Umarex Boys Club
Can it really be a decade since the Umarex Boys Club was formed? Cookie explains all
It’s the UBC 10th anniversary. Jason Curtis tells us how the club came about
My name is Jason Curtis, probably better known as ‘Cookie’. I am founder of the Umarex Boys Club and we are about to celebrate our 10th anniversary. So, how did it all begin? I guess I need to go back a few years to when I was a sempai at my local karate club. I had injured my back, twice in as many months, and decided this was becoming bad for my health so I needed to find a new sport that didn’t have any impact on my back. I sort of drew a blank until I scrolled through the free ads one evening, and came across an air pistol – an Umarex Beretta 92FS in nickel, with wooden grips. It was beautiful. I just had to have it, and I still own it today. I soon learned that this was the beginning of an extremely slippery slope; you can’t own just one pistol – or rifle, come to that.
Okay, so I have this pistol, what am I going to do with it? I had a plink in the backyard, destroying tin cans is always fun, but I wanted to do more with it, something involving a little more accuracy. A bit of searching on the Internet and … perfect …I found a shooting club just up the road in Maidenhead. I had been visiting the club for a few weeks when a fellow member commented on how much he liked my Beretta. He told me that when he got home, he was going to have a look on the BBS for one. I think he could tell I was looking a bit confused.
“Airgun BBS,” he said. “It’s an airgun forum, and they have a sales section.”
When I arrived home later that evening, I jumped on the computer and had a look at this Airgun BBS. Wow! What a gold mine of information! If you are new to airguns, or just need a question answered, then check it out – after you have checked out the Umarex Boys Club, of course.
I spent quite a bit of time reading, posting and buying on the BBS, and soon came across a handful of guys with the same interest in pistols. Now, there wasn’t a dedicated place for pistol chat, so we ended up hogging threads, normally belonging to some poor soul trying to sell a pistol. This began to happen more and more often; if there was a Umarex pistol for sale, we were there taking over the thread. On one of these thread-hogging sessions on the 12th March 2008, the banter was flying back and forth, as usual, and I jokingly referred to us as the ‘Umarex Boys Club’. This name seemed to stick, and the UBC was born.
I then had folks messaging and posting, asking to join – even after explaining that it was a joke, there was no actual club, they still asked to join, so it seemed easier to let people do it and within a week or two, I had a couple of dozen members. I enrolled one of those members without asking first because he was very well liked, and had a lot of input on the forum. At first, he gave the impression he wasn’t too happy about it, but I soon learned
he is a bit of a joker and was honoured to be included. This man is now a very good friend, and if it hadn’t been for him I don’t think the UBC would have lasted this long, and it definitely wouldn’t be what it is today. He is probably the most well-known UBC member; to members of the forum he is Pad. E – to the rest of the world he is Patrick Egan.
Now a growing band of merry men and women, hogging threads in the sales section was starting to upset a few people, so the very kind mods of the BBS created a brand-new ‘Pistol’ section, so we could go about our business and leave the sales section, for selling. So, we had a place of our own, and the UBC seemed to be establishing itself with very little effort. The simple fact that we made everyone feel welcome was all that was needed for the club to grow, and grow it did, into the nicest bunch of guys and gals you will ever come across. When it came to helping each other out, nothing ever seems too much, and there is a real bond, almost family-like.
Once we were comfortable in our new surroundings, Paddy stupidly said, “I have an idea. We should run a competition.”
Oh, if he had only known how much work that was going to cause him in the future, I think he might have kept quiet. It was a great idea, though. The one stipulation was that they had to be fun. There were plenty of serious postal competitions out there, but we wanted to have a laugh, regardless of ability. We wanted everyone to relax and enjoy their shooting.
THAT FIRST COMPETITION
The first competition was designed to be shot over six yards, so you could take part at home
in the garden, garage, alleyway, in some cases even indoors. One member designed a target for all to download free, and the competition started. Based on the ‘gentleman’s honour’ system, you shot your target and submitted your honest scores, and then Paddy would post them on a leader board, on a dedicated website that he had created. We didn’t ask for proof in the form of targets to be sent in. If you did cheat, then you were only cheating yourself, because it was just for fun. As much as everyone wanted to do well, scores weren’t really that important. You shot for the enjoyment of shooting your pistols, although you would get some stick if you shot like a muppet. Isn’t that true Mr Paddy?
One competition rolled into two, then three, and slowly kept growing until we had members shooting from all over the globe. It seemed that there had been a lot of pistol owners out there, waiting for something like the UBC. It wasn’t long before Paddy started coming up with themed competitions with creative targets, to keep the fun going, and we had James Bond, Terminator and Star Wars themes, just to mention a few.
FACES TO NAMES
The next step for us was to try to organise some sort of meet, so we could put faces to names that we knew on the forum, and trade a bit of banter whilst doing our best to shoot a few competitions. We needed somewhere central, and we ended up at the Greyhound Shooting Club, in Coventry. Our nearest member to the Greyhound was … yep, you guessed it, poor Paddy, and luckily for us, he was a member, which made it easier for us to get permission to shoot there.
So, where do you start when planning something like this? Well, this is when Paddy really comes into his own. He organised the whole event with military precision, even with back-up plans just in case something went wrong, whilst spending the entire day worrying that people weren’t enjoying themselves. He need not have worried – it was a huge success, everyone had a great day and ten years on, it is still planned in the same way, just with a few fancy-dress themes to keep the fun going. Paddy still spends all day worrying, though, despite everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves.
OUR OWN FORUM
As the club grew, other members offered to help, the meets got bigger and more elaborate, and we had a dedicated website designed for us, along with volunteers offering to run even more competitions. We were now running comps for just about every type of air pistol; spring, CO2, PCP, SSP … firing pellets, metal BBs and Airsoft BBs, and we even have one for shooting darts from a Gat gun – how retro!
One of our biggest steps forward came from one of our guys creating our own forum. This really helped put the UBC name out there because we could now stand out on our own, no longer under the shadow of the BBS. We have also been lucky enough to be sponsored by some great companies, like Brocock in our early days, and now by Armex, as well as having been supported by our friends at Solware and Air-Targets.com. We have attended many events, where we encourage people to come and try our sport, and there’s nothing like seeing a smile grow on someone’s face when they pull that trigger for the first time – it’s priceless. One of the proudest moments for us was being invited to the British Shooting Show, to promote air-pistol shooting alongside the ATEO. That was a very busy weekend, but it felt great to be representing our sport, and meeting Eyck Pflaumer and Oliver Lux from Umarex.
What does the future hold for the Umarex Boys Club? I just hope that we continue grow, keep putting out competitions that make our sport fun, and put smiles on the faces of everyone who picks up an air pistol or rifle to take part in one of our competitions.
To round this up, I would like to say a HUGE thank you to the UBC Management Team. This group of guys works really hard behind the scenes; they give up their precious time to run competitions, help to keep websites and the forum running, not to mention all the material they put up on the forum to keep it interesting. Keep up the good work guys, we all really appreciate it.
Please remember having fun is good, but SAFETY always comes first. Happy shooting.
The pistol that started it all.
Jason Curtis - AKA Cookie.
One gun leads to this! Some of Jason’s collection.
Bond of brothers. Jason and Paddy at the 007 meet.
Paddy executes his meticulous military planning.
The dynamic duo in impressive action.