We (all of us) need to discuss bringing in new people...

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We (all of us) need to discuss bringing in new people...

Postby Sean McDaniel » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:10 pm

Sydney and I traveled about 90 mintues to Cicero, NY yesterday to see a 3-position competition that Andre Gross was in. Andre had shot at our matches several times and so I wanted to see him and see what this competition was all about.
What impressed me the most was the number of people. You had at least 20 kids there over the course of the day, whittled down by each round of competition. And probably 50% or more of those kids were girls, which was also surprising given the small number that participate in our sport.
Then you hear the bigger numbers, which are that maybe 50,000 kids participate in this sport on a national level...WOW!
Each Legion seems to have a team, those teams compete against each other and then the top from each team go to the next level and so on. Until you get to the state and then the national levels.
The Legion provides all of the equipment needed, but if you have your own that is ok. If you make it to the next level the Legion sponsors you and pays for your expenses all the way through to the Nationals. And if you win at the nationals you might get a $10K scholarship. And I think that there are also scholarships at some, if not all, of the lower levels as well.
Andre started his 3-position career in 2014 and quickly became the one to beat and he ultimately won the national competition in 2015 I believe. He even spoke at the Legion's national convention in front of President Obama at the time.

So my thought is that AAFTA, and its members (both clubs and shooters), need to seriously discuss and possibly put together a program for young shooters with the incentive of scholarships if they win at local/state/national levels. Figure out some method of possibly being sent to State Championships and then to nationals. It's not enough that we keep the numbers the same from year to year as eventually those numbers will get smaller and smaller. We have a great network of field target clubs across the country and we are all trying to bring in new people to the sport, but it's really tough when you have kids who are ultimately at the mercy of their parents time and money. If we provide a means for young people to enter our sport, without having to purchase equipment, and with the possibility of scholarships at the end of the tunnel then the parents, and community, will take notice and any parent will tell you that any bit of money for college helps.

I totally get that this is a HUGE effort and that it would require that we all pitch in with our time, money, equipment, etc. Initially scholarships could be small amounts, but at least it gets the ball rolling. Once the program is in place and we have some examples of what our initial program has done then it might be possible to get sponsors, like the Legion, to integrate our sport into their shooting programs.
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Re: We (all of us) need to discuss bringing in new people...

Postby richard » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:59 pm

When you figure out the magic formula I would like to be the first to know. It would be great to get more young people into our sport. I have tried just about everything except scholarships. Over the past thirty or so years I have been involved in clubs with varying junior programs. We have held clinics, demos, and never charge juniors a match fee(we still don't). The result is that NO, as in zero juniors have ever crossed over to either our NRA silhouette program or our Field Target program and remained as adults. My latest foray into this area was to go to the head of our current junior program and offer to put juniors thru a one day field target familiarization clinic, of course using our equipment and at no cost. So far zero interest.
Some of the issues are that Sunday is not good for matches, kids/parents can't fit it in their schedule. parents don't want to buy equipment( including smallbore or 10 meter air rifles), and the most obvious of all is that the junior programs are simply a "babysitting" service for parents who these days seem to have to be with and take their kids everywhere.
This is NOT sour grapes. It is just my/our experience here in this area and it is factual. Every time we did have a clinic or demo the juniors seemed to really enjoy it but that was the end of their interest. Maybe I am a moron for trying over and over but my efforts diminish and I concentrate more on having fun and providing a quality match for those who are actually interested now.
Field target does have one important thing going for it. It is an international sport! That may help!
I will be glad to listen to suggestions with interest.
Thank you for your thoughts and efforts in our sport.
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Re: We (all of us) need to discuss bringing in new people...

Postby Bob Dye » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:16 am

In Feb, 2015, I was contacted by a Jr ROTC Shooting team associated with a large High School in a wealthy neighborhood. They wanted to sell their entire inventory of 10m equipment... five FWB P70 rifles, and 7 Avanti PCPs (early CZ200s), nice cases, expensive shooting gloves, slings, extra aperture sights, two SCUBA tanks and fill fittings, etc... the whole lot. It seems the effort to keep the JROTC team going had failed, due to lack of interest. I bought the entire stock, for about 10-15ยข on the dollar, as the manager just wanted to recover any of the team's investment. I brokered the sale of same among dedicated airgunners within 2 weeks.

The point? Yet another noble effort to recruit youth to the airgun sports had failed. The Shooting Team manager told me team membership had steadily dwindled since its inception, as the kids found (his words) "more satisfying pursuits."

This is just one story among many in this part of the country -- for which I have direct knowledge -- where good intentions resulted in bitter tears. I have initiated a few myself, with dismal results. We've offered airgun demos at local "Fast Action Airsoft" CQB meets. Despite signage and verbal announcements by the Airsoft promoter, not a single participant among the 120+ stopped by to see what we offered. Most recently, we've had several youngsters shoot at our FT Club... people who even sought us out (implying enough interest to try). Alas, despite our efforts to make them feel at home, NONE have ever returned.

Throw enough money and time at any problem and you can make a '69 VW Beetle do wheelies... for a while. But, I suspect that any (the few) successes that do exist are local in nature and not replicable elsewhere. If someone knows Elon Musk or another eccentric willing to sugar-daddy the effort nationwide, then let us know.

Absent that, I have reluctantly concluded that recruiting young people to our game in an era of instant videogame gratification is a uphill, Mt. Everest climb, primarily beyond today's youthful interest and attention span, and therefore beyond my energy and bandwidth. Good luck with your efforts, Sean, but I've been beaten to the ground too many times. I wish I could be more positive, sorry.
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Re: We (all of us) need to discuss bringing in new people...

Postby dan_house » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:33 pm

WE have a strong youth 10m scene in Montana. Many expect a couple of these kids to be competitive internationally and at the Olympic level....

There is no cross over to FT...... at issue is school, other sports, band, summer family vacations, skiing, winter hunting trips and long list of other stuff that their families consider to be more important. Many of these kids will keep shooting but it wont be in FT nor likely any thing "organized"..... Another factor is the growing precision long distance community here in the state,the attitude is why shoot a bb gun when you can smack steel at 500+ yards with a real gun......
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