care to help save my club? got any ideas?

Discussion in 'Trapshooting Forum -' started by bobski, May 24, 2023 at 7:21 AM.

  1. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    I know there is a lot of talent and sharp minds on this website, so allow me to pick your brains.
    As you know, the State of the Union is hurting the clay sports for the little guys. There are those that can afford it and continue on as if nothings happening. But for those that cant afford it, they question the cost and are not participating as much as they use to.
    so help me save my range and maybe someone elses range who is lurking and reading.

    Many know, my range is down to only 4-5 attending my shoots with zero during the week. Granted, I'm in the middle of nowhere and its hard to justify coming to a range that isn't much different than one that may be closer and more convenient.
    Sponsors are not even looking at small venues with small crowds. Heck, White Flyer wont even deliver to us for a 1 pallet order.
    I've tried round robin leagues, week day matches, 1-2-3 day matches....nothing works! Locals are farmers and they view clay shooting as a waste of time: its a dead location for locals. I've gone 2.5 hours in all directions to all the nearest clubs and they are all hunkering down and have no interest in being a team outside their gates.
    So, I am totally depended on internet invites. It worked well when .com's were popular. But, it only tended to attract beginners. The talented tended to shy away except for a handful of good quality friends who supported me over the years. But, even they moved on.
    So, is there anyone out there that has any ideas and or willing to throw us a bone and arrange a visit to south central MO to save my club from shutting down?
    I'm just a 1 trap range with skeet as well. But, we do our best to be polite, friendly, and safe. Yes, we are in the sticks: I mean 30 miles to the nearest town. So, bring campers if you want.
    Is there anyone out there that would like to supply scorers/pullers for an ATA sanctioned match? I'm not affiliated, but you're more than welcome to document and register your scores all you want/any proper way there is.
    We can a handle 20. Heck, if we had 10, we'd open up the pot luck serving line again!
    I'm all ears. Let me know what you can do and suggest. I hate to see this range go into oblivion....little by little. I give it one year and it'll be toast.
    Thanks in Advance!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 24, 2023 at 7:33 AM
  2. Ben Brush

    Ben Brush Active Member

    In our area (SW MI) partner shoots, Calcutta's are popular. There are 4 or 5 clubs within about 60 miles of each other that rotate different Sundays and Friday nights of the month. We get 15-30 shooters per event. There is another club that shoots games every Saturday. They draw 25-30 shooters most days. I'm not familiar with your area, so I don't know how may shooters you have. Most guys don't want to drive more than an hour. Have you reached out to any local schools to see if they have kids that want to put a team together? Its getting very popular around here. I know everyone says once the kids graduate, they are gone and won't shoot anymore. But its a way for parents and other people to see your club. 4h also has shooting programs. Give the shooters something that they can't get at their local club. Try doing a Saturday morning breakfast and games. Biscuits and Gravy is pretty easy. You can shoot 20 bird buddy/protections, eliminations/killers, back doors, bushwackers. Charge them $30, that includes breakfast and 5 games. We aim for making $.30/bird in games and try to pay out at least 50% to the shooters. At our club we do a 5 bird back door shoot for $5. One tie all tie and you rebuy for another $5. Its not hard for the guy that wins to make $40-$50. Your right, they won't drive 30 or 45 minutes to shoot practice rounds if their local club is 10 minutes away.
  3. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    So, money is the draw, correct?
    Schools are locked into all the other clubs closer to town.
    Did the Calcutta thing.
    I already do a 50yd shoot. I do duck boats, skeet/trap combo's, Annie Oakley's, turkey shoots, you name it. Again, no one comes anymore.
    Area density is 1 person per 5 acres in my county.
    My town has 150 people.
    There are more cows than humans.
    As odd as it seems, I actually drew people as far as WI, AL, FL, Minn, and AK at one time.
    They all stopped coming due to the economics.
    One of my 4 loyal shooters still comes from Colo: rare indeed. Durango to be exact. 900 miles.
    Thanks for your ideas.
    Last edited: May 25, 2023 at 8:59 AM
  4. 10-point

    10-point Member

    I think if you have tried all the things mentioned in this post…it’s only a matter of time. I wish it wasn’t so- but it’s going to happen to a lot more clubs in the coming years.
    BRAD DYSINGER likes this.
  5. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    Got any leads on any clubs around me that would be interested in coming in Oct to shoot a small meet? Know any ears to whisper in?
  6. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    Anyone in my area willing to bring a group in Oct? lmk.
  7. Family Guy

    Family Guy Mega Poster Founding Member

    Interesting questions there with an honest twist.

    I say honest because no where did you consider dishonest methods.

    One such tactic would be to offer easier targets. It was done in the past, most often in the west to lure those faux All Americans looking to pad their stats in search of free shells or All American Status. It also attracted wannabes seeking faux grand slams.

    There is also the possibility of allowing shooters to score their own. That got someone a GAH Championship.

    You can slyly offer easier traps to some. (Done still today)

    Or you can advertise the heck out of your facility. Looks like you are doing a great job.

    I hope to shoot there soon.
  8. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    Bring some buddies with you in oct!
    I let my group score their own now.
    And, most new shooters who come to learn and join in don't know the difference between a 2 or3 hole target and don't care about scores. They just enjoy being on a retreat with guns, passing out from the pot luck.
    I have an original rule here at Vanzant; its allowed last place to walk away with the trophy numerous times.
    Last place can tag out during the trophy shoot and I shoot in proxy for them.
    In other words, if there are any good shots on the 50yd line, they must get thru me to win. If I win, last place wins. and most good shots don't mind because in the long run, it gives the new shooter a memory of good sportsmanship and fairness.
    This is why I will miss this range. We have/had some great things going on....and no one comes.

    i/e: this mother shot 4 out of 100. She tagged out and walked away with the 50yd club trophy in 2014. She was all smiles and her family was proud of her. We were too! And, part of the shoot calls for us all to go to the local steak house and eat dutch. The owner always makes a table for us. This is where she got her presentation. When all the locals saw it and heard the applause, they all came to the table and asked what was going on. We handed out cards for 10 years.
    no one called. dry well. so much for the P-R effort.
    3rd ftf 4-14.jpg
    Last edited: May 25, 2023 at 5:51 PM
    BCB and Just Joe like this.

    BRAD DYSINGER The Philosophist Founding Member Member Trapshooting Hall of Fame Member State Hall of Fame

    I think your ship has sailed, or sunk. Twenty years ago when I was telling everyone what the ATA was doing to registered shooting with the likes of Winston and Bradford at the helm was the time to act, it is over now. The last of the Buffs are gone. This is what the end looks like.
  10. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    Brad, I don't have fields as big and as nice as yours. But, if you wanted to come out and kick back and let some of your dogs loose while you shot and let us do the work....lmk. Be glad to have ya! Maybe having you here might (draw) some others?
    Know any celebrities, old or new, that might want to make a cameo appearance at Vanzant?
    They can give pointers on shooting and I'll give pointers on mending fences. lol.
  11. Rocketfan

    Rocketfan Active Member

    Do you have room for some Flyer rings?
  12. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

  13. kolarpole

    kolarpole Well-Known Member Founding Member

    Rocketfan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,good idea!!!!! bobski claims he is 30miles away from all. Perfect place for invites ONLY
  14. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    are we talking 'live you know whats?'
  15. Flyersarebest

    Flyersarebest Moderator Founding Member Forum Leader

    You can say it. A live pigeon shoot.
    We held a 15 bird, one ring shoot, on my buddy’s farm a few years ago. 30 shooters, 5-5-5. We didn't do it to make money, it was part of his annual picnic he has every year.


  16. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    guess how many staff I have...........1.
    and of course all I can say is....go fund me! lol!

    BRAD DYSINGER The Philosophist Founding Member Member Trapshooting Hall of Fame Member State Hall of Fame

    I have a ring but I haven't used it in 15 years at least. Pigeons are hard birds to keep for any time. They get sick and die, screw head. There's not even enough trap shooters around me to make a trap profitable.
    Flyersarebest likes this.
  18. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    sounds like im not alone.
  19. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Mega Poster Founding Member

    The solution is simple. Put your targets in the 5 hole and throw 'em 60 yds. You'll be fighting off shooters waiting in line by droves. Then, don't add a $5 lewis class and they'll never come back. Don't get fooled by those supposed huge number of shooters who believe you need wobble trap( wide, long and varying height targets). That was tried decades ago at Vandalia and died a natural death.
  20. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    to put targets on 5 need shooters.
    find me shooters and i'll do whatever they want.
  21. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Mega Poster Founding Member

    Bobski, even clubs near large population centers have seen huge dropoffs in shooter participation. Let's put it this way. Within 25 miles of my hometown we have at least 10 active trap clubs and one Sporting Clays operation. All have hemorrhaged shooters. The old timers on fixed incomes are quitting or cutting way back and the parents aren't as willing to finance their kids shooting because of high prices. Quite frankly, the end is near regardless of what you try.
  22. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    im looking for answers, not reasons....from talented minds.
    thanks for the reviews of why.
    now, if I may, allow me to get back to how.
    maybe its my old military blood still flowing in me. I don't quit, nor do I surrender.
    I will find a way, either here, or where ever it shows itself.
  23. oleolliedawg

    oleolliedawg Mega Poster Founding Member

    We need more like you Bobski.
  24. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    then join the fight.
    whatever positive we come up with here, may possibly save someone elses club too. the power of the www.
    I think they call it group think in the business world. some call it a round table discussion. think.
  25. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    these are the problems i see effecting the sport:


    these are the areas we need to study, investigate, and resolve.
    any takers? anyone care to add to the list?
    post some ideas up.

    if a ship is sinking, you identify the holes, and fix them. you don't just abandon ship.
  26. Dan 513

    Dan 513 Member

    Do a Calcutta like this. 25 and what you break.
    10 from the 16 yard line
    Miss 0 shoot handicap from the 25 (15 targets)
    Miss 1 shoot handicap from the 24 (15 targets)
    Miss 2or more shoot handicap from the 23 (15 targets)
    Your pick on the money.
  27. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    types of games aren't the issue. getting people to come to the
    but thanks.
  28. shortbarrel

    shortbarrel Member

    I don't think the answer is games or how you throw targets, your problem is location. There has to be an incentive for shooters to travel any amount of distance these days with the price of fuel. How much property do you own? I know you mentioned camp sites are available, maybe you should look into expanding in that area and draw non shooters to your place. Advertise it as the "Make America Great Again Camping and Shooting Center" touting the rustic escape from the liberal loony's and you will be at full capacity year round.
  29. bobski

    bobski USN Retired Range Owner

    I cant remember who said it, but somewhere recently a friend told me....

    'if you offered it for free, theyd still complain.'


    When I first opened, tickets were 50.00 for a 3 day meet. 250 birds mind you. I'll repeat that. a 3 day meet!
    They were to bring a dish.
    Instead, everyone brought chips and dip, not food.
    They all flocked to the meet from everywhere.
    Then they got sly. They only shot 5 games and forfeited the match, and just hung out the rest of the time visiting fellow www. members.
    Then they'd ask me to carry over the leftover 5 games to the next match?
    I did. (nice guy)
    So, in a sense...they were shooting for 25.00 a match twice a year.
    When we realized we were being too nice.....we nipped it, and they stopped coming.
    So, I lived thru the cheapskate era of the clubs history. And, I fulfilled the quote someone made about free and still complaining. I saw it with my own eyes.
    It was:
    free coffee
    free camping
    free hookups for trailers/water and electric
    free instruction
    free patterning of guns
    free gun loans
    free shooting accessory loans
    free kitchen use
    free heating and ac
    I cut the firewood
    I pumped the septic
    I cut the 5 acres
    I fixed the equipment
    My wife did the real cooking when she got tired of seeing dip and cookies. We bought and cooked the turkeys and slabs of beef.

    Man hours....Friday = 3 to 10pm /7
    ....Sat = 8 to 10pm /14
    ....Sun = 9 to 1pm / 4
    Me = 25 hours
    Wife = 25 hours
    The help = 40 hours

    Total manhours = 90 hours per 3 day match. We'd fall in bed at night.

    Nope, I aint going backwards.
    And, like I said before, if I charged what I'm really worth, no one would come.
    At this point, it doesn't matter. They still won't come even if it was free..............again.
    Last edited: May 28, 2023 at 6:57 AM