The Successful Cowboy Action Shooting Club

Prepared By Chuckaroo, SASS #13080

What it takes to develop a successful shooting club.

From the initial organization to management, recruitment and beyond.

Although it ain't "Brain Surgery," there's more than meets the eye in every successful club.

Successful Cowboy Action Shooting Clubs first off, must have good matches. They can also have social activities
outside of the regular shooting program.

Successful is a relative term. In the case of a Cowboy Action Shooting club, successful is what works for you,
the vision you have for your club, and what your members and fellow shooters want.

It is important to understand that BIGGER is NOT always BETTER. The size of your operation can effect the level of
success that you will obtain. If more shooters creates problems, like parking food and delays, then your overall success
will be effected and broadcast by people that had a less then expected experience.

Ultimately, your success will be determined by your club members and guest that come to your matches.
You are in the entertainment business and you need to satisfy your members and customers with your production.
Every match, no matter what size, is a production on some level.
If money in your clubs treasury is your main motivation,
it will show and eventually effect your overall success.
In the eyes of the shooter, success is value for their entry
fee and it is measured on their FUN meter. Here, perception becomes reality.

are the cornerstone of any successful match. Without them, you are destined to fail or burn out
the few that you do have. Whenever possible, volunteers should be recognized. That can be done in a variety of ways.
Most volunteers will not look for recognition but failure to give them thanks, should not be an option.

 Range, Insurance, Targets, Volunteers and Shooters
     * Required permits for a shooting range
     * Sufficient backstops and drop zones

     * Parking for expected number of participants
     * Insurance (required for SASS affiliation)
     * Safety and emergency plans
     * Ideally, separate berm areas are best.
     * Liability release forms for participants
             Include shooters information, club liability statement, signature and E-mail address SAMPLE WAIVER

     Once a range has been secured
Establish financial arrangements with the host range (In writing)
Develop initial start up cost     
     * Become SASS affiliated

     * Advertise your shoots
            SASS Chronicle Listing
            Local Gun Stores
            SASS Wire

            E-Mail campaign
     * Establish a club board or sufficient committees to establish by laws, run a match, set schedule,
        make decisions on club functions. (The size of the board is relevant to the size of your club.
        Not all offices need to be filled.)
            Vice President
            Safety Officer
            Territorial Governor
            Additional Positions
                 Web Master
                 Newsletter Editor
                 Host Club Liaison

       * Good Shoot On a Budget
          Forward Movement using the same targets for rifle and pistol
          Household items for props
          Clay birds, balloons for targets 

     * Targets, target bases
            Rifle, pistol and shotgun (plus target paint)
                 Can use balloons, paper, clay birds, plate racks, dueling trees, bowling pins (not for shotgun) flat steel etc.

     * Gun Rests
            Can use straw, tables, special long gun rests.

     * Props
          Simple everyday items can make excellent props. They also provide a place for the hands to be prior
            to the start of the stage.

            Consider yard tools as farm tools. Rakes, wheel barrel, shovels, pitchforks, spades, saws, picks,
            rope, buckets, lanterns and hammers make great props and something that is readily available.

            Additional household items are equally attractive for props. Pots, pans, plates, barrels, boxes,
            straw bales, cards, poker chips, dice, card table, chair, wash pan, musical instruments,
            whiskey bottle, shotglass, dinner bell, fake dynamite, money and money bags, saddlebags, coffeepot
            and water bucket are all easy to obtain and inexpensive.

            As your club grows, it can make or purchase additional props like, store fronts, portable split
            rail fence sections, saddle for horse etc..

            When constructing a permanent store front, consider the safety of the building. Also consider visibility
            for the spotters and RO.

            Do not use props that are real heavy, very sharp, will get in the way when dropped or make the shooters
            hands wet.
     * Loading and unloading tables

     * Timers

     * Scoring program and computer, scorecards, pens, clipboards

     * Safety Plan
          Prepare ahead of time for an emergency.   

     * Budget
          Should include all projected income and expenses.

          Determine match entry fees. Generally somewhere from $5 to $15, can offer discounts to members.

          Sources of income
               Match fees
               Special shoots
               Side match events
               Annual match
               Charity events
               New Cowboy Shooter clinic's
               SASS RO Courses
               Buy a bonus (Not allowed at State Level and above shoots)
               Local Gun Stores etc.

        * BE ORGANIZED
            A Cowboy Match is a "Production." It requires a lot of timing, organization and advanced planning.
            Even a monthly match requires a sufficient amount of work prior to the match. Successful matches
            will have a strong leader for a Match Director. Their job is to keep things organized and to bring the
            different phases of putting on a match, together.

            BE ORGANIZED! If you are not organized, it will show.
You will need a sufficient number of volunteers
            to prepare stages, set up events and handle the associated paperwork and business responsibilities.

            It is important to have dependable people in key positions. This includes the match director, stage writer,
            set up and tear down crew, registration and scorekeepers and club help with trash, food and water.

            Each of these tasks must be coordinated and on time. Delays, at some positions, could throw the whole
            match off schedule. Remember, the perception of the shooter is reality, no matter how good your
            match really was.


            Have a location suitable to accept money, make scoring cards and answer shooters questions.
            "I believe every shooter should be required to run registration at least twice in their lifetime. This is
            by far, one of the toughest jobs in the match. During a short period of time, you have to get waivers for
            new shooters, you must take money, posse friends up with each other, keep the posse sizes equal,
            respond to some of the dumbest questions known to man, and do it all with a smile on your face!"

                "I want to shoot with a guy from work, I don't know his name, is he here yet?"
                "Is my friend coming?"
                "Is it going to rain?"
                "This is my first time, do I need to do anything?"
                "I have to shoot with Lefty, we are sharing ammo!"

            Posses need a minimum of 13 members to run smoothly and have enough people to cover all of the
            work assignments.

            I use a chart for our monthly matches that has increments of 13.
            (1 = 13, 2 = 26, 3 = 39, 4 = 52, 5 = 65 and 6 = 78). I then number the shooters cards for about
            how many shooters I expect. That way I know how many shooters we have at any given time. It really
            helps with posse building.

               Shooting stages is the primary reason that shooters come to a match. Poor stage writing can
            ruin the most well run match. Many shoots have obtained an unfavorable reputation based on poorly
            thought out stage design. Although it may not be your cup of tea, the big and close target set ups are
            the most popular.  SEE STAGE WRITING
            Have an experienced stage writer prepare the stages or have someone go over the stages for final approval.
            Stages should have a smooth flow, be equal in length (as compared to the other stages), and they do
            not cause a safety problem for the shooter, posse workers or the public.

            Shooter expectation is different across the country and sometimes within the same state.
            You do need to customize your stages for the shooters you want to attract.
            That means communicating with your shooters and asking for their input. Generally speaking, shooters
            like movement but not a marathon, lines off of the clock, action like throwing an object or
            performing a task but, before the buzzer, all four guns on every stage, no more than 4 to 6 shotgun
            an even number of shotgun rounds, targets closer rather than farther away, big targets, reactive targets,
            variety in shooting sequences, the same sequence for the rifle as the pistol, props that allow optional
            long gun placement for right and left hand shooters, sturdy long gun rests, level footing and easy to
            understand shooting sequences. 

          *Posse Leaders
Have trained posse leaders that are also good with people. 
            Results available at the match and whenever possible, on the Internet soon after.

              To speed things up, have a runner take scores up to the scorekeeper half way through the last stage
            of the day. This will result in the scores being half done when the posses finish up the last stage.

             Give vendors free space during monthly matches. Visit other shoots and let the vendors know who you are.


          Besides the nuts an bolts of a successful match are the intangible things that can make the difference between a
          good match and a great match.

         * ATTITUDE
            The friendly attitude of match officials can go a long way with the shooters. Do not take criticism personally
          but use it to improve your match. Choose your match director, posse leaders and RO's carefully.

          Remember that this is a fantasy game we play for fun. When it comes down to making tough decisions,
          follow the rules and if necessary "Do The Right Thing" to resolve an issue. Doing so will advance
          the Cowboy Way.

            Besides the match itself, shooters like good food, vendors, camping, side matches, scores available on
          the Internet, value for their money, ice water on the stages when it is hot outside, trash cans,
          brass pick up tools, recognition to clean shooters, door prizes (sorry we ever started it but some folks like them)
          stage design on the Internet prior to the match, club badges, social hour after the match, specialty matches
          on fifth weekends, ribbons or other monthly match awards, porta potties, awards (no matter how simple),
          and lots of FUN.

             Establish a program, like a "New Shooters Clinic" to get new shooters involved. Teach potential shooters
          all about Cowboy Action Shooting from start to finish. Advertise your clinic at local gun ranges, gun stores,
          gun shows, the SASS wire, club website and at local matches. This has proven to be very instrumental in
          getting potential new shooters beyond the line of comfort and taking the steps toward participating in
          the sport. CLINIC OUTLINE

            The all around club will include social activities outside of their regular shooting matches.
           Group dinners, dances, trips and special events in costume can generate a solid club atmosphere.
           It also helps generate longtime friendships that reach beyond the sport.