Making shooting sports "fun"?


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no_problem
September 2, 2008, 07:13 PM
What are your thoughts on making the shooting sports more appealing to non shooters?

People who do not know about guns and history, and this sport in general tend to associate guns and the shooting sports with crime, Columbine, hatred, or violence. It's true that this sport suffers a stigma. Contrast this stigma with, say Nintendo or Playstation, which has very violent content. But many people would sooner buy $1000 in games and a playstation or X box than even think of shooting as enjoyable passtime.

Those of us who do shoot and have been shooting for many years find this sport not only fascinating, but rich in enjoyment. I myself have been shooting for three decades. It's true that there are many things to first learn about safety, responsibility, and proper behavior, but how would you introduce this hobby as a sport to people in a positive way? Any thoughts on reaching out to non shooters and portraying the shooting hobby as a positive passtime?


Edited to add:

IPSC and competitions come to mind, as it focusses not on the negative aspects, but on more of a sports like competitive activity.

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ErikS
September 2, 2008, 07:30 PM
I'd go more with the precision competitions, like bullseye competitions with .22singlehanded from longer distances, like 25 yards or so.
From someone not used to shooting at all, this is a very "friendly" type of shooting, it's basically just target practice.
After this, you can start with speedshooting at the same distance, firing 6 shots within 20 seconds or so, and then introduce new calibres and types of competitions.

If you want to avoid any negative associations, I think you should avoid IPSC and similar, until they got more into the sport. That includes duel shooting events, when you fire at mansize targets in a short timespan, two handed. Those type of events could give a novice associations to shooting against another person. Once they get into the sports, they might be interested to try that too, but I'd be careful with that in the beginning.

Zedo
September 2, 2008, 07:36 PM
This thread presumes that shooting is not intrinsically "fun" ??? That's just wrong.

Personally, I really don't care about "popular appeal." It's not for everybody, and if it's not for you I'm sorry but I'm not going to change the sport in a marketing ploy to attract more shooters.

p2000sk
September 2, 2008, 07:42 PM
Clown day at the range. Cake & icecream with the little crunhy things in the middle. A tannerite packed pinyata.
Seriously, a lot of the problem about a fencesitting newbie is fear.
Reasonably anything which could make people more comfortable, should be considered. Like, "I have personally handloaded this ammunition and used this firearm thousands of times, I assure you that this firearm will not do anything unexpected, and everything will be safe as long as we follow these rules here".

Majic
September 2, 2008, 07:58 PM
A couple of .22 lr rifles and handguns, a couple of bricks of .22s, and assorted reactive targets. Punching holes in paper will get boring pretty quick, but popping ballons, blowing up plastic bottles filled with water, or bouncing cans around the ground will have them giggling and asking to do it again.

Frank Ettin
September 2, 2008, 08:04 PM
I've had good luck introducing folks to shooting and guns through trap shooting. A decent 20 gauge auto-loader (we have a Benelli for just such purposes), a safety lecture, a little instruction, and someone can usually start breaking a few targets in short order. I'll also take someone out to our club when it's slow and I can get a field to ourselves. That way I can set the machine on straightaways.

Breaking a target in flight is instant feedback and instant gratification.

benEzra
September 2, 2008, 08:40 PM
From firsthand experience, I can say that IPSC-style carbine and pistol matches are lots of fun to participate in. And unlike bullseye matches, they are also fun to watch.

To me, bullseye matches are like golf. Fun to DO if you are good at it and can afford nice equipment, but watching it as a spectator is rather dull.

rxraptor02
September 2, 2008, 09:28 PM
I have used clay pigeons on the dirt back stop and other polymer targets. People just love to break the clays. Also with the scoped 10/22 I clean up and leave nothing to be cleaned up of the back stop.

Shooting at empty ammo boxes is also fun but not the clean up.....

The formal shooting events can be imtimadating. There is just a lot going on. I went to my first steel match and have been range shooting for a few years and it was a little nerve racking until I got in the groove. A new shooter might get turned off by it.

Chris Rhines
September 2, 2008, 10:41 PM
25m bullseye shooting? Are you people on crack?

If you want to make the shooting sports more appealing to non-shooters, I have two words for you. Steel Challenge (http://steelchallenge.com/).

Easy to set up and tear down. Divisions for any handgun made. Lots of shooting in a short time. Minimal equipment required (if you are reading this post, you have the gear needed to be competitive in at least one division.) And shooting steel is more fun than a barrel of hamsters.

- Chris

jrhines
September 2, 2008, 10:45 PM
Reactive targets. I shoot at a range full of paper, excited dads and bored stiff kids. All of them wishing they were playing a video game where things blow up, shatter, explode or at a minimum fall over. For a kid (the next generation of shooters), paper punching with a gun that makes a hole ya' can't see from 25' away is way worse than watching paint dry. My opinion, I might be wrong.

jrhines
September 2, 2008, 10:55 PM
Chris is kinda right. But at our local IWLA range we can't have steel ya' know, because of the ricochets. Now 10,000 ranges shoot steel and other reactive targets without problems from ricochets, but our range committee keeps their pants in a tight wad and recoils in horror at the thought of anything beside paper & wood down range. And Dad says " Wow, look at that 2" group! That was really good shooting!!". And the kids keep on yawning, saying "Geez Dad, can't we go home?"

no_problem
September 2, 2008, 11:07 PM
All of them wishing they were playing a video game where things blow up, shatter, explode or at a minimum fall over>>

That's what they are doing in those Nintendo games with digital AR15's, M4's, M203's, and SPAS 12's...

Justin
September 2, 2008, 11:16 PM
...paper punching with a gun that makes a hole ya' can't see from 25' away is way worse than watching paint dry. My opinion, I might be wrong.

You are absolutely correct.

Steel Challenge is the most newbie-friendly competition shooting that I've ever seen, so there is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel. The gear requirements are not extraneous, the stages are easy to understand, and the people shooting it are exceedingly and uniformly helpful.

On top of that, it's the sort of shooting competition that appeals to those who've grown up playing DOOM, Halo, Medal of Honor, and Call of Duty.

All reactive targets, all fun, and totally worth the time.



Also, jrhines, nice sig line. :)

Cosmoline
September 2, 2008, 11:21 PM
I like to combine shooting with other activities. It doesn't have to be the obvious one--hunting. For example I ride the bike 30 miles RT to the range, forcing me to be very selective about what I take and giving me a solid workout. I've also been combining trips to the range with hiking.

jws527
September 2, 2008, 11:24 PM
A couple of .22 lr rifles and handguns, a couple of bricks of .22s, and assorted reactive targets. Punching holes in paper will get boring pretty quick, but popping ballons, blowing up plastic bottles filled with water, or bouncing cans around the ground will have them giggling and asking to do it again.Bingo.

I didn't really discover how much fun shooting could actually be until I started blasting "stuff."

DaleA
September 3, 2008, 12:22 AM
There's a lot to be said for the way they used to do it as shown by this nifty photo posted by DRZinn in the thread:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=389799

84093

Leif Runenritzer
September 3, 2008, 12:25 AM
People who do not know about guns and history, and this sport in general tend to associate guns and the shooting sports with crime, Columbine, hatred, or violence.
Don't be too sure of that. I've had mostly positive experiences on the subject of guns with folks who don't own any.

loop
September 3, 2008, 07:12 AM
Our IDPA club always includes at least one string with poppers or plates because people love reactive targets. Our monthly matches are on the first Tuesday night of the month (finished a few hours ago) and everyone sits up and watches when it comes to the reactive targets.

I was RO last night and have electronic muffs that let me hear the folks talking when a shot has not been fired within 1/100th of a second. When someone struggles I hear things like "Low left" or "Wow."

Poppers and plates seem to bring everyone together.

They can also be very distracting. I was going through a string of 7 poppers last night when someone said "Wow!" and it took me three shots to knock the last one down. During the brief silence from shooting at No. 6 to shooting at No. 7 I lost focus. OTOH, as an RO I need to be more focused.

Anyway, folks love it when the target does something when you hit it.

jackstinson
September 3, 2008, 07:53 AM
Bring back REAL shooting galleries.

kevindsingleton
September 3, 2008, 08:13 AM
The shotgunning sports (trap, skeet, sporting clays) are good introductions for newbies. Also, pin shooting is good fun, with easy setup and cleanup. Another good reactive target game is silhouette. Long-range, accurate shooting appeals to a certain demographic that appreciates working for a reward. Any reactive target is going to increase the fun factor for those who aren't anal about precision and accuracy. For those of us, nothing but tiny little benchrest targets will do!

10 ring, Jim Scouten? I keep'em inside the zero of the 10!

Professor Gun
September 3, 2008, 01:42 PM
In women's pistol classes we have the "Barbie Dunk Tank". I made a small wood frame stands about 4 feet high, board across the top with a 3" diameter hole in the middle. A balloon sits on that hole, string around the balloon that goes through the hole and on the other end of the string is a Barbie doll. There is a bucket of water underneath. Students in the class shoot at the balloon with a .22 pistol and try to dunk Barbie by hitting the balloon.

We also have "William Tell Bear". Old teddy bears from used toy stores, Goodwill, etc., perched on a plastic bucket. Put an apple on the bear's head and the students try to shoot the apple off his head with a .22 pistol. Last class some of the students decided to try it with .38 revolvers-that decreases the useful life of the teddy bear.:)

Also metal spinner targets, etc. keep their interest and make it fun.

Before we do this stuff they spend time on paper targets and doing dry firing practice.

Tarvis
September 3, 2008, 02:25 PM
I'd have to say a steel target, either hanging so it goes "Goooooong" when you shoot it or something like steel challenge so you can shoot a 22lr pistol. The best part of the gong is that you can set it at any range and you can still hear it. Get a .223 rifle and a scope with either a graduated reticle or target knobs and start at 400 yards.

Mike OTDP
September 3, 2008, 03:57 PM
Much as I love the precision disciplines, there is a lot to be said for reactive targets. Probably the biggest variety is used in North-South Skirmish Association competition. We're shooting clay pigeons both hung on cardbaord backers and from a wire (you drill a hole in the pigeons...works OK at low speeds), tiles of various sizes (also drilled), wood blocks hung from a wire, plastic bottles filled with colored water, and even the ever-popular Stake event (a wood chipboard hung horizontally from two wires. Shoot the thing in half. Best to bring some friends.)

Grey54956
September 3, 2008, 08:52 PM
Skeet is extremely fun and addictive. Instant gratification upon hitting target, and the ultimate in zen meditation.

Neo-Luddite
September 3, 2008, 11:37 PM
Make it relaxing. Make it social. It can be higher-toned and gormet or lower-brow.

Plinking, comfort, beverages and a nice relish tray (cheese/sausage/crackers/veggies/etc.) served near the firing line (w/ handwipes of course). Lots of lazy folding chairs and shade.

In the winter, have a warming fire and chairs w/ a big pot of chilli and ample corn bread or thick soup.

Private land or ranges that will allow this make it more relaxing.

Shooting at paper gets old quick for the newbie--and not so fun.

owlhoot
September 4, 2008, 12:38 AM
Cowboy Action Shooting is my current game of choice. I've participated in many of the other disciplines over the years, bullseye, IDPA, PPC, bench rest, high power rifle, sporting clays, skeet, and trap. And I enjoyed them all greatly. But then, I am a gun nut.

I enjoy cowboy shooting because it does include rifle, revolver, and shotgun on every stage. I like it because of the historical association. Many of the competitors are better historians than your average history Ph.D. I like the people. It doesn't matter whether you are the best shooter or the worst, everyone is accorded equal respect. It doesn't matter to anybody whether you are a millionaire or a ditch-digger. We won't know and won't care. There are very few *********s in the game. It a friendly bunch wherever you go and camaraderie is more important than score.

You can play the game anyway you like. Some shoot mousepharts. Others shoot full power .45's. When I began, I was put off by the costume aspect, but it didn't take me long to appreciate that aspect of the game. Now I love it.

Kids are made welcome. Women are welcome. We have many families that shoot together, husband, wife and children.

The down side is that it is expensive to get started. Two single action revolvers, a lever action, and a shotgun are required, although many share guns to keep costs down, especially families. It is hard to get all the guns for less than $1200. and that requires some careful shopping. But most of the old hands keep a complete set of loaner guns for folks who are just getting started.

And finally it is a great game for folks who aren't as young as they once were. We have a lot of senior shooters and special age based categories so they are shooting against their peers if that is what they want to do.

Some of you might want to give it a try. It's as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

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