FT Blog: Running a shooting club
By: James Osborne
James Osborne takes his hat off to all those who contribute to running clubs and competition, without whom we could not function
My morning routine works along these lines. Rudely woken by annoying woman from Radio 2 on radio alarm clock, while still half asleep. Listen to annoying woman thinking I really must retune my radio as this cannot be the best way to start the day. Eventually, later than I probably should, and still half asleep I stagger to the bathroom. I’ll spare you the details but sometime later I emerge to dress and congratulate myself for putting my socks on without recourse to sitting down. From there it’s to the kitchen for a strong cup of tea and a slice of toast, after which I generally take my leave for work sometimes even giving my wife a goodbye kiss.
Sunday morning doesn’t differ too much but my destination is an FT shoot, not work, and my apparel is slightly different in that on weekdays I’m not dressed by Air Arms.
After my day at work or out shooting I return home, forget to kiss my wife, eat and slob about hoping to find something to watch on TV that is more program than adverts. Before retiring my clothes find their way into the wash basket and seven hours later (god willing) that annoying woman from Radio 2 will wake me up.
It is so easy to fall into such a routine and take things for granted. For example whenever I open my wardrobe clean clothes can be found within despite no action on my part. And so it is with shooting! I will turn up at a competition having a little grumble about the track into the field, get out my rifle and after some serious gossiping have a practice on the plinking range and shoot the 40 or 50 targets of the competition course. After a swift cuppa I’m generally keen to get home for a little channel surfing to improve my knowledge of salvage and old cars.
SPARE A THOUGHT
So now it is time to spare a thought for all those people, and there are many, who do all the work that makes it possible for me to enjoy my sport with sometimes pathetically little input from myself.
Running a shooting club can be no easy task and I can come up with many reasons why I would not want to try. Firstly where would I even begin to find a suitable venue? And then there is the dealing with the landowner negotiating rents and establishing a few ground rules such as shooting times and numbers. Even if you are lucky enough to find a great landlord the neighbours may have to be considered along with any dog walkers who ‘have always walked down here’. Adequate insurance I imagine is fairly important and I find it bad enough having to renew house and car insurance to be honest.
Any club needs members, that’s the whole point, but where do you find them? Or how do they find you? Some contact details will have to be made public and then the public will have to be dealt with. Is the person you’ve just organised to meet in a lonely stretch of woodland to discuss shooting a complete nutter?
OVERCOME & ADAPT
Now obviously these obstacles can be overcome but I can already see the next set of problems. Clubs need things like constitutions and meetings have to be held (usually in a pub, so not entirely a bad thing) to establish committee members, rules and how they want to operate. What are the odds that everyone will get along just fine and agree wholeheartedly with one another?
At the heart of any club, and I don’t think this is exclusive to shooting, there are a few members that take on the bulk of the responsibility and I don’t just mean the admin side of things I have found to worry about so far. A physical presence is generally required during opening times, especially if targets cannot be left out safely as is the case for many FT clubs. I also know that it will be the same handful of members that each weekend help to put out and take in those targets long before and after other members have had a shoot. Those same people will also be the ones that cut grass, empty toilets and maintain buildings. Time is a precious resource for us all and I certainly couldn’t make the time for a club that some do.
There is a danger this is becoming a bit of a lecture and I don’t want it to be. Many of those mentioned above take a real pleasure in the work they do helping to run a club, it is all part of their shooting hobby. I know when I do help out where I can I take great satisfaction in doing so, helping to run a competition I find particularly stressful, but if things go to plan and the competitors enjoy their day it does make me a happy man. There are other rewards too, for instance at my club, members who help on maintenance days are treated to a sausage sandwich.
Getting back to my original point that it is all too easy to slip into a routine and take things for granted. Just as I open my sock drawer expecting clean socks it is all too easy to simply expect 50 nicely positioned targets to spend your day shooting at. Before returning home to a roast dinner on the table while someone else puts the targets away for next Sunday. Perhaps those of us who take these things for granted should maybe at least try to show some appreciation for those that help make things happen, even if they are quite happy to do the jobs we don’t want to.
So when I have enjoyed my day out shooting I’m going to try and remember to at least offer my thanks and perhaps I should make sure I do remember that goodbye kiss for my wife too, although on second thoughts she might prefer the status quo.
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