Rocketry could be doing better but it is far from dead and in some cases
it's better than ever before. All I can give you is what I see but from
where I stand, despite all of the rough spots and the negative things the
hobby has endured the last 4 years, I believe rocketry in general is in good
shape. I would also have to say it depends on where you live.
Locally, 10 years ago, we had 5-6 stores supplying rocketry items. 5 years
ago we had 10-11. Today in the metro area we have 18+ stores selling rockets
& supplies, from Wal-Mart to mom & pop stores. Some have many kits and a
good inventory of supplies, others just have the essentials.
The state clubs have grown in number, as well as membership and are growing
every month, both NAR & TRA. There are many, many, more people that fly who
are not part of any club AND there are groups of people that have formed
model / HPR clubs, that are NOT affiliated with ANY organization. They are
independent but most use the same codes as NAR / TRA.
My youngest daughter 19, has been flying since she was 4, works full time at
Wal Mart and is one of 42 cashiers. She works peak hours and has been
watching her sales of kits and supplies for me. She tells me she makes sales
of engines or rockets EVERY day, mostly to kids under 18 or younger (with a
parent) and like I said, she is only 1 of 42. I don't know how much this one
store sells but her sales applied as an average, indicate rocketry is doing
pretty well, it's just 1 of many in the area.
Depending on who you talk to, there are clubs all over the country doing
well, others are squeaking by. It seems that those actively trying to grow,
are doing so. Those just waiting on it to happen, are at best, static. There
are plenty of things to draw kids away from the hobby but from what I've
seen, there's plenty of time and desire to be involved in the hobby, where
there is an opportunity (a field) or the knowledge that it exists.
About 75% of the membership of my local club (37 members) is a member of
NAR or TRA. NAR 665 / TRA 81 has been in existence for only 15 months. If
you want to see how to grow a Section, go to the club website and spend
sometime to see what the club offers members and all the things that have
been done to make the public aware 665 / 81 is here. We are growing in both
model and HPR rockets. The club will have it's first EX launch in July.
We have a great website, corporate sponsors, media coverage, some members
have rocketry websites, most of our members pitch in to make the club
visible, profitable and fun. Egos are kept in check and we're working with
the other Sections in our area for the good of all of the clubs and the
hobby. These are a few of the things the club is doing. Our club is
fortunate in that we have a very diverse group of builders and flyers, most
with decades of experience.
Much like success in real estate is said to be location, location, location,
growing a club is attitude, attitude, attitude. Attitudes will make or break
a club, an organization, or a hobby.
Coincidentally, I'll be posting a new Fire & Smoke tomorrow night, touching
on some of these topics.