SHOOTING SPORTS IN THE UK: AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW?Corsivia
All of us who love clay target shooting in Spain are well aware of the urgent need to find ways to promote this fantastic sport in our country.
This is backed by many hours of discussion with my shooting colleagues and many of the things I’ve seen while working in other countries.
I’m sure that, like me, when you hear about shooting sports, the first country that comes to mind is the United Kingdom. A clear example of a success story that I like to call the “Silicon Valley” of this type of outdoor activity.And not just because you or I say so, but because such a claim is proved by “THE VALUE OF SHOOTING” study carried out by Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC).
The economic, environmental and social contribution of shooting sports to the UK
Among the main findings, the study highlights that shooting participants in the UK spent a total of £2.5 billion on goods and services and is worth £2 billion to the UK economy (
But that’s not all. Other highlights include:
- UK shooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs.
- Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area.
- Nearly two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting.
- Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation.
- At least 600,000 people in the UK shoot live quarry, clay pigeons or targets.
- Shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation – the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs.
Feel a little jealous of these results? I certainly do…
And I’m honestly not sure what factor or factors exactly are behind this success, but I can think of a few possibilities:
- The country’s culture, which has always been closely associated with hunting and other shooting sports.
- The country’s historic industry-wide commitment to shooting sports.
- The support of the British crown. As you may know, hunting has always been a royal sport and, to some extent, shooting still is. Many kings and queens participated in hunting and shooting, including King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI and Prince Philip.
- Other aspects that I’m unaware of.
- Or a combination of all of the above.
What’s certain is that the success of shooting sports in England today comes from the interaction between the industry’s public and private institutions. Together, they create a powerful network that attracts users, covers all their needs and makes a positive economic impact.
We can’t forget that there are an estimated 70,000 shoot providers in the UK, incorporating everything from small informal shoots and syndicates to the large commercially-orientated clubs, ranges, shoots, and estates.
On my visits to the UK I’ve been exposed to several aspects of the industry that were a pleasant surprise and which I think are part of the success story.
These are “lessons learned” that should certainly serve as inspiration for the development of the shooting sports industry in Spain.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share this lessons learned with you in relation to my favourite sport: TARGET SHOOTING.
Lesson 1: Institutions and sports federations at the service of shooting sports
There are a large number of institutions and sports federations that work together in the UK, co-ordinating their activities to cover all their customers’ needs. You can see them all in the study cited above.
In Spain, on the other hand, the industry is managed exclusively through sports federations (which, in my opinion, are highly focused on the sports elite) and business associations focused on collaborations for very specific aspects. One example is the Asociación Armera.
Quite the opposite of what happens in Spain, in the UK any fan, through one institution or another, has a place where they can go.
Lesson 2: Local fairs and exhibitions
These events are essential for all industry players, regardless of where they are in the value chain, and provide an opportunity to showcase their products and services and interact with each other and with enthusiasts.
Beyond the large international trade shows, which are geared more towards industry professionals (IWA Show, Shot Show, etc.), there is a proliferation of local trade shows in the UK where professionals can interact with end users.
As an example, I have had the opportunity to attend the British Shooting Show on several occasions, a trade fair where:
- You can talk “face to face” with gunsmiths, shooting range owners, managers of rural estates, clothing exhibitors, etc.
- Practice in the showrooms organised for the occasion.
- Shop and join clubs and associations on the spot.
It’s an event that makes it easy for users to be involved in hunting and other shooting sports.
Lesson 3: Innovation and pride of ownership
In the UK, industry professionals have a great deal of interaction, which fosters innovation and builds pride of ownership.
It is noteworthy how the industry holds The Great British Shooting Awards, an annual gala that award products, organisations and individuals for their contribution to the industry. The awards aim to cover every aspect of the industry, from cartridges to textiles.
An elegant way to promote and recognise innovation in the industry, don’t you think?
Lesson 4: Communication and promotion channels
The sport is promoted across countless channels of communication, both online and offline.
There is no shortage of industry magazines, blogs, websites, etc.
There are even television channels that popularise the sport, share the latest news and generate valuable information.
When it comes to written press, it never ceases to amaze me how many different publications about shooting and hunting you can find at any newsstand.
The publications that I enjoy the most include the magazine Clay Shooting, which is all about the sport.
If you love the sport, you won’t want to miss it!
Lesson 5: Promoting partnerships
Most academic institutions promote association, and this sport is no different; there are many clubs for people into shooting and hunting sports.
Because of the country’s shooting culture, I’m envious of how practically all the country’s universities promote activities such as shooting. Universities like Oxford and Cambridge have their own target shooting clubs.
Lesson 6: Promotion of hunting and shooting tourism
The country has a hunting and shooting tourism offer worthy of appearing in the best guide books for those vacations that make you feel like you’ve stepped into paradise.
Fantastic hunting and shooting spots that are usually have unbeatable facilities for you to enjoy during your training. At the end of your day, you can relax in excellent five-star accommodations with all the flavour of the English tradition and with every comfort imaginable.
Lesson 7: Practical lessons for beginners in target shooting
There are multiple sport centres that offer theoretical and practical lessons so that anyone can start doing this wonderful sport.
In the United Kingdom, every club in the country provides shooting lessons.
Practically all clubs have qualified shooting instructors, certified by authorised institutions like the Association of Professional Shooting Instructors and the United Kingdom Practical Shooting Association.
Unlike in the United Kingdom, the main hurdle to getting into shooting sports in Spain lies in the difficulty of having access to a rifle with which to practice and to an instructor who can give lessons.
There is no such thing as a shooting instructor in Spain, nor are people allowed to handle a weapon without the corresponding license.
I could go on and I’m sure there are seven more lessons I could share, but I think that we’ve got enough material to start with, don’t you think?
If you are a federation, a shooting range or a distributor of clay targets and, like us, you want to give this sport the big push it needs, you can’t miss our COWORKING collaboration programs.
Would you like to work together to promote the development of our much-loved sport in our country?
Contact us and let’s get to work!
Article by Enrique Navarro