap I call it). And, by having too many shooters, hours and hours go by before you shoot your second hundred. Either way, a lot of unhappy campers. Many just drop out, never to shoot registered ATA again.

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Shoot offs that go on and on. All the other clay target sports have long addressed this. Other then tradition, it's usefulness for determining winners has long passed.
 

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Let's see. $500./ea for flight to Phoenix or Tampa, rent a car, drive to the club to find out you can't shoot.
Good plan.

Rather an "elitist" point of view there, Joe. I'd rather have to find a solution to the "not enough daylight in the day" that's better than turning folks away. In trap we do what it takes to fit everyone in. Sometimes we fail ... but not often.

People are always asking me what registered trapshooting has to offer. Most clubs add traps when they have a too much attendance problem.
 

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Hera... we don't create programming specifically for kids ... no AIM or SCTP... kids are welcome to shoot with adults, but they do not represent a target market for our operation...

Jay
 

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Whatever the "old days" of ATA may or may not have been, they are gone now. There is plenty of money out there for trapshooting and ATA registration, but it's not in the same "well" you keep dipping into... DINKS, YUPpies, IT-tech workers, scientists, sales, other small business owners, however you care to categorize them their occupation and/or socio-economic class, that's who has the dough.

I also think, that the Lewis Class system has brought about a premature demise for the need to develop a handicap and/or average... take all the scores, shuffle them and slice them up into classes... instead of investing into an average or working on a handicap - shooters can take their chances of falling into a trophy or prize, just by shooting as they do... which makes leagues and some game shooting more attractive.

Leadership starts at the top... until the ATA figures it out and gets their delegates to get their clubs to get their members to value the governing body of American Trap... their slide will continue.

The easiest customer to sell to, is the one you already have. HOWEVER, when an existing customer no longer has the economic ability to afford your product, then that customer is no longer the customer he/she once was... either introduce a lower cost product to offer or find new customers who can afford the product you have to sell... is there any businessman out there who can just cut the purchase price irrespective of his cost of goods sold?!

Until clubs really recognize that their "business" is selling memberships and throwing profitable targets... it's all an illusion. Keeping older members is a virtue and loyalty is important, but you have to have new money...

Jay
 

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I have to agree with HMB - an ATA shoot just takes too long. In Chicago, I have an hour drive, get there t 8:30, 30minutes to get squaded and signed in, an hour to shoot 16's, then a 2-3 hour wait for Caps. I don't even bother with doubles.

While I know that this provides a social hour for many participants, for those that are still younger or have other commitments, this is a non-starter. Sporties is more fun - go, shoot, drink. Done.

I also believe the classification and handicap systems in ATA act to discourage both new shooters and existing participants. There are too many classifications anomalies to be an accident. And the competitors perceive this. I believe this is why the leagues at some clubs have much better attendance than the ATA shoots.

Anyway, this horse is way dead. My kids love the ATA shoots, and the parents look at them with dread - cost and time.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
There are a lot of great points/comments above. Certainly we have two key problems - recruitment and equally as important, retention. Everything falls into one of those two buckets.

I've never, ever met a person who has tried trapshooting and said they didn't like it. So that begs the question, "why aren't they coming back, or staying around for very long?".

Look for an article on these topics in January's Trap & Field issue.

Dean
 

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Sporting quick? Don't think so. The last event I went to. Drove 2 1/2 hours, registered, paid $60 for a 100 birds waited 3 hours to shoot, waited another 2 hrs. For results, another 3 hrs. home. Made one long expensive day.

Don
 
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