Shooting as a sport here in the UK is under constant attack and from all sides. We have a government with an unhealthy fixation on civilian ownership of firearms, a general population with zero knowledge on the subject at hand yet always has an opinion, FUDDs in every discipline, overly secretive clubs and a few “mini hitlers” making the sport inaccessible to new shooters. So how do we ensure shooting will survive in the future?
It’s no secret that in order to keep a sport alive you need a constant stream of new participation, if membership gets progressively older without new blood then the past time will die. So to me it seems obvious that as a community we need to be as open and as welcoming as possible.
Most clubs worth their salt have open-days throughout the year and this is the perfect opportunity for us as shooters to bring in new people and let them have a go. As anyone with some trigger time can attest it’s very easy to get hooked, it’s the initial expense of acquiring a firearm and the government provided hassle that puts most people off. So do we really need to add to that by being off putting, rude or unwelcoming?
As a shooter I’ve made it my mission to introduce as many people as possible to my passion and take full advantage of open days. I love nothing more than bringing a trusted friend with me to experience what it is I love about the sport, to show them first hand why I have the relationship with Firearms that I do. And believe me when I say I’ve never had a guest go home hating shooting – in fact quite the opposite.
If we as a community made a pledge to introduce at least one friend or family member to the clubs/disciplines we shoot in per year we could in a very short space of time grow the sport at an accelerated rate. The more shooters we have in the UK the more power we have against draconian and poorly thought out legislation from those in government with little knowledge on what it is they legislate.
UNITY AND OPENNESS IS KEY
As a community we are unfortunately still very splintered and have far too many little groups just looking out for themselves, unlike in other parts of the world where shooters stick together as one cohesive unit. This in turn makes it very easy for the mainstream media and government to vilify legal shooters and clump us into the same group as those that use illegal firearms for crime.
The misinformation regurgitated by general members of the public on shooting is in all honesty not only frustrating but as a shooter myself shocking. However I’m confident that it isn’t irreversible and it just takes us to be more open to starting a dialogue and introducing non shooters to the sport and the actual facts and figures.
What doesn’t help however are clubs that behave like a secret society, are unwelcoming to new shooters, have people in authority positions being rude, condescending or mini dictators to others – or indeed that never open their doors at all.
Now I’m very lucky to be in a club that is very welcoming to new shooters and in general has very relaxed and passionate members coupled with a friendly atmosphere. If you find yourself in one that isn’t then perhaps you should wonder if it’s worth supporting that club, use your membership cost wisely and if you have concerns voice them.
We are far stronger unified as one and if we pull together as a community to promote our past time we can cut out the dry rot and ensure our sports survival for decades to come.
Alternatively we can do what has been done for decades, sit on our hands and remain quiet while they remove more and more of your firearms, bring in more and more legislation in an attempt to look like they are tackling crime – when in reality they are just putting their boot on the legal shooters throat.
Now is the time to be pro active, now is the time to talk openly about shooting. With social media you have a real opportunity to promote the sport and correct the misinformation circulating, don’t be afraid to tell the truth no matter how repulsed some may be to it.
And social media and the younger shooter is the topic I will be discussing at the 2018 Northern Shooting Show on the Saturday along with Firearms UK, English Shooting and SRS Power. I hope to see you all there.
To support my work you can pledge on patreon here.