Between The Berms: Best Practices
Where do you find best practices?
For a lot of people running matches, clubs and entire shooting sports, best practices is a street. A 'Best Practices Street' to which there is no access from 'Not Invented Here Avenue.'
I'm always fascinated by what people are doing to improve their programs and spend a lot of time picking their brain to learn how they came to their ideas.
Equally fascinating, but also quite horrifying, is talking to those that seemingly have no desire to improve their program or are so enamored with what they have achieved thus far that they are sure nothing more can be done to improve.
Both stun me as I work under the impression that everything can be improved so why wouldn't you continue looking for good ideas.
Of course, not everything can be implemented, because time, available volunteers or funding are too limited. But for those that are always looking for improvement, these are simply obstacles around which to find a path. And these people usually find that path.
For the 'this is good enough' crowd, or the 'not invented here' visionaries, the obstacles are more like impenetrable barriers. They point to the barriers and use them to end any argument. Usually this is preceded by the phase, "You have to understand...."
The reality is that the only thing to understand is that there is always a path to take to succeed and that it often requires simply listening to the ideas of others.
Yesterday I was sent the match book for the California State IDPA Championship. Everybody that has ever attended a major competition has seen a match book. They are nothing special, usually printed in black and white, and are often discarded after the match.
What was different with the one for the California match is that it is an ebook
. Last year they went to a digital match book and shooters had no problem with it. As Sean Young explained after sending the link, everybody has a printer at home, or a smartphone or tablet on which to view the program. And he's right.
The obvious benefit to a digital version is that it eliminates the printing costs. If your match has 200 to 300 shooters this can be a sizable line item in your match budget. The additional benefits of this kind of match book are being able to include content you wouldn't normally when restricted by a page count limitation.
For instance, including a registry of past winners lets shooters know who the odds on favorites are in the match. For sponsors, extra content can mean hyperlinks to various social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter. At a large enough match using the unique competitor number could unlock a one-time online discount from a sponsor, thus providing them a more appealing return for their support.
The digital match book isn't a new invention, for sure. But in the case of the California match it is well executed. I sent the link to Jon Wolfe who is preparing for the S&W Live Free Or Die state championship in New Hampshire later this month. Always on the lookout for a good idea, Jon immediately saw the value in going with a digital format.
The content possibilities with a digital match book are almost endless and can be tailored to fit your match's varied needs. It just takes some good ideas and the willingness to move forward.
Finding good ideas is one thing. Sharing them is another. There are a lot of smart, creative people running matches and shooting leagues around the country. The trick is gathering together their good ideas and compiling them into a best practices library for others.
Whether your issue is recruitment and retention of new shooters, maximizing volunteer participation, providing greater sponsor value or simply getting your shooting program off the ground, the truth is out there if you look for it.
And it's a lot easier to find than you think...as long as your route to Best Practices Street doesn't take you to Not Invented Here Avenue. That's a dead end.
- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network
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