Like many other organizations, gun clubs live and die on the backs on volunteers.
So when Greg Zavaduk, who never quite fancied himself a president of anything, saw a need for someone to fill the role for the Bulkley Valley Rod & Gun Club, he decided to step up.
“There was absolutely nobody else,” he said, adding that the province’s Societies Act required the club to submit someone as the club’s executive by the end of April.
“I don’t think our society would [stay] in existence without a president,” he said in an interview with The Interior News.
No newcomer to the multi-chambered world of gun ownership, Zavaduk got his first firearm – a .22 calibre ‘chipmunk’ rifle – at 12 years old.
As a teenager, he recalls shooting at a range in the basement of his high school – a far cry from the 10,000 targets he estimates he shot last year.
But as Zavaduk grew older, he rose in calibre – both ammunition and skill level.
He recalls that Bob Blackburn (now one of the club’s most senior members at 87) was a driving force behind getting him involved with the organization.
“He coached me through hockey and then he said, ‘why don’t you come out and try shooting’ … so I came out.”
Now, twenty years later, Zavaduk is ready to embark on his next chapter with the club after being voted in as president during its annual general meeting earlier this month.
Perhaps ‘ready’ isn’t the right word though.
That’s because Zavaduk said he took on the role not because it’s one he’s always dreamed of, but since he cares about giving back to a club that has given so much to him.
Sitting at a weathered picnic table next to the shooting range on a brisk Easter Sunday he acknowledges, amongst a backdrop of erratic cracks from members’ firearms, that it won’t be easy to fill the shoes of former club president Brian Atherton.
“I’m not trying to do anything like Brian has done – he’s set the bar too high for anyone else,” Zavaduk said with a laugh.
But much like Atherton, Zavaduk sees a need to draw young people into the club.
As for the how?
Again, similarly to Atherton, he isn’t quite sure.
Zavaduk adds that while the club has had success getting teenagers onto the grounds for school trips (he mentions an outdoor education class from Houston that is due at the club next month), it hasn’t translated to an increase in younger enrolment levels.
He said this could be because, for young adults, one of the largest barriers when getting into shooting is cost.
“They enjoy it, they have a lot of fun but unless the bank of mom and dad pays for it, they’re not gonna be here,” he said, adding that even entry-level firearms can cost thousands of dollars.
And while Zavaduk might not have a one-size-fits-all solution, he does acknowledge it’s a question the club needs to ask to ensure its continued success over the years.
As for the club’s future, Zavaduk is most focused on ensuring its existence for subsequent generations.
And while he acknowledges it might not be easy, he’s ready to give it a shot.