Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ten Years ago, The Lost Target was Conceived!

I was using my AOL account to host a website for my club a little over ten years ago.  A simple site; listing contact information, shoot dates and so on. I may have been posting a few photos, but not something I remember.  Digital cameras were just becoming popular.  Band width was limited, with most on dial up. Photos posted were small in size.  Rarely no bigger than 640x480.

In 2002, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) implemented the requirement for visitors to the U.S.A. to pre-approve temporary importations of firearms into the USA for hunting or sporting purposes.

A shock to many, as previously all a Canadian had to show at the border was a shoot flyer or membership in a gun club in the states.  My club in New York was severely impacted, as it was very popular with Canadian shooters.  There numbers dried up almost over night as information needed for those wishing to cross the border was not getting out, and when it did, in many cases not correct.

I was tracking the implementation of the program, but frustrated in not having the ability of getting the information out.  I immediately saw that shooters from the coast to coast were having problems.  U.S. Customs had there own ideas on how the program would be implemented.  More then a few were quoted as saying they did NOT WORK for the ATF. Many Canadians were turned  away even though they had the correct paperwork.  Many were allowed entry, but only after considerable delays.  The ATF were severely understaffed, not realizing how many Canadians entered the states each year with firearms.  Paperwork was delayed and/or lost. Initially they were not communicating well with those in charge of those manning the border crossings.

On November 11, 2002 the Lost Target website was born. I had been kicking the idea around and had formatted in my mind what I wished to present and went for it.  The first few years the site was hosted at an ISP in Hong Kong.  Hey, the price was right! 

I now had a tool to post information in regard to entering the U.S.A with a firearm, the big issue of the day.  Posting every crossing incident that I was made aware, calling the ATF and asking for clarification of rulings and posting there responses to the site. 

Several organization and a number of shooters in Canada fed me problems that shooters experienced at the border.  Many phone calls were made to the ATF.  Letters were sent.  U.S. Customs manages/supervisors were contacted.  I won't go into all the problems experienced, but they were considerable.  It took over two years to almost get to the point where problems were at a minimum.

I once received an email from someone working in the Firearms Branch of the ATF asking if I would post a procedure change.  He said it was the fastest way that he knew to get the word out.

Anyhow, the site grew.  Posting my first photos in early 2003 after a shooter from South Africa asked WHY no photos?  Times have changed. Hardly anyone on dial up, and bandwidth no longer an issue.  I post several thousand photos a year without given it any thought.

At some point the Canadian government required visitors to Canada to also register there firearms upon entry. An information page was added to the Lost Target to address those procedures.

Flying with firearms became an issue and that lead to another page. 

I gather you see the pattern.  I see a change in procedures or questions being asked and finding it hard to find correct answers, so a page is added to the Lost Target.  Not wishing to lose the history of problems solved or questions answered.

In July 2008 I posted my first video, the 2008 Canadian Olympic Trap Championships.  Almost 87,000 viewings as of today.  Videos came about after I attended a Lobster Sporting Clays shoot with George Digweed in attendance. I realized my still camera was not doing justice documenting the shooting demonstration he put on.  Shooting 5-stand from the hip (and breaking the targets) and shooting targets from the parking lot at a distance of over 100 yards.  Last year I upgraded my camera and now all videos posted are in HD.

I hope to follow up on this posting in another ten years!

Joe Potosky


  1. Awesome story! Thanks Joe.

    Martin Fournier (L'Acadie club Member)

  2. joe great job, love the videos on your site, keep up the great work