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How do we get more shooters?

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How do we get more shooters?

I have noticed a bit of a decline in the numbers of shooters attending short range BR matches in the later half of this year.

I hope this isn't an ongoing trend but just to try and gauge the general sentiment out there I'd like to pose a couple of questions to the forum in the attempt to get some positive discussion happening on the subject and get the numbers back up where they should be.

Why do you think the numbers are down? Is it the cost? Could it be the travel? or time away from work? or is it the current economic climate in general holding people back (ie all 3)? I know I haven't been able to attend several recent shoots due to work, but is this the case for everyone? Are there too many shoots to choose from?

What can we do to overcome these issues and get more regular shooters attending?

What can we do to attract new shooters to our sport? In particular juniors but also shooters of all ages? Do you know someone who would like to try Benchrest but is holding back? If so why? What can we be doing to help them attend.

I know some of these are age old questions but why not have some healthy discussion on the subject?

JGA 2013
JGA 2013's picture
It had to happen

Hi Muzz

All good questions. I have asked quite a few people about this and spoke to shooters at the Madden. It appears that the events are getting more expensive to nominate, you seem to always have you hand in your pocket for something at the shoots. I am not saying that clubs should not make a profit but would it be better to lower the price and get more shooters to attend.

Also I believe Benchrest is the only discipline that is not graded in SSAA. Maybe it’s time. The grades could be HOF, A,B,C & D. & juniors .
They do this in all the smallbore events including Benchrest and also in RBA and it works well.

It works because the new shooter shoots against people of their own ability and as they get better they move up the grades and strive to reach the top level. A new or graded shooter is paying the same amount of money to travel, nominate and spend money at the host club the same as the HOF shooters. If they keep getting beat by people way above their level they may not want to compete hence we have no new shooters coming into the sport, not to mention there will be no juniors.

I am sure that there are other factors as to why the numbers are down but these were a few comments I heard spoken about.



He who share's win's

There are a lot of questions

There are a lot of questions and ideas with this problem, a lot of juniors shoot because their fathers, grand fathers etc already shoot and invite the juniors along, but fathers and grand fathers are getting older there for no more juniors, the average age is high.

There is another problem with equipment that people think they need to compete with and they think the entry level is high cost, you can have a lot of fun with low cost equipment good equipment to start with,eg: Mitchell has won International, National, State, Club matches and set 6 National records along the way with an $800.00 Anschutz brought 5 years ago and had a lot of fun along the way and made a lot of friends, he has won a Procal Fly Shoot, 1000yd shoot at 15yrs old with a Remington, looks flash but it is still only a Remington with a big stock and barrel.(cost approx $3000.00) with Nightforce scope.

A $800.00 Anschutz won the PRSC Rimfire in New Zealand on the weekend against 3 Halls and all those halls shoot very well indeed.

Juniors should take it slow and work their way up, and no pressure from thier peers, they will get there but like a lot of things in this world people want to be good at something first up or be good at it first match and if don't quit, they need to attend matches and learn along side the other shooters and work them self up and to compete against their scores only, it will come along in time.

Another problem I see a lot is that different clubs need new blood and an open mind to promote their club, support new members, new members are lost turning up to clubs and no one talks to them, I have been to clubs and they have clubs within clubs, women and juniors turn up and other members don't talk to them and don't make them welcome, they become uncomfortable and don't come back and the average age rises again, if you turn up and have a lucky shoot and beat a few members they ignore them and they don't turn up again.

We need to over come these problems and have open days and et the clubs up and going and get people to come along to these matches, grading may help, costs for entry fees in my opinion seems ok because if you walk away with a prize it good and entry fees pay for these, travelling cost can be high or share with other shooters.

I see some shooters shoot very well in club shoots and will never travel and these people can mix it with the best, we should try and get these along, I think these people think they are not good to compete.

Also organise more junior matches for only juniors to compete with out the pressures of other people expecting to much out of them first up, I have seen a lot of juniors give up because they can't do what dad or mum expects, good way to turn off juniors.

There is a interclub shoot up here on the north coast that have shoots every couple of months and there can have between 40 to 60 shooters at a match and has a good time, Glen Innes, Manning Valley, CoffsHarbour, Armidale and Port, up to 60 shooter and a State and Nationals may have only 20 -25 at times ????

Something to ponder we need to do something positive



Knighty's picture
More shooters

Excellent questions Murray and good answers Greg.

I agree that grading is essential to keep shooters competitive and even out competition but I do believe the cost is becoming prohibitive for many.

Ammunition, travel, entry fees and then the daddy of em all....the cost of gear.

Some shooters seem to have very deep pockets and can afford to spend large amounts on the top of the line equipment and then those who cannot match this cost have to compete with whatever they can. Shooting is becoming too uneven.

I have also heard it said that the rewards for all this expense are not good enough. Winning a garden hose or a kitchen whizz or other useless prize is no compensation for the effort and cost involved. Medals or trophies seem to be well accepted.

Keen young shooters get drivers licenses and discover their hormones and then lose interest as other social activities take over and they want to be with people their own age..This is just a fact of life and something that is not going to change.

Not many shooters today are young or middle aged. Most seem to be the older generation with more time, more money and no hangups about firearms.

Perhaps it is time shooting became more professional instead of just a hobby. In the States shooters compete for big prize money and are supported by those businesses who make a living out of selling shooting gear and supplies. Sponsorship of bi monthly professional shoots in each State with substantial prize money might encourage more interest and participation but grading would be essential. We are getting very little support from the big businesses in shooting supplies but they depend on shooters for a living.

Shooting is just a hobby at present and is fast becoming a hobby that cannot be afforded or maintained. I think we must become much more professional and we need to think carefully about this.

The older I get, the better I used to be!

Bill Collaros

"Perhaps it is time shooting became more professional instead of just a hobby"

There is presently an opportunity for this to happen it is just whether anyone has the kahunas to take the leap and whether that someone would get the support required or it becomes another political nightmare confusing the situation even more ??

Bill Collaros
Sydney - Australia
"Shoot to Thrill"

Brendan's picture
There is no question that

There is no question that numbers at some shoots seems to have declined in recent years.

There are really only two major shoots that still get a good crowd - the Nationals and the Australia Day matches.

I have thought about this for some time, and it sees to me that shoot organisers might need consider a few things.
So, in no particular order, I came up with the following.

1. DO NOT program shoots mid week. People have to work, and simply cannot take a week off plus all the other expenses
2. Have a think about entry fees - are they too high? Yes, I know how much it costs to run shoots - I have personally organised and run four Nationals and two Supershoots at Para Range.
If you need to charge more than $50 per event, then perhaps do some homework or reduced numbers will surely follow. It's a demonstrated fact.
3. Give the shooters something besides just a shoot. This can be a free Bar BQ at lunchtime (or after the shoot) - the cost of this would be covered by about three nominations. Get creative.
4. DO NOT assume that because the shoot is in the benchrest program that people will turn up. Get pro active and start contacing 'regulars' to see if they are coming, and can they encourage others
to come - it works!
5. Make the range a friendly place, so that shooters will WANT to come back.

If I think of a few more, I will post them


Michael Huebner
Michael Huebner's picture
Murray, I dont have the


I dont have the answers but I have thought about this

I can only comment about myself but I fit into the all 3 categories you mention.

However I will be doing more next year. Australia Day, Harry Luhr, Crayfish and Nationals I will be at to start the year off. I will Fly to all shoots but Portland as I don't have the time any longer for the driving

Here are some ideas on cost- (Flights Accomm, Food, Car)
To go to Australia Day will cost around $1200 mark
To go to Silverdale March shoot will cost around $1050
To the Crayfish $250 -$300 as I stay at relatives house (Home State - Victoria)
To the Nationals $2000
That's not including powder, bullets and primers

A rifle is going to cost $1500-$5000, Setup for reloading etc $????

When you add it up it can be overwhelming

So how do you attract a junior to that????


Will007's picture
Hi Murray I understand why

Hi Murray

I understand why people struggle to make it to bench rest matches for me it is 500km to the nearest match. So any trip away is costly.

It's is about money work and travel ,life has got busy for everyone and there is never enough time in the day

I don,t believe grading would solve a lot in regards to shooter numbers, grading alone won,t change attitudes of shooters. It more to do with the expense of the sport then grading .

this is a very challenging sport and the only way to improve is too practice a lot and ask for help when you need it. I enjoy competing ,against HOF shooters myself and most if not all will help you if you care to ask and listen to what they have to offer eventually you will become competitive.

So Murray I haven,t got the answers but I sure hope your post does encourage a lot of thought into the matter and we start to see consistent numbers at all the shoots.

I will be trying to shoot all the matches I can next year , see you there

Be good

Will Greer

craig's picture

Here in the west we always have problems with numbers, not because we don't have enough because of either work or family commitments. We have a yearly calender that is sent out to all members and i send emails with nom forms attached to remind you what is coming up, but this dosn't help when people are away working.

This year with the Nats being in Perth might have something to do with numbers being down as people had to take more time of work to make the trip.

We all need to relise that the only way to make Benchrest successful is to support it, clubs put in a lot of effort to run registered matches and when no one shows up it's a real slap in the face. As far as nomination fees go i think any where between $35 & $50 is fair, we charge $35 in Perth and thats gets us target crew, targets and a little left over for the club. If we supply trophies we make nothing. From what i can work out Benchrest numbers are very healthy from state to state, but people just don't seem to be turning up to the matches.

This year we had good numbers at Aust Day, Nats and NSW State 2 Gun, now those 3 matches alone would have cost around 10 grand to travel to if you lived in Vic or Qld and not much cheaper in NSW, so maybe there is a good reason why the end of the year has been quiet.

Do we have to many matches in Aust?

Could we try and have one major event in each state which is heavily advertised and seperated by a couple of months so people have plenty of time to organize, i know we have the Nats on a rotation so that could be the major shoot for that State that year.

Is there any insentive for people to travel to a match in a different State, apart from good friends and small groups i would say no, maybe we need to get SSAA involved, they have a merchandise shop can we get discounted items from them for prizes, we all spend lots of money on benchrest is it time to start asking for the suppliers to put something back into the sport?

Do we need to have C/F, R/F, Hunter and Fly to run under there own rule book so each disipline could have there own chairman and delegates, that way you would have people that are passionate about there sport running the show, you dont see all hand guns shoved under the same roof.

Have your say guy's we need disscusion.


For starters, how about a

For starters, how about a comprehensive but legible shooting calendar be put up in an easy-to-find place? I know where to get my rimfire benchrest and prone calendars from (the TRA website, the AISL website, and the NSWSARAI website), but when it comes to centrefire, where are they?

Also, I need to know whether my rifles are eligible to enter. Try finding some info about whether some rifle, like my braked .300WM is eligible for fly, or Procal bench shoots?

I hear about a ProCal shoot in Canberra (or something like that), but can find no info on it, scratch those even out at N-D and such.

Where are the calendars? Where are the entry requirements and restrictions? how many rounds do I need?

Michael Huebner
Michael Huebner's picture
500M Rules (FLY)


1. Any Cal less than .50Cal.
2. Any stock configuration.
3. Any scope power including spotting scopes. Competitors may spot for each other.
4. No weight restrictions for Heavy Gun class. Light Gun class weight is 17lbs including bipods.
5. No rails ie: Guns shot from separate sand bag rest systems where the rear sand bag shall contact both the bench and the rifle. The front sandbag rest can be attached to a pedestal which can have adjustments for windage and elevation.
The rear sandbag may have a stabiliser plate surrounding it if desired. Light gun class are allowed bipods.
6. 7 minute details. 1 target per shooter per detail.
7. Only 5 shots on the target. 3 sighters at other medium (paper or steel) for each relay. Payment of nominations shall be deemed total acceptance of these rules.
8. No ‘muzzle brakes’.
9. Compliance with range safety rules at all times.
10. Any competitor found not enjoying themselves will be disqualified.

craig's picture

SSAA Benchrest rule book and website, been around for years.

And on this website for the full yearly calendar, also been around for years.

The full yearly calendar? By

The full yearly calendar? By going to the "Calendar" link just below the title to this website?

It is empty. For 2012 and 2013.

I went all the way back to January 2012, and all the way to Dec 2013 and nothing...

See what I mean?

If it's not in the "Calender", then where is it?

As for SSAA calendar, I can see shoots advertised in the Australian Shooter mag at the back, but they're all over the place, intermixed with range details and such.

Ok, so I go to the SSAA National website, click on benchrest, and see there is an Australia Day Benchrest shoot at Majura, Light Benchrest, and Heavy Varmint.

I assume Light Benchrest is Light Centrefire Benchrest? Or is this Light Rimfire Benchrest?

Pray tell, what is Heavy Varmint? I see two references to Heavy Varmint in the SSAA Benchrest Rulebook, with page references, but then on the pages themselves, no mention of Heavy Varmint!

See what I mean?

This is the kind of shit that turns me away from entering. Otherwise, you'd probably have another shooter....

Match calendar is always

Match calendar is always published on this site.

Go to the "Other Stuff" link at the top of this page, then click the "Match Schedule" link =>

The 2013 calendar dates are currently being gathered by the state delegates, and then have to be confirmed by the state chairman. The aim is to get dates published for the next year by December of the proceeding year, but as Barry noted, it’s all done by volunteer labour and takes a little time.

As to what equipment is legal, for benchrest read:

And for Fly, read (note that Fly rules are changing a bit more rapidly due to the resent "official" status of the discipline, but I believe these are still current):

Meant to say the dates are

Meant to say the dates are approved by the National discipline chair, not state.

craig's picture
Other Stuff

Go to other stuff on the main page and its all there to see, a big thanks must go to Rob for running this web site for us all, if we dont supply rob with the info how can it be on this site.

There is no such thing as H/V anymore only H/B

This shall be any rifle having a barrel not less than 18 inches long,
measured from the bolt face to the muzzle, and a safe, manually operated,
firing mechanism that does not include the use of pressure fluid, gas or
remote control. The use of an electric trigger is permitted; however, all
accessories associated with such trigger, such as batteries, must be
integrated as part of the rifle and included in the total rifle weight. The
width of the stock shall not exceed 3 inches (76.2 mm) at any point. The
magnification of telescopic sight shall be unrestricted. The total weight of
the rifle and telescopic sight, including all accessories such as mirageounces (6.123 kg). The rifle must be fired from restricted rests only.

This shall be any rifle that does not have a total weight in excess of 10
pounds 8 ounces (4.763 kg) including telescopic sight and all accessories,
but otherwise meets the specifications of the Heavy Benchrest Rifle,
(Section 4.3) and shall be fired from restricted rests only.


wazza's picture
Benchrest Bulletin

Your opinion on BB is spot on, its so easy to sit back and nock people for what they do, especially Rob that puts tons of time and money into this site for US, as stated before he cannot do shooter of the year unless he has all
results, but yet complaints, I suggest before you complain find out the facts, if you need more results than posted again think of the guy that does the work for us for bloody nothing.
I do know some have given Rob donations to help with this site all greatly appreciated, so please think before complaining about a site managed for us and you don't PAY a cent!.
The 2013 calendar cannot be advertised until all shoots by all clubs have reached our National Chairperson and when he, between family, work and then other commitment's will do the best he can ( again working for NOTHING ) by
collating all shoots for 2013, and I might add this would be a nightmare by trying to satisfy all clubs and shooters.


ozeboy's picture
Dwindling numbers shooting short range Benchrest

I haven't shot for years due to lack of interest. I look back on very enjoyable times developing new bits and pieces then proving them in competition. Some worth mentioning:-

The first sleeved rifle other than Open Class.
First Custom Bullet maker in Australia.
Second reinforced plastic stock maker in the world behind Lee Six and Chet Brown. Tied with McMillan for second place in 1970's.
First maker of Carbon Stocks in the world which has kept my interest even up to this day.

Those were very enjoyable times but since the arrival of computers and shooting sites I see a trend towards Australians following the Americans like sheep. Anyone having enough money to buy this equipment and shoot it well will possibly win shoots if they don't die of bordom first. Would really like to see some Aussie inovations at the World Champs to equal the
achievement of the winged keel in sailing. I can't see that happening when they pay $900 for a $30 piece of balsa with 1/3 metre of twill carbon wrapped around it costing $35 then Aussie Shooters must be brain dead.

Muz, all the other things you mention above no doubt contribute to numbers falling away. Possibly another very good reason is when one hears competitors buying 5 barrels and keeping the best for that years competition, $$$$$.
Classes have come closer together now scopes are common in all classes. Open Class is still one for the Machinist or Tool Maker but is vital for developement. Sporter , Light and Heavy are pretty similar so by making more shoots for Light Bench this may entice new competitors into the sport.

I'm sure the drop off is just a phase we are going through but hope my input helps.


robbycar's picture
Huge Problem

I have also given this a lot of thought, for little result.

I know I have personally shot less this year than I have in many years, my issue is simply time and money. But I must admit, that I have been spending a lot of time in my workshop making chips with my new CNC mill!

No work=no money=no shooting

But I do know that there are a heap of people out there who would love to assist others, even with equipment to shoot.

Maybe a benchrest expo could be held in each state to allow visitors to come along and have a couple of shots through a decent rifle? I think this would open some eyes so others could see why we love this sport.

By the way, Barry is correct, I try to post results as soon as I get them. The SOY points take hours and hours to do, so this I do in batches. Will try and get it done this week.


BB Administrator

thanks for everyone's input,

thanks for everyone's input, lots of positive input and discussion.

I'd like to analyse some of the feedback to better understand and try to drill to the core of the issues presented. Please don't take this the wrong way, I don't mean to sound critical, but rather prompt further discussion.

JGA2013 - you mentioned the cost of nominating is increasing, I know some shoots are up to $50 per class. I think that this is fair and reasonable as most clubs rely solely on the income from nominations to run the shoot, there is little sponsorship/subsidies to run the shoots.

Once you pay for targets, backers, target crew, scorer, check scorer, range officers, and trophies my understanding is most of the time there is little left over going back to the club.

To add to this some of the larger shoots are run on public ranges, these ranges can potentially loose money when running matches as they could get more income just staying open to the public. That said the committees at most ranges also understand that holding registered matches supports the grass roots members who often run the ranges during normal times for the public.

The concept of having grades in benchrest would add greatly to the complexity of running a match and arranging trophies. for score shooting I have seen it work, but group shooting would be difficult, and then trophies for multiple grades would only add to the cost and hence the entry fees. I often see prizes for juniors which is a good incentive, but often there are only one or two juniors at a shoot.

How would you propose the grading to work? by the best group you have shot, or by your best agg, would you have a grade for each class?

The incentive I was told when I started out was not to shoot against eveyone else, but to shoot against yourself, focus on getting the basics right, 5 shots on every target, don't crossfire and then try and keep all groups at 100 under .5 and 200 under 1 inch as you progress trying to shoot better than your last agg. Most shooters at the peak of the game still shoot in this way.

Harold - I agree juniors shoot with their relatives, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and might i say well done to all those who have introduced a junior to the sport. So do we need more shooters in general to increase the number of juniors?
What additional incentives can we offer to get more juniors, nominations being half cost is one thing that has been done since I was a junior but can we do more?

Yes anyone shooting fly or rimfire have been toweled up by Mitchell, and you have a good point, but there are losts of other sports that have high costs, motorcross, go karts, horses etc I wonder if they are in decline as well due to costs?

Open days are a great idea, and a great way to get people to try a new sport.

I have heard a lot of good things about the interclub shoots happening in northern NSW, a great concept.

I have heard that Paul Sullivan has sponsored a State of Origin trophy for next years Coffs Harbours Banana coast hopefully that can encourage some more shooters to represent their state and make the effort to get to that shoot.

Knighty - thanks for your input, your dead right. I personally don't add up what I spend on shooting for fear the Mrs will see the number and go right off the deep end. I do know it is going to have to be a lot less in the next 12 months given the current climate. Micheal Hubner has put a few figures to it and he is dead right, at that rate there are only so many shoots you can afford to attend. That and getting time away from work (and having a job to come back to) are all factors.

The return on investment has never been there, but I don't know of any sport that you could even get close to recouping your costs. You'd have to be a in a professional sport to even entertain the idea (read TV coverage). If there are shooting sports in Oz that do please let me know. The states probably do, but there culture and media has a whole different mindset to firearms.

You could well be onto something with getting more professional, but how? What can we do to increase the understanding? I'd love to hear some ideas on this one.

Thanks for your comments Brendan, spot on as always. In particular point 3, we need to increase the matches as being a social event.

Will007 - I think your onto it as are most people - the amighty god dollar. Nothing is getting cheaper. Fuel, accommodation, equipment, all adds up.

Is there anything we can do here? sponsorship of shoots is one avenue. But then the suppliers are generally fairly generous as it is so we don't want to wear out our welcome, some people forget that for a business to sponsor a shoot for say $500 worth of equipment they would have to sell $15000-20000 to recoupe the costs. Times are tough for our suppliers too.

Craig, great comments, thanks for your input as you are an organiser it is good to understand your challenges, and you have nailed it, it is a slap in the face when only a hand full of people turn up.

Having shot rimfire (IRB), Hunterclass (rimfire and centrefire), Centrefire benchrest (100-200), 500m fly and 1000yd. I have had to cut back on my diversity and just pick 1 or 2 disciplines to focus on... otherwise i'd be stone cold broke.

As for the current structure of the organisation, different committees for each dicipline can only be a step in the right direction, but that is a topic for another day.....

Snipewench - thanks for your input, you could be onto something, most regular shooters know where to go to find the info such as calendar, but if it isn't obvious where to find the calendar, it definitely should be.

As for 500m Fly, Les Frazer has gone to tremendous efforts off his own bat to promote the fly shoot. check out his site.

If you can find the info your looking for, please post on their forum. They are always helpful in regards to fly shooting, then there is this forum, hopefully most of your questions have been answered by others, but if not please use the forum to ask.

Thanks Wazza for pointing out some of the challenges for formalising the calendar, is there anything we can do to make to process easier for everyone, your right it must be a nightmare.

Ozeboy, thanks for your input, it great to have the input of such a great innovator as yourself provide comment.

I can see your point on some of these issues, but when the guys in the US are shooting teen aggs with regular monotony, it is hard not to want to follow suit and use the same gear, I mean there can't be too much wrong with it, Right?!

Rob - you touched on an open day as have others, this is a concept we should delve into further, for sure. And a big shout out for all your efforts in running this website!!! Keep up the great work.

So based on the comments so far it seems to be $$$.

Based on that Craig might have a point, maybe we have enough shooters, just too many shoots ??

Should we have 6 major shoots a year spread around the country with 6-8 weeks between each one? Certainly food for thought.

thanks to those who have had input so far, please keep the discussion flowing...



Keith Smith
Keith Smith's picture
G'Day Muzz I think Craig hit

G'Day Muzz
I think Craig hit the nail on the head,
I think the states should be talking to one another about the number of shoots they have and how close to one another they are.

With the cost of traveling, accommodation and the actual cost of shooting now we should have less shoots spaced apart from one another so they do not conflict would be what we should be working towards


Keith Smith
Keith Smith's picture
G'Day Muzz I think Craig hit

G'Day Muzz
I think Craig hit the nail on the head,
I think the states should be talking to one another about the number of shoots they have and how close to one another they are.

With the cost of traveling, accommodation and the actual cost of shooting now we should have less shoots spaced apart from one another so they do not conflict would be what we should be working towards


Les Fraser
Les Fraser's picture
Food for thought

hi all i would just like to put my two cents worth in this very topic that is close to the heart of all shooting disciplines across every state. Everyone has very valid points on this forum and certainly i have picked up some tips for my own website I really do appreciate the work that Rob puts into managing this site because it is time and money that makes them work.

On the issue of attracting numbers this is what i have done for fly shooting to get new people into the sport.

1/ I had a custom built 6.5x47L rifle built as a loan gun for new users to shoot i have had it in operation for two years now and it has been used twice. This rifle is just as competitive as the others on the line and i even do the loading for it supplied with rests bags etc. This didn't have the desired effect on the sport.

2/ Set up a website and a forum with strict rules about conduct on the site and this has been very successful only for readers to see what fly shooting is about and ask reloading questions etc. Every topic that is posted is only commented on by the few but there are alot of readers.

3/Myself and Anthony Hall organised a weekend at Batemans Bay SSAA to show all that came how to reload and prep bullets cases and discuss bench set up etc we only got about 20-25 people to come. Didn't really get the following it should have but it was worth the effort.

4/ Started a state vs state trophy that was hand built with prizes for the shooters who were in the team, this has generated interest but not really attracted new shooters.

Managed media by placing photo's and a calender and SOTY on the site that is up to date so people really do know where they are.

Fly shooting is growing all the time with over 70-80 entries at most matches, little river is not as big but it is definately the travel that is the restriction there.

One of the major draw cards for the fly is the friendly atmostphere, now don't get me wrong short range shooters are also friendly but they are so busy reloading and preping and getting set up for their relay they are pre occupied. Everyone at the fly matches pre load so they have time to chat and talk to people who come to the range.

I have only competed in three short range matches so far and loved it, the Harry Madden, Australia Day, and the Nationals i had a blast i wished i had started it twenty years earlier.

I am lucky enough to shoot the fly, target rifle, small bore, shot gun, short range bench rest and every single discipline has the same question facing them, why are our numbers declining.

For what it is worth, i think that to attract new shooters you have to attract shooters in general. Looking inside for the problem to be fixed will yield very little fruit but if you look outside the discipline and get other shooters involved they may take the sport up. i have posted on my site things from the nationals for other shooters to see hopefully someone will come and have a go. Like me i am sure they would love to get involved.

At our target rifle club at Lyndhurst if anyone turns up there is always someone to greet them and make them feel welcome. After we have talked to them a little one of us will give them a stage out of one of the rifles. When i am fly shoots i always take spare rounds to give someone a shot it is great PR and who knows you may just get someone into the sport.

I must say i really enjoyed this thread and read everyones comments and to tell you the truth you have the answers amongst the posts here, now as a great shooting discipline what everyone choses to do with this information will determine what happens next. For me i would think that learning and being respectful of other shooting sports may yield more to join the ranks of the short range fraternity.

Costs to run shoots can be offset by sponsorship, sometimes you just have to ask the right question of sponsors not just money, later on this year myself and Anthony will be hosting a practical match and the sponsorship from this will come from suppliers to the industry and a lawn mower shop. Sponsors will always ask what is in it for them and this is a fair question and the reply i give is we will promote you as the sponsor and pay credit to your appreciative donations of a trophie. Believe me you can turn your costs around reduce your over heads, reduce your running costs and offer cheaper entries.

I really do think that a grading system does work with the option of people entering what every grade they wish. shot gun shooters, target rifle shooters, small bore all have this and it works, people work up through the grades to get to the level they can sustain. Some shooters reach A grade but really they have just been lucky at one shoot then they have to wait two years to be re graded.

I recognise that a grading system would promote interest from new shooters who come into the sport and if someone comes across from another discipine then if they want to mix it with the HOF shooters so be it that is their choice. But a fresh shooter coming into the sport shoots in a grade then they feel they have a chance and there lies the opportunity to get them actively involved in the sport.

In relation to Grading HOF A B C grade i don't think personally has a level of competence statement to it. I often hear "i am only a B grade shooter" and they don't try and strive any further.

So a more sensible approach would be to have Line 1 shooters and Line 2 shooters this allows the new shooter a perception of level of skill. As for standing the HOF shooters out by themself i don't think that would work they have shot consistenly well to achieve this fantastic result and they should be in Line 1 group to get the other shooters to chase them on a consistent basis.

Every shooter has a passion for this sport as all other shooting disciplines do actively promote other shooting sports. Encourage them to come and have a go and i really do believe more will join the sport. To attract young shooters is a totally different question. I believe that the only way to attract young shooters is from shooters already in the sport and with positive media coverage. If a young person is recognised for their shooting wins or team shooting opportunities then others will want to join them on the front page of the local paper. The power of the media should never be under estimated.

I hope this thread gets some more positive discussion going and Murray i think that if you get like minded people together on this topic as a working party you would achieve what you have set out to do and that is get other shooters into this sport..........

good shooting to all Les

shooting is more a mental control of your thoughts rather than just pulling the trigger

Thanks for the input

Hi Les,

Your input to the discussion is greatly appreciated, as a relative newcomer it is great to have your thoughts here. Your work on promoting the 500m Fly is a credit, and the loan rifle idea i thought would be really popular, it is a shame that more people on the fringes don't jump in and take advantage of the opportunity to give it a go without the expense of having to purchase a rifle.

I have been thinking of a similar idea, we need more shooters generally, juniors in particular as they say, they are our future.

I'd appreciate everyone's input into a couple of ideas I have been mulling over.

1) Perhaps a few open day style events, well advertised and promoted, for shooters to come along to your local range and try benchrest shooting. if we can get a few of us together who are prepared to donate some time and effort to promote the sport this could work? thoughts?

2) There are plenty of us with older style BR guns, remingtons etc, and I have discussed with some of you that it is a shame they sit around relatively unused, perhaps similar concept but for juniors, "old school for juniors", just as a concept we run a postal style shoot where we get some keen juniors who would love to try BR and pull out the old remingtons etc and give the Juniors a try?? a bit of a coaching session in the morning and then shoot 5 groups at 100 yards that get submitted for a postal shoot?? thoughts? that way they are competing against each other on a relatively level playing field, if we could get 10 or 15 juniors around the country to compete and 2 or 3 take up the sport that would be worth it?

any input or suggestions appreciated.



Les Fraser
Les Fraser's picture
happy to help

Murray i think you have a great idea and i would love to assist with these days. Anything to help get new people into the sport i have a sleeved rem to help out that i can load up for a junior.

I think you need a core group of shooters to make this event a real opportunity to gain some more shooters and advertise it well on all the forum's and get the SSAA involved to assist the promo stuff.

shooting is more a mental control of your thoughts rather than just pulling the trigger

ozeboy's picture
Muzz, I agree with your

Muzz, I agree with your summing up, $'s prevent new shooters from entering into the sport and others from competing as regular as they may have done in the past. The word is out there that times are tough and workers less inclined to take time off.

Re the American equipment I agree we have always been that little bit behind. I can remember when we were winning shoots with .6" agg's and the USA winning with .5" However there has always been a time to find weaknesses and do something about it. Currently America supply the world with shooting equipment making it possible for precision manufacturers to make actions and numerous other products not available anywhere else in the world. We do not have the population to do this sort of work with a population of around 25 million. Possibly we have to pay these over the top prices for their equipment. Prices have to be be good enough or no doubt US businesses will change direction.
However this initial expense impacts on new juniors coming into the sport.
I did use the Balsa stock as an example of of a very ordinary product being 300% over what it should have been.

There are other extremes where money is no object. This was observed one day at the range when I noticed a young shooter ocompanied by his wife pushing a stroller with a 18 months old child onboard The wife and child didn't have hearing protection, she was wearing thongs and a $10 dress from Vinnies. The stroller wheels were wobbling and looked like falling off. But he did have a rifle with custom action, $900 stock and a March scope. This is an extreme case as I do believe no junior can afford to shoot benchrest without family assistance.

Congratulations to Murry Hicks and Stuart Foate for their success. Both had access to Dad's gear to begin with.

Perhaps more help for Juniors group shooting with their rabbit rifle would help. Then another step up to centre fire, no custom actions allowed. Then they might be in a better position financially to make the $25,000 purchase of gear to shoot all the classes at the Nationals.


Geoff319's picture
G'day all, many valid points,

G'day all,
many valid points, to which I think you can add the following.
1. Back in 1997 when I started, BR was about the only precision game around, now you have 500m Fly, F class (strongly growing), 1000yd BR and all the RF classes. I don't think the growth in shooter numbers could fill every seat in every competition. I think shooters beginning to choose what they want to shoot. It doesn't help shooting 2-3 different disciplines, you simply cant master them all so something must be sacrificed.
2. Given the pressures of work, home life then combined with the intensity of travel, reloading, shooting and then trying to get to work on the next day, means you essentially don't get a break for nearly 2 weeks, and modern life is much more hectic & stressful than nearly 20yrs ago. So it is quite possible shooters are burning out.

If this is the case shooters may well be looking to reduce costs(not in shooting costs), more accessible and possibly more social & relaxing forms of shooting or even getting out of competition all together.

Cheerio Geoff

BRT's picture
Equipment lists

I have spoken to a few people recently about this, particularly the ones on the National committee. What I believe seemed to happen around about 2002 or 04 period was that shoot equipment lists stopped getting published. Or if they were published they contained outdated data. This is an oversight.

Basically when you think about it most people who ever get interested in benchrest shooting start with studying the equipment lists. Reading shoot reports. Hearing about what is being used. Then those people form either a liking to it or not by the type of gear used. Not everyone but most people.
I would say that most people at the very start of their interest are attracted by the gear first. Not the actual matches.

If they form a liking for that sort of gear and stuff they usually progress further. Come and look for a match to watch etc.

From the year dot (1940's) til approx 2002-3 equipment lists have been prominent in reports from benchrest matches world wide. Since then a lot of things changed. The internet. Should have make it easier but doesn't. Magazine articles either do not get written or are pushed away by publishers. In fact we would never have had any articles or reports in the SSAA magazine if Brendan had not consistently pushed to get these published. He always did these for no pay. But it appears OUR SSAA magazine is not so interested in US much anymore. Maybe that is for other reasons.

Rob Carnell hosts a good website. He does all the work. It has become the "default communication means"
Not his fault. If match organisers consistantly and properly sent him equipment lists I am sure he would publish.

I just think this is an oversight that everyone has forgotten. It is a part of our rulebook. Every time you enter in a match is IS A REQUIREMENT to correctly complete an equipment list. The equipment lists mean less to those of us intently involved than they do to new shooters and prospective or potential new Benchrest shooters.

So my two bobs worth is that we should all think some about this little issue which I believe has slipped under the radar. Think back to the very first things which sparked an interest for you in very accurate rifles. Did you start studying equipment lists to see what was necessary at the time? Or was it a match calendar? I think the former.

Stuart Elliott

Annie & Stuart Elliott

robbycar's picture
100% agree


This is something i would love to publish, but seems to get largely ignored. It is one of the things that got me interested to begin with.

One of the issues, is that I dont have the time to go through equipment lists and produce reports.

If I am sent a single document containing the data, I am happy to publish it, but I wont be trolling through 100s of slips of paper to produce the list.

The last few Nationals were scored with the program that I wrote. This keeps the last equipment on file for every shooter, so it is quite easy to just make any changes without entering everything everytime. Then it automatically produces the list.

You will find equipment lists for the 2013 Nationals included after the scores. There are a few gaps where slips were not on hand.


BB Administrator

BRT's picture
Rob, Yes you definitely

Yes you definitely should not be getting extra work or be expected to produce these. It is more than enough that you try to publish what you can.
The responsibility rests on match organisers, State delegates and National committee. If they think they need assistance to ensure these get collated properly then they need to get someone who maybe is not involved with the work of match organising to do it. In other words it is everybody's responsibility IMO. Spread the load.

But it is an issue which has been sliding by the wayside. I am sure is one of the factors affecting future interest and growth in our sport. Basically equipment list are free promotion.


Annie & Stuart Elliott

BRT's picture
Just further on this subject

Just further on this subject of equipment lists. Annie just checked the equipment list for Nationals HB and the stuff listed for us is at least 4 or 5 years old. So we can only assume its the same out of date crap for everyone else on that list. Who knows?
It is not what we put on our own entry forms for the Nationals so how many other people's equipment list is correct.
Rule 8.5.2 say we all have to complete an entry form which includes all the equipment list details. Rule 8.5.6 says that the Supervising Tournament captain is empowdered to refuse an entry if it is not correctly filled in.

SO WHAT'S THE POINT? If all this goes nowhere or is disregarded?

It doesn't really matter to us personally but it really does highlights a serious issue here in my opinion. It is happening everywhere. At the majority of matches. Either no equipment list or a completely outdated one gets published despite an up to date entry form being completed by each shooter.

We can't tell if all the other people on the list have out of date equipment lists shown. There is no credibility here. Can anyone else see this?

The worst part is it is something that can be fixed.
First identify the problem. Yes
Second work out some ways to fix it. Probably appoint someone who is not already given an official job doing other stuff. One of our shooters who wants to help and "be involved" Maybe someone away from the big ranges and therefore not involved in match organising. This would be a way to have some involvement in the sport where they otherwise would not. Be in charge of ensuring that match directors provide complete and up to date scores and equipment lists after all registered shoots and they get correctly published. It is in the rules
Third. Make sure the management group (National BR committee) follows through that this job gets done.

I think what is just pissing off everyone with equipment list is they are either never right or never done. It is part of our match. It is in our rules. Competitors fill in the forms. What happens? Do they go straight in the bin?
If the scores were listed wrong there would be an immediate outcry. I guess this is the real difference. The match results or scores are more relative to the participants. The equipment lists are more relative to the people not at the match. The people who may like to one day get to a match. Get involved and start benchrest shooting. Isn't this what this whole thread topic is all about?


Annie & Stuart Elliott

craig's picture

Maybe its time we all start putting back into this sport,

Acknowledgement To The Winners

It makes me sick in the stomach when you travel to a shoot have a great time, compete againts 50 odd shooters and when they start the presentations 20 people show up to show some respect to the people that won, and this happens time and time again, but what about when these certain people win something omg there they are, how hard is it to hang around for a extra hour. Are these the little things that put new and old shooters off.

Shoot Prizes And Trophies

Its about time we start getting something for our nom fees, now before someone starts ranting and raving about how much it cost to run a shoot i talk with a fair bit of experience in running these matches. If we start to offer decent prizes maybe it would start to get some interest back into the sport, lets face it everyone likes to win something and the prizes dont always have to go to the winners, surely all the money doesn't have to go back into the ranges. W.A has talked about this and will start to offer prizes soon.


robbycar's picture
Spot on

People should take a read of what Tony Boyer says in his book about staying for the presentation.

Not sure prizes are the answer, but at the NSW Championships we are going to be putting a dinner on the saturday night to try and build some camaraderie.


BB Administrator

chrisjon65's picture
What's changed

As I've stated I am very new to this and I have been browsing through the old topics trying to learn a bit about this sport I have delved into.
I know a lot has been said already in this existing old topic and I am by no means in the position to make comments as I know very little about a lot of the curcumstances that occurred back in 2012 and was amazed at some of the great ideas.
Many would think here we go again ,but it's 5 years on, times are different and I think it's time to push for some fresh ideas and maybe a different approach . I am not writing my memoirs , but my aim is to make a few points This is how a complete novice discovered this great sport.
I was introduced to this sport by being invited to come and see the NSW comp in Silverdale 2016 by Pete Armstrong who I met through work.
I had never fired a gun or owned a gun and had know interest in hunting and on hearing that Pete suggested I come along to the match and see what it's all about .
To be very truthful I didn't even know shooting competition even existed outside the Olympics.
I turned up to the match and was greeted by a group of very enthusiastic people old young male and female wishing to show me all about the shoot . From then I was fascinated by the whole thing , and for the first time I realised I could aim at targets and not have to kill animals to shoot a rifle .
My first rifle a Remington 700 tactical in 223 and Pete took me the range on a several occasions on P650 forms to teach me how to shoot , well tried .
I was introduced to reloading, shell care and all the science that goes along with it .
I bought my second rifle a BSA 6x45 and once again Pete took me the range on P 650 to help me out .
I got my licence on the Friday that week and went in my first match at Silverdale December memorial 2016 and shot like shit .
But the most memorable thing was that I loved every minute of it and that was because the shooters were great and very encouraging and Keith Efeild took me under wing a bit and told me everything I was doing wrong, The most memorable thing I will take from that day was just before the presentation Max walked up to me and said well mate you had a shit day didn't ya .
The point I'm making is about educating novices and existing shooters about our sport.
We all know the cost and the time involved in becoming competitive but that comes in time and of course the ability to finance it pinnacle.
As a tradie I meet a lot of shooters who hunt and not one of them even knows about the benchrest target shooting discipline.
The general publics perception of gun ownership is all about the killing and hunting aspect and no one knows about any target shooting other than what the Olympic portrays .
We can't introduce information to people without an outlet and matches are that outlet
What we do is to hard to explain to novices and gun owners alike its extremely visual you need to see these great guns and all the reloading gear etc to excite folks into the discipline and seeing what it's about
My thoughts I think the topic needs to reserected 5 years down the track

Aussiebob's picture
Introducing new shooters and Juniors

After just shooting the HunterClass Nationals at Springsure i can tall you we are getting new people. Two people bought along their Grandsons One shot rimfire and both helped out on targets and preping their granfathers Brass for centerfire. My self and Another club shooter from Mackay shared our rifle with a couple new shooters from our club and they can`t wait to get their own. Tom Shot his 250 at 100 yards just a shame no 250 patches but i will give him one of mine at the next club shoot plus we had another two New shooter from the club also attend. Travel and accommadation is a killer so i bought a cheap small caravan and if a few from a club get together can set up shelter for others to camp under. I am on a disability support pension so money is scarce so like the Hunter state titles this year at Warwick being shot rim-fire early in the year and centre fire later there was no way i was going and another 6 or 7 from up this way it costs enough to do one trip let alone two Its a 4 day shoot with 2 gun and 4 gun its fine for people in the SE but not for the rest of Queensland RBA Qualifier in Melbourne over 3,000Klms for me thats one way new rule changes in Hunter-Clas will now be Benchrest for score as no Magazine and heavier rifle will be require next year need to push Factory Class for new shooters or they have to compete against custom built rifles. I have always shared my rifles with new shooters and encouraged them to shoot in Comps and always a spare seat to travel it is the only way we will keep the sport alive 5 of us traveled 2hrs north this saturday to support and pass on some tips to the next club north and show their shooter what is available and encourage them to up their level of shooting.

BigStick's picture
New shooters

Hi Bob.
I thought the new hunter class light was a way to get new shooters. No magazine is a light benchrest rule and those with no mag can now shoot hunter with the same rifle.
Also the weight increase will allow the RBA shooters with a 8 1/2 lb gun to shoot hunter as well but it doesn't have to weigh 8 1/2 lb but we have been through all this.
A problem I can see is two or three comps on the same weekend. The clubs don't communicate and seem happy not to do so.

Benchrest Discipline

Hi All,

I just want to start by saying I have never shot Short Range Benchrest and am coming from an outsiders perspective.
I do not mean to start anything between Short Range and Long Range Benchrest as both have their advantages.

I am a 500 FLY shooter who has just purchased a Rimfire target rifle so that I can compete in the 200 FLY.
I am also interested in shooting 50M Rimfire but am yet to try it out.
The thing that made the FLY attractive to me is that there are 3 ranges Canberra, Batemans Bay and Wagga within 2.5 hours of where I live. The rules for FLY are changing but I can still shoot all 3 of these ranges and qualify for the SOTY competition. Which to me is why I shoot Benchrest to be as consistent as I can be. Plus when you go away to a FLY shoot the atmosphere is great especially when a lot of shooters camp on site. Its a social event as much as it is a competition and believe me there is not one shooter who turns up not wanting to be competitive. It has nothing to do with the prize table but it does have to do with my piers recognizing my achievements because I know how hard it is to win a FLY shoot.
Just on Short Range;
From the day I started shooting long range benchrest the feedback and talk I have heard about shooting short range is that its like they are shooting for cattle stations.
At the FLY we talk about conditions with other competitors and share the experience even when a detail in the process of shooting their target.
I can understand why Short Range in the USA is exceptionally competitive and that has a lot to do with the prizes and the glory of winning a competition.

From an "outsider perspective" in AUS it is the serious nature of the shoot that prevents me pursuing Short Range.
I work exceptionally hard to get my 500 FLY rifles and ammo shooting the very best I can just as all of the Short Range shooters do. In recent times I have seen new names on the benchdraw at almost all FLY shoots I have to put that down to the nature of the FLY shoot being a completely different atmosphere and that any caliber (meeting the rules) can be competitive unlike Short Range where PPC rules. Not that its a bad thing its just restrictive.

Peter Merriman

Bill Collaros
If we want to be 100% honest...

I believe these are the true factors affecting Short Range Rimfire Benchrest...

1. Never a total 100% committment from SSAA or TRA as one concentrates more on Centrefire and the other on ISSF

2. Cost is getting more and more coupled with travel costs

3. In the UK they had similar problems and a few more waring parties than us and they have just set up their own independent association just for short range benchrest, will be interesting to see how they progress

4. What Kim said

Bill Collaros
Sydney - Australia
"Shoot to Thrill"

BigStick's picture
Number 1

Number 1. I never thought of it this way but it seems you're right.

chrisjon65's picture

I guess the main issue is finding people who are willing to volunteer to run regular club style competition.
And having been involved in running events in the past of a different nature ,one must be able to cop the flack from folks who believe they can do a better job but are never willing to put their hand up to help.
Is this the real issue????

New to the BR scene

How about comps that are run and won in half a day, like just a CF LV and Hunter class,100yd comp. I read a lot of forums about hunters who say their rifle shoots 1 hole groups all day, we need to encourage these shooters to come along. But i don't think they would hang around for 2 days.
Ive been looking at the posts about the new Colo BSC and just about all the matches listed are 2 day shoots. I'll try and go to all the comps but only on the saturday. My work week starts on a sunday afternoon.

chrisjon65's picture

I do believe CBRC are going to have small half day club shoots once a month.

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