'Flu & Safety Briefings

Bugger. Hate ‘flu. Hate it I tell’s ye…

Was at the DURC Safety Briefing last night, and the post-briefing party. The Briefing is basicly a quick talk given to as many new DURC members as can be squeezed into a lecture theatre to lay out the basics of the sport for people, give them a quick demo of the rifles and the positions they’re shot in, to quickly go through the basic rules of the club, and then to take them to the range (where the firearms have been all locked away!) for a beer or two. It doesn’t do a huge amount for safety other than to point out to them that we actually do worry about it; which is why every new member who comes down to shoot is given a full safety drill when they start by the range officer.

What the briefing does do is to ensure that new members get to meet the range officers and the club committee in a very informal atmosphere and to make a connection with the club. That’s absolutely vital for the health of the club, especially since the next year’s committee and ROs get picked from today’s new shooters. Well. Not quite [i]next year’s[/i], we tend to give them two years in the club before tapping them for ROs unless they’ve had previous training (we’ve a fair few RDF members in the club this year, for example, they would make good ROs once they’ve gotten used to the club and shown some enthuasiasm for it).

But the point is that unlike other clubs, DURC has a high turnover of people at all levels from ordinary members to range officers to committee members. So we have to keep in mind at all times that whomever is in office right now is only there for a short time, so you have to constantly keep the next guy in mind. So we keep notes on how we do our jobs, on what the next guy has to watch for, and so on. And it’s a surprising thing, but in the good years, DURC is probably the most professionally-run rifle club in the country; and not one of the people running it will be over 25. There’s a lesson in there to be learnt I think, and it’s that fresh blood in a club is always a good thing.

There are the bad years, of course; we’ve seen years where the entire committee and most of the ROs all graduated and left college simultaenously. When I joined the committee first, several years ago now, we’d just been gutted like that, and it took years to recover. But for the most part, the good heavily outweighs the bad. You do tend to notice better results when postgrads are on committee, purely because they have more time to dedicate to the club; but the undergrads do a pretty decent job regardless. So you need fresh blood in the club; but you also need the knowlegebase of the old guard as well. The trick is finding the balance; fresh blood tends to try stuff that hasn’t worked in the past and sometimes fails but sometimes succeeds. The old guard tried it once twenty years ago so obviously it’d be a waste of effort to ever try it again! 😀 On the other hand, the old guard knows the importance of getting important stuff right, because they remember the club’s smallbore shooting being shut off for a year because of a paperwork glitch…

Anyways, this year looks like it’ll be a recovery year for DURC; there have been paperwork hassles all last year that prevented the smallbore side of the club from taking off like it did in past years. Hopefully this year will see that fixed. There are certainly enough alumni members volunteering to help out as much as they can towards this; I’m volunteering to coach, so is John Keeney (a past National Champion in smallbore shooting), so are several others. From last night’s membership attendance, it looks like we’ve a few candidates for Trainee Range Officers already, though we’ll hold off on tapping them for a while. We’ll start looking for colors team candidates pretty much immediately, but the squad itself won’t get picked and start training for a month to six weeks. Fingers crossed, this should be a good year.

So, tomorrow we have the RO meeting, where we do a recap of basic safety procedures and coaching for the ROs to get them back into the game; I’ve gone and volunteered to do the air rifle section of that and John’s doing the smallbore section. I’d like to see us stealing a few ideas from Wilkinstown for the air rifle, so we’ll look at that tomorrow.

Now if this blasted fresher’s flu would bugger off and leave me be, I’d be sorted…

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