by Jacki Billings - Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Rimfire Challenge will transition to a new organization, the Rimfire Challenge Shooting Association (RCSA), on January 1, 2018.
The RCSA, helmed by Ken Jorgensen and Michael Bane, will continue the program’s mission to service new shooters entering the shooting sports by providing family friendly competitions centered around .22 rifles and pistols. Jorgensen and Bane are no strangers to rimfire matches. The two, alongside the late Nelson Dymond, founded the original Ruger Rimfire Challenge, running it for five years.
Bane said the idea for the original Rimfire Challenge came after a steel match. As Bane, Jorgensen and Dymond caught up after the competition, the three began chatting about where the shooting sports industry could stand to improve.
“At some point in the conversation, I made the comment that one of the things that was missing within the shooting sports was the big end of the funnel,” Bane expounded. “We're really good at the small end of the funnel. Which direction you want to go, we got sports for you; but that big end of the funnel that brings in people and is welcoming was not there.”
It was at that moment, the three decided to create what would become the Ruger Rimfire Challenge. After several years of running matches, the NSSF approached the crew and offered to take the program under its wing. The foundation nurtured the Rimfire Challenge with the goal of sourcing the program into a more permanent home at the right time.
“The National Shooting Sports Foundation has a history of developing and improving shooting sports programs and then finding the right administrative home for them so that they can continue to flourish,” Tisma Juett, inclusion and outreach manager for the NSSF, explained. “With a mission to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports, NSSF has put the NSSF Rimfire Challenge program in good hands and will look for other opportunities to encourage people to enjoy the fun and excitement of the shooting sports.”
Though the program will undergo a name and leadership change, Bane said participants won’t see any other sweeping or major changes for the first year. The focus will center around maintaining status quo.
“We don't expect to see any major changes in that first year. We just want to make sure the machinery is in place to facilitate the clubs who are doing this,” he commented. “Our goal for the first year is really simple―stability.”
Rimfire matches have enjoyed successful runs because of the program’s commitment to providing an easy to grasp, non-intimidating platform for new shooters to learn and develop their skills.
“This is a sport that makes sense. The scoring is simple. The guns are inexpensive. You can buy a Smith & Wesson Victory, one of the Mark Series Rugers, a Browning Buck Mark, or any 10/22 rifle and take them out of the box and be competitive,” Bane said.
Though the RCSA is committed to upholding its straightforward approach to competition, the organization is looking to the future and the possibilities it holds. Bane said that while the base goal is to encourage newcomers into the sport, the organization isn’t leaving seasoned competitors in the dust. Bane was non-specific about exactly what components competitors might see in the future, but he alluded to the possibility of added elements or even partnerships with neighboring shooting sports to provide more challenging components to rimfire matches.
“I'm not averse to adding things that make sense for the sport,” Bane explained. “There's already a group shooting precision rifle with .22. There's no reason on our own or in the future―again past the first year―we can’t partner with these organizations. It's also conceivable that we might move a portion of the sport to a more competitive level.”
Though nothing is set in stone, Bane and Jorgensen intend to build on the successes of the Rimfire Challenge while keeping to the program’s core concept of down-home, friendly competition.
“Our future is really bright,” he said. “I believe our stature is going to rise. We're offering something that isn't readily available. We're not going to allow ourselves to move away from that social concept. That's important to us.”
For now, both Bane and Jorgensen are excited to be back in the saddle, promoting matches and handling daily operations.
“I am excited to once again be involved in the day-to-day operation of the Rimfire Challenge events,” Jorgenson commented in a statement. “The concept originally created by Nelson and implemented as part of the Ruger Rimfire Challenge is as valid today as it was in the beginning. We will work to continue that vision and grow the rimfire competition opportunities for shooters of all skill levels.”
The Rimfire Challenge Association makes its official debut January 1.
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