The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 15, 2014

Trapshoot: Bloom U. students try to find out what draws people to event

ELYSBURG — While anyone holding a shotgun would blend in at the Pennsylvania State Shoot this week, several people in attendance Friday may have stood out to spectators and participants.

Carrying electronic tablets with them instead, Bloomsburg University students helped survey attendants of the event throughout the day. The survey’s goal is to learn what draws people to the area for the popular shoot and the event’s regional economic impact.

Numbers have yet to be crunched, but some students said they learned things from the responses they received just a few hours into the day. Both the amount of money put into the event and region and the shoot’s meaning appears to be large.

“It’s a hobby that they enjoy. They socialize a lot,” Octavia Williams, a volunteer who is a junior at Bloomsburg, said. “They know people, and they become friends with different types of people.”

Vernetta Coaxum, a senior majoring in psychology, added, “It’s kind of like a family environment.”

They were two students who agreed to help issue the survey. Coaxum and Khadija Abdullahi, another senior majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology, said helping out would be a good experience and is related to what they’re going to school for.

“We like to observe people,” Abdullahi said.

Those at the shoot on Friday were receptive to the survey.

Charlie Canning and Mike Otto, CEOs of the company partly behind the logistics of the survey, Community Research Solutions, said that the goal was to receive 100 to 200 responses by day’s end. They were on the verge of the century mark by early afternoon.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know what to expect and how everyone would react,” Coaxum said. “But everyone was really friendly and willing to do the survey.”

The new business run by Canning, a senior at Bloomsburg, and Otto, a recent Bloomsburg graduate, helped collaborate in designing the survey and will analyze the results.

Canning said that the analysis of the survey’s feedback could have some positive impacts. He noted the data could serve as a benchmark for future state shoots and could even be used to acquire sponsorships from things like gun companies.

“Those people are more willing to put money into an event like this when they see that it’s really bringing money into this area,” Canning said.

And while full results will not be available for some time, surveyors noted that shooters and spectators — who come from a wide array of places, including beyond the United States — can spend a lot of money in the region throughout the week.

Williams said that cost was a cause of concern for a number who were surveyed. Nevertheless, it has not stopped longtime attendants, some of whom have traveled to the shoot for 20 to 30 years, from coming. She said some just don’t shoot quite as much.

Besides expenses, the students were given suggestions for other minor improvements. A lack of parking and seating were smaller items brought up.

“Everything else is great about it,” Coaxum said. “They love it.”

If the survey is a success, perhaps the results can be used to improve the overall experience of next year’s state shoot, a week of trap shooting that continues to bring shooters of all ages from all places to central Pennsylvania.

“We’re just trying to help out the community, first and foremost,” Canning said. “That’s really our goal, to build the smaller communities in this rural area of PA.”

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