A positive news article on our "Women on Target" clinic


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Trebor
September 10, 2007, 03:56 AM
My gun club ran a *fantastic* "Women on Target" event on Saturday.

I e-mailed the editor at the Michigan State University paper two days before the event and invited them to send someone to cover the event. In the e-mail I mentioned the close connection our club has historically had with the school.

The State News, like most college papers, is a pretty liberal paper.

Here's the complete story and the sidebar. In the next post I'll discuss the story and some things the reporter got wrong. I just wanted to use this as a "case study" on the good press coverage you can generate for your club if someone is willing to step up to the plate and talk to the media.

http://www.statenews.com/index.php/article/2007/09/gun_clinic

NRA shooting clinic attracts most women in event's history
By James Andersen
The State News

Williamston — More than 60 women turned out for an NRA Women on Target clinic on Saturday at Capitol City Rifle Club.

The women were given instruction on a number of different firearms, including pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Women learned from instructors the proper techniques of managing a gun before trying their hand at shooting at various targets.

At the pistol range, women shot at paper targets, while at the trap-shooting range, they shot at clay targets that were launched into the field in front of them.

“Once you learn the basics, shooting is more mental than anything,” co-Coordinator Rob Reed told the women as they gathered at the start of the clinic.

Many of the women said they were intrigued by the opportunity to learn about proper gun safety and gun use.

“We want to introduce women to the shooting arts. A lot of women are afraid of firearms because they never learned how to use them,” said Marie Verheyen, Reed’s wife.

The clinic brought a wide range of women with varying levels of experience.

Joy Frawley, of Haslett, got her first experience shooting a pistol at the clinic.

“It was great. I’d love to get better. It’s something I want to get involved in,” she said.

While in previous years the event has only drawn about a dozen people, this clinic produced the biggest turnout in the event’s 10-year history, with more than 60 people attending, Verheyen said.

The clinics are held about three or four times a year, club President Bart Reiter said.

The rifle club, founded in 1915, has a long history with MSU. When the club formed, it was a small-bore rifle team and used the shooting range inside Demonstration Hall until the late 1980s.

To show appreciation to MSU, the club recently made a $10,000 donation toward the construction of the Shooting Sports, Education and Training Center, which is being built on the south part of campus.

“We used the range at Demonstration Hall for about 70 years, free. We felt we owed something to MSU,” Reiter said.

Published on Sunday, September 9, 2007

Here's the sidebar:

There were more than 60 people in attendance at Saturday’s gun clinic, which was the biggest turnout ever in the 10-year history of the event.

The clinic is designed to introduce women to gun-sports.

The event is sponsored by the National Rifle Association, which provided the guns and ammunition.

Women were given instruction in gun safety and practiced shooting pistols, rifles and shotguns. They learned how to hold, load and fire guns.

The Capitol City Rifle Club used to use the range inside Demonstration Hall for target practice. The club recently made a $10,000 donation to a new indoor range being built on campus.

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Trebor
September 10, 2007, 04:09 AM
Ok, now let me talk about the story as a "case study" in working with the press. I was the coordinator for this event so I was the contact person with the NRA, the participants, and the press.

In the past the NRA would send out press releases to promote the Women on Target events. A few weeks ago the NRA sent me an e-mail saying that they would no longer be able to send out press release for WoT events due to the increasing number of events held across the country. (Essentially the clinics are victims of their own success).

My background is in journalism so when the NRA told me they would no longer send out press releases, I fully intended to compile a list of local media, write a release, and send it out myself. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I never followed through and never wrote or sent out a release. (My bad. I really should have done so)

Two days before the event, pretty much on a whim, I e-mailed the editor at the State News, told her about the event, and invited her to send out a reporter. (She doesn't know me from Adam, btw.)

In the e-mail I mentioned the close relationship our club has had with the university. By doing that, I made the story much more relevant to her paper and her audience and increased the odds that she'd send a reporter. I gave her my e-mail and phone number and told her to contact me for more info.

The reporter, James, called me the next day. He told me he'd been assigned to the story and asked me a few questions about what the event was about, about the connection between the club and school, and what time he should show up.

The day of the event we were *OVERWHELMED* by the turnout. We had 67 women attend. Based on our previous events, we'd planned on 10 to 15. The high turn out was mainly due to the media coverage we'd received after our last event in July. That reporter wrote a first person account of learning how to shoot at our event and many people mentioned that specifically as how they heard about this event.

I was working as an instructor at the event and we were so busy I never got a chance to talk to, or even meet, the reporter. I knew he was there, but that was about it. My wife was running the registration table and generally keeping things organized. I told her we were going to have a reporter attend, so she kept an eye out for him. He could tell I was busy, so he went up to her to get some questions answered. She answered what she could and then sent him over to our club president for more info. He also wandered around, observed the proceedings, and interviewed a few of the attendees. He was probably there for three hours or so. I didn't hear from again after the event for any follow up questions. (Although he *might* have contacted our club president as I'm sure he got his phone number as well).

Now for the final story. I think it's a very positive piece that gets out a simple RKBA message. There's no editorizaling in the story. There's no controversy about "guns on campus," etc. Just a straightforward article on our event, what we were trying to accomplish, and what our connection to the school is all about.

It's not perfect though. There are two mistakes, neither of which is really important. I'm mentioning them just to point out the kind of things reporters can get wrong, even in a positive story like this.

The first is that I was the WoT coordinator for this event. I'm not the "co-coordinator." As far as I know, we don't have another coordinator. I'm not sure how that mistake occured, but it's not worth worrying about. It's NOT something I'd bother to contact the reporter about either. (Maybe he thought my wife was the other "co-coordinator." She was definately running things on site while I was off instructing.)

The second mistake is in the sidebar. "The event was sponsored by the National Rifle Association, which provided the guns and ammunition" is not *entirely* accurate. During the phone interview I mentioned that we'd had NRA grant funding in the past. That funding had paid for our ammo at previous events. For this event though, the club paid out of our own funds as we haven't applied for a NRA grant this year. So, technically, the ammo for this event was not paid for by the NRA.

As far as the guns, they were provided by individual members of the club or were some guns the club purchased in the past just for this event (not funded by NRA grants though).

Again, that's a small mistake and I know *exactly* how it occurred. Does it substainally change the story? No. Is it worth complaining about or even mentioning? No, not really. Is the final story a good, fairly accurate representation of what went on at the event? Yes, yes it is, and I couldn't be happier.

I posted this story and the "case study" discussion to show you how *you* can create good media coverage for your club. event or the RKBA in general.

Even if you don't have a club behind you, an individual shooter can, for example, organize a simple "Ladies Night" at a local range, round up a handful of volunteer instructors and guns, and invite a reporter or two. You'd be amazed at the results you can get.

Not all reporters are evil and not all stories that appear are anti-gun. Here's the proof.

So, I challenge you to figure out what *you* can do to get a story like this published in *your* local newspaper or aired on your local radio station. (Let's leave TV out for now. That's a whole other beast).


EDIT: Remember how I said in the other thread that, "Everything you say while the reporter is there is ON THE RECORD." My quote in the article was something I said during the introduction and safety briefing. I'm not sure if I even knew the reporter was there at that point.

That's why you always have to watch you say or do in public if you are holding yourself out as a representative of gun owners. I can't think of anything I did or said during the whole event that I would have been unhappy to see in the paper. But, I wasn't thinking about the reporter, that's just how I try to act *anytime* when I know I'm representing the sport as an instructor or gun owner.

Fred Fuller
September 10, 2007, 09:35 AM
Outstanding work- congratulations on your successes on all fronts!

lpl/nc

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