A closed club?

In the post titled The Tyranny of Superstition, down in the comments a point was brought up that I wanted to address, because it’s something that I see happen every now and then, but is generally the exception rather than the rule. Specifically, in this comment:

I live in Middle TN and the closest gun club is Middle TN Shooters and a few years ago when I showed up for one of their Sun shoots (nervous as all get out), no one approached me … no one introduced themselves. They saw me standing there and they continued their IDPA practicing and I finally left as I felt like a the odd man out…I would love to shoot IDPA, but who wants to try and break into the “gun club group” who walk around like peacocks and almost dare you to interrupt them.

Maybe I’m the exception, but I have always felt that as a newish shooter, you are considered an outsider until you can prove your acceptance into the group.

Being a young guy in the shooting sports, I have from time to time felt like the “odd man out” at some ranges and shops. That being said, I have found that the vast majority of the shooting community is very open and welcoming. It’s unfortunate that sometimes you run into clubs and ranges that have adopted a “members only” attitude; but I don’t think that those guys represent the majority of shooters inside the community.

It does happen though, and I think that it’s a legitimate issue that we should take steps to address, but the question how do we address it? A big step that many clubs take is to put “pro-growth” leadership in place – something that happened recently at my club, Atlanta Conservation. Apparently before I joined there were issues with “old guard” essentially stifling the growth of the club; so after a while the remaining membership said “enough is enough” and put new leadership in place.

On a personal level though, the biggest thing we can do to help the problem is be personally welcoming to new shooters. Honestly, you see a new guy at the IPSC match, introduce yourself – make him (or her!) feel welcome. If we all do our part, we really can grow our community.


  1. Too bad. Any of the Safety Officers at our club would have introduced themselves and did an orientation to get any new person shooting downrange as soon as possible.

  2. Our club is gifted with a BUNCH of people who want to recruit new members, and a membership standard which prevents the worst assholes from joining. It’s very nice, because we get devoted oldtimers, and enthusiastic beginners. The fear is overcrowding, and the answer is MORE RANGES. hell, I’ve been thinking of starting one myself, and there is a TON of free info available from the NRA as to how one does that.

  3. A big ditto with our club when compared to Og’s… I try to sarge as many folks as I can into our club or events close by. Hell we’re trying to get that Chicago Appleseed rolling…

    Also Ditto with OG: Sadly so with ranges – being close to Chitown, the number of venues is a bit limited…

  4. My club has a bit of Old White Guy Itis, and Insider Fever…but it’s also the case that these elder men and women are responsible, hard working people who literally place their and their families’ lives and livelihoods on the line each time a new person walks through the door.

    I was amazed when I went there, with only basic skills, and they welcomed me as a member. All I did was attend the orientation, fill out the paperwork, give them a little money, and take the test. And they trusted me with running around the place with Scary Black Guns, etc.! Astonishing!

    I was told later than my enthusiasm and embrace of safety issues showed that I really understood what was at stake if someone comes in and acts stupidly. But still, these people I didn’t know took a risk with me, so I could exercise my RKBA. I found that humbling, not cause for going in feeling they owed me something. Expecting them to come running up and welcome me, like on a cruise ship, is ridiculous.

    Maybe I’m more outgoing, but I have no trouble in approaching people at the club, or any range, and asking for information, tips, news, etc. I have no trouble digging for information myself. The simple truth is that not everybody wants to interact with strangers. Some people need to get to know you casually over time before they want to interact. This is human nature, not a problem with gun clubs per se. Not everyone feels like being a mentor to the latest new person to come through the door. Not everyone who joins a gun club is mature, and I’d say this commenter is an example.

    “No one came up to me” strikes me as an entitled perspective. If people are focusing on shooting, they’re focusing on shooting. If they are doing this socially with friends, they are doing this with friends.

    To barge in and expect people to fragment their attention/drop everything for social interaction with ME strikes me as immature and selfish, not a club mentality but an individualistic one. I’d be inclined to approach someone behind the firing line and say, “Hi, I’m Robin, I’m interested in IDPA. Is it OK if I observe you all as you shoot? I want to learn more, but I don’t want to distract you or butt in. Can I stand over there?” If they show no interest whatever, then ask them who else in the club shoots IDPA. Ask the club board members. Ask the person who does the newsletter. Give before you expect to get. And figure out what you’re willing to offer in return for another person’s time and attention.

    There are many ways to manage social interaction and I’d say the commenter complaining about the “peacocks” needs to grow up. I’d say his real complaint is that he went in, expecting to be a peacock himself, and it didn’t work out that way, so now he’s all mad and projecting it on the people he expected certain behaviors of (which is pretty arrogant as well).

    I’d say he needs to figure out what he has to offer others, rather than expecting people to fall over themselves and interrupt what they’re doing to fuss over him and meet his needs. Shooting is like any other hobby. Just because you go out and buy a backpack doesn’t meant that it’s my job to mentor you because I’m a long-distance hiker you met at the outing club. Just because you buy a gun and show up at the club doesn’t mean you’re my new best friend, or I owe you anything at all. Shopping doesn’t make you part of a community, and neither does making huffy, snarky demands of others.

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