UK Shooters Network meets the internet.

A new Social Network aimed at the UK Shooting Community has recently gone live. UK Shooters Network – the project of Devon-based friends Cal and Joe appeared on March 9th, aiming to offer a modern social experience.

Speaking with freelance web designer Cal, the inspiration came from Joe’s frustration with the limited interfaces offered by many shooting forums, which are often running on older forum platforms and do not integrate well with modern media – most do not offer a responsive site and have primitive support for mobile devices. Media functionality is often limited, frequently requiring users to upload photos and media to external sites such as smugmug or flickr and link in to forum posts, rather than offering native hosting. This is not surprising as many forums are hosted at the owner’s personal expense for the good of the community and are limited to cheaper, more limited hosting packages. It nevertheless leaves significant room for improvement.

We asked Cal what distinguishes UKSN from the range of existing forums, Facebook Groups and sales sites serving UK shooting.

“…other sites we looked at in our research phase were just so outdated and were poorly branded. Further to this, we noticed also a lot of the other sites around, require different logins for each feature of the site. We saw one site that had a forum on it and the main site where you needed two different logins which Is just a pain to users. With our site however, the one login, is for every feature on the site, from adding to the classifieds, adding a business, posting in forum and chatting with other users, one login is for everything .”

Cal went on to mention that with popular “one-stop-shop” social platforms such as Facebook bringing in site policies barring the sales of firearms, there was a gap for a shooting-friendly hub. Their hope is – ultimately – to augment the free forum, image, video and classifieds functionality with paid-for sponsored listings and adverts to fund hosting and development, whilst keeping the site entirely free for private users and basic business listings.

Since it’s launch, SSL support has been enabled to protect user credentials, and the site is accessible over both IPv4 and IPv6 for forward compatibility. Built on the BuddyPress extension (which adds a variety of social and forum features to the popular Worldpress blogging platform), the site has a clean, contemporary look, with a short and efficient signup process. After logging in, users are greeted with a straightforward menu along the top offering Classifieds, Business Listings, Blog, Videos and Forums. All are somewhat sparsely populated at present, but will no doubt fill up over the next few weeks.

The site has broad aims, looking to encompass shooting pursuits of all types, with sub-forums dedicated to pursuits as diverse as fullbore target, hunting and paintball/airsoft. Inclusivity has been a mark of newer online communities (such as the politically-oriented Firearms UK group and the Shooting-UK Facebook group) and time will tell whether they manage to generate broad appeal – most forums currently revolve around one particular subset of shooting sports, whether that be hunting, airgunning, clay pigeon, ISSF Rifle and Pistol or other disciplines. Few have managed to maintain a broader scope and of those that have, members often stick to their chosen subforums and rarely venture into other sections.

As always, any forum or social site lives and dies with it’s userbase – getting a critical mass of users is everything. We wish Cal and Joe the best of luck, as we do all those pushing to promote shooting sports in the UK.