Something Needs to be Done

We want to hear what your club is doing to bring in new members. Tell us what works, and give credit to those who are making the effort.

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#16 Postby Eddy » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:56 pm

AlanF wrote: am I in dreamland?

but still worth a try

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#17 Postby Norm » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:08 pm

DannyS wrote:Hamilton Rifle Club is affiliated with the SSAA, we are also VRA members. Some of our members are members of one or the other state assoctiation, others are members of both.

We welcome shooters using hunting rifles, target rifles and f class rifles. Its all about having a go.

It looks like Hamilton Rifle Club will be one of the survivors! Well done on a progressive attitude.

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#18 Postby macguru » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:25 am

Most of the new shooters at our range are F class, as I have said elsewhere

Those who bring hunting rifles have a go and then go away without joining (or get a target rifle)

Those with Tac rifles are sometimes the keenest, and sometimes , just sometimes they get good results (such as an AI or TRG)

The camouflage clothing is a bit of a worry, but hey, each to his own :)

Alot of the time people buy off the shelf rifles because they do not know a gunsmith to build them a dedicated rifle. The last thing we should do is discourage these people from turning their tac rifles into better target rifles !
They are often well paid professionals who want to spend money on their sport and keep competition alive ....

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#19 Postby saum2 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:05 am

We have a problem in our local area with falling numbers. NW Vic had 4 clubs within 100kms, we shot pennants etc and very strong, now only 1 club.

The clubs that folded lost the older members (who ran and kept the clubs running) due to age and the youger members had family committments, so the clubs folded over a couple of years.
now the last surviving club is run by older members who stated, " we don't want new members coming in and taking over our range" ( actually said to me)
Well, I have tried to help this club with buying, picking up and setting up new target frames and new ICFRA targets etc etc . I'm a member of this club, but now find that I've been locked out of the target shed and club house after I used the range with another licensed member for load testing on a Saturday some time ago & was CAUGHT AT IT. (using the range for it's intended purpose)
When I questioned the secretary about it, I was told that the club didn't want me blowing holes in the targets.??? So now I do as little to help as possible.

So my view on falling membership is that it is caused by the older minority not wanting change. We have to be flexible, some new members want to use different firearms so they should be able to use them if the range is licensed for it. Or what ever they want. they are the members.
SA is strong, Paul Gale said to me some time ago, "the members run the show, if it wasn't for members the movement would fold" he wouldn't have a job.

I agree with Alan shooting is dying, more so in Vic, just look at the entry from Warranambool. What to do ? As suggested above, maybe an outsider looking over the movement with a different set of eyes & mindset, are we afraid of what he/she may find wrong or right with our current administrations.


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#20 Postby DannyS » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:17 am

Hi Geoff,

Looks like you have a bit of a battle on your hands. You need a few more members like yourself, you would then have a chance to get on the committee and change a few things.

Don't give up.


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#21 Postby AlanF » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:26 am


Maybe you're right that things are worse in Vic. It would be good to have the year on year membership figures for all State/Territory associations.

I'm wondering what the best approach will be to getting something done. I don't believe going straight to the NRAA is the answer. They have limited resources, and more importantly limited powers over the States/Territories. I mentioned above a coordinated push to all State/Territory associations. If this was done, would it be done best as petitions, with identical wording used for all associations? Or, on a quite different tack, should we simply be working at individual club level and encouraging innovation e.g. new classes, close cooperation with SSAA etc.?


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#22 Postby ecomeat » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:35 am

We all agree that "our shooting sports" need more participants.

In our F Class shooters..... that means that first and foremost we need more people to come and try F Class.
I strongly believe that in this day and age, that done right, it will be MANY TIMES EASER to get first timers to try F Class, than it could be to try to get first timers to go along and try T/R.
There are tens of thousands of "potential" shooting club participants out there who already have rifles and scopes that would allow them compete as is.
There probably aren't even just ten potential TR shooters in all of Australia, who have a T/R rifle set up and ready for its first time use, just sitting in the gun safe, but never been used

So whilst it can only be a good thing to promote more participation in shooting sports in general, and I am definitely in favour of that, as F Class shooters we should expend the bulk of our efforts and monies ($$$$) encouraging F Class.

We literally have tens of thousands of licensed, equipped shooters out there in every State that IF THEY WERE COERCED CORRECTLY, just "could" turn up and compete immediately using the gear that they already have. All we would have to loan them is a mat/ground sheet and possibly a front and rear rest of some sort. Many probably already have a Harris type bipod.

Have a look on and note the calibre dominance of 223 and 308 in the rifles listed for sale. That statistical fact is just reflecting the calibres being bought and sold and traded right across Australia. I just checked it, and 223 and 308 represent almost 25% of the rifles for sale. 56 out of 246 "up to 6.5mm" rifles are 223s, and 111 out of 464 " over 6.5mm" are 308s. ........which means to me that nearly a quarter of the rifles in Australia are also 223 or 308 ............ And therefore perfectly suited to F Class .

So as I see it, we have 3 basic options to pursue to increase participation rates.
1) getting Non Gun Owners to make the quantum leap of deciding to come and try it. This means either the Clubs supply the equipment, or else requires the new participant to go through all the rigmarole of sourcing their own.
Success probability has to be very low.

2) getting people who already own a rifle to " come and try it" ... Some form of Club organised, possibly nationally coordinated "open day" format. Realistically it would mean they could come and use someone else's T/R set up, or they could bring their own scoped rifle........OR

3) getting hunting rifle owners to come along and try F Class. They are already Licensed, and they own rifle, scope and ammo that would be needed to participate.

Surely it's a "gimmee" as to which path is likely to have the best return for effort.
So it's about getting "them" to come and try F Class with their own gear.
That means its now about just how do we get the message to "them" about the opportunity to come to a rifle club and try F Class, probably for the very first time.

LOCAL GUN SHOPS : Surely it's greatly in their interest to help us to just spread the message. I don't mean sponsorship and asking them for cash. Surely any and every local gun shop would be happy to help a local Club promote an F Class try-out type of day, and even just ongoing week in week out promotion of F Class. Imagine the boost to their sales if 20 customers starting shooting 25 or more center fire rounds every weekend.
The reason they are not already doing this promotion for us is actually quite simple. They probably haven't got a clue what F Class really is, or how it works. They just own a gun "business" and see the entire shooting world as their bread and butter, but have probably never been properly educated about how F Class differs from target shooting, or from just "shooting"
WE HAVE TO EDUCATE THE GUN SHOP OWNERS AND STAFF about F Class, and with them on side and prepared to actually recommend to their clients that they go along to XYZ Rifle Club and have a go at this F Class business.
I am sorry, but i believe that it would be a wasted exercise to include TR into this.
This opportunity should be grabbed specifically by F class because there are :
1/ genuinely just so many potential "members" out there who already own the equipment required, and
2/who are passionate about "their gear".
3/ have never even heard of F Class .... Or else
4/they just lump it in under the banner of "target shooting", which is often seen by hunters as being a bit wacky

IF (and I say "if) we.......F Class .....had any money to spend, it could be well used as some sort of Competition/reward scenario for the F Class shooter or Gun shop, or both, who referred the most new participants.
Every single existing F classer in Australia has to know at least a few licensed shooters who don't already shoot FClass and/or who have never tried it. How hard would it be to organize a competition whereby the "newbie" is given a bit of paper that formally recognizes their first participation or try-out, and credits someone with their attendance. So the Gun Shop owner, or Club Member gets the points they deserve towards the Prize
And then we need annual recognition of the winning Gun Shop and F Classers who we responsible for the most attendees in the previous 12 months.

Retention of these "newbies" is another whole separate issue, worthy of its own process, but we have to get them there for the first time before we need to worry about that, although clearly we would like a 100% retention rte and can't ford to ignore the issue.

I think that I have relative and genuine experience to speak as a "newbie" . Two years ago I decided to build a custom gun as a long range wild dog rifle.
I had never shot on a rifle range in my entire life, before turning up at my local Beaudesert Rifle Club for the first time some 18 months ago. I had decided to do some form of Range shooting to help me learn to be a better shot, and to get really familiar with my new rifle ( a 6-6.5 x 47 Lapua)
Beaudesert is a wonderfully friendly Club, with some really great guys and gals as members who go out of their way to make a newbie welcome.
I went twice with a "new friend" who gave me a couple of shots the first time, and then gave me 25 shots the second time. He knew I had my own "fancy" rifle almost ready, and refused my offer of cash for the rounds that I had used. After that I started turning up with my own new rifle, and immediately bought a Shooting Mat, a BiPod and then a rear rest.
I am fairly extroverted, and have done a lot of announcing with a microphone over the years, I am hardly a shrinking violet...........BUT
I still found it quite intimidating to "get in"to F Class.

PROTOCOL on the mound is very intimidating when you have only ever been a hunter. When where and how to set up is very important when you are a newbie and you don't want to piss people off.

SCORING on the mound is very intimidating for a newbie, because it iactually IS quite difficult to grasp, and especially with T/R and F Class shooting side by side. I was genuinely intimidated by it for about 6 months, because nobody actually explained it to me properly. Having a little printed card stuck onto the clipboard that half explains it DOES NOT make it any less intimidating to someone that is very conscious of not wanting to be seen as an idiot.

SCORING in the butts is VERY intimidating for a newbie. It took me at least 6 months before I was 100% confident to do it, because it was NEVER explained to me properly, one on one. I sincerely believe that every single newbie's first session pulling targets should be in a "1 on 1" training session. We have a laminated sheet stuck to the back wall for each target that helps with instruction, but it still falls well short of what could be done to lessen the intimidation of being a newbie.
Tony Berry
Extreme accuracy and precision shooting at long range can be a very addictive pastime.

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#23 Postby saum2 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:38 am

Thanks Danny,
We have a couple of members who talk big about change but little on action when it comes to voting at the AGM or putting in to make change.

I think I'm moving back to my old local club to resurrect it from the ashes. It's mostly SSAA but I hear they have some Government grant money to spend on a new taregt gallery so I'll put my efforts in there. Shooting back to 600 yds is not so bad.

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#24 Postby IanP » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:44 am

AlanF wrote:Wow. I've been at the range most of the day. Good to see all the responses. It means there are plenty of others who are as concerned as I am.

As I see it, the first thing that needs to be done is for everyone (across all levels of the full bore community) to agree that there is a real problem, and that we want something done about it, and we're prepared to accept major changes to achieve it. I'm wondering about a coordinated Australia-wide campaign from as many shooters as possible to every State/Territory Association, requesting urgent cooperative action.

Is this a realistic possibility, or am I in dreamland?


Good thread Alan, with good sentiment and intent! Problem is that you are in "dreamland" and what is needed is for the dreamers in our discipline to become the movers that bring about needed change.

I'm not talking about change just for the sake of change but for the good ideas and "dreams" of our long range shooting sport to become a reality. We currently have a no-brainer step forward to introduce F T/R alongside F-O and F-S and we are not moving as a united Australian association to make it happen. We have to ask ourselves why drag our feet on such a simple inclusion that could bring the tactical type 308W/223R rifle and shooters into play on our present targets and ranges.

How can we have innovation in our sport when the few that are motivated are met with disinterest in any meaningful change. It seems even empty chamber flags, a safety device used universally in international competitions are controversial in Australia. I have to ask the same question again, why are we, (NRAA) so resistant to change for the better?

The SSAA moves quickly to include their membership's likes and equipment into a form a competition that can be shot on their current ranges. Take a long look at all the different competitions they run to cater to the memberships equipment and interests. An association truly run by the membership.

In SA we have the FCASA which has a seat on the SARA council and is taken seriously. Ideas generated by the f-class membership have a voice and receive a reasonable hearing on council. I wouldn't say we are treated as equal partners but as our membership grows so will our influence. We need our membership to grow and we need our members in f-class to provide feedback and ideas for our future development.

In a small way I have tried to contribute to the growth and development of our f-class sport and generally have met with support. At the moment I have the Australian National F-Class Records website up and running with the help and assistance of the Australian F-Class Team Captain. It can be found here This website is for the benefit of our national membership and provides us all with statistics we can use as we move forward. Lets get behind this attempt at innovation and use the website for the benefit of all.

Lets get behind the good ideas that members bring forward and evaluate them nationally with a strong voice from F-Class to the NRAA. We need to lobby for the good ideas acceptance perhaps by forming a National F-Class Association with members from each state association forming the national council. It will always be the case that the membership will require a strong voice on the NRAA to allow innovation to proceed. So like it our not, we need our state associations to become politically active and look to forming a national f-class association.


Our dreams only become reality when we work to achieve them!

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#25 Postby TTBS28 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:47 am

For what it is worth here are a couple of thoughts from a shooter who has only been involved for a couple of years in the sport ( and loving it !! ). The situation may not be the same in all Clubs so take it for what it is worth.

At our Club I have seen quite a few visitors come out to try our sport, bob up a few more times and then quietly disappear. When I first arrived I was following my son ( Matthew Roberts ) into the sport so I had help from what he had already learnt - and I know he didn't find it easy when he started. At our Club we have "Club Rifles" and equipment for TR and F-Class. They are basically members off-casts that have been revamped a little to give a member a try. The TR guys basically refer the newbies to the F-Class rifle "because it is easier" to at least hit the target without too much mucking around with coats / slings etc. -- good for F-Class but it doesn't do a lot for promoting TR shooting.

OK - we have them shooting and they are interested but what then ??? Obtaining a license is time consuming - we all know that. But the newbie wants his / her own rifle to concentrate on AND start working out scope settings etc etc. The cost of a dedicated F-Class rifle, scope, mat, rear rest and front rest can run up to $6000-00 plus some if you are really keen. The newbie doesn't need this to start AND, quite often , can't afford it right away anyway. WHERE can he get a GOOD second hand rig to get him started AND be reasonably competitive. The Club won't sell him the Club rifle so where does he go. Basically he often finds it all too hard and just disappears off the scene - probably to small bore ?? I know just recently we had a guy out at the Club who was as keen as mustard, had a look at small bore and away he went. My feeling is that if we had had a good rifle available for sale a few weeks into his time we would probably have him there today - even if we had to keep his rifle in storage until he had his license and gun registration organised and brought it out for him each week. We lost him and that's not good.

I believe that Clubs should ( where funds are available ) put together really good second hand rigs ( complete rifles and including scope, mat, rear rest and a pedestal style front rest ) for immediate sale i.e. a pretty good looking package without going over the top - not to be used weekly for try-outs but to be kept in storage for sale. Maybe a short repayment plan could also be organised to allow him to pay it off over 3 - 4 months while he is waiting for his paperwork to make it even easier. A good Omark or similar on a good stock would be the way to go for this. Not sure how many are still around but if we can lay our hands on them Clubs should be moving this way instead of sitting on surplus funds in their bank accounts. It's not lost money - it's an investment in our future and will basically just continually turnover.

Anyway, enough from me. Just a basic observation on my part but there can be no question that the game all looks too hard from a newbies perspective and if we are to keep them it definitely needs to be made easier for them to get involved. Let's face it, once they have committed to purchasing a rifle they are much more likely to stay and find out all about the finer points that baffle us all at times - it's what makes the game interesting but they don't get the chance to experience this side of it all.

Look forward to your thoughts.....Regards.......Jeff. Roberts. ( Lower Light, Adelaide )

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#26 Postby saum2 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:27 am

Hopefully the trend is not Aust wide. Lets concentrate on Vic for a moment where we both agree that shooting is dying quite quickly. Just look at the ATR for the past 12 months and see the Vic content. Look at the VRA home range at Bendigo, used once a year for a major shoot then nothing for the rest of the year except for a few locals on weekends barring the AGM- DRA teams on just one weekend. SARA has a good set up with a large number of clubs accommodated at the range. The range is used extensively by a large number of shooters weekly. Bendigo range could accommodate more PM's & clubs being centrally located.

Our VRA is run by a competent person/s but is dedicated to shop sales to improve the bank balance. Lets face it, the VRA like many associations don't have a lot of money to spend willy nilly but this issue is important. The consultant type person that we are talking about to help us won't come cheaply. We need money for a consultant, advertising/promotion. Difficult as shooting isn't popular as with recent US events further damaging our image.
We need money to bring in new members. Not just F-Class, all types of members.
Do we place a levy on PM's for future promotion or do we go hard at a grant of some kind for the purpose. Someone needs to make a start.
(I nominate Geoff Evans the new VRA chairman)


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#27 Postby AlanF » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:24 am


I'd still like to get good information on how things are going nationally. Partly because this forum is national, but also because if there are more widespread problems, then it'll be more efficient to have a single process. I think the Bendigo situation is a local one, and should be dealt with on that basis.


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#28 Postby Brad Y » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:35 am

Slightly off topic but bear with me.

A few years back we had a group running bream fishing tournaments that decided to stop them due to the amount of work constantly required logistically to keep them running. I set up another group and tried to do it for a bit more of the social side but it really needed doing properly to get the proper following. We havent done anything aside from a few fun weekends every now and then for a few years.

Applying this to F Class, is it time we grouped together and started organising our own prize shoots, f class championships, membership drives etc as our own entity within the NRAA? I too think what Geoff has described in the posts above is happening more often than not. If we dont want clubs to fold then we need to do some hard yards ourselves and either start taking over committee positions within our clubs and setting it up for the future, rather than doing the same thing week in and out and letting it slowly suffocate into nothing.

I must mention my club Busselton Rifle Club, have been very positive in the way they have listened to my ideas this year. Especially the older guys that hold the president and treasurer positions. I put my hand up for secretary duties this year (with a newborn arriving only a couple of months after taking on the job) and have built a website, got alot of membership registers and contacts running on computer databases and put in suggestions at meetings for new ideas such as club championships and f class shoots. If a few more F classers can take the step up and go for committee positions then our club will really take off in terms of F Class shooting.

Can only recommend this to the rest of the F class movement in Aus, put in some hard yards and lets get it cranking, whether we move forward as our own group or work on improving it how we currently stand.

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#29 Postby Wakey7 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:11 pm

Just wanted to add my two bobs worth. At my club ( Maitland S.A. ) nearly all members ( aged between 14 and 83 ) own both an F Class AND a T/R rifle of some description. We shoot TOGETHER every week, we exchange ideas and tips and we run Championships and trophies for both disiplines. Our local businesses sponsor our OPM and there is NO them and us mentality. My view is if a club of 20 members can make this happen why can't others swallow some pride for the sake of our sport.

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#30 Postby Brad Y » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:36 pm

Sounds like a great club Wakey, ours is the same. Shoot together, work together, enjoy it together.

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