Forming a Recreational Shooting Group
Enough inquiries concerning how to form a church recreational shooting group have come in to where I decided to go ahead and put up a systematic, step by step process here to refer to. Please keep in mind that this is modeled after my own group in my church.
Before going further, the video below shows what you'll be doing. Fun isn't it? It is, but keep in mind it can also be deadly. Doing it safe means doing it right. I led this group for 4 1/2 years safely and with a good reputation for our church.
It may have different components necessary in others. But it should serve as a useful preliminary guide, no matter what the church or circumstances.
If you decide to actually venture out to start a Group, the packet in the ad to the right right is highly recommended.
For anyone purchasing the packet, I will consult with them throughout the process of getting the Group up and running.
Develop a plan for your shooting group. This plan should be comprehensive and suitable to present to the pastor, elders, board or whatever a church authority structure requires for approval of a ministry or group. If a church has a Director of Group Ministry, it may be as simple as presenting the plan to him or her. Or it may be as complicated as getting it approved through several authoritative individuals or committees.
In my case, I was the Director of Group Ministry in my church when I started the Group. It was as simple as just getting the pieces together and starting it. As of 11/1/2011 I resigned from the church job but continued the Group until March 2012.
The Group ran for four years, being a significant draw to non Christians, a great connecting point to new people, and a Group that developed purpose. There were no injuries and the Group kept the integrity of the church intact.
Whatever your position, be sure to follow authority protocol for your church. It will be on the shoulders of the pastor, elders and other leaders if something goes wrong or there is an accident.
The other steps listed here will be the structure and content for your shooting group plan.
1. If you are not credentialed or highly experienced at firing range procedures, find someone who is willing to come on board as a Range Safety Officer. There should be no exceptions and nothing should proceed before this. This is the person who will enforce the range rules and keep everyone safe. Find him or her first before proceeding.
2. Develop a set of range rules specific to your church and shooting group. These rules should be comprehensive and cover everything from safety gear to procedures to specific rules for different aged minors on the range. This is the second part of the process and you should not proceed past this point until these rules are written and examined to be sure they completely cover all possible contingencies. Existing range rules can be obtained from numerous online sources and edited to fit your particular group. Range safety rules should be enforced without exception with everyone present no matter who they are.
3. Develop or get from your church a Liability Waiver Form for everyone participating in the group to sign prior to shooting with the group. These forms should be in a notebook with you each time you go to the range in case of an accident where a person is unable to communicate with doctors. You would have to use the form to communicate and give directions to medical personnel for them.
4. Find a location or locations where you can legally and safely shoot a wide variety of firearms. If possible a distance of 100 yards or more will make the experience more enjoyable and will provide for enough challenge for most people. If possible, having multiple locations with different dynamics will make it more fun for everybody.
5. Pull together a core group of shooters that will make up the initial group. You should start out will only people experienced with firearms, then add less experienced shooters as you and your shooting group get more experience with the processes and with each other. Developed correctly, your group can become a significant outreach with a reputation for an ability to safely train new shooters.
6. Once you develop a few months experience, make any needed adjustments, and know that your Range Rules and Safety Officer are effective, the group can become a full blown connector for your church and a great outreach tool.
That's the "official" procedure as we have experienced it. Some good advice for your group to thrive:
Get some fun, safe, reactive targets. Cheap canned soda, shaving cream, potatoes, onions or other vegetable or affordable fruit, frozen plastic jugs of ice water, spinner targets (used only as directed). Be sure to have .22s available for kids and anyone who is recoil sensitive. 22s are always a winner no matter who the shooter.
Have paper targets available at close ranges for new shooters to get used to sighting. Otherwise they will spend the time shooting frustrated that they can't hit the fun stuff. A few minutes getting them used to where the gun is shooting will go a long way toward their enjoyment.
Finally emphasize the importance of people sharing their firearms and equipment with other group members. In every one of our group meetings everybody is shooting everything they have the nerve to shoot.
Follow these basic rules and advice with adjustments made for your church, group and location and there's no reason not to have a successful group and great outreach tool.