Jim, I like your mining the GP stats for the numbers. But I thought I would expand the sampling over 5 years so we see a more complete table of AAFTA GP shooting participation, 2012-2106...
1) Surprise... In general the total participation in AAFTA FT is slowly GROWING over time. Think about that. Is the sky really falling?
2) Open PCP is stable (actually growing slightly) over the last 3 years.
3) Hunter PCP is somewhat variable over time (growing from 2012 to 2014, BUT slowly decreasing the two years since).
4) WFTF PCP is slowly growing (by 7 percentage points the last 4 years).
5) Both Hunter Piston
and WFTF Piston
appear to be growing steadily over the last 5 years (Hunter: 7% to 11% today; WFTF: 4% to 9% today). But...
6) The entire Piston Division hovers at 20% participation the last 5 years. (Which means 80% of GP participants are PCP shooters).
7) Interest in Open Piston has declined markedly (from 10% in 2012, steadily decreasing to 4%, to 1% last year).
Some Opinions FWIW...
1) If you combine Open PCP with Hunter PCP, you would have 65%-71% of all shooters in the same class. (69%, 69%, 67%, 65% and 71% each of the last 5 years). IMO, this is not healthy, so don't do it. Period.
2) Hunter PCP is NOT an entry level game... hasn't been for years. To describe AAFTA's highest participation game
(all divisions) this way is demeaning, condescending, and insulting to all Hunter shooters at the GP level. Stop it. Just stop it.
3) The decrease in participation in Hunter PCP since it's high in 2014 is (IMO) probably due to the "complaints." The complaints lay within Hunter PCP. Solve it there.
(Pick your complaint, scope mag, LRF, etc.)
4) The only unhealthy Class is Open Piston. Bordering on extinct. Read Wayne Burn's excellent comments on why (above).
5) If there is an entry level game, it is the piston division classes, and MORESO at the local level
, (not at the GP level: just 1 in 5 shooters nationally).
People shooting springers for the most part are learners and fun shooters... people with no intention of going to a Grand Prix or Nats. Here in Texas (just in TX), we have as many Piston shooters at our local matches than compete nationally at AAFTA GPs each year. Nothing wrong with this, of course. The stats just recognize the springer focus that draws many (if not most) of us to airguns.
HTH the discussion.