Why are Sanctioned Match Fees on the Rise?

This morning I was sitting at my desk when my phone buzzed. I glanced down to see that an email had come in through the WaltInPA Contact Form. My curiosity got the better of me and I reached for my phone. The message was from a shooter asking me to post an anonymous letter regarding IDPA Sanctioned Match Fees.

Hello Walt. I was wondering if you would post a letter that I composed to open a discussion about sanctioned match fees. My only request is could you post it without tagging my name to it. I feel that the response may be better if it is left author unknown. I really want to send a message to the current MD’s in our sports that charging excessive match fees is going to ruin our sport. After all, this is sport is run by people giving up their time and money to make every match happen. Nobody gets a paycheck. Thanks Walt.

IDPA Sanctioned Match Fees on the Rise

Match Fees on the rise. Why?

As I continue into the 2014 shooting season I am being forced to prune several matches that were staples of the schedule for this year, and possibly the future. I understand that there is this thing called inflation, but in the shooting sports I am finding prices rising where they are unjustified. Let’s take a look at one area in particular, IDPA Sanctioned matches. Now let it be said before things get out of hand that I am not singling out anyone club in particular, rather just discussing a topic in general. In the past few years it has been the acceptable norm to charge anywhere from $70.00 to $85.00 for a shooter to shoot a sanctioned match. To the current time I am seeing many more clubs charging Fees in the $100.00 and up range.

For me this is where I have to draw the line for participating in a sanctioned event, and start looking at total investment vs. the return on my investment. Speaking for the newer shooters in general who may be in their first 2 to 3 years of IDPA competition, there are several things that inflation has already hit very hard that are required to participate in these sanctioned events. Some of the higher noted items are ammunition, fuel, and lodging. These items alone become an issue when considering shooting a match, and then you tack on another $100.00 per person for the match fee. This starts to make this a very expensive event.

Again, not to take away anything from the clubs holding the events, but the average shooter is not going to see a great difference between a local match and a sanctioned match outside of a free t-shirt and possible a free lunch. Yes there will be more stages, and a higher round count (which also adds to the expense) and possibly a higher degree of difficulty within the stages. Then you need to factor in the new IDPA rules regarding awards. In the past, it was 1 award per every 3 shooters entered in a given division. So if you finished 7th in SSP, which is normally the most popular division, you stood a chance at getting an award. Not that it is a big deal to be recognized for 7th place, but it is something that added to the shooters value of the match. This year that has been taken away, by a rule change limiting the awards to one per every 5 shooters.

The north east region of the country has always been known for doing a good job of making sanctioned events available to the shooters, and the clubs continue to carry that tradition on. I would just like to see either a reduction in the match fees, or the clubs become more creative in providing a supportive explanation for the higher fees, to make the shooters return on investment a little better. We know that this sport is run on a volunteer basis and that paychecks are not issued to any staff or MD by the club for running a match.

In closing let’s put out a message to our shooters that we want them to participate and that as a club the focus should be on filling all of your available shooting slots, not on trying to dig deeper into the shooters pocket to increase the bottom line for the club.

Thank You!
Anonymous Shooter

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Hi There, My name is Walt White and as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Pennsylvania resident. In addition to having numerous hobbies that I discuss on my blog - I’m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

One thought on “Why are Sanctioned Match Fees on the Rise?

  1. I shoot at least 10 Sanctioned Matches each year. Before I address the cost issues, I just want to write about the value. IDPA is a sport which provides a lot of personal enjoyment, recreation and entertainment in a social atmosphere. First, IDPA requires some investment in equipment and ammunition and other supplies. It is not a sport like running where the investment in equipment is very low. When you compare this sport to other similar recreational activities, it is higher than some, but not out of line. Skydiving is at least $100 per person, per dive. Sport fishing the Atlantic for serious fishing is gonna run about $200/day. My point is that compared to other recreational sports, Sanctioned Match Fees are not out of line and provide good value for me personally.

    Also, I don’t agree that Sanctioned Matches are just local matches with T-shirts and free lunches. Here is a copy of a post from the IDPA forum that I posted recently:
    – A Sanctioned Match is meant to attract competitors from a larger geographic area, or nationally or even internationally;
    – A Sanctioned Match increases the level of competition over a club match because of the larger base of participants, and usually motivated participants, at that;
    – A Sanctioned Match provides an opportunity to compete in a different division, such as CDP, BUG, etc. against the more competitive group;
    – A Sanctioned Match will normally have more challenging courses of fire than would be available at local matches;
    – A Sanctioned Match will have MORE courses of fire than a local match, usually by two times, and they are usually more interesting to shoot;
    – A Sanctioned Match is an opportunity for the Area Coordinator to remind the IDPA community of any new rules clarifications, and rules changes and ensure they are being followed (Let’s be honest here that local matches are not usually as strict on the rules as Sanctioned Matches, although I think they should be.);
    – A Sanctioned Match is an opportunity for competitors to socialize with the larger group of competitors and to expand their network, discuss competitive strategies, discuss guns and ammo and reloading experiences, and enjoy the comraderie;
    – A Sanctioned Match like a BUG Match gives the participants an opportunity to run a handgun that they don’t normally use to compete, giving them valuable experience;
    – A Sanctioned Match is an opportunity for vendors to promote their products, to make new product announcements, and to sell services or products;
    – I am sure there are more I have not thought about, and others are free to add to.

    But I also think costs are going up for the following good reasons:
    – Clubs and Match Directors want to provide the best experience to the shooters;
    – The new rules require more SO’s to attend each stage and those SO’s usually shoot the match for free, so that cost needs to be covered;
    – Some venue fees are going up. For instance, Academi multiplied the range rental fees for the Shoothouse and the Tidewater 3Gun matches. T3Gun can’t afford to run monthly matches there with the current range fees being demanded;
    – The cost to fix and maintain targets, reactive targets, replace worn out targets, etc. are all going up;
    – Many clubs have had to make improvements to meet local regulations and government requirements as more suburbs have grown up around ranges;
    – I am not sure, but my guess is that liability insurance continues to rise as well.
    – I am sure there are more costs as well.

    That being said: I don’t personally want lunch or dinner included in the fee. I suggest a vendor be there to offer lunch/dinner for an extra cost and it’s optional at that point. The T-Shirts could be optional for an additional fee.

    Also, let’s not forget that this is a marketplace and supply and demand do play a role. Some matches, such as the Carolina Cup, sell-out every year. I once heard Frank say that a businessman once told him the best way to allocate slots is to keep raising the fees until demand goes down. Then you have the market price. To Frank’s credit he didn’t take that advice, but the fee doesn’t stop that event from selling out in record time, and it’s not cheap.

    In the end it comes down to: “You get what you pay for.” I have rarely thought that a Santioned Match was a poor value. I have sometimes thought that the 12 hours of driving may not be worth it…but the match fee has never been the deciding factor.

    The Nationals, being in Tulsa, makes it just about impossible for me to take that much time off from work, drive many hours or the expense of flying, stay at a hotel at least two nights, and makes the Nationals out of reach for me. If it ever comes back East, then maybe. Because I can shoot great Sanctioned Matches back East, then the value of going to the Nationals just isn’t there.

    This is just one man’s opinion…I try to call it as I see it. Others will disagree.

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