Back in September, we published a comparison of USPSA membership through the first half of the year. Here is Part 2, where we stand going into the fourth quarter of the year.
At the end of September there had been 8,005 new members join USPSA, bringing our total membership to a high of 39,711. That puts our membership retention rate year to date at 88 percent. Compared to 2019’s same time frame (January 1 to September 30), retention was 83 percent.
NEW USPSA MEMBER STATS
Of the 8,005 new members, there have been 4,210 shoot a USPSA match. A little less than half of them will do so in the first 45 days of joining USPSA.
There are also 1,761 new members who shot a Steel Challenge match.
Seventy-five percent of the people that have joined USPSA have shot either a USPSA or Steel Challenge match after joining. Approximately 22 percent have shot just a Steel Challenge match. That still leaves about 2,000 people who have joined this year that have yet to shoot a match. We will be working on additional surveys directed to those new members to determine what barriers have kept them from participating in a match.
For USPSA, 49 percent of the new members have shot Carry Optics as their first division. The next most popular is Limited division.
Of the 18 percent that have shot Limited, almost 90 percent scored minor. Production is 10 percent, and the third most popular division for members to try. Thinking about that for a minute, you will see that almost 80 percent of the new members who are trying USPSA are doing so with a regularly available “Production” firearm, which makes sense. Having these divisions being more inclusive of models, lower cost of entry and fewer barriers to overcome is where we continue to see growth. These are important factors to consider when looking at how the divisions of USPSA stack up, and when making decisions about the rules about the gear and firearms.
Over in Steel Challenge, you would think that all of the new members were going straight to a rimfire division; however, that is not the case. Centerfire is not dead in Steel Challenge.
To be honest, I was a little shocked by this number, but 32 percent of the “new to Steel Challenge” members are shooting Carry Optics. Thirty-seven percent of them are shooting either Rimfire Pistol (17 percent) or Rifle Open (20 percent) to start. But guess what the fourth most popular division for new Steel Challenge members is? It’s Production. Combine Production and Carry Optics, and you have 43 percent of the activities for new members in Steel Challenge.
ACTIVITY BY DIVISION IN USPSA
Carry Optics continues to be the most popular division year to date, with more than 40 percent of the reported activities, followed by Open and Limited divisions.
USPSA ACTIVITY BY DIVISION
ACTIVITIES BY DIVISION IN STEEL CHALLENGE
The two Rimfire Open divisions—Rifle and Pistol—are 45 percent of the reported activities, but there has been a jump in Carry Optics at 13 percent as the third most popular year to date.
STEEL CHALLENGE ACTIVITY BY DIVISION
Here is how the divisions in USPSA stack up going from May 1 to the end of September, taking into account once Limited Optics was recognized as Provisional.
Limited Optics has jumped to the fourth most popular division based on reported activities at 13.3 percent, almost taking over Limited. Something else to recognize is that there is only less than a two percent decrease in Carry Optics activity. No, it isn’t just people shooting Limited Optics with their Carry Optics firearm. Limited Optics is still provisional and, per the USPSA bylaws, will be reviewed at the next in-person board meeting, but it looks like it is a hit. For this reason, making changes seems counterproductive.
USPSA ACTIVITY BY DIVISION MAY 1– SEPTEMBER 30 ONCE LIMITED OPTICS RECOGNIZED AS PROVISIONAL
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
One of the big questions that USPSA needs to answer is how to get the non-members who are shooting matches to join.
There are 16,731 non-members (including former members) that are shooting matches, but haven’t joined or rejoined. As a Club Contact or Match Director, there is no real incentive to try to recruit them to join or rejoin, nor has USPSA provided any real tools for you to do so.
USPSA NON-MEMBERS ACTIVITY
The number for Steel Challenge is 11,968 non-members (including former members) are shooting matches.
I am not great at math, but that is a little more than 28,000 potential members. Even if we were to get just 10 percent of them to join, we would be doing well. It does help the club because a person who joins is more likely to continue to shoot, they are more likely to take a Range Officer class, and to help at their local club. We just have to provide clubs and other members the tools to want to help recruit these potential members.
STEEL CHALLENGE NON-MEMBERS ACTIVITY
Activities year to date from the reported 510 USPSA clubs is 166,853. Compared to 150,379 in 20233, that is 11 percent growth. Looking at the comparable first three quarters of 2019 as the benchmark, there were 163,415 reported activities. For Steel Challenge, the 309 clubs have reported 77,271 activities. Compared to last year’s number of 65,883, this shows a 17 percent growth. In 2019, there were 56,377 reported activities for the same time period, which is a 37 percent increase in Steel Challenge activities in three years.
The core of USPSA and Steel Challenge continues to be strong. The organization needs to find better ways to support the clubs and the dedicated volunteer staff that we all benefit from. Getting involved at the local club level is the most important part of what members of USPSA can do. Whether it is helping to design a stage, set one up or just sticking around for teardown is a huge help. Helping to educate new shooters, and understanding that where we all learn about competition shooting starts at the club level—knowing the rules, and ensuring that they are followed—even at a club match, is helping to build and grow the sport. For almost all of us, this is our passionate hobby where we get to go out and be around friends, like-minded folks and fellow competitors. Let’s enjoy it and try to make it better each time we are at the range.
Article from the November/December 2023 issue of USPSA’s magazine.