Apr 29, 2009

Shooting Sports, Anti-Gun Climate

Promoting Shooting Sports in an Anti-Gun Climate

Why are shooting sports ignored by the mainstream media?

The NRA, GOA, and others keep telling us to send money so they can fight the anti-gunning hordes and protect the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment. Every month, gun and hunting mags remind us of our heritage, tradition and importance of gun ownership.

So what sporting activity tends to attract the majority of average gun owners? Spectator ball sports, and golf. You can go to local gun clubs on a beautiful day and find no one there using the facilities.

Consider: The NRA has over 4 million members, but their most popular, century-old shooting events attract no more than 50,000 participants. Most of the NRA's own members don't participate in NRA-sponsored shooting events! If most of the membership isn’t participating how can we be surprised there is no support for those who do?

When the NRA fails to motivate its own membership to participate in its own events, how can we blame the "anti-gun" media for ignoring us?

Now, this doesn’t make shooting events the end-all, be-all of every gun owner. The point is pro-gun folks can't blame the "anti-gun" media for ignoring shooting events when many NRA members ignore NRA-sponsored events.

We’re told shooting isn't really suited to TV-addicted sheep-le. It doesn't deliver fast enough action and it isn't "all in one place" for the convenience of camera crews. And last but not least, the “real” reason that the shooting sports are not televised is because of the anti-gun bias in the media.

Is it really? Let's ask one Olympic-level shooter where she thinks the promotion problems rest:

``Biathlon is the most watched winter sport in Europe on television, and you come home to to America to compete, and people aren't quite sure what the two sports are, or often they think it's three different sports,'' said Rachel Steer, the top-ranked U.S. woman, from Anchorage, Alaska. ``So you're already in an uphill battle.''


This top-ranked competitor seems to feel that a lack of knowledge and understanding of the sport keeps it from gaining popularity.

Average gun owners, including many card-carrying members of gun organizations, are neither knowledgeable or understanding of the events available to them. These organizations can speak directly to its membership and try to motivate them to participate. How is the anti-gun media factoring into this?

There is no reason that shooting can't become a popular spectator sport. The only thing that stands in the way is the masses of uncaring, unimaginative gun organizations and owners who keep convincing each other that “this sport just doesn’t appeal.”

Consider that golf provides neither fast action, nor '..."all in one place" for the convenience of camera crews.' Several decades ago golf was not successful as a spectator sport. So they made a few modifications.

The scores used to be posted as the number of strokes through a number of holes, and it was very tough for spectators to tell who was leading. Then, par scoring for each hole allowed the reporting of in-progress scores as "1 under" or "even" and such, making it easy to tell at a glance who was ahead, even when players were on different parts of the course. Spectator interest was developed as a direct result of this change in the way scores were displayed.

The golfing organizations and players slowly built a fan base, attracted sponsors and pursued television exposure. Golf is still very slow and uses arcane terms (birdie, slice, hook, eagle), but it has proven a popular spectator sport, primarily because the people involved *believed* they could create a sport worth
following.

If gun organizations and shooters can’t think of a way to create a shooting sport that rivals the excitement and spectator appeal of golf, then we are truly doomed.

The bottom line for obtaining support for ANY sport is: Attract enough viewers, which will attract advertisers/sponsors, who will spend $$$ to advertise.

If you build and maintain a viewership and prove you have the raw numbers, you'll get the sport/show televised. Period.

The gun owning public has the raw numbers, with estimates as high as 80 million in the U.S. alone. This number rivals the viewership of the single largest annual televised sporting event on Earth (SuperBowl just over 100 million). A dedicated fan base of, say, 4 million would definitely get you noticed.

How many people are in the NRA? But when they keep telling themselves that shooting is too slow/boring/arcane/politically incorrect (take your pick), it is self-fulfilling prophecy.

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