Sometime last week I was scrolling through my Facebook Timeline when I came across a status update by Dave Bair. Dave was concerned about IDPA Programs in Eastern Pennsylvania. As the Match Director for Ontelaunee IDPA, he has been hearing that some clubs are planning on slashing minimum round counts to ease the burden shooters are facing due to the current ammunition shortage. Even worse, some clubs are even considering shutting down programs altogether.
Having just gone through this sort of situation with the Southern Chester USPSA program, I didn’t give the status update too much thought. I imagined it would work itself out and perhaps people may be overreacting. With so much other stuff to keep track of, I shifted my focus elsewhere.
This morning I received a shocking email from Dave Bair. He explained that the Guthsville Rod and Gun Club has eliminated their IDPA program and asked that I write something up about it. I haven’t known Dave for a terribly long time but he is a laid-back guy with a pleasant attitude. To see him so upset was out of character.
I was happy to put something together about the incident but I found myself in a strange position. I’ve never shot a match at Guthsville Rod and Gun Club (or even been at the range), I didn’t know the previous Match Director (who passed away last year – more on this later), and I don’t know the current Match Director.
Killing the Program
To get up to speed on everything that was going on, I began digging for information. The first bit of information that I came across was the most telling. The IDPA Program at Guthsville wasn’t eliminated because someone wasn’t willing to run it. It would seem that the Guthsville Board of Directors opted to kill the program.
From the NEPA IDPA Scores Email Blast:
And finally, a bit of bitter news. IDPA at Guthsville is no more. I heard from Bill Kulnis today and to say that he is pretty disgusted with the management of Guthsville is an understatement. I’ll go no farther than that. So Guthsville IDPA was a great run started by a great man, Burt Schaffer, and continued by Bill Kulnis who did a better than average job as a Match Director. But apparently the people at Guthsville can look a gift horse in the mouth. So it is done.
Why Choose to Kill The Program?
The Guthsville Board of Directors must have had a reason for killing the program. My initial thought was that maybe the program wasn’t worth the resources. Perhaps it was a small program drawing very few shooters?
The club seems to have been very active, running IDPA Safety Officer Seminars and helping with PA State IDPA Matches. Guthsville IDPA wasn’t just some rinky-dink little program, they were a tenured club that gave a lot to the shooting community.
A Dying Man’s Wish
Prior to Bill Kulnis, the Match Director at Guthsville was Bert Schaffer. While I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Bert before his untimely passing, I have been reading about him for the past hour. Based on what I’ve learned, it would have been an honor to know him and he deserves a great deal of respect from the IDPA Community.
I came across an IDPA Forum post about Bert from another Match Director I have a lot of respect for, Ted Murphy. In addition, I also came across an obituary, of sorts, from NEPA IDPA Scores.
I am very sad to report that the Match Director of Guthsville IDPA Bert Schaffer, passed away this evening from Pancreatic Cancer.
Bert was one of the nicer people I have have ever met. He was very thoughtful, caring, and dedicated to both IDPA and the shooting sports. He was a tremendous help in helping organize and run several of the Pa State matches, as well as a great help for the 2007 and 2008 IDPA nationals. He once even took some time to help me with my Statistics homework, as he was a part time professor at the local College.
About 2 years ago, he became the president of Guthsville Rod and Gun Club and through his guidance and leadership, brought practical shooting back to the club, starting the IDPA @ Guthsville Club.
I got to shoot with Bert one last time at Guthsville, for the April IDPA match there. He had been recently diagnosed with his illness then, but on that day was more concerned with making long term plans for the IDPA program he had started than he was about discussing his illness.
I am glad to have met Bert and to have been his friend. People like him do not come around often, and I was truly blessed to have gotten to know him.
1941 – 2012
Left the Range on May 9th, 2012
This is truly a sad loss to our shooting community. The amount and number of responses to the initial notification was overwhelming. Burt was extremely well liked and one could almost say loved by many of us. He was a good friend, an intelligent and thoughtful man, and inspired everyone that he came in contact with his enthusiasm and joy for life.
His one request was that the IDPA program at Guthsville continue. That will remain to be seen since it will take quite a person to fill Burt’s shoes in that club. Burt’s last IDPA match was April 1st. He was obviously ill but he enjoyed the shooting and camaraderie nonetheless. Hopefully we will remember Burt as the fun loving and intelligent man that he was as time progresses. He left an indelible mark on us. He was truly one of the good ones.
Burton A. Schaffer, 71, of Allentown, died on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at Hospice House of the VNA of St. Luke’s. He was the husband of Ellen A. (Schwartz) Schaffer and would have celebrated 53 years of marriage on August 10th. Born in New York City, Burton was the son of the late Milton and Edna (Shapiro) Schaffer. Burton graduated from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and received a Master’s Degree from Steven’s Institute of Technology. Prior to retirement, Burton worked as a Consultant for Thompkins Associates in Allentown. Previously he spent most of his career in the food industry as a Plant Manager for Purex, A&P, and Just Born Candy. Burton had begun his career as a chemical engineer with General Foods. Following his retirement he was employed as a tutor and adjunct professor at LCCC in the Physics Department. He was a member of Temple Shirat Shalom, Allentown where he served as a past treasurer. Burton was a volunteer at Hawk Mountain and was the Immediate Past President at Guthsville Rod and Gun Club.
So Burt is now gone to shoot the Matches with the Head Safety Officer. I’m sure we’ll recognize him when we too head to that range. He’ll be the one wearing the sun shade headgear he was so fond of and it will be a pleasure to shoot with him again. Rest in Peace, Burt. You will be missed.
While I am an outsider looking in to all of this, I find the actions of the Guthsville Board of Directors to be flat out disrespectful to both Bert Schaeffer and the IDPA Community. It doesn’t appear as though the program was in any danger of dying, the board of directors killed it.
Since the news came out I have seen calls for shooters turning thier back on the club. At least two members, at this point, have cancelled their membership and plan on going elsewhere. I would imagine that number is going to grow substantially as the word continues to spread.
For the life of me, I can’t understand how a club can cannibalize itself, especially in the current political climate. Rather than banding together as shooters, Guthsville has turned their back on the IDPA Community for no apparent reason. Rumor has it that the Steel League was also eliminated.
If you are a member at Guthsville Rod and Gun Club, or were just an IDPA Shooter at the club, I would suggest reaching out to Adam Wetzel, Club President, and voicing your opinion.
Update: March 11, 2013
A Guthsville member has sent me an email response from Adam Wetzel, Club President, regarding the IDPA Program. Ordinarily I wouldn’t share an email such as this (anything you tell me privately is between us unless you want me to pass it along), however, the sender of this email published it on Facebook. As a result, I’ve included the most important part below.
Email from Adam Wetzel:
We never decided to do away with IDPA. So who ever you heard that from is misinformed. We only stated that it is suspended until Bill Kulnis decided whether or not he was going to run it this year. The last we heard he wasn’t going run it unless he was able to find help. So no one is trying to run anything into the ground. We are only improving the club not taking away from it.
Update: March 12, 2013
I’m getting word from someone that attended the Guthsville Rod and Gun Club membership Meeting, last night, that some progress is being made.
While this isn’t official, I’m being asked to pass along the following….
The next match will be April 7th 2013, more information will follow in about 2 weeks
Update: March 30, 2013
Dave Bair has taken on the roll of Match Director for Guthsville. The program is to resume with the next match scheduled for April 7, 2013.