We all agree that "our shooting sports" need more participants.
In our case.......as 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 usedguns.com.au 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.
Extreme accuracy and precision shooting at long range can be a very addictive pastime.