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Should USPSA Grow?

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#1 Shooter McGavin

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:05 PM

Last week I wrote a somewhat logorrheic post on the things I perceived to be wrong with USPSA- in no particular order (found here).  There were several interesting points made in the discussion that followed, (alongside the standard lack of social consciousness fare that Internet anonymity provides).  One topic that I found to be the most compelling was the question of whether or not USPSA should grow, or if it is best left the way it is.  I view this to be the single most defining conversation that we should have as practical shooters.

 

If one looks at the numbers, both USPSA and IDPA have approximately 25k members (USPSA / IDPA).  I imagine that there is some substantial overlap as many of us started in IDPA then graduated to USPSA for the higher level of competition.  Across the country, taking an estimate of 40,000 people active in the action shooting sports (out of 55 million adult gun owners in the US, which represents about .07%) would probably be on the high side.  I would be curious to statistically determine levels of participation in both sports, but was unable to determine this outside of NSSF's Industry Intelligence Report for IDPA.  According to this study, the average IDPA shooter is 51 years old, and he shoots 14 events per year.  I suggest everyone peruse this, as I imagine that there are several parallels over to USPSA (although I would assume a younger average age for us).  In 1998, USPSA had 400 active clubs- today we have 411 (as seen here and here).  Additionally, one of the most salient points that I found in the aforementioned IDPA study was that a majority of people discovered the sport either through a friend or family member.  This has been my experience with USPSA as well.  

 

What does this all mean?  I means that the action pistol sports are growing at a rate of a little under 10% per annum in terms of membership.  Most people shoot exclusively at their local clubs, of which there has been a fairly static number over the past 20 years.  The practical shooting community is insular, as most new members find out about the sport through a personal connection, and most members are middle aged men who tend to earn good salaries.  IDPA also appears to be growing at a faster rate than USPSA (which is undoubtedly because it's more accessible to the average shooter).  Anecdotally, we probably knew a lot of that.  Also anecdotally, all of us have invariably received the "oh what is that?" response from countless people when we tell them about our hobby.

 

So, is that enough growth?  One major problem that I'm witnessing is that the number of affiliated clubs is not expanding to accommodate the membership.  This is why we've seen Area matches sell out at record speed, and some local clubs (mine included) have over 110 shooters on USPSA weekends.  Also, the talent and level of competition has gone up even at the highest echelons of the game.  If we were to suddenly bring on 10,000 new members, where would they go?  Unfortunately, this is somewhat of a causality dilemma.  We need more members to justify more clubs, and more clubs to support those members.  

 

My personal opinion is that USPSA should grow as fast as possible.  While I realize that the vast majority of gun owners will never compete in a match, and the vast majority of LEO/military personnel have no desire to shoot for score, I think we can do better.  While many of those 55 million adult gun owners probably haven't heard of USPSA or IDPA before, I bet they've gone to one of the 18,000 indoor or 3616 NSSF certified commercial ranges in the US at least a couple times.  What will we likely find in each one of those ranges?  Bullseye or torso targets on a shooting lane shot from a single static line.  The mindset needs to be shifted in that there is more to shooting than just plunking a group downrange and calling it good.  The fact that this awareness does not exist is a travesty.  I'm not saying that we need a USPSA club in every range, but I think that the shooting public at large should at least know what their options are.  

 

For those of you who think things are fine and don't need to change, I'm probably not going to convince you.  However, let's make no mistake- this is a niche sport.  USPSA is about on par with fencing.  I frankly think that this sport deserves more participation and more respect.

 


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#2 Motosapiens

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:14 PM

I don't really need to get too philosophical about it. If more people want to participate, then it should grow. IMHO, the best way to make that happen is to make your local match good enough that people will keep shooting it and bring their friends. Then when it gets too crowded, you will have to start being creative, to find more MD's at the same range, or more different nearby ranges to host matches. 

 

Here in idaho, we seem to be pursuing your goal. Match attendance appears to be steadily rising, level of competition has gone through the roof, and we've had at least 1 new club spring up nearby, with really fantastic facilities.

 

IMHO, the single biggest contributor to our local growth has been steel challenge matches on weeknights during the summer, closely followed by the annual charity shoot for the cure. The other critical element has been the outstanding efforts of all our local match directors, discipline directors, and other passionate volunteers who like shooting enough to put on matches that other people will also like.


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#3 Vagetarian

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:29 PM

Is that you Caleb?
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#4 Maxamundo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 07:54 PM

I agree with OP

 

USPSA should be picking up speed nowadays. It's becoming really popular to post videos on facebook and instagram of your stage runs. Gun owners who see the videos think that looks awesome, can I do that too? But then they look into it. And what resources do they have really? USPSA club finder? HAH

 

Even if they do manage to find a USPSA club, it probably won't be their home range. And sometimes more than an hour's drive away from them, and that's not worth it, especially if they don't know anyone else shooting there.

 

We simply need more clubs running matches in more areas. It's not like they would be unsuccessful.

 

We'd just need a little more advertisement. And I don't mean advertising to your average-joe gun owner who just picked up a beretta m9 and a mossberg 500 because the military uses them and he thinks pump shottys are cool. As much as you guys trash them, we do need to make conversions from the timmies. While some of them are fuckheads who don't truly want to improve their abilities ("you're gonna be killed in da streetz!!"), believe it or not, a big chunk of them are good guys who - when shown what it REALLY means to be a proficient shooter - will aspire to that level. And the way they're gonna do that is to start competing. And once THAT happens, the slide-optic G17s with ported barrels in full FDE will quickly be replaced with CZs and 34s, and it's only up from there. It's just up to us USPSA members to be the catalyst. I know firsthand this will happen - 

 

This past summer I ran an evening USPSA style rifle/pistol match at a small club near me that doesn't even have USPSA matches. We had to limit the sign ups to 15 people and 3 stages because of sunlight and logistics. But we filled up every match - people loved it. I asked them every time if they were new to competition shooting, and most were. They'd never heard of USPSA before. Keep in mind that these were tactical guys who liked to take "practical Carbine-Pistol" type courses, so they fancied themselves "good shooters" already. I'd consider it a huge failure to not capitalize on this crowd.  Anyway, they all loved the matches so much that the club is continuing the match and moving it to a proper slot on the weekend so they don't have to deal with the sunlight issue. Getting an official USPSA match going there could be the next step, but at a club with essentially one shooting area (one stage set up/one shooter at a time), that might be a little bit ambitious. But the point is we raised awareness, and convinced the crowd that showed up that USPSA is something worth participating in.

 

We need more minor successes like that. They'll add up quicker than we think.


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#5 Maxamundo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:02 PM

And now waiting on Doc to come complain about not one, but TWO walls of text.



#6 thegrandwazoo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:11 PM

You seem to have a keen grasp of the problems as you see it and have posted like Tolstoy but you have, in 2 diatribes, yet to post a solution to your proposed problems. Like my boss says to me if you are going to bitch about a problem you better bring a solution with it.

 

So what up Tolstoy?

 

And after re-reading your posts why the fuck you still around if everything is a fucked as you propose? As fucked as HQ is my matches are always packed with shooters and the competition is good.

 

I say again shoot fast, have fun and bring a friend everything else is just trying to big dick it. Now if you want to bitch about Phil or the ED I am down with that!!!



#7 Miculek is a Noob

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:17 PM

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

 

What's in it for me?

 

Or, in more grandiose terms, what's in it for us? 

 

Seriously -- why is bigger better?



#8 Maxamundo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:44 PM

What's in it for me?

 

Or, in more grandiose terms, what's in it for us? 

 

Seriously -- why is bigger better?

 

I'd like to see shooting sports in general get big enough to where it would actually be feasible to shoot for a living. And by shoot I mean actually compete, not support your shooting expenses with teaching classes and selling basepads.  

 

In my mind shooting is just as legitimate as any spectator sport, and a lot more exciting than most. I know we won't achieve levels where someone at Ben's level makes multi-millions, but I want a small step in that direction.

 

We have professional teams all across the US that play video games - league, dota 2, counter strike - where their players easily make a living off of just playing the game.  



#9 Sad Sack

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 08:47 PM

Seriously -- why is bigger better?

 

You have to quit teeing them up so high, man.  You're better than that.


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#10 phil datpus

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 09:15 PM

Not everyone agrees that bigger is better

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=bHOBhLQAIBc

#11 thegrandwazoo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 09:20 PM

Now that is big dickin' it!



#12 Doc

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 09:40 PM

Why does USPSA need to grow? The org cannot service the members it has. The organization, money handling and communication all SUCK and you want it to be bigger???

Serious question, what, exactly, does increasing the membership get us? I contend that doubling our size would quadruple our problems.

You think the influx will somehow fix the endemic problems?

Let's start with an easy one. Only 22% of the members voted in the election. How about we make the org relevant to the other 78% before we start adding noobs who don't have a clue what the org is even about....

As for the sport needing more respect, external validation is not a true path to happiness, grasshopper.
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#13 Miculek is a Noob

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 09:58 PM

I'd like to see shooting sports in general get big enough to where it would actually be feasible to shoot for a living. And by shoot I mean actually compete, not support your shooting expenses with teaching classes and selling basepads.  

 

Wrong answer, thanks for playing. Except for some hare-brained scheme for a TV show that Leadchucker alludes to every time this topic comes up, USPSA matches are widely recognized as extremely spectator-unfriendly, and thus unappealing to the mass market. USPSA is fun to do, not to watch. Several of my friends who tried it had fun, but were disinterested in 30 seconds of shooting followed by 40 minutes of pasting targets and standing around. 

 

Until that changes, the money isn't going to follow, and the Stegger Online Bodega and Traveling Circus will have to suffice.

 

Let's face it, USPSA shooters are a weird bunch, there just aren't that many people who are interested in committing so much time just for a chance to blow a weekend pissing away money on guns and ammo.


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#14 Maxamundo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 10:00 PM

Yeah it's fun to dream though.

 

I know USPSA isn't a business and we can't really expect much from it. I want to see what Mikey does but yeah... I know we aren't a real sport. We're just a weekend hobby for people with real jobs.



#15 Maxamundo

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 10:01 PM

Wrong answer, thanks for playing. Except for some hare-brained scheme for a TV show that Leadchucker alludes to every time this topic comes up, USPSA matches are widely recognized as extremely spectator-unfriendly, and thus unappealing to the mass market. 

 

I don't know, I enjoy what HotShots did. I'd imagine live coverage of a match to be something like the PGA tour, and that's definitely popular.



#16 pmt

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 12:03 AM

We have professional teams all across the US that play video games - league, dota 2, counter strike - where their players easily make a living off of just playing the game.  

 

Only until their 36th birthday - then mom kicks their sorry asses out of the basement.



#17 pmt

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 12:07 AM

I don't know, I enjoy what HotShots did. I'd imagine live coverage of a match to be something like the PGA tour, and that's definitely popular.

 

I don't USPSA would allow people down range like they do in golf.....but it would make things interesting. Live coverage of a match would be exactly like the PGA tour - fucking boring.



#18 jayohee

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 01:02 AM

I don't think membership should outgrow the amount of ranges that can accommodate them. When USPSA gains more members it's not like you see new ranges pop up. Our local scene has at least 100 shooters per match which makes for 8 hr days. The only growth I want to see is an official USPSA facility for training and Level 2-3 matches

#19 Roons

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 01:20 AM

This sport runs on volunteers.  Want the sport to grow?  Make it easier for these volunteers to do their job.  

 

Discounts for targets, stage equipment, etc.  Easy to use database on stage designs that are filterable based on bay size and available props/targets.  USPSA provided electronic scoring devices with ease of use uploading to the web. Updated rules so a MD doesn't have to deal with fucking popper calibration calls.  A website that provides free USPSA club pages with match dates, info, etc.  Free membership to ROs, RMs, and people to make the sport happen.

 

Once these are in place, yes, go out and advertise the shit out of it.  Else you run the risk of volunteer burn-out; which is likely a metric on why we haven't seen huge growth.

 

Did I mention how fucked up USPSA web presence is already? I probably did, but it needs to be restated.


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#20 Nimrod

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 03:39 AM

Reading this thread, I am curious what OP is actually looking for by creating this thread?????

Anyone that has been around the industry long enough to gather all those links and refer to them in their post, already knows that BOTH sports are already in over their heads as far as sport administration goes. Half the traffic in this shithole verify that fact ad nauseum.

They also KNOW already these games are sponsor driven in terms of leveraging the mainstream firearms media and marketing.

NSSF and NRA that drive the gun owners agendas are focused on the fucked up politicians in this country.

These sports grow from the bottom. And the organizations I just mentioned above here just exploit them for their money.





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