First of all let me wish you all a happy new year and thanks for coming to the 2019 Annual General Meeting. I have just a few remarks to pass on about vital club business and to assure you that your Board and Executive will do their best to ensure that the 2019 shooting season is challenging, fun and most of all safe. And that we will continue to work to ensure continuing improvement to our facility and the services we undertake to provide for a satisfactory membership experience for all of you. Let me get to the points:
All members of the Board and Executive of BTSA are volunteers. We employ two part time individuals as Executive Secretary, Madeline and her husband, Murray as our treasurer. They attend all Board and Executive meetings but do not vote on any subject. They keep the business functioning by keeping the books, arranging meetings and working with executive members to accomplish key tasks. Other Board/Executive members liaise with our different committees to ensure that vital tasks, such as making improvements to range facilities or safety equipment, are accomplished. BTSA committees work on a variety of tasks such as facility improvement, liaison with other clubs, safety, competitions and working with APRA. So just to reiterate, we are all volunteers working to improve the Club. We will have our annual elections today and I want to reiterate that we have approximately ten meetings per year and that we will be proposing a motion that Board/Executive members will be expected to attend at least half those meeting or they will be removed from the Board /Executive.
The fee increase we introduced last year appears to be working. The increase, plus contributions of volunteers allowed us to get a great deal of improvement done in 2018. As of now, no increase is being contemplated at this time. We have become a large and, dare I say it, successful club. From a few hundred dedicated members shooting at the old Steve Johnson Range, there are now some 600 members (400 family memberships) in our club and many more using our facilities for matches, as guests and with our Young Guns program.
The improvements we have made on the range with better parking, a more secure gate, better signage and new safety arrangements have made our membership cap unnecessary as of this year. As such we have lifted the old cap until further notice and have added a youth membership category. We will continue to monitor this situation and if we believe further action is warranted, let the membership know. One of the major factors allowing us to remove our membership cap is that we have contracted with Wild Apricot to assume responsibility to keep track of all membership changes, process new applications and even issue membership caps. One of our Directors, Jack, took it on himself to work most of this out with the help of Mike our Membership Director . Those of you who have renewed your membership through this system know how easy it now is to renew and to pay your annual dues.
The efficiency of this new system has aided us greatly to move into the 21st century, thus eliminating one of the major reasons for the membership cap in the past. Our membership year is January to January. In the past some people believed that membership began with each shooting season. This is not the case. There has been some very preliminary thought to an expansion of facilities, but that matter is largely dependent on the Kananaskis Improvement District and, of course, our own ability to take care of and pay for further expansion.
There has been great improvement to our club house facility and the heating stove is about to be installed. A generator has been installed to provide electricity and the porch shooting facility has been improved. As you will also know if you have recently visited, a new gate system has been installed as well and we are contemplating acquiring several sea cans for storage facilities.
A number of improvements were made to the facility this past year and a number are planned for 2019. It is a constant battle to keep tree branches and other foreign objects off the range when no one is there and thanks to Derek for coming up to the facility on his own free time trying to keep the ranges as clear from debris as possible. It would be very nice if we could have one or two volunteers to help Derek with that work. Garbage bins were installed and a cell phone booster will give coverage over the entire property in the 2019 shooting system. This will make access to STARS air ambulance very easy if it is ever necessary. Safety supplies were replaced, brought up to standard and will be marked with special signs. The Safety Committee had a busy year in 2018, developing and implementing an orientation on the use of steel targets for BTSA members. This required researching best practices from manufacturers' and other established shooting groups, as well as several hours from a handful of volunteers over the summer, each with a specific background from which to contribute. The Safety Committee also developed a range orientation for Match Directors and Range Officers to use in the 2019 Competition season. This will ensure that all end-users understand the basic expectations of the BTSA Board, and have signed-off that they understand and will abide by the emergency response plan developed for their competition or program.
Contracts for Facilities Usage
In the past we have occasionally had some difficulties when leasing the range to other shooting organizations and disagreements have arisen as to who was responsible for what and who was to pay for what. From last year we have had a standard contract signed in advance so that everyone is quite clear who is responsible for what and how much is to be paid.
We know we have a range orientation problem that we must address prior to the opening of the 2019 shooting season. New members have to undergo a range orientation before being allowed to shoot and continuing members should have a new range orientation every three years to keep up with changes and improvements. Why? In a word – SAFETY. It’s easy to forget what’s on the other side of that berm, or where the safe table is, or how to ensure that you never point a loaded firearm in an unsafe manner. We are engaged in a fun sport but it is also a potentially very dangerous sport and we must keep all our shooting activities 100% safe, all the time, and no exceptions. That is the reason for the orientations. So your Board and Executive will be at work in the next several months to address the matter of orientations and we will remind you of our orientation policy well before the shooting season opens.
Federal Firearms Proposals
I am sure we are all aware both of the impending firearms legislation and the proposal put forth by the government to ban handguns and assault rifles. I was an honorary colonel for 33 Field Engineer Squadron and 41 Combat Engineer Regiment and I have attended more mess dinners than I can remember. The cardinal rule at those dinners was no religion or politics at the table. BTSA has long hewed to the same line. The club exists to facilitating shooting sports in all their legal manner. I am not going to break that rule here. But in my personal view, not that of the club, but in my personal view, this federal government is chipping away at our ability to legally own and shoot our firearms. We have made representations to the government on your behalf but I want to urge you, each of you, to write, e-mail, tweet, or phone your MP and the cabinet your views on this matter. It is very urgent that the voices of the gun owning community be heard.
So, just to conclude:
We were once a cozy little club shooting paper targets at the Steve Johnson Range usually on a weekend afternoon and in the summer possibly on a weekday evening. We had a single hired RSO at all times. We pretty well all knew each other. Now we are one of Southern Alberta’s largest clubs with an extensive range, all kinds of equipment and a large and continuing demand for volunteer time, money or both. In most ways we are much better off today than we were even five years ago. But we need more engagement from our members in order to keep operating as we are now, let alone even think about expansion. So please, volunteer. Help yourself, help our sport and help us maintain BTSA as a well operated facility.
Buffalo Target Shooters Association
PO Box 394
300, 8120 Beddington Blvd NW
Calgary Alberta T3K 2A8