Promoting FT shooting in Canada

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Promoting FT shooting in Canada

Post by dHb » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:06 pm

FT shooting is a pretty obscure little sport in North America. When there were only 60ish competitors at the excellent Crosman Northeastern Regional match in NY, it really brought home how small FT is at present. In Canada we've also got over 40 years of the 500 fps limit on airgun velocities that have resulted in most people thinking of airguns as relatively crappy, inaccurate 'guns' for kids that get relegated to the closet once one can buy a real firearm. How can we go about increasing awareness of FT and airgunning as a serious sport for youth and adults?

With a web presence on airgun forums, CanadianGunNutz and a simple web page, we've managed to get a dozen people out to our monthly shoots. I have about two dozen on my FT mailing list. So, drawing on the population of Eastern Ontario and Montreal (4+ million) the web presence gets 12 people showing up to events. Not very impressive. It seems that these people were already interested and looking for airgunning opportunities. I'm not much for Facebook so I'm probably missing out on the potential of social media.

Of those who do show up at each event, several were brought by a friend/relative. So word-of-mouth seems to work pretty well. The Port matches have nurtured a few dozen people who have become pretty knowledgeable and well equipped over the years.

Affiliation with a gun club, may enhance the exposure of firearm shooters to the world of precision airgunning. We haven't pursued this in the Ottawa area yet as we've had a nice venue where we can legally shoot without hassles.

Outreach to gun clubs (e.g. promoting events, offering to put on a FT shoot for clubs' members) may increase awareness and interest.

Outreach to gun shops through flyers, bulletins, 'business' cards and discussion with staff. I've just started posting notices in Ottawa area gun shops, so I don't yet know if that's going to attract people.

Youth involvement through approaching groups such as cadets and scouts may attract teens who have had exposure to airguns and traditional, formal target shooting competitions.

Media coverage can spread awareness in the general population and spark interest in some. This has worked to some extent for sports like cowboy action shooting and IPSC.

Quality facilities can make an FT club a part of the community (the UK seems to have an extensive network of dedicated FT/HFT clubs that are used in part by locals as practice for hunting). For those of us who are accustomed to the noise of regular shooting ranges, FT is a very tranquil change.

These are just a few preliminary thoughts about how to grow FT as a sport/hobby. ... /index.cfm has a lot of resources for those starting/running ranges and some of it may be applicable to promoting FT.

Posting from the edge of Larose Forest, Eastern Ontario

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Re: Promoting FT shooting in Canada

Post by Mac » Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:57 am

I have been working on this since 1999 and although it may not seem like it, field target and the knowledge of it has grown immensely. In 1999 there were about a dozen people who participated with some regularity in FT and about the same number of people who were aware of its existence. With the rise in popularity of the internet, participation has grown considerably and there are thousands of Canadians aware of the sport. There are also a great number who would like to participate in FT matches. We now have the first ever, CFO approved field target range in Canada, which has created a template here in Ontario which can be used here, but also in other provinces whose CFO will use what Ontario has done as a guide.

So why isn't the sport growing faster?

Part of it would be related to the fact that powder burning guns are so popular. Many still refer to powder burners as "real guns" and air guns as "BB guns". That is slowly changing once people see the capability of FT rigs.

Another factor is that FT is not for everyone. My current list contains over 50 adult names of those that have participated and 17 junior names. Only about 15 of the adults participate at most matches and only one junior attends most. There are many that participated years ago that are not on the list that I started in 2008. So people try it, do not really like it that much and fade away.

I think perhaps the biggest factor is that there are not enough people who like yourself, Maurits, Brian and Barb, take the initiative and set up a shooting event. Once this is done, the ball starts rolling which is by far the most important step. Every group, like yours and the others mentioned, becomes a beacon in your area to showcase the sport. We need more beacons.

Involving people in bringing targets and helping to set up the course is also very important as you no doubt see from your group. Many hands do make light work. There was a time at Port where no one had to set up more than one or two lanes at the most. That has dwindled to three or four people doing all the set-up for every match. Our club now has five lane kits that each contain three targets and all the hardware needed to set a three target lane or two target lane. Our next step is going to be to see if folks will volunteer to show up early enough to grab a kit and set up a lane on Saturday morning. We need people to be involved in the sport as well as simply shooting the course. I do realize that some folks have jobs and home lives that make it difficult even to attend matches, so realistic expectations are also important.

Some others may chime in with some discussion and I would be interested to hear the views of the others who have started up regular shooting events.

FT is growing and we have to keep taking the steps to make sure that continues.

Thanks for your interest and enthusiasm, Dave.
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Re: Promoting FT shooting in Canada

Post by bjp » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:49 pm

excellent post. I bring my AA MPR FT to the range with me and let people try it in an effort to convince them that not all airguns are the cheap $25.00 break barrels of yesteryear! There is more quality and technology in my airgun than in any powderburner I own (and I have several). I have had many people tell me they want to give FT a try but life gets in the way sometimes. As for setting up a match, when compared to IPSC or IDPA the set-up/tear down is incredibly easy. I am actually having more fun with FT than any other of the other "gun sports" at the moment.
Hopefully we can keep growing the sport.

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