Form a Marksmanship Club

Civilian Marksmanship ProgramClubsForm a Marksmanship Club

How to form a CMP Marksmanship Club

We’ll review each step in more detail below, but as a general overview, here are the steps to follow to successfully form a new club:

  1. Grouping of interested persons in safety and marksmanship.
  2. Have the first meeting.
  3. Establish temporary chairman and officers, answer questions.
  4. Have the second meeting.
  5. Answer more questions, name the club, and create club bylaws.
  6. Establish permanent club bylaws, club officers, and financial structures.
  7. Identify club shooting interest, highpower, shotgun, pistol, etc.
  8. Find a location for range use.

You can also download the CMP Guide to Forming a CMP Marksmanship Club, which presents all the information outlined on this page in .PDF form.

Initial meetings: what to accomplish

The first step in forming a successful marksmanship club is to move from the “talking about” to the actual grouping of interested persons into some sort of structured group. The group should always have in mind safety and marksmanship concerning shooting sports. Once the group is formed, the first meeting can take place.

During the first meeting, a temporary chairman and officers should step forward and be confirmed by group census. Many questions will arise out of this first meeting and the chairman should do everything possible to answer or at least consider the validity of each question.

After the questions from the first meeting are answered or held over, a date and time for the second meeting should be established. The second meeting should be concerned with held over questions, naming of the club, and the creation of the club bylaws.

Subsequent meetings should establish:

  • Permanent bylaws
  • Club officers (to include the club president)
  • Financial structures, i.e. member dues, fundraising, etc.
  • Club shooting interest (high power, shotgun, pistol, etc.)
  • Process or plans for leasing, renting, or purchasing of property for the establishment of a range for the conduct of marksmanship activities

Club Name

The name of the club should be simple and easy to remember. When naming the club, club members should think of tangible, memorable items when choosing a name. Association of the club name with a local geographic location is a good way of establishing club identity. The club name should be short so not to limit usage on patches, shirts, baseball caps, or trophies. Always keep in mind, good organizations are recognized by their initials, CMP, NRA, FOP, NWTF, USSF, IPSC, USPSA, etc. The club name is the first thing a potential new member sees or hears. First impressions are very important, so choose the club name carefully.

Club Bylaws

The bylaws of the organization are the rules governing the administration and operation of the club. The bylaws are important and must be well written and fully understandable by club members. Bylaws should not include minor rules Club Organization How To Form a CMP Club – 7 – that can be frequently changed. The bylaws, once written, must be presented and accepted by all current and future club members. The acceptance of the club bylaws is accomplished by a majority club vote by its current membership during the course of a meeting. The minutes of said meeting will contain the newly accepted bylaws for the posterity of the club. Future members should sign that they have read the club bylaws and understand said bylaws before individual membership is accepted. Sample organizational bylaws are readily available through local libraries, Internet, CMP, and NRA. (You can view a simplified set of bylaws provided by the Civilian Marksmanship Program on pages 7-9 of the CMP Guide to Forming a CMP Marksmanship Club.)

Club Officers and Officer Reports

Club officers should be elected on the grounds of merit and the ability to accomplish goals. Many clubs go astray by choosing “friends” to accomplish the job when more qualified individuals are available within the club. Elect club officers with much caution and consideration. The following are examples of club officer duties:

  • President – The president should be knowledgeable concerning safety and marksmanship and well respected by the community and club members. The president will conduct and preside over all club meetings. He or she is responsible for formulating, carrying out, and organizing support for club programs that offer the best potential for increasing the strength and longevity of the club. The president should be the hardest working member or the club, i.e., a true leader by example.
  • Vice President – The vice president should be qualified to succeed the president and perform the duties of the president in case of his or her absence or upon request. The vice president should display a willingness to lead and a true desire for the success of the current club president’s agenda.
  • Secretary – The secretary should have a “can do” attitude and have good record keeping skills. The secretary is the keeper of all club records. The secretary takes minutes of all meetings. In recording minutes, special attention should be given to all formal motions made and disposition thereof. Concise and orderly files should be kept of all club records, bylaws, meeting minutes, etc.
  • Treasurer – The treasurer is responsible for all club financial statements. The treasurer is to prepare or have prepared an income and expense report indicating the club’s financial condition. Every club, regardless of size, should have a checking account to better track expenditures. It is a normal business practice to have the requirement of two officers signatures on each check as a means of dual control. The treasurer is responsible for maintaining records relating to the financial condition of the club, such as property records, club investments, and inventory of supplies.
  • Marksmanship Instructor – The Marksmanship instructor is the club officer that is responsible for the overseeing of marksmanship instruction. The (MI) should have or be in the process of obtaining certification in marksmanship safety instruction from a credible source such as the CMP, USA Shooting, or the NRA. Once basic certification is obtained continuing education should be sought out for the continual learning process. The MI should have the desire to constantly learn and then to teach others in the safe and ethical use of firearms.
  • Range Master – The range master is the club officer that is responsible for the running of the range and all range related activities. The (RM) should have, or be in the process of obtaining, certification as a Range Safety Officer. The NRA currently offers a course of instruction where the participant can obtain a Range Safety Officer credential. Once the RSO course is completed the RM needs to continue his or her education, i.e. seek out completion of the Chief Range Officer’s course. The range master should be concerned with the safety of the club members on the range first and always.

The officers should give reports at each scheduled meeting concerning their appropriate area. Please refer to Robert’s Rules of Order for the proper conduct of club meetings.

Planning Club Meetings

The main purpose of a club meeting is to transact club business in an orderly fashion. A successful meeting depends on how well the meeting is planned in advance. Meetings should be held monthly or quarterly depending on the membership, work/ personal constraints and club needs. Members can become discontent with the club if each individual’s needs are not at least considered. Successful clubs base decisions that concern the entire group by having a vote to determine the outcome. The club membership should be notified well in advance (two weeks minimum) of the time, date, and location of the meeting. The meeting should begin and end on time. Club meetings should be run in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. Below is a typical order sequence for a meeting:

  1. Attendance taken
  2. Reading of minutes by the club secretary from the previous meeting
  3. Officer reports
  4. Old business
  5. New business
  6. Schedule of the next meeting

Club Finances and Revenue

The budget is essential to the club’s survival as an organization. A meeting should be held to decide upon a budget constraints and the optimal means of producing club income. During this meeting an operating budget should be prepared and established by member majority vote. After the “budget meeting” a structure for member dues collection can be established. Member dues are, for most clubs, the best source for revenue acquisition, i.e., more members, more revenue.

Including member dues, sources of club revenue include:

  1. Member Dues
  2. Memorabilia Sales
  3. Concessions
  4. Fund Raising
  5. Range Fees
  6. Donations

How to incorporate your club

To incorporate, a club must file a certificate of incorporation with an officially designated state agency, usually the secretary of state in the state, in which they are organized. Club members may find it convenient to operate on an informal basis, but there are significant advantages to incorporating. One advantage is that members and officers acting in good faith may not be personally liable for the debts and obligations of an incorporated club. Clubs should consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine specific procedures and laws applicable to their state.


All organizations are subject to federal income tax. An organization claiming exemption from federal income tax, unless already in receipt of a determination of ruling letter from the IRS establishing such exemption, is required by the Treasury Department regulations (Revenue Ruling 54-164) to file an application for exemption with the key district in which the organization maintains its home office.

IRS regulations provide that, in general, a civic league or organization described in the Section 501(c)(4) of the IRS code may be exempt if: (1) it is not organized for profit; and (2) it is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. An attorney and/or tax accountant should be consulted for specifics.

  • State Income Taxes – Regulations vary from state to state concerning income taxes. Information on state taxes may be obtained by writing to the income tax division of the department of revenue for your state.
  • Federal Income Taxes – The U.S. Treasury Department publishes a booklet entitled “How to Apply for Recognition of Exemption for An Organization”. The club can obtain this booklet by writing to the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Shooting Programs

After learning more about the opportunities and possibilities available to the members of your club, it is time to establish specific club shooting program goals.

Since there are so many different possibilities in shooting, deciding on specific goals for your club will keep club officers focused on meeting the expectations and interests of group members. The following are some questions you must answer in setting program goals:

  • What type of shooting program? Many clubs start off as one of the groups listed below. (You can see some sample shooting club objectives on page 15-16 of the CMP Guide to Forming a CMP Marksmanship Club.)
    • Junior Rifle Club
    • High School Rifle Team
    • JROTC Rifle Team
    • 4-H Shooting Sports Club
    • City/County Recreation Department Youth Program
    • Boy Scout Venturing Crew
    • Junior division to rifle/ pistol/sportsmen’s club
    • Local marksmanship/ shooting sports club

Others decide to establish a Junior Division and affiliate with one or more national youth-serving agency programs after they organize.

  • Who will you serve? Will the organization be an open club or will it restrict membership? Will the club have a Junior division? Where will the members come from?
  • What age groups can belong? Will your organization focus on any particular large group? The age groups served can impact range requirements due to the type of rifles used.

Public Relations

A properly run public relations campaign can be the difference between your club advancing or declining. The benefits of a good public relations program are numerous. Public relations, when used properly, can help the public better understand the real benefits of the shooting sports. Shooting sports activities can be shown as healthy and constructive when managed through a properly operated club. Some decisions must be made before embarking on a public relations campaign:

  1. Who will handle public relations for the club? A club officer with experience and interest in the advertising field is preferred. The person should be able to communicate both verbal and in writing, when dealing with all forms of media.
  2. What forms of media will be used? The public relations officer should establish relationships with all forms of local media. By establishing these relationships, no one select form of media is locked in, i.e. options for change and growth are still available.
  3. How will funding for public relations be raised? The public relations officer is responsible for organizing fund raising efforts dedicated for club advertising. Funds are usually limited so an inexpensive way of getting the word out about your club is the placement of a story in your local newspaper. A lot of the time a local paper will print an announcement or short article about local events for free as a community service. Please look at the sample provided below of how to submit an announcement to the local newspaper: Alex M. Grimes of the Moss Branch Shooting Club won the .22 caliber rifle championship today at the Highway 202 Range. Mr. Grimes scored 294 out of a possible 300, a Moss Branch record in rimfire sporter. Wind and inclement weather were more than likely to blame for the loss of six points over the course.

Affiliation with CMP

If you’re a club seeking to affiliate with CMP, we look forward to working with you to assist your club in reaching its goals and in reaching the mission and vision of the CMP – to promote marksmanship training and firearms safety for all qualified U.S. citizens with a special emphasis on youth. Click here to learn more about the application process!