June 26th, 2009

Ride-Sharing Makes Sense for Shooters

Sad to say, gas prices have topped $3.00 a gallon again. Many match directors have told us that, in the past 6 months, match attendance is down, particularly at regional and national events which require long drives. The main reason is fuel cost (although shortages of reloading components are to blame as well). With the price of gasoline soaring above $3.00/gallon, many shooters have decided to cut costs by attending fewer matches, or sticking to competitions closer to home.

While not traveling to a distant match will certainly save on gas (not to mention hotel bills etc.), we’d think there’s a compromise solution. We’ve observed that 95% of competitors at matches arrive solo — one to a vehicle. And, typically, most shooters drive big pick-up trucks or SUVs that may get less than 20 mpg on the freeway.

PROPOSAL: Car Pool to your next shooting match, and/or drive a vehicle with better mileage.

Whenever possible, this editor tries to “share my ride” with other shooters attending a match. I also drive an 9-year-old station wagon that gets an honest 29 mpg on the highway. Though it’s cheap to run, my vehicle has plenty of space for all the guns and gear 2 or 3 shooters would ever need.

Here is a chart showing how much you can save by carpooling and by driving a vehicle with better mileage. If you drive 5000 miles a year to shooting matches, a car getting 27 mpg will burn $349 less fuel than a vehicle getting 17 mpg. And even if you stick with your 17 mpg truck or SUV, ride-sharing with one other shooter can save you over $470 per year (if you drive 5000 miles to matches).

MPG Miles Driven Fuel Cost
@ $3.20/gallon
Ride-Share Savings
27 mpg 3000 $355.56 $177.79
22 mpg 3000 $436.36 $218.18
17 mpg 3000 $564.70 $282.35
27 mpg 5000 $592.59 $296.30
22 mpg 5000 $727.27 $363.64
17 mpg 5000 $941.18 $470.59

Toyota Venza Wagon — 29 MPG on Highway
If you want to replace an older, gas-guzzling vehicle, check out the new Toyota Venza. It’s roomy on the inside, but smaller on the outside than the typical SUV. And, with a rating of 29 mpg on the highway, it gets much better mileage than nearly any SUV or full-size truck. When we first saw the Venza TV ad we were skeptical, thinking “Yawn, just another noisy cross-over that gets 22 mpg on the highway”. However, having driven one we think Toyota has a winner. There’s tons of room in the back for gun cases and outdoor gear, and the Venza has decent ground clearance. It is much smoother and quieter than most SUVs.

Toyota Venza

Basically think of it as a lighter, more streamlined SUV that delivers a better ride and way better mileage. Front seats are very comfortable for a “full-size” American male and the back seats have lots of legroom. The Venza also looks better (sleeker) in reality than it does in photos. Base models start at about $26,000 MSRP. Engine options are a 2.7 liter, 182 hp, DOHC 16-valve four, or a 3.5-liter, 268 hp , DOHC 24-valve V6. Power is delivered through a 6-speed automatic with “intelligent shifting” and overdrive. Importantly, you can get HID (High-intensity Gas Discharge) headlights. Far superior to Halogen lights, HIDs are an important safety feature for any driver over 50. (Compared to 30-year-olds, older drivers need much more light to see well at night. That’s a scientifically-proven fact.)

Check out this Venza video review from Cars.com:

YouTube Preview Image

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