1911Forum banner

1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Super Moderator
EDC: SIG P938.
Joined
·
22,305 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We do a new-shooter orientation during each of our monthly IDPA matches. We go over the range rules, IDPA rules, then do some demonstration of "use of cover", "tactical reload", etc. Then the shooters are required to do a little draw-and-fire demonstration, then we shoot as much of the match as time allows.
We get between four and eight new shooters each month, but rarely does more than one or two of them come back with any frequency. We use a Yahoo Group as a forum, bulletin board, etc., and we have something like 160 members, but our match attendance is still about 35 shooters.
We did a six-month award series, with the best three scores counting toward the championship. After analyzing the results, it looks like we have about fifteen shooters who show up to every match, some shooters who make every second or third match, then the group that shoots a couple of times a year, and the new shooters. We are the only IDPA club in a large, metropolitan area, so it's not like these folks are shooting some place else. What kind of experiences do other clubs have, in attracting and retaining new shooters? We have six IPSC clubs in the area, and I'd say they draw two new shooters a month, across all six clubs; we appear to be doing a good job of attracting new shooters, but we're not hanging on to them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,312 Posts
It ain't you. For some reason, there are a bunch of folks out there that think they are good with weapons handling. They are experts in the field of small arms, and there is nothing they do not know. Then they go to a match. The ego takes a pounding and they do not come back. The ones that go out to have some fun, have some comraderie with like minded people, will come back.

There is a fellow close to us that is known as an expert. He talks big in the gun shop and at the range when there happens to be no match. But the couple of times he showed to shoot a match, he came in last.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,694 Posts
The tactical gods of the gun shops hate it when those scores go out in a mass email to 130 or so folks and show them in the bottom 2/3rds of the shooters and maybe 3 times the score as the winner.
There is a group that thinks because they own guns they are gunmen. Real slam to their ego to find they are not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
John Forsyth said:
It ain't you. For some reason, there are a bunch of folks out there that think they are good with weapons handling. They are experts in the field of small arms, and there is nothing they do not know. Then they go to a match. The ego takes a pounding and they do not come back. The ones that go out to have some fun, have some comraderie with like minded people, will come back.
There is some truth to this but I don't think it tells the whole story.

When I was a little younger I used to actively race stand up jet skis. Raced every race in the region without exception. My race friends and I would try and get everyone we knew to come out and try the local races because we loved it so much. Time after time the ones that did come out were told not to expect much the first race. "This is very hard." "Expect to get your butt kicked." Some insisted they would be just fine after all they were big man of the lake where they lived/boated. Inevitably the talkers would get the living crap kicked out of them. Not just last place but horribly defeated. The rough race water would make those who thought they were Joe Pro Jet Ski look like they, literally, didn't know how to ride the thing. They couldn't stay on the boat (either could I my first time). These people never came back, never. Some wouldn’t even show up on the line for the other heats. They and all their stuff would just be gone.

What I think is more on the mark is that there is only a small percentage of people that do any activity that are die hard competitors. This doesn't mean they are any good just that they love to compete, at whatever level. These people show up as much as they can. Many of the people I shoot competitively with, month after month, have competed in other activities.

Another small percentage, as you mentioned, is the joiners. They want to part of something. They like the social aspect of the matches and practices. Which, of course, is just fine. There are those that are there to have fun and there are those that are there for, what they think is, combat training.

I've been taking quite a few people with me to organized IDPA practices. Most never come back or go very infrequently. Very few have gone on to shooting matches or IPSC. It's ego for some (not many), others don't like the hassle (whether it's the money, time to practice, drive out to the clubs, getting up or off work early, whatever), others I think, believe it or not, just aren't into it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,053 Posts
Some folks just decide the game isn't for them and they don't come back. In other cases, they don't like the attitudes of some of the shooters so they get turned off.

We do everything in our power to make new shooters feel welcome. We explain the rules, scoring etc., and above all else we converse about how shooting is about fun and self improvement. We also let new shooters know that even the best started at the bottom.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
301 Posts
Take a look at the whole picture

RickB,

I don’t have any experience with your club or matches, but I just started shooting last year, and attended my first IDPA match in April. In our area there are two clubs. Because of the scheduling, I first attended the club that shoots about 1 hour from my house. This was a great experience; great guys, very helpful attitude, simple easy to follow COF’s, and good SO’s. There were six stages and the match was finished in 2-3 hours.

A couple of weeks later I attended a match run by the other club at a range about 5 minutes from my house. Obviously, the proximity would make these matches preferable to the 2 hour commute. The entire experience was different. Nobody seemed to be in charge, it just seemed like everyone was trying to run things. I arrived one hour prior to the match, yet a half hour after the schedule start time, nothing was set up. Each COF required a ‘discussion’ by 4-5 guys each with their own idea how it should be set-up and run. Four stages took 4.5 hours. I found out that this club is based at another range, and the matches at this range were run as ‘satellite matches’. So maybe things would be different at the ‘normal’ matches at the club’s home range.

A week later I attended this same club’s match at their home range. Things were a little better, but again the organization left a little to be desired. When the match started (.5 hour late), they split everyone into squads, and because I was shooting for the first time at this range I was assigned to the squad with the new shooters. I didn’t mind being grouped with the new shooters, but this squad was 14 shooters. I watched the other squads form and I got the impression that most squads were guys that normally shot together. The other squads were about 4-6 shooters each. Our squad started on a stage with 4 strings and a total of 30+ rounds. The COF required scoring and taping between some of the strings. Things went very slowly. In fact, two other squads were waiting for us to finish the stage. By the time we finished the second stage, those squads were going home. The total match took over 5 hours for our squad. (At 2:30 when we finished, the temperature was +100 and there no refreshments available at the range.)

I went back to the first club. I have shot here every month since. I have tried to give the other club the benefit of the doubt and went back for few other matches. I tried to pitch in to help were I could, but the problems and time required to shoot were more than I care to experience. The matches I attend are normally 6 stages, 100+ rounds, and are finished in less than three hours. Including the commute, it still takes just a long, but the aggravation is nil.

Look at how welcome new shooters feel. Don’t make new shooter’s feel like the kid no one wants on their team. Address any issues that slow the matches. No one likes waiting a long time to shoot. (That’s why I gave up golf) Personally, I really appreciate a well organized and efficient match. The matches I attend are usually set up and ready to shoot before the start time. COF’s are already reviewed and any required changes for safety or range limitations are resolved and communicated at the pre-match briefing. There is seldom any sign of ‘seat-of-the-pants’ management. We have tremendous club officers, match directors, and SO’s. Things are run very professionally, yet matches are a lot of fun. I pitch in and help whenever possible. These guys have my support and I’ll attend every match I can
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
137 Posts
Another opton is that the people are like me. I don't have an ego problem, I just have a time problem. There are generally four weekends in a month and I can only shoot one due to family/work obligations. So do I shoot USPSA, IDPA, ICORE, or Highpower? I generally shoot USPSA becasue I have lots of fun with it and they generally have high round counts, I like that.

Unfortunately I am not the perfect example becasue in two years of shooting I haven't made it to an IDPA or ICORE match yet. I haven't gone to IDPA because everything I have heard makes me think it is not the game for ME. I haven't gone to ICORE becasue I can shoot my revolver a USPSA instead of my Kimber if I choose.

you might try to find out if the new IDPA shooters shoot anything else regularly or if they are new to the shooting sports and trying them all out.

Just my .02

Rook
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,794 Posts
We do a bunch of things to bring new shooters in and keep them.

We have some flyers at some gun shops and police stations around. Attached to the flyer is a free match coupon.

We offer a free new shooter safety check before every match.

Your first match is free.

We pair you up with the guy that instructs your safety course for the duration of the match.

We have a box of single stack and Glock mags, holsters and belts in our shed for those that lack some stuff.

We have between 3 and 8 new shooters lately for IPSC and 2-3 at the IDPA matches. Maybe 10-20% return.

If someone gets DQ'ed within their first two to three matches they usually dont come back.

We have very few gun shop commandos. Cant recall any for a couple years.

The 10-20% return rate is state-wide, not just my club.

Once someone buys a new dedicated IPSC or IDPA gun, they are hooked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
RickB,

Since I attend your matches, perhaps I can share a little insight.

I think for most new shooters, the first match is a real eye-opener in terms of their lack of skill relative to those who've been playing the game for several years. They try it once and see they're not going to be competitive immediately, but due to IDPA rules, if they want to try shooting a match some other time they have to pony up for the IDPA membership. Now, I understand that the organization needs contributions for the game to grow, don't get me wrong - but I think this is a big roadblock in the minds of some individuals. If they don't feel they'll be competitive, or that they won't be shooting more than a few matches each year, there's little reason to make the emotional investment of "joining the association."

Perceived speed of the matches also may be a major influence on new shooters. For the amount of time one spends taping targets or watching others shoot, you could throw much more lead down range on your own, if that is all you are interested in doing. I think our matches are well-run, and most people who have been to a few matches get the idea about helping to tape targets / keep score / help the RO in some other way to speed things along. Even with this, compared to shooting alone or with a couple of friends, there is a lot of down time. Unfortunately, much of this is probably unavoidable.

New shooters feel there are too many rules that they will lose points on, but forget about when they are simply trying to concentrate on being safe in a much more dynamic shooting environment than they are used to. This is not to make an editorial comment on the validity of certain rules within IDPA (so many other threads...), only that there are enough of them to frustrate many newcomers.

I'm sure the ocassionally inhospitable weather at our outdoor range in the winter months decreases interest in participation. I must admit that a few times I've decided to do something else on a weekend where the forecast was especially nasty.

Finally, while in a perfect world it would be great for all of our new shooters to return each week, could our matches really handle that with the current resources? Larger groups means either more shooting bays (don't know if that's a possibility), more people willing to dedicate the time and energy to being ROs, or larger squads with corresponding longer delays. If every new shooter returned without increasing the club's ability to handle the larger group size, people might start to refer to the wisdom of Yogi Berra, "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
983 Posts
There are dozens of ways to complete the statement, "There are 2 kinds
of new shooters...", but here's my take.

The first category is comprised of mall ninjas and gun shop commandos who think they know everything, and relatively casual shooters without a lot of equipment and practice/training. They likely don't have a decent belt, holster, or pouches, and may only have a couple of mags. They've probably never practiced shooting or reloading at speed.

The second category is comprised of more frequent shooters with more experience and skills. They probably visit the range frequently, have an elementary handle on the basic skills, and have at least the basics in equipment. Many will have perused our sports' rulebooks in advance, or lurked in the competition forums here or elsewhere, and thus have a decent idea of what they need to have, do, and expect.

The first sort show up to a match expecting to place well or even win. Instead, they get their asses handed to them. The second sort show up hoping to have fun and get a feel for the game, and generally they do.

The first sort doesn't come back.
The second sort does.

In order for match directors to increase retention of new shooters, they need to work to turn Type 1's into Type 2's BEFORE they get embarassed, discouraged, woefully defeated, or worst disqualified, and elect never to return. Here's my suggestions as to how:

1. HAVE A GOOD WEBSITE! Type 1 newbies may not know jack about shooting but they are quite often computer literate. Many of them will have located your club online. Your website should have a section just for prospective shooters with a short story and a long story on what is needed to compete. Give a checklist (eg: gun, holster, pouches, mags, ammo, food, water) and a short essay describing how matches operate, how a stage plays out, and the skills a competitor will need. Video is a huge bonus.

2. Pair up with new shooters. If a new shooter can be mentored for a day by an experienced shooter, they'll be less likely to make stupid mistakes. Remind them to top off their mags, reload when moving, watch for 180 traps, etc. Talk the stage over with them, help them understand the thought process involved in developing a strategy.

3. Give encouragement. When a new shooter hears "nice run!" from a guy who shot the stage in 1/3 the time, it makes him feel welcome.

4. Make the first match free. This helps more than you might think.

I know because... I'm a new shooter :D
I shot my first match at Tom Freeman's club, and they did all of the above things (except a good website!). After that I was hopelessly hooked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
877 Posts
Ankeny said:
Some folks just decide the game isn't for them and they don't come back. In other cases, they don't like the attitudes of some of the shooters so they get turned off.

We do everything in our power to make new shooters feel welcome. We explain the rules, scoring etc., and above all else we converse about how shooting is about fun and self improvement. We also let new shooters know that even the best started at the bottom.

Ron, I see this as the primary reason why new shooters either come back or don't. The attitudes of the "locals" make a lot of difference.

Some clubs do a great job of it and some don't even try. Some think they're doing it (or assume it), but they fail miserably. I can testify to that!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
I love shooting and recently started into IPSC. I have attended 4 events, all at the same place. I am not comfortable enought to go to another club and compete, I feel I need to master the basic skills. The most important thing was my mentor. They assigned me a mentor on my first visit. He coached me all the way! If I made a mistake they were not upset, and nobody made a stink. My mentor then called the following month to ask if I was going to be at the next event. My first question was to ask if he was going to be there since I felt insecure. Having a mentor helped me to overcome some of the "cliques" which would be intimidating to a new shooter.

When you are the new guy, it is hard to meet new people. The competitions are not just about shooting, they include socializing and some people are only good at one or another, so it was good to have someone help me meet the other shooters and explain some of the personalities that were shooting.

Now I am hooked! I look forward to the shoot and talking with friends.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
170 Posts
I have new shooters at every match also. What we do is a run down of the basic rules of IDPA and the rules of the range. ( cold range, saftey area etc.) We do this before the match and then I put them in a squad with some guys that help them along and keep an eye on what they are doing. I do this because of saftey and so they can ask questions. The guys that help out with the new shooters are all IDPA shooters and range officers of our range. I do let them shoot the whole match so the can enjoy the day of competition and see how everybody else does it. Most do come back for matches throught the year but almost nobody is there at every match.

We loose people to :
Chlidren's ball games
Wife honey do list
Hay and farming in the summer
Vacation

We only have about a 15 who always are there and we average 20-35 most months. I do not know how to keep them all shooting but if anybody finds the answer let know.

The Highpower and Smallbore guys have the same problem at our club.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
57 Posts
I shoot at a local club where I am a member. I have seen our club described by combining some of he posts here.

I like to shoot at as many clubs as I can comfortably travel to. In 4 years of shooting locally, I have felt more welcome at clubs where I was Not a member.

Most clubs have a group of dedicated shooters who stick together. Unless you are a well developed good looking woman who can shoot, you get no recognition from these core shooters. They usually squad together, talk and joke among themselves, and do not include new people in their group. This does not bring new shooters back and does not make others feel welcome.

A new shooter needs to be made welcome, receive helpful mentoring during and after the match, and be invited back. Ask them if they have questions after the match. If they make a mistake, take them aside and tell them what you saw. As in all fields, praise in public but criticize in private.

The match should have at least one "Skill" stage. Similar to the USPSA calssifier, all matches need to address basic skills for all on that one stage. It helps new shooters understand what is going on.

The IDPA shoot one and join rule is a draw back also. I hesitated to join IDPA until I had shot for a while. I had been a member of this or that over the years and saw the money spent as a waste. (Any former PMA members?) I joined so I could shoot a S&W regional match. To shoot USPSA, I do not have to join even though I decided to become a member. I had a choice.

Finally, price of the match. If you live withing close driving distance and the match is $20 to shoot, that is not as bad as driving for 2 hours and paying the same price. I stopped going to a club that raised fees to $25. They have three stages, I drive 2 hours plus each way, and they raise the fee to $25. It is not worth the trip. I miss shooting there, but economics prevailed.

If you take your new shooters, give them an experienced "buddy" and make a point of them having a safe good time, yopu may get more returns.

Regards,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,155 Posts
Terrato said:
due to IDPA rules, if they want to try shooting a match some other time they have to pony up for the IDPA membership. Now, I understand that the organization needs contributions for the game to grow, don't get me wrong - but I think this is a big roadblock in the minds of some individuals. If they don't feel they'll be competitive, or that they won't be shooting more than a few matches each year, there's little reason to make the emotional investment of "joining the association."
I never thought that this was a very big deal, but I hear it come up quite frequently. We pound it into new shooters at both their orientation and at the registration table, so they know we take it seriously. I also don't think think there's anything wrong with the rule. But, for some people, I guess the $30/yr separates the bear from the buckwheat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,991 Posts
Going up to $35 a year.

When I converted my club's matches from IPSC to IDPA in the early days of IDPA, I did a written survey. Right at half of the shooters said they would quit shooting matches if required to join a sanctioning organization. So I did not affiliate. I run by all IDPA rules and procedures, but as an outlaw range. Sorry, Bill, but we have a small operation anyway, and half of those few is not enough to set up targets for. Many of those cheapskates are still coming. Hardly any of them have branched out to the other shoots in the area that I and the more serious shooters travel to. Obviously once a month is enough for half of the pistol shooters here.

We do get some turnover, and the new shooters are fairly good about coming back.

There was one guy who shot a few times that I am just as glad did not stay in. His reaction to a match: "I can shoot the gun, I just can't handle all these RULES!" And some of the rules he couldn't handle were safety rules. He finally got bad enough that a DQ got his attention and moved him back to tin cans.

The saddest case was the group who had taken the Sheriff's Department class. You know the type, pictures and examples of the different action types, a lot of generic safety warnings, a lawyer to lecture on rights, responsibilities, and the resort to self defense, and a very little range time. These folks thought they were now prepared to use pistols for sport and defense; and found themselves diving in at the deep end. They were discouraged and took no advantage of the advice, instruction, and mentoring offered to them. None were seen again.

Then there is the rare dealer who is a shooter. He is quite a good shot and is young, vigorous, well coordinated, keen-eyed, and FAST. (He inherited the store.) He shoots some of our club events and does very well, often high over all or high in division. But he won't shoot anywhere else, at a larger club or at a sanctioned match. Because he would come up against stronger competition and would not have as good chance of winning. He is strictly the big frog in a small pond type.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,139 Posts
I think the issue of must pony up and join the IDPA to continue shooting is a valid one. I'd guess that most of the newcomers to IDPA matches are relatively new shooters to competitive shooting and go to an IDPA match to experience it and see if they like it.

Their first match they learn all the safety points, rules, etc and get to shoot some stages (as much as time will allow). Then they're told that if they want to continue they MUST join the IDPA! They've barely got a feel for what IDPA matches are about and haven't had much exposure to it. I think a better policy might be shoot 3 matches or so....then start imposing the requirement to join the IPDA.

I know in IPSC circles that a competitor can come and go...shoot as many matches as they want and never join the USPSA. USPSA and IDPA get their operating funds differently. I don't know if the return rate is higher, lower or about the same for USPSA than IDPA.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,133 Posts
I'm a one time IDPA shooter. Here's why:

I am allowed to shoot IDPA one time without joining the org for $35 yearly. A 90 shot (or less) match is $15. Gotta use factory ammo at most of the meets. Add another $30 for ammo (and sight in your pistol with it so that you have to use expensive factory ammo for practice).

I shoot ICORE and PA Steel League during the spring, summer and fall. Generally once a month. No one makes me join their org. A 125 shot match is $10 since I don't shoot for prize money. The rules allow the same inexpensive reloads I shoot everywhere else, about $8 per event.

I was looking at IDPA as something I could do during the winter months. Maybe 4 matches a year. The match I shot was fun. The people who put on the event were pleasant, courteous and helpful. But it is going to be $50 or so a match. For the money, I'll just shoot paper and wait for spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,991 Posts
imashooter2 said:
I'm a one time IDPA shooter. Here's why:
Gotta use factory ammo at most of the meets. Add another $30 for ammo
Sez who?
That is not an IDPA rule.
The only factory loads I ever shoot are Blazer or other 9mm econo-ball when I have been too lazy to reload lately.
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top