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UTNZ Inc. will not be holding a series of events during 2024
UTNZ Inc. Five Years of Reflection – Presidents Report


UTNZ is off on furlough for 2024, taking stock of all the learnings after running five successful annual series of multi-discipline clay target events throughout the country. Over those five years there has been a vast array of new thinking implemented, experiments done, challenges dealt with, and lessons learned. Now is the time for reflection on all that has passed, and to communicate UTNZ’s position and future plans to those who have been part of our journey.


September 2017 saw the first FITASC Universal Trench competition in the country run in Wellington, with the Wellington Cup going on to become a substantial event in 2018 with Kilwell Sports backing. Coupled with Compak, it was a true all-around shotgun Championship, and gave a foundation for what was to come. We saw an opportunity to form an organisation which amalgamated these attractive and exciting disciplines, with a simple aspiration to see New Zealand clay target shooting move forward into a contemporary age of operation, and to help the sport become relevant and desirable as we march on into a future of changing times.


UTNZ Inc. was officially formed at the beginning of 2019, after receiving a positive acceptance of our introduction and management proposal from the NZCTA council and President Jenni Sanders, who also subscribed to a FITASC UT license at our initial request. UTNZ Inc. turned its aspirations into goals. To run a series of events to a high professional standard, make these events for the shooter, and give as much as possible back with worthwhile prize pools, all the while using the series to form a ranking list to select National representatives to travel to Australia in 2020


Recognising that club volunteers around the country were already working hard enough, and that a further request on any host club committee to administrate and run a full weekend multi-discipline event would likely face immediate refusal, UTNZ Inc. worked out a system to make an event as easy to implement as possible. The result was a complete operational and financial model to make life easy for host clubs. UTNZ took on all of the organisation, promotion and admin, along with the majority of hands on weekend work at host grounds to make the events happen. The inaugural UTNZ series in 2019 was a success, with clubs doing well financially for opening their facility, and shooters getting great prize payback for their entry whilst enjoying a great mix of target challenge and variety. UTNZ Inc. was ticking the boxes of the goals it had set.


After 2019, the ranking tables were healthy and a bunch of competitive teams lay in wait for the first New Zealand UT teams to venture overseas. A Trans-Tasman event with Australia had been organised, and UTNZInc. had undertaken a vast amount of administration to organise a complete team trip. Then Covid got involved, and the hangover lasted for some years. As it transpired, Covid and the ensuing travel difficulties were not our only roadblocks to overseas representation. Negotiations to also get New Zealand representatives overseas in the years following were cumbersome and ultimately unsuccessful. This was frustrating, as we had some very high level shooters posting consistent top scores. In response, UTNZ chose to focus on our domestic series, where we continued to grow the return to shooters and host clubs, by running bigger events and throwing more and more targets for larger prize pools. 


The UTNZ Inc. model has never been about profit. Success was not gauged by money in the bank, but by entries at events, smiles on faces, good culture and good feedback. The host club was guaranteed their income based on entries and targets thrown, and UTNZ guaranteed the lofty prize pools. In keeping with the aspirational goals of UTNZ Inc. the break-even entry requirement of an event was always set high, and at times the entries didn’t meet the ambitious target number. UTNZ Inc. has spent all these years walking the knife edge between capacity to operate and giving maximum return to shooters. The ability to do that is entirely thanks to the support of rock solid series sponsors Laporte, Kilwell Sports and Fiocchi New Zealand. In recent years individual event sponsors Pirtek Hawke’s Bay, Tubeworx, Heatwise, Kauri Bay Boomrock and Boomrock Wellington, Rivers to Ranges and Fruitfed, have enabled an ever increasing prize pool return to shooters. Recent events in 2022/23 have had north of $6,200 in single event prize pools. UTNZ is proud of the solid relationships it has formed with all of these supportive companies, and the financial management which has run 25 successful events over 5 years, distributing well north of $100,000 total prize pool. A management model that remains viable to this day.


However, as the new year of 2024 dawns on us, the time has come for UTNZ Inc. to pause and reflect. While the satisfaction of meeting the vast majority of our goals and seeing continued good culture and camaraderie at events has been immense, the challenges have also been many and have become overly demanding and onerous on our working group. Earlier this year in April, the UTNZ Inc. committee sent advice to the NZCTA that UTNZ Inc. would not be running a series of Universal Trench events in 2024. We also gave recommendations of what may be successful if the NZCTA were to manage their own events, and offered to assist with any systems that could improve the event delivery and experience for shooters. We have not had an official response, and despite subsequent verbal follow up, it’s unclear what the NZCTA’s position on the discipline is.


Technically, UTNZ Inc. as an organisation remains active, with a current full committee and recently appointed President. However, rather than planning and running a series of events, its intention for 2024 is to review how best to devote our volunteer time and resources in keeping with our original aspirations and goals. Whether this involves picking up where we left off come 2025, or pursuing a different direction remains to be seen. What is clear is that the direction will be influenced by the level of support and willingness from related organisations, and constructive feedback from the shooting public.


At our final event of 2023, the question was posed to UTNZ “What could the NZCTA do to help the UTNZ Inc. series to continue?”. The UTNZ committee have spent time reflecting and discussing this. It’s a great question, that could be beneficially explored by all clubs, members and affiliated series like UTNZ, and would help provide growth, development, improvement and innovative ideas for our sport. A National Association with a positive growth mindset that is genuinely collaborative with its members and clubs will provide strength and growth for the sport as a whole. Here are the insights and thoughts we have from our experiences with UTNZprovided as constructive insight and thoughts based on this question:


  • Communication & engagement – NZCTA adopting a modern ‘open door’ collaborative communication and engagement model, focused on sharing and growing together 

  • Governance – ‘Lifting the gaze’ is about the NZCTA reviewing and aligning roles it plays with its sub organisations, clubs & members.  Focusing on higher level governance, supported by sub organisations, clubs and their members operating the lower level activities for greater efficiencies and effectiveness 

  • Public marketing – Investment in PR campaigns working with Sport NZ as a vehicle to promote the sport with higher honour aspirations and pathways of representing New Zealand in the full array of available, international level disciplines.  This also supports the next point …

  • Membership promotion – Every club and discipline would like to see growth in members and attendance at events.  One of the strengths and appeal of Clay Target shooting are the equal opportunities irrelevant of age or gender, along with the opportunity to participate in a large array of different disciplines. This needs to be promoted more, with all demographics from school age participants to the relatively untapped 30-50 age bracket, who will determine the health and longevity of the sport of Clay Target shooting into the future. 


We remain grateful to the councillors and President who showed us constructive support in the initial days of UTNZ. We also acknowledge and remember councillor Mike Tarbitt who was a pillar of support for UTNZthrough his time on council, Mike is forever etched into the UTNZ Inc. story and we remain extremely grateful for his support, contribution and positivity.


UTNZ Inc. has built some wonderful relationships with many positive, proactive people throughout the country at host clubs, running events in the 2019 year at Hutt Valley, Waikato, Waitemata and Timaru, followed by Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay. We have enjoyed some really positive ongoing relationships with many individuals. As with the National Association, the movement of people within these host club committees over time is inevitable, and ensuring the ongoing security of Series events year on year has often been challenging. We’re thankful to those committees and the specific individuals within them that recognise the ethos of UTNZ Inc. and have worked with us to support our associated sponsor brands, and the shooting public by hosting UTNZ events.


Acknowledgement and thanks goes to the current UTNZ Inc. committee. We’ve had many people come through the organising group of UTNZ Inc. since its establishment in 2019, everyone providing something of value. Whether it be a varying point of view for consideration, through to large personal time investments in the UTNZ operation. In recent times the Presidency and committee group has transferred around, naturally bringing some evolution, although the core ethos has remained. The varying views of those who have been involved through the years proves that shooters as a group are wide ranging in their mindset and preference, and we have explored many different avenues in response. Over the five years of the series a treasure trove of valuable data has been accumulated, and we now have many great insights into possible directions to steer the sport of Clay Target shooting to make it relevant and desirable for future generations.


The UTNZ Inc. organisation was founded on a simple desire to see the sport move forward into a contemporary age of operation, and portray a positive image of the sport into the public sphere. We love the game of clay target shooting, and want to see it healthy and flourishing for future generations. That overall job still seems a long way from done and that is a larger conversation, but one that UTNZ Inc. will always offer positive energy to if invited.



James Mackie 




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