VOLUME 23, NUMBER 7 DECEMBER 2015
COL. JEFF COOPER’S VISION IS NOW GOING MAINSTREAM Pg. 38
P R E D AT O R H U N T I N G
PREDATOR AND VARMINT HUNTING GIVES RETAILERS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR SELLING YEAR-ROUND Pg. 24
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE FYI The Omaha Gun Club is going Hollywood PG. 18
GOOD STUFF Winchester Ammo’s new app helps turkey hunters PG. 44
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S H OT B U S I N ES S
VOLUME 23, ISSUE 7
4 7 24
24 34 38
THE NEVER-ENDING SEASON Predator and varmint hunters enjoy a year-round season. Retailers who cater to this growing crowd will reap the benefits of a year-long selling season. BY BRIAN McCOMBIE A BETTER APPROACH Think you know SIG SAUER? Think again. This multifaceted manufacturer is re-casting itself.
RESURGENCE OF THE SCOUT RIFLE The late Col. Jeff Cooper’s idea of the perfect rifle has, a decade after his passing, gone mainstream in a big way. BY RICHARD MANN
FROM THE NSSF A close
manufacturer wanted to reach beyond its traditional market, it turned to NSSF for important market insights in order to better understand a new breed of customer
COVER PHOTO BY TIM IRWIN
look at 2015 reveals a year of change
BY SLATON L. WHITE
NSSF Update 12
RETAILER TOOLBOX The
2016 SHOT Show is jampacked with opportunities for retailers to learn new skills to help them run a more profitable business NSSF DELIVERS VALUE
When a firearms
EDITOR’S NOTE Talk
about an incredible sales opportunity! NEWS BRIEFS
Browning’s new ammo line; Leupold unveils a revamped logo; Ruger and CRKT work together on a knife line FYI Omaha Gun Club
goes Hollywood UNDERCOVER SHOPPER Enchanting
service in New Mexico GOOD STUFF Pattern
without recoil with Winchester’s Pattern Board app WHAT’S SELLING WHERE NEW PRODUCTS
Olympia’s rechargeable flashlight; FoxPro’s electronic caller; Birchwood Casey’s biodegradable oil and grease
”AGAINST ALL ODDS” The
SHOT Show has been honored with a Gold 100 recognition and a Grand Award as one of the Top 100 Trade Shows in the world
DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 3
On The Hook
SLATON L. WHITE, Editor
James A. Walsh, Art Director Margaret M. Nussey, Managing Editor David E. Petzal, Shooting Editor Mike Toth, Special Projects Editor Judith Weber, Production Manager Maribel Martin, Senior Administrative Assistant
Attracting, and keeping, new hunters
Larry Ahlman, Barbara Baird, Scott Bestul, Philip Bourjaily, Christopher Cogley, David Draper, Jock Elliott, William F. Kendy, Mark Kayser, Richard Mann, Peter B. Mathiesen, Brian McCombie, Tom Mohrhauser, Robert Sadowski, Robert F. Staeger, Peter Suciu, Wayne Van Zwoll
hough big-game hunting still rules the roost, deer and elk are beginning to share the stage with a surprising upstart—coyotes and other so-called predators and varmints. SHOT Business has covered the rising interest in ’yotes before, but we decided to revisit the topic because it seems to be a trend with real legs.
Gregory D. Gatto, Vice President, Publishing Director Brian Peterson, Western Sporting Goods Sales Katie Logan, Southern Sporting Goods Sales David Hawkey, Northeast Sporting Goods Sales Elizabeth Burnham Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer Ingrid Reslmaier, Marketing Design Director
Tara Bisciello, Business Manager
Robert M. Cohn, Consumer Marketing Director Barbara Brooker, Fulfillment Manager
Michelle Doster, Group Production Director Maggie Thompson, Production Manager
4 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
“A Better Approach” (page 34): “In the past, the company was focused on building great product, not great retail relationships. But we’re going to change that.” Cohen and his team are launching a series of initiatives, including a new incentive program and a revamped rep strategy. The goal, according to Tom Taylor, SIG’s new vice president of marketing and commercial sales, “is to recognize some of our past sins with our retailers and begin to treat retailers the best we possibly can. When they think of SIG SAUER, we want them to think of a company that’s easy to do business with, something that hasn’t always been the case.” Part of this better approach is a commitment to enforcing MAP (minimum advertised price) policy. “MAP pricing is painful in the short term, but it has to be done,” he says. This kind of discipline ultimately helps reinforce the brand’s quality while helping its retailer partners protect their margins. I can’t think of anyone who would argue with that.
Slaton L. White, Editor
Chairman, Tomas Franzén Chief Executive Officer, Eric Zinczenko Chief Operating Officer, David Ritchie Chief Marketing Officer, Elizabeth Burnham Murphy Chief Digital Revenue Officer, Sean Holzman Vice President, Integrated Sales, John Graney Vice President, Production, Lisa Earlywine Vice President, Consumer Marketing, John Reese Vice President, Digital Audience Development, Jennifer Anderson Vice President, Digital Operations, David Butler Vice President, Public Relations, Perri Dorset General Counsel, Jeremy Thompson
SHOT Business (ISSN 1081-8618) is published 7 times a year in January, February/March, April/May, June/July, August/September, October/ November and December by Bonnier Corporation, 2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016-5695, and is the official publication of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Flintlock Ridge Office Center, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470 (203-426-1320). Volume 23, issue 7, Copyright © 2015 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation, production and advertising offices are located at 2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016-5695 (212-779-5000). Free to qualified subscribers; available to non-qualified subscribers for $25 per year. Single-copy issues are available for $5 each. Send check, payable to NSSF, to: SHOT Business, c/o NSSF, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470-2359. SHOT Business accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs. All correspondence should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Requests for media kits and advertising information should be directed to Katy Marinaro, Bonnier Corporation, 625 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1270, Chicago, IL 60611. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA. For Customer Service and Subscription questions, such as Renewals, Address Changes, Email Preferences, Billing and Account Status, go to: shotbusiness .com/cs. You can also email SBZcustserv@cdsfulfllment.com, in the U.S. call toll-free 866-615-4345, outside the U.S. call 515-237-3697, or write to SHOT Business, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. For editorial inquiries, write to Slaton L. White, SHOT Business, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016 REPRINTS: E-mail email@example.com. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to SHOT Business, P.O. Box 6364 Harlan, IA 51593.
In “The Never-Ending Season” (page 24), contributing editor Brian McCombie looks at the driving forces behind this growth. First, and foremost, is the phenomenal range expansion of the coyote. Once a creature of the American West, coyotes are now found nearly everywhere. Bobcat and fox numbers are also on the rise. Second, the sport is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to big-game trophy hunts. Third, while most of the best hunting for big game is now found on private land, there is plenty of good coyote and varmint hunting available on public lands open to all hunters. Fourth, though most biggame seasons are relatively short, varmint season is a year-round activity with virtually no bag limits. Most important for retailers, manufacturers are now climbing on the bandwagon and offering a wide variety of products specifically designed for varmints, some of which offer extremely attractive margins. And, it’s a sport that newcomers can take up easily and quickly. SIG SAUER has a sterling reputation for building quality products. At the same time, its relationship with retailers has been less than stellar. As CEO Ron Cohen recounts in
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Ruger’s New Knife Line Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) and Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., have launched a new line of Ruger-branded knives. This complete knife line was designed exclusively for Ruger by CRKT master knifesmiths and is being built by CRKT, an industry leader in knives and tools. “Ruger is focused on bringing affordable, rugged, and reliable products to our consumer base,” says Chris Killoy, Ruger president and COO. “As we looked to expand our licensing program, we knew that we wanted a knife manufacturer that shared these goals. CRKT is a great fit.” “When Ruger approached CRKT to work together on a knife line, we knew that it would be a perfect fit for the commercial sporting market,” says Rod Bremer, CRKT founder and chairman of the board. “Pairing with an iconic American brand like Ruger was simply a nobrainer.” This exclusive Ruger knife line includes designs for everyday carry, hunting and tactical uses, and self-preparedness. The knives are crafted in varying sizes and finishes, with an assortment of blade edges.
NEWS BRIEFS NEWS
Browning’s full line of ammunition, produced through a partnership with Winchester Ammunition, plugs a big, and extremely important, hole in its extensive product line.
Browning to Debut Ammo Line
he Browning Buckmark is one of the most readily identifiable trademarks in the hunting world. Whether it’s on rifles, shotguns, outerwear, knives, or camping accessories, the Buckmark stands for quality. The logo resonates so deeply with sportsmen that many proclaim their loyalty to the brand by anointing their trucks with the Buckmark decal. That mark, however, has been absent from one key product area—ammo. But as of next month, that gap will be plugged with a full line of Browning-branded ammunition. Browning has teamed with Winchester Ammunition to produce a new, full line of superior performance ammunition for hunting, personal defense, and target shooting. For retailers, the line provides a new opportunity to sell quality ammunition to hardcore Browning enthusiasts. “Browning Ammunition builds upon the legacy and heritage of our brand while introducing innovative products that will carry the iconic Buckmark symbol,” says Travis Hall, Browning president and CEO. “It is a tremendous opportunity to partner with Winchester, the world’s leading manufacturer of ammunition for shooters and hunters.” Winchester is responsible for product This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources.
development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales. “This alliance with Browning allows us to drive strategic ammunition products deep into the hunting and shooting sports categories,” says Brett Flaugher, vice president of sales, marketing, and strategy for Winchester. “It is a significant milestone in the history books of both companies.” Inaugural rifle offerings include the BXR Rapid Expansion Matrix Tip specifically designed for deer and the BXC Controlled Expansion Deep Penetrating Terminal tip for big game. Available calibers for the former will be .243 Win., .270 Win., .30/30 Win., .308 Win., .30/06 Sprg., .300 Win. Mag., and .300 WSM. For the latter, available calibers will be .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag.., 308 Win., .30/06 Sprg, .300 Win. Mag., and .300 WSM. There will also be a line of personaldefense ammo as well as performance target and rimfire plinking ammo. In addition, Browning will offer shotgun ammo. DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 7
ASC Carries Courteney Footwear
ruly the sign of an African hunter, the Courteney safari boot is constructed entirely by hand in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, with uppers of Cape buffalo, ostrich, or hippo leather. One of the keys to the long-term success of the boot is its legendary durability. The extra-thick Tyre Tread sole was originally made from scrapped military tires. These days durability is achieved through an 80-ton hydraulic press and a proprietary rubber formulation that took years to perfect. Texas quail hunters love these soles because they are thick enough to repel cactus spines, and the all-leather unlined uppers help wick away moisture that contributes to the creation of blisters. Courteney’s founder, the late John Austin Rice, grew up in a family of shoemak-
Constructed by hand, the Courteney boot is a safari classic.
ers. The boots he was issued during the Rhodesian Bush War were not up to his standards, so he made a pair for himself—and created a business in the process. African Sporting Creations (ASC), now Courteney’s largest U.S., distributor, carries the largest stock of Courteney
boots, shoes, and accessories in the U.S. It also stocks a full assortment of Courteney accessories, belts, and haversacks in impala or ostrich. Inventoried products ship the next business day, and customers can special-order any boot, in any hide, with any sole. (africansc.com)
Leupold Unveils New Logo For decades, Leupold’s Gold Ring has symbolized the spirit and dedication of a company of outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to creating great optics for sportsmen and sportswomen around the world. To honor its hunting roots, the company recently unveiled a new logo. “We’ve developed a new logo that honors Leupold’s roots as a uniquely American company, with a deep heritage based in the hunting and shooting sports,” says Rob Morrison, vice president of global marketing for Leupold & Stevens, Inc. The return of the Duplex reticle to the logo pays tribute to this
innovative reticle design, which Leupold developed and introduced more than 50 years ago. The forward slant to the Leupold “L” symbolizes the innovation and commitment to continuous improvement that drives every Leupold & Stevens employee. The gold color honors the trademark Gold Ring, and the promise of performance, ruggedness, and support that is inherent in this iconic ring. “We make riflescopes for hunters and shooters, and we are a company full of hunters and shooters,” Morrison says. “Our desire with this logo update was to show the world who we are.”
10X clothing will now feature scentcontrol technology from Sciessent.
10X Announces ScentControl Hunting Apparel 10X, the long-standing brand of technical hunting gear, will partner with Sciessent, makers of Agion Active XL odorcontrol technology, on a new line of hunting apparel that will help hunters stay undetected in the field. Agion Active XL, a unique dual-acting technology, effectively reduces odor-causing bacteria and traps body odors in and around the fabric. BUILT IN PORTLAND, OR USA
“Scent control is critical to any hunter’s pursuit of big game,” says Alan Burks, director of marketing at Walls Brands. “By partnering with Sciessent, we are offering a line of performance products with a leading odor-management technology. The combination of this premium scentcontrol formula with technical fabrics makes 10X the clear choice for serious hunters seeking performance gear at an affordable price.” Agion Active XL offers two levels of odor protection that help keep hunters invisible to big game. Agion’s silver-based antimicrobial application controls the growth of odor-causing bacteria, while proprietary LAVA XL odor-control technology traps odors as they are exposed to the fabric from inside and out. Unlike most odor-control technologies, which require washing to regenerate, Agion
Active XL has the unique ability to continuously regenerate between washings. In intensive, long-term testing, the Agion Active XL reduced odors by more than 95 percent and remained nearly that effective after 50 washes. “Alone, antimicrobials and odor absorbers each have their own advantages and disadvantages. But together, with the right mix, Agion Active XL maximizes the odor-control benefits of each,” says Steven Cunningham, marketing director of Sciessent. “We look forward to bringing this technology to the public through our partnership with 10X camouflage. Who better to appreciate the highperformance, low-maintenance odor control of Agion Active XL than sportsmen who spend long hours outdoors?” To learn more about 10X and Sciessent, go to walls.com and sciessent.com.
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Rapid Gun Systems has developed new POS software to help firearms retailers more accurately file required ATF information on firearms transfers.
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Rapid Response Rapid Gun Systems designs and installs turnkey point of sale (POS) solutions for gun stores, shooting ranges, gunsmiths, and other federal firearm license (FFL) related businesses. Working closely with hardware manufacturers such as NCR and Ingenico, the company offers a comprehensive lineup of hardware solutions, whether for one store or one hundred. Rapid’s customizable POS software is dedicated to the unique needs of FFL-related businesses, which must adhere to the strict requirements of the ATF. The company’s latest innovation is the addition of an electronic Form 4473 to its comprehensive retail POS software. The new electronic 4473 ensures transaction forms include all required information about the gun buyer in a legible format
To Our Readers Safe and responsible gun handling is a vital component of the shooting sports, and it is important that the images that appear in SHOT Business always demonstrate safe and
rather than being handwritten, as many are now. The electronic format means that transactional data—such as serial numbers, buyer information, and type of firearm—can be input once and then populated on all relevant ATF forms, dramatically speeding up the sales process. Updates made in one place are automatically pushed to all other forms to ensure consistency across a retailer’s Acquisition and Disposition (A&D) book, Form 4473, and customer database. The new e4473 feature continues Rapid’s dedication to helping FFL-related businesses stay up to date and compliant with the ATF’s latest mandates. Rapid’s robust ATFcompliance features already include an eBound Book, integrated holding periods, private party transfers, gun shows, and overnight logging for gunsmithing work.
responsible gun handling. Unfortunately, due to a production error, an incorrect image was inadvertently sent to the printing plant. The correct image that was supposed to run on the October/ November 2015 table of contents is shown here.
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U P D AT E
FROM THE NSSF
2015: A Time of Change Strong messages, revealing research, and record sales strengthened our industry at the same time that political battle lines were drawn
t was a year that produced extremes—record numbers of firearms purchases in 2015 by more and more law-abiding American citizens from all walks of life, with diverse geographic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds—contrasted with the first time that presidential candidates from a major political party openly declared war on the American firearms industry. These are two very different visions of the future of the shooting sports, and our very ability to lawfully sell, purchase, own, and use the firearms and accessories of our choice is being put before the American public. Nationally, violent crime continued to decrease in most areas of the country, with the exception of an increase in some of our major cities—ironically, some of those with the strictest anti-gun laws, where the lawful sale of firearms is virtually prohibited. And this situation spurred many cries that we must “do something” to stop these vicious criminal acts upon our citizens. Ironically, Vice President Joe Biden said it best in his speech declaring that he would not run for his party’s presidential nomination: “The argument that we just have to do something when bad people do bad things isn’t good enough.” The firearms industry has long established, and will continue to advocate for, workable programs that have had a meaningful effect in helping to prevent the misuse of our products. Despite claims that we’ve “done nothing,” we are the ones actually doing a lot for genuine gun safety, not gun control in sheep’s clothing.
12 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
The efforts of this industry at all levels are having a significant beneficial effect on the safety of our customers and their families.
Federal government we will be able to accomplish even more in the way of gun safety. The National Safety Council again reported that firearms accidents continued to drop to an all-time low, representing less than one percent of all fatal accidents in this country. Clearly, the efforts of this industry at all levels are having a significant beneficial effect on the safety of our customers and their families. An example is our new safety video starring champion shooter Julie Golob discussing “How to Talk to Children About Gun Safety,” which was extremely well received.
KEEPING IT LAWFUL
SPREADING SAFETY For example, our 15-yearold Project ChildSafe program, which has put more than 37 million gun locks and firearms safety kits into more than 15,000
communities nationwide, recently won a multi-year competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. We anticipate that, as has occurred with previous administrations, by working together with the
Our “Don’t Lie For the Other Guy” anti-strawpurchase program, in partnership with the ATF, has actively discouraged illegal gun purchases from retailers. And our FixNICS campaign has, after a lot of work by industry personnel, succeeded in getting a
BY STEVE SANETTI, NSSF PRESIDENT AND CEO
significant number of states to actively input required records into the National Instant Background Check System, which indicates individuals who are prohibited from purchasing firearms under current law. Amazingly, until our efforts, some states had utterly neglected to follow the law, which results in incomplete background checks. And we’ve actively worked with the Veterans Administration to furnish firearms safety kits to returning veterans, many of whom are gun owners and desire the means to safely store their firearms away from unauthorized hands.
PROMOTING OUR SPORTS When the ATF proposed a policy that would remove the long-standing “sporting purposes” exemption of certain types of 5.56mm ammunition, the NSSF worked with other concerned groups and educated consumers, politicians, regulators, and the media concerning the legitimate use of such ammunition in target shooting. More than 310,000 comments were received by the ATF as a result, and these efforts contributed to ATF’s rescinding its proposed regulation—for now. The NSSF recognizes the importance of working with, learning from, and educating its retail and range members on a wide variety of issues of common interest. Many of the articles appearing in SHOT Business throughout the year describe the enhanced services we have attempted
to provide so that new customers feel welcome and valued in retail stores and shooting ranges. Our First Shots Big City Tours got a lot of new participants to these stores and ranges, hopefully starting them on the road to becoming lifelong participants in the shooting sports.
SHOW TIME The SHOT Show again was a great success, in part attributed to our Exhibitor Academy, in which trade show professionals from many disciplines helped both first-time and veteran exhibitors learn how to get the most from their SHOT Show experience. We also won two Telly communications awards for our 2015 SHOT Show promotional video and our online Gun Crimes Plummet as Gun Sales Rise infographic (at right). Our Industry Summit’s theme was Diversity in the Shooting Sports, and it was extremely gratifying to see the industry recognize and embrace the need to attract and retain new participants, who come from all the many different backgrounds and age groups that typify 21st-century America, in the recreational shooting sports. They are coming to us in droves! Further helping us in this effort is Samantha Pedder, who came on board as manager of outreach and diversity, a position for which she is eminently well qualified. Our efforts to assist the industry with research data to drive its decisions have never been more intense,
culminating in our Hispanic Market and 2014 Economic Impact of the Firearms Industry reports. They indicate a thriving economic enterprise that has successfully withstood the economic downturn of recent years and has contributed much to our economy, provided thousands of good jobs, and, via excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, has been the single greatest source of conservation funds in the nation.
THE BIG PICTURE The NSSF has been officially recognized as an official UN Non-Governmental Organization for the purposes of providing industry input into the many international firearms protocols being considered by UN agencies. These protocols bear careful watching, and could easily have a significant adverse effect upon the legitimate international commerce in commercial firearms as various disarmament agencies attempt to stem the illicit trader in military small arms in conflict zones in developing nations. These and many other efforts by our hardworking staff, to give you an industry trade association you can be proud of, resulted in our membership soaring from 4,300 in 2008 to more than 13,000 today. We hope we are giving you the kinds of services you value, and we welcome your input. Upcoming 2016 will be a year that will test our industry and our resolve in many ways. Working together to face these challenges, I know we will continue to succeed! DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 13
U P D AT E
R E TA I L E R T O O L B O X
Get Smart at SHOT Retailer education opportunities abound at the upcoming Show
xperienced SHOT Show attendees know that the five-day event in mid-January is an event like no other in the firearms and ammunition industry. With more than 65,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors from all over the world, there is more to do and see than time allows, but the benefits of attending are many. For a retailer, one of the most important benefits of attending is the ability to participate in the dozens of educational programs held that week. Of course, SHOT Show University, held the day before the show opens, is always a sellout. This year will be no different.
But if you can’t make that day-long SHOT Show U event, there are many one- and twohour seminars available during the week. To help our retailers and range operators take advantage of these opportunities, NSSF has made vast improvements to the schedule of programs. This includes greatly expanding the number and variety of available sessions. Here’s a sampling of what you can take advantage of at the Show.
SHOT SHOW UNIVERSITY ➤ MONDAY,
JANUARY 18 (LEVEL 4, LANDO BALLROOM)
Four separate education tracks are open to retailers and range owners of all experience levels.
Promotions—10 Ways to Impact Your Business Today. ➤ VETERAN RETAILER TRACK:
Sessions include Healthcare Reform—The Next Two Years, Publicizing Your Firearms Business, Key Business Metrics, and Legal Aspects of e-Commerce.
➤ NEW OPERATOR TRACK:
Sessions include Social Media and the Firearms Retailer, Benefits of a Point of Sale (POS) System, Add a Gunsmith to Your Business, and
Sessions include ATF Form 4473 Review, Acquisitions and Disposition Records Book Review, ATF Inspection
Learn how to make your store ready to serve the increasing number of women who are hunting.
14 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
Process—What to Expect, and Compliance from Behind the Counter. ➤ RANGE DEVELOPMENT
TRACK: This new track has sessions including Shooting Range Formation and Operations—Legal Aspects, Accurately Assessing Your Local Demographics, Avoid OSHA Hell with the Right Book, and Are You Ready for an OSHA Inspection? Attendees will also hear
B Y PAT R I C K S H AY, N S S F D I R E C T O R , R E TA I L D E V E L O P M E N T
from former ATF professionals, participate in the special SHOT Business Undercover Shopper panel, and learn from keynote speakers Gene Marks and Brigadier General (Ret.) Rebecca Halstead.
RETAILER SEMINARS TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, THROUGH THURSDAY, JANUARY 21: These include
sessions within three categories—FBI/ATF, Legal, and Retail Selling Skills—in addition to several panel discussions that offer something for everyone. Here are just a few that are garnering lots of attention and filling up fast.
rights or expose the business to unforeseen liability. A misworded customer contract, a hastily signed licensing agreement, or failure to protect valuable intellectual property rights may prove devastating for future revenue and company performance. Is your company taking on risk or potential liability without even knowing it? This presentation, provided by John Schreiner of the law firm Perkins Coie LLP, will outline and discuss some of the most common legal mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them with minimal time and effort. ➤ RETAILER SELLING SKILLS:
➤ LEGAL ISSUES IMPACTING
RETAILERS: Common Mistakes
and Pitfalls (Thursday, January 21, Lando 4302, 1–2 p.m.) Companies often unwittingly stumble into legal pitfalls that can potentially cause the loss of valuable legal
Marketing to the Shooter of Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 20, 10:30–11:30 a.m., Lando Ballroom 4202) Hunting and target shooting can be enjoyed by every type of American. But with a customer base historically skewed heavily
toward white males, efforts need to be made to expand the customer base. Over the past decade, such efforts have led to the changing demographics of today’s target shooters and hunters. To best take advantage of these changes, join NSSF’s director of research Jim Curcuruto and manager of outreach and diversity Samantha Pedder as they discuss the latest findings on how to approach, attract, and retain these customers by modifying your marketing message. ➤ PANEL DISCUSSIONS:
Merchandising to Women Hunters (Thursday, January 21, Lando 4302, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) Women are hunting in increasing numbers, year after year. Is your store ready? Do you have the merchandise women hunters need? Is your staff trained to fit a woman with a bow, a backpack, and a rifle? Are you offering training classes? Join this special panel
discussion and learn from allstar hunting panel members Tiffany Lakosky, Melissa Bachman, Shannon Reaser, Judy Rhodes, and Barbara Baird what you, your staff, and your store need to offer to attract and retain women hunters. There are more than a dozen additional Retail Seminars available during the 2016 SHOT Show. Go to shotshow. org/education-programs for a full list and to register for any of these sessions or for SHOT Show University.
Several seminars explain how to navigate the legal intricacies of operating a gun store.
DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 15
U P D AT E
NSSF Delivers Value New Market Research
ONE MEMBER’S EXPERIENCE
ne of the biggest benefits NSSF members have is access to our vast library of research papers. Covering everything from the use of modern sporting rifles in hunting, women’s participation in the shooting sports, and reports on the economic impact hunting and target shooting have on the U.S. Economy to financial benchmarking reports, retailer surveys, and industry reference guides, NSSF research provides manufacturers and retailers with an in-depth, detailed perspective on today’s firearms market. Here’s how one of NSSF’s member companies finds ways to use our research and derive benefits from it.
Member: John MacLellan, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Business: O.F. Mossberg, North Haven, Connecticut
Description of Business: Founded in 1919, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., is the oldest family-owned and operated firearms manufacturer in America, and is the largest pump-action shotgun manufacturer in the world. Leading the way with more than 100 design and utility patents to its credit, and standing as the first ISO 9001-certified long gun manufacturer, Mossberg is considered to be one of the most innovative firearms manufacturers in U.S. history. For more information on commercial, special purpose, law enforcement, and military shotguns, rifles, and accessories, please visit Mossberg.com.
“Sharing the right message with the right audience at the right time leads to marketing success. For many years, the firearms industry’s core customers were so similar that simply sharing the same message all the time was a perfectly effective strategy. Today, that just isn’t the case. “At Mossberg, we knew it was important to reach beyond our traditional audience, but wanted to know how best to do it. For help we looked to NSSF, where we found insights into two rapidly expanding and important market segments. NSSF’s Reports Women Gun Owners–Purchasing, Perceptions, and Participation, and A Hispanic Market Study–Firearms and the Shooting Sports provided us with many insights that will help us better understand the opportunities that exist in these segments and will certainly help us make smarter marketing decisions moving forward.”
Experience with New Market Research:
Interested in NSSF Membership?
Promoting the great American tradition of hunting and shooting is what the National Shooting Sports Foundation is all about. For our members, it’s more than a sport; it’s a way of life. Join the more than 12,000 companies and individuals who have already discovered that NSSF Delivers Value! To learn more, call 203-426-1320, email membership@ nssf.org, or visit nssf.org/join.
16 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
“In addition to the quality research reports and timely indicators NSSF publishes, the organization’s educational material has an impact far beyond its core membership. By developing engaging educational videos about safety, and ‘how-to’ tips about the shooting sports, NSSF is helping to make getting started in shooting more accessible to newcomers. It also helps to make current participants even more active. At Mossberg, we take full advantage of the rich content NSSF produces by sharing it on our website, Mossberg.com, and in our blog posts to help our customers better enjoy their sports.”
Value of NSSF Membership:
U P D AT E
SHOT Show Triumphs “Against All Odds”
he SHOT Show, owned by NSSF, was honored with Gold 100 recognition and a Grand Award at the Trade Show Executive Gold 100 Awards and Summit in Santa Barbara, California, in October. The awards signify that the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is among the Top 100 Trade Shows in the world, and for the Grand Award, that SHOT Show overcame great obstacles to achieve extraordinary success at its 2014 show, making it the perfect candidate in the Against All Odds category.
“We’re honored to receive these awards,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “I can’t imagine a better example of a trade show team rising to the occasion to overcome multiple challenges to put on a successful event than that shown by the SHOT Show team leading up to the 2014 show.” The show faced such steep odds because NSSF had ended its relationship with its longtime
show management company following the 2013 show. That led to the necessity of developing a new show management team along with new contracts for its convention center facility, partner hotels, general service contractor, and other vendors—no small task for the largest trade show of its kind in the world, which attracts 62,000 attendees, 1,600
exhibitors, and more than 2,400 members of the media. With about half a year to produce a huge trade show from scratch, NSSF and its new show management company, ConvExx, new marketing firm, CSG, and longtime partner, Freeman, not only accomplished the mission, but also produced one of the most successful SHOT Shows
PROJECT CHILDSAFE, AGENCIES UNITE The NSSF and nearly 30 state fish and wildlife agencies have joined forces to encourage Americans to “Hunt S.A.F.E.” by remembering to handle, transport, and store firearms responsibly. “At a time of year when more firearms are likely to be taken out of storage, transported, and used in the field, we want to emphasize the steps hunters should take to handle and store firearms properly and securely,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. The Hunt S.A.F.E. campaign urges hunters and all firearms owners to Secure your firearms when not in use; be Aware of those around you who should not have unauthorized access to firearms; Focus on your responsibility as a firearms owner; and Educate yourself and others about safe firearms han-
dling and storage. This year, 29 state fish and wildlife agencies have agreed to use Hunt S.A.F.E. materials to help send messages on safe firearms handling during the hunting season. These include: ➤ A Hunting Checklist for Families, with an easy-to-follow guide for ensuring safety while in the field. ➤ A Gun Storage for Your Lifestyle infographic, outlining a variety of firearms storage options that keep lifestyles and budgets in mind. ➤ The Ethical Hunter brochure, discussing the treasured heritage of the hunting tradition as well as the importance of responsible hunting. Go to projectchildsafe.org to find a full library of safety resources as well as information on where and how to obtain a free firearms safety kit and gun lock.
in history. Buyer attendance grew by eight percent over the previous year. The exhibition show floor was another SHOT Show sellout, and the postshow survey revealed exhibitor satisfaction as the highest ever. “We excelled against all odds,” said Dolnack. “There were those who said it couldn’t be done, but SHOT Show has long set a high bar for excellence and that was our motivation. I could not be more proud of all who contributed.”
“DON’T LIE” CAMPAIGNS RUN IN TWO REGIONS As part of an ongoing national effort to help prevent illegal straw purchases of firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) reminded the public in Albuquerque and Nashville that stiff penalties are in place for individuals convicted of such purchases. Billboard advertisements for the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” program were purchased by NSSF in key locations throughout both regions, with the
message: “Buy a gun for someone who can’t and buy yourself 10 years in jail. Whatever you do…Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.” Nearly 12 million weekly media impressions in Albuquerque and nearly 16 million in Nashville were delivered in October via billboards and transit shelter ads, in addition to a combined 800 thirty-second radio spots—all paid for by the firearms industry. “Don’t Lie” is a cooperative program between the ATF and NSSF. Learn more at dontlie.org.
© 2015 National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved. SHOT Business®, SHOT Show® and all other trade names, trademarks and service marks of the National Shooting Sports Foundation appearing in this publication are the sole property of the Foundation and may not be used without the Foundation’s prior express written permission. All other company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 17
B Y R O B E R T F. S TA E G E R
A vacant movie theater gets a sequel as a shooting range n 1976, Midway was screening at the Omaha Cinema Center. The World War II epic made an impression. “It was in Sensurround,” recalls Robert Buscher, who was in the audience. “I remember the large speakers on either side of the screen to give you the thunder.”
Nearly four decades later, Buscher is bringing that thunder back. He and his partners are converting the Cinema Center, vacant since 2009, into the vibrant new Omaha Gun Club. And by doing so, they’re helping to revitalize a commercial area. The theater wasn’t part of the original plan, says Buscher. The team expected to build the club from the ground up, but they couldn’t find a central location. Any vacant warehouses were in industrial areas, and out of the way. But then the group found the Cinema Center in the heart of Omaha, and everything fell into place. Not only was the location ideal, but there were plenty of other advantages—things range entrepreneurs should look out for.
Vertical Space ➤ One of the biggest advantages is vertical space. Because movie theaters have to accommodate large screens, they’re built taller per story than most buildings. The Cinema Center’s 50,000-squarefoot footprint stacks up to about 80,000 square feet of commercial space. “We’re going to double-deck our ranges,” says Buscher. “We’re
Other security measures in the building will include bulletproof glass and a state-of-the-art camera system.
Prime Location ➤ “Because the Cinema Center has been there so long, everyone knows where it is,” says Buscher. (Better yet, no one in town is more than 20 minutes away.) And zoning wasn’t a problem, either; the movie theater was already zoned for commercial use.
Room to Grow The Omaha Gun Club is renovating an abandoned theater in downtown Omaha. The facility is taking advantage of the unique features of the building to create a modern, two-level indoor range and retail space.
basically building a building within a building. So the exterior walls on the first floor will actually be double-thick.” He and his partners are tearing out the sloped theater floors and then pouring concrete to flatten them. “We’re making the main theater our primary shooting range, extending into some of the other theaters to get that 50-yard range on it,” says Buscher.
Existing Systems ➤ The double-layered walls will help with soundproofing—and
18 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
the theater was soundproofed anyway. “Back in the day, they used sand, but then later they used some sort of bead material that they poured down in the blocks,” says Buscher. “Instead of having an 8-inch block, they’ll be 16 inches thick, since you have to support the second floor.” Soundproofing isn’t the only thing the building has a leg up on. The existing structure has plumbing and ventilation already installed. “All the support utilities you need are already there,” says Buscher. Some of it may need to be modified, but that’s a
far cry from building it from scratch.
Security Opportunities ➤ The
City of Omaha has a “Beautify the City” agenda, so there are certain new specifications to bring a renovation up to code, including maintaining some green space on the property. The Omaha Gun Club is turning this regulation into an opportunity to secure the facility. “We’re going to implement that green space into cosmetically appealing bollards that will stop crash-and-grabs,” says Buscher.
of the best things about the Cinema Center site is that there’s enough room to include everything you could want out of a “guntry club.” Fifty-yard shooting lanes? Done, with more right upstairs. An archery range, too, as well as a café and a lounge with pool tables and widescreen TVs. And, of course, a retail area for shooting supplies. And there are still two 230-seat movie theaters left in the building. “We’re planning to leave them intact and rent them out, or use them as classrooms,” says Buscher. They’ll be the perfect space to conduct the safety portion of an NSSF First Shots seminar.
INTRODUCING THE MOSSBERG PATRIOT Few things are more American than a great rifle. And the new Patriot is the sum of all those that came before it, from its fluted barrel, fluted bolt and adjustable trigger to its flush-fit box magazine and classic stippled stock. End to end itâ€™s all Mossberg. To learn more, visit mossberg.com.
SAFETY TIP: Never leave a loaded firearm unattended.
Enchanting Service in New Mexico The search for a suitable elk rifle in Santa Fe takes some interesting twists and turns
he Land of Enchantment has some of the best elk hunting in the nation. But how would an outsider, looking to buy an elk gun, be treated at the stores around New Mexico’s swank capital? You could truly say, enchantingly. Each clerk respected my questions and my time. STORE A
IN GOOD COMPANY
Eventually he pointed me in the direction of a few guns in calibers I was interested in. But, surprisingly, he didn’t offer to walk with me or to unlock them so I could handle them. STORE B
SEARCHING FOR RELEVANCE ➤ This
store is housed in a big steel building and resembles a warehouse you’d find on a military base. I found a
good amount of dusty accessories along with 50 new guns on the wall racks. Most of the 20 or so rifles were Howas, along with a smattering of other brands. I waited about 10 minutes for attention. The clerk was as helpful as could be. She knew hunting and seemed to enjoy bantering about calibers, bullet weights, and gun brands. She was happy to hand me guns without trigger locks, and allowed me to
➤ This store was hard to find because it’s deep in a mall, which made me uncomfortable. I called the place twice and eventually got good directions. It would have helped if they had told me, “We’re in the mall.” Once past the makeup shops and candy stores, though, I felt at home, surrounded by more than 200 guns, most of them bolt-
actions built for hunting. I waited for about two minutes and then posed a bunch of questions to the clerk about elk hunting, guns, calibers, and drawing New Mexico permits. He seemed pleased to answer them all. There was a good selection of ammo, and there were several people behind the counters whom I could only figure were as helpful and friendly as my clerk.
20 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
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dry-fire at will. But the number of new guns relevant to my pursuit was few. STORE C
DOUBLE DUTY ➤ This
is a smaller box store that has a helpful manager who apparently was doing double-duty behind the gun counter. She seemed in her element, but it was soon obvious that though she knew the inventory, she was not a hunter. There were
accurately could be called a museum where you could buy the things on display. Most of the store is decorated in authentic Native American ceremonial tools, beautiful period pieces, and fine Western curios. In the very back of the store is a door that leads to a nirvana of Western gun history. Next to a $30,000 Winchester 1866 was a new, fairly priced Mossberg 500. This strange variety of guns made it obvious that they
about 50 guns, of which 25 would be adequate elk rifles. This manager often looked up from our conversation to peer around at other departments. She would hand me guns at will, but she said she couldn’t remove the bulky trigger locks. There were few hunting accessories in the cramped store. STORE D
TOUCHING HISTORY ➤ This
was not your average gun shop. In fact, it more
were purchased from private collections. This isn’t the place to find a workaday hunting rifle, but touching history in mint condition was a thrill that would draw me back again. Clerks here did not know much about guns nor about hunting, but they were friendly and lamented that the owner was not there because he liked to talk about the guns in the collection. Prices for the low-end guns were reasonable.
How’d They Do? Customer Service
The clerk acted as if he had been waiting for me to finally arrive so we could chat.
He was a hunter and knew all about elk hunting and the tools with which to take elk.
Of the hundreds of guns on display, many were relevant to my elk-hunting goal.
After a short wait, the owner-clerk was attentive and extremely helpful.
She was a hunter herself and knew her products— especially the Howas, which she recommended over other brands.
A limited number of new guns in elk calibers lined the walls. The clerk offered to order anything I needed.
The manager was available to answer many of my questions, though she was distracted by goings-on elsewhere in the store.
She knew what she had in inventory, but she did not have hunting knowledge and therefore could offer little advice.
A decent lineup of about two dozen relevant guns stood at attention behind the counter.
I was literally pointed in the direction of the gun room and left to figure things out on my own.
The clerks were friendly, but they knew nothing about the guns or hunting. “If only the owner was here.” Sigh.
SCORING SYSTEM: Outstanding:
22 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
The eclectic melding of collections had something— but not much—for everyone. If you like high-end collectible lever-actions, this is your shop.
Once I wove my way through the mall, I was pleasantly surprised at the selection, information, and atmosphere of this medium-size hunting store. I browsed and chatted with other customers as well, and did not want to leave. The Santa Fe Outdoorsman 530 N. Guadalupe Street Santa Fe, NM 87501 505-983-3432 santafe outdoorsman. com
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Predators and varmints give hunters an extended season, which, in turn, helps extend a retailerâ€™s selling season.
PREDATOR AND VARMINT HUNTING IS A YEAR-ROUND ACTIVITY THAT COULD ALSO BE A YEARLONG SALES SEASON FOR RETAILERS
By B�ian McC�bie
n the first day of the World Championship Coyote Calling Contest just two years ago, predator hunter and outfitter Cory Lundberg and his partner bagged five coyotes before early afternoon. It looked to be one banner day—until a flat tire on their truck cut their hunt short. The contest was set to close at noon the next day, but the predator hunting gods were still smiling on the pair that next morning. Lundberg and his hunting partner dropped two more coyotes at their first two setups, and had visions of a top-five finish.
PREDATOR HUNTING And then the gods stopped smiling. No more ’yotes. “It was like the faucet was turned off,” Lundberg says. “We hunted it hard the rest of the morning, but it was no use. They weren’t interested in anything we were trying to sell!” When they checked in back at contest headquarters, Lundberg and his hunting partner learned they’d scored a 13th place finish for their seven coyotes. That placement got them nearly $500 in cash, plus prize items donated by contest sponsors. First place? That fortunate pair took home $11,600 in winnings. For hunting coyotes? Yes, sir!
w The World Coyote Calling Championship had 110 two-man teams just a few years ago. For this December’s contest, event organizer Jim Schmidt is expecting 150 teams or better. Meanwhile, he’s fielding more and more calls from firearms, ammunition, and predator-hunting-gear makers who want to support the contest through cash and merchandise sponsorships, as well as by sponsoring their own teams to compete. “These companies know we run a quality event,” Schmidt says. “Anyone who wins or places high using their products helps those products gain all sorts of instant credibility with predator hunters.” Not surprisingly, the who’s who of the predator-hunting world— from lifetime hunters and predator outfitters to “celebrity” hunters with their own television shows—turns out for this annual event. But the rising interest in predator hunting as a whole is also at work at the World Coyote Calling Championship. Schmidt estimates that a good 25 percent of participants this year will be first-timers, and a few will even be near-complete newbies to coyote hunting. In many ways, the growing pop-
Though coyotes remain the prime target, bobcats and foxes are popular as well. Once a hunter commits to this kind of hunting, he will be open to purchasing a wide variety of accessories.
ularity of this contest—one of dozens that have popped up across the country over the last 10 years— mirrors the amazing expansion in predator and varmint hunting, and the marketing of products that go with that shooting segment. “Varmint and predator hunting have seen tremendous growth in participation in recent years,” says John MacLellan, vice president, sales and marketing, of O.F. Mossberg & Sons. “Like many hunting pursuits, when game populations increase, the population of hunters in pursuit follows. And coyote populations have exploded across the country.” Once found only in the lands west of the Mississippi, coyotes have spread at a fantastic rate over the last four or five decades. They are now found all through the South, the Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest. These smart and adaptable predators have even been reported in good numbers as far north and east as Newfoundland. Meanwhile, populations of other predators, including bobcats and foxes, are also on the upswing in most areas they inhabit. And the
numbers of other varmints, like raccoons and ground squirrels? They’re marching ever upward, too, especially where they can find ample food and cover, often thanks to human activities such as agriculture and suburban gardening. Another large factor driving interest in predator and varmint hunting is the hunting lifestyle. Simply put, many of today’s hunters have a real passion for the experience, and they want to be afield more often than just the opening weekend of duck or deer hunting season. “Folks like to hunt, period,” says Jason Harris, senior product manager for Primos Hunting. “Predator and varmint hunting is a great way to satisfy that need when the biggame seasons are over. Predators and varmints can be hunted yearround in most states, there are usually no bag limits, and there is an abundant supply of the critters.” The good news for retailers is that these swelling ranks of varmint hunters all need products. Much of this gear is specific to this type of hunting, but some probably already line your counters. Firearms, optics,
Savage’s new A17 semiauto rimfire in .17 HMR was designed around CCI’s new A17 ammo.
Profit Margins Located in Fresno, California, Herb Bauer Sporting Goods does a solid business with the predator-hunting crowd—and has for many years. “Our Central Valley has always been a hotbed for predator hunting, with a variety of terrain that is full of coyotes and bobcats,” says Bauer’s gun department manager John Lewis. “There are many dedicated hunters, including myself, who spend time in the field calling and hunting them. Valley cattle and sheep ranchers appreciate the varmint hunters’ efforts to reduce the predators on their lands.” Lewis adds that while California’s ever-changing gun and hunting laws can make it tough for a retailer to sell the newest guns and other hunting gear, a focus on the predator market is well worth the effort where it counts—the bottom line. “We typically have a 40 percent margin on all predator-hunting-
related products,” he says. That’s three times or better than the store’s usual margin on firearms. Jeff Poet, owner of Jay’s Sporting Goods, in Claire, Michigan, notes that the profit margins are usually much tighter among the electronic predator calls so popular today. But most of the other predator- and varmint-hunting merchandise he sells hits very close to that 40 percent profit margin.
GUN TRENDS There was a time when predator and varmint hunting meant a bolt-action rifle with a long barrel and a 20-power scope. But around 2000, says longtime predator hunter Cory Lundberg, modern sporting rifles (MSRs) became the go-to gun for hunters. MSRs are increasingly popular in general, and the largecapacity magazines make them a natural for the kind of volume shooting that’s often the case with prairie dogs and other varmints. More ammo in a large-cap mag can also be a big help when the target is a coyote running at Mach 1 for the nearest cover. Although MSRs are still very
common among these hunters, Lundberg says he is noticing a shift, with bolt-actions making a comeback with the Western varmint and predator hunters he knows. And he is not alone in that observation. “The trend we’re seeing is bolt-actions in the traditional predator calibers—.22/250, .223, and .243,” says Shawn Schweigert, long-gun manager at H&H Shooting Sports, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Right now, our most popular models are the Browning X Bolts and the new Howa Varminteer with the thumbhole stock.” At Jay’s Sporting Goods, predator hunters are buying up Savage Axis and Ruger American bolt-actions. Varmint hunters are also very interested in the new Savage A17, a semiautomatic rifle chambered in .17 HMR. Poet says he expects it will be a big seller over the next year. Another growing trend among coyote hunters: more reliance on scatterguns, often as the second firearm in the predator hunter’s arsenal, to handle ’yotes that pop up close.
Coyote 101 A coyote and varmint hunter from the age of eight, Tom Austin operates Predator Strike Force, a predator-hunting outfitting service that specializes in videotaping hunts. As he became better known in predator-hunting circles and among the manufacturers that make the gear and equipment those hunters need and use, Austin was asked if he could do some seminars to educate people interested in the predator-hunting experience. Since then, Austin’s done more than 50 such seminars, including his Coyote 101 offering, at venues ranging from small, independent retailers to big-box stores and hunting expos. He believes these educational events are not only good for the sport of predator hunting, but that seminars like his also help retailers at thePAGE cash register. “After I finish up a seminar, you’ll see a good number of those folks in the aisles, looking over products and buying quite a few of them,” says Austin. “People often just need that initial information and education to get over their reluctance to take on something new. Once they try this kind of hunting, they’re sold.” Although audience numbers can vary, in general, attendance has gone up steadily at his seminars. “Hunting’s becoming more and more of a lifestyle activity,” he says. “Look at all the people in the mall wearing camo, and all the cars and trucks with hunting stickers on the back windows. But when people commit to hunting, to the lifestyle, they want to hunt more than that one weekend a year of deer season so many of us grew up with. So, what are they going to hunt after the big-game seasons are over? Predators and varmints!”
Predator expert Tom Austin dials in on a coyote. He has seen big growth in predator and varmint hunting.
DECEMBER 2015 ammunition, calls, and camouflage clothing are some of the most obvious products. But selling opportunities in the field are really wide open to you—and opportunities to market this brand of hunting to new customers abound.
B I G A D VA N TA G E w Like a lot of people, Lundberg started predator hunting in his native Utah as a way to extend his hunting seasons. With the help of hunting videos and a lot of time afield, he taught himself how to call in coyotes. He found he really enjoyed the challenge, as well as the extra time outdoors. Before long he was getting requests from local cattle and sheep ranchers to thin out the number of hungry predators on their lands, and friends and acquaintances soon were asking if they could go along. “Then one of my friends said to me, ‘Hey, these guys I know really would like to try coyote hunting with you. And they’ll pay you, too,’” Lundberg says. “I was having so much fun calling and hunting coyotes, it never occurred to me that anyone would actually pay me to take them out.” That was 15 years ago. Today, Lundberg operates CODA Hunts, which offers guided hunts for predators and varmints across the West. He also does depredation hunting, mostly for ranchers who have predator problems, as well as running shooting industry hunts for various manufacturers. “I’ll take a person out coyote hunting for the first time, and when he spots that first coyote coming in to the call, he is hooked,” Lundberg says. “New hunters get so excited about the experience. Plus, they discover that, really, it’s not that hard to do on their own, especially with a little guidance.” Lundberg also notes two very attractive aspects of this kind of hunting. First, the sport is relatively
AirForce .45-caliber Texan
Air It Out An up-and-comer in the predator- and varmint-hunting markets is the big-bore airgun. True, the traditional .177- and .22-caliber air rifles—pneumatic, break-action, and CO2—have been dispatching smaller pests for decades. But several years ago, airgun makers started unveiling air rifles in .25-caliber and larger, most of them packing a significant punch, thanks to the pre-charged air tanks they employ. Today, a host of these PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) air rifles are not only available, they are making steady inroads among predator and varmint hunters who want to take a slightly different approach to the sport. Manufacturers such as AirForce, Benjamin, and Hatsan USA offer larger-bore air rifles that are quite capable of killing coyotesized game out to 100 yards. Hatsan USA’s newest, for example, is the Big Bore Carnivore, made in .30- and .35-caliber versions. When fully charged, the Carnivore can launch a .30-caliber pellet at 860 feet per second or a .35-caliber at 760 fps, both of which are more than adequate to take down a coyote. Benjamin’s Bulldog is a .357-caliber PCP, a 10-shot powerhouse that can harvest everything from predators to whitetail deer. Need something a little bigger? Try AirForce’s new Texan, a .45-caliber PCP dynamo that can drop deer and wild hogs, and anything smaller. Depending on weight, the Texan can shoot a .45-caliber bullet up to 1,000 fps and deliver a devastating 500 foot-pounds of hunting energy.
Hatsan USA .30-caliber Big Bore Carnivore
If you are selling ammunition to predator and varmint shooters, make sure you have plenty of .22/250 and .223 on hand. They are still the most popular rounds for this market. And, yes, a round made for plinking or deer hunting will certainly kill a coyote. But, given the explosive growth of the sport, there are now dozens of ammunition options for varmint and predator hunters, many of which were specifically designed for the job. “Varmint bullets need to be a balance of long-range accuracy and rapid expansion,” says Dan Compton, marketing specialist for Federal Premium Ammunition. “Sleek profiles and boattail-shaped heels in bullets allow for low drag and minimize wind drift. The other key element is rapid expansion. The best way to get rapid expansion is to increase the hollow point at the tip of the bullet and use thinner bullet jackets. However, hollow points will typically sacrifice some level of aerodynamics, because they create more air resistance. Those two requirements are at odds with each other.” One solution, he says, is to insert a polymer tip into a large hollow-point cavity on the nose of the bullet. “On impact, the tip will help initiate the expansion of the large hollow point, providing the rapid energy transfer we are looking for. The tip will also create a more aerodynamic shape to help the bullet fly better. This is why the Federal Premium V-Shok loads featuring the Nosler Ballistic Tip perform so well.” All major ammunition makers offer predator and varmint loads. These rounds can be more expensive than standard hunting or plinking ammunition, but Federal Premium recognized this situation and acted. For 2016, the manufacturer is expanding the more affordable American Eagle line to include more varmint- and predator-specific offerings.
Optics: The Long and the Short of It
Predator and varmint hunters require a wide range of optics. vit ommos solut audipsa di
“We usually get at least 50 people showing up for these seminars, but we’ve had up to 200, too, especially when the presenter is on a hunting television show,” says Poet. Most of the presenters come to the store at little to no cost to Poet, sponsored as they are by a firearms manufacturer or a predator/varmint call maker. Advertising these events is very important, too, Poet adds. He uses in-store flyers and posters, and advertisements in the local newspaper. But he also posts upcoming events on the store’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Once the seminar is over, expect attendees to make some significant purchases. “If the presenter holds up a particular call and says, ‘This is what I use on my hunts,’ I guarantee you a dozen guys in the audience are going to be looking for that call as soon as the seminar’s over,” says Poet. “We make sure we have a rolling display rack ready, and we coordinate with the presenter beforehand to find out which products in particular he’ll be mentioning. As soon as the presentation’s over, we roll in the rack. If you don’t have those prod-
inexpensive, especially compared to big-game trophy hunts on private ranches. Second, there is plenty of good coyote and varmint hunting available on public lands. “I think predator hunting, especially for coyotes, is where turkey hunting was about 20 years ago,” says Jeff Poet, owner of Michiganbased Jay’s Sporting Goods. “A lot of people are interested, the manufacturers are certainly responding, and there’s a good deal of buzz about it in the media.” Jay’s Sporting Goods does a big business in this market and has for years now, especially from local coyote and fur hunters. Poet adds that he has seen a significant number of new, local hunters enter the marketplace recently. As with any new activity, newbies look for help, guidance, and education, which he is only too happy to provide. As a way to nudge these folks into predator hunting—and sell some product at the same time—Jay’s has seen very good returns from sponsoring in-house coyote- and predatorhunting seminars, to which Poet often invites local and even celebrity hunters to do introductory and advanced hunting seminars.
ucts ready to go, you are definitely missing out on some easy sales.” Industry manufacturers are willing, able, and eager to help retailers in their quest to introduce newcomers to this shooting sport. “Primos really believes in educating our consumers so they can be successful in the woods,” says Jason Harris. “We produce a new DVD in the Calling All Coyotes series every year. The hunts are hosted by pro hunter Randy Anderson and always include tips and techniques to help hunters get the most from their time in the field. We also distribute a strictly educational DVD called Mastering the Art—Predator Hunting that teaches basic and advanced techniques.” Some of the more popular Primos handheld calls to have available include Third Degree, Double Cottontail, and Hot Dog. For those who prefer electronic calls, the Primos Alpha Dogg is a favorite, thanks to its compact design, top performance, and affordable price. “We have the ability to build promotional or point-of-purchase displays as needs arise with a retailer,” Harris says. “If we see an opportunity to increase awareness of our
Predator and varmint hunters employ a wide range of optics, given that their intended targets can pop up anywhere from within spitting distance to several football fields away. An easy solution for retailers is to carry a good price-point selection of variable-power scopes in the 3X to 12X power range. One popular optics option among predator hunters is Nikon’s Active Target Special line, which replaces the Coyote Special. The new Active Target Specials are available in 3–9x40mm and 4–12x40mm, with a choice of finishes from matte black to Mossy Oak Brush and Realtree Max-1 camouflage. Like the Coyote Special, the Active Target line employs
brand or products, or to educate the consumer on how to use a product, we will capitalize where it makes sense and work with our retailers to make that happen.” In addition, Primos devotes two to three episodes each year to predator hunts on the Primos: Truth About Hunting television show, seen on The Outdoor Channel and WILD. A few years ago, Mossberg went after the predator- and varminthunting market in a big way with the Mossberg Varmint and Predator (MVP) series of rifles—bolt-actions that readily accept MSR-style magazines. The reaction by hunters and shooters was positive—so positive, MacLellan admits, that the gunmaker initially wasn’t able to keep up with orders. “I think the biggest change that we’ve made to the MVP Series that will have a positive impact for our local retailers is our push in our manufacturing capacity to keep up with demand,” he says. “Though many of our new models are still in short supply, we are filling orders every day, doing our best to get product where it is needed most— on the shelves of the local retailer.” As far as in-store help, he says,
Nikon’s BDC Active Target Reticle, which uses ballistic circles with carefully researched spacing designed around the needs of predator hunters. The open-circle design doesn’t obscure the target, making shots on a moving animal easier. For predator and varmint hunters who want the best of both worlds, consider offering them an EOTech holographic sight paired with an EOTech magnifier. The EOTech G33 3X magnifier attaches to the rail behind the holographic sight and flips into position when needed. EOTech is making an addition to its magnifier line in 2016 with the G55.STS, a 5X version that will extend the hunter’s range even more.
Mossberg’s sales representatives work with retailers across the country who look to target this growing market opportunity, often providing support for retailer-sponsored events. Promotional sales weekend events at retailers have had a good deal of success. Mossberg has also supported some varmint and predator contests and raffles. Optics maker EOTech has also become a large player in the
Call in Predators There are dozens of predator call makers on the market today, with offerings from boutique, one-of-akind handheld calls to the massproduced varieties, and prices ranging from several dollars to well over $500 in the case of some of the upper-echelon electronic calls. All can get the job done, and, space allowing, it’s a good idea to have a full lineup available to customers, with a focus on the mid- to lower-price-point models. The basic handheld rabbit-indistress call is still effective and remains a favorite of veteran hunters. Yet, technology has affected the world of predator calling, and today’s top sellers are likely going to be the electronic calls. Typically, these battery-operated calls come complete with a prerecorded range of prey distress calls and predator challenge calls, which makes them a very attractive package for the novice hunter, who can go afield quickly with literally dozens of calling options at his or her fingertips. All a hunter needs to do is position the call in a prime area, get set up behind some cover, and then turn on the call via a handheld remote. These calls can have multiple speakers and many even have a motion component, often in the form of an antennalike appendage that waves in the air as the calls are going out. Attaching a feather or a bit of fur to the antenna mimics a wounded or dying animal, and that, plus the call sounds themselves, can bring hungry predators a-runnin’ to hunters. Top manufacturers of such electronic calls include FoxPro, Icotec, and Mojo Outdoors.
that can be applied simply by snapping the magnifier into place. For marketing, EOTech also does a good deal to help its retailers. “EOTech has invested in 3point5. com, an online program that pro-
vides training to retail employees about EOTech products, features, and benefits, along with giving recommendations for platform compatibility,” says EOTech marketing specialist Amy Miller. “This system encourages the retail employees to learn about the products so they are better able to actively sell to the consumer. EOTech also offers strong brand support on the consumer level via a national media and advertising plan that includes both traditional and social components and sponsorship support. Regionally, EOTech offers discretionary funds to develop and support distributordirect events like in-store training seminars, hunts, and store celebrations. The funds can also be used to purchase promotional gear at the EOTech e-commerce store.” With rising interest from hunters and strong manufacturer support, the question may not be should you sell to predator and varmint hunters, but, rather, why aren’t you offering a selection of products and educational opportunities to this growing and profitable segment of the hunting market?
Easy on the Ears The suppressor market has come on strong in the past year, and it’s being eagerly embraced by predator hunters. Not only do suppressors save hunters’ hearing, they make the hunting more productive by muffling the blast that would otherwise scare off predators for a mile or more around. At H&H Shooting Sports, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, long-gun department manager Shawn Schweigert notes they are selling many more suppressors to their predator hunters. Two factors are helping to drive those sales, he says. First is increased public awareness that suppressors are legal and available. Second, more firearms manufacturers—including Mossberg, Savage, and Remington—are now offering their popular rifles with the option of a threaded barrel.
predator- and varmint-hunting market. The ample field of view of the EOTech holographic sights is perfect for close-in and running shots, and EOTech’s magnifiers can give shooters a long-range option
SIG SAUERâ€™s new airgun division is producing both pistols and air rifles, such as the scoped MCX in .177 and .22 pellet.
SIG SAUER BY
Slaton L. White
A Better Approach THE NEW SIG SAUER IS DEDICATED NOT ONLY TO QUALITY PRODUCTS, BUT TO IMPROVED RETAILER RELATIONS AS WELL he SIG SAUER you think you know no longer exists. In its place is a strapping upstart that’s just beginning to flex its muscles through a line expansion that now includes electro-optics, ammunition, silencers, and airguns, all designed and built to the same exacting standards that have marked the company’s firearms for generations. But at the same time, the new SIG can be like a gawky, slightly uncoordinated six-foot-eight-inch teenager. You know he will be capable of slam-dunking as soon as his muscles, tendons, and brain begin to work seamlessly together, but right now he still manages to miss a gimme layup. That said, SIG SAUER is certainly aware that many retailers have been less than satisfied with the company’s performance when it comes to dealer relations. One reason for that is no doubt its heritage. DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 35
“We’re an engineering company that happens to make guns,” says CEO Ron Cohen. “In the past, the company was focused on building great product, not great retail relationships. But we’re going to change that.” Cohen is doing this by bringing on a supercharged executive team that not only will be responsible for designing and producing complementary product lines that carry on the SIG tradition of unmatched quality, but will also be responsible for greatly improving dealer relations. A recent addition to the team is Tom Taylor, late of O.F. Mossberg, Smith & Wesson, and, maybe most important, Coca-Cola, where he spearheaded a completely overhauled marketing and retailer-relations effort. As SIG SAUER’s new vice president of marketing and commercial sales, Taylor is charged with helping to turn that awkward teenager into an all-star power forward. “Even though the brand has been around since the mid-1700s, the SIG you see today really started 10 years ago,” he says. “Before, it was really a U.S. distribution house for German-made product. Now, virtually all the product is built in the USA, and the build-quality is just as good—maybe even better.” His vision is to turn SIG SAUER into an entity that radiates the same power and brand recognition as Nike and Under Armour. He understands such a goal requires great product, which he believes the company already has. But reaching that goal also requires repairing dealer relations.
CARROT AND STICK
“We’re on a huge push to recognize some of our past sins with our retailers and begin to treat retailers the best we possibly can,” he says. “We’re going to offer them resources they haven’t been offered before, programs that may not have been offered before, and a consistent approach that may not have existed before. When they think of SIG SAUER, we want them to think of a company that’s easy to do business with, something that hasn’t always been the case.” One of the first measures SIG SAUER is undertaking to support retailers is a change in its minimum advertised price, or MAP, policy. “In the past, I think SIG was known for deals, and the retail market might have learned to wait for certain time periods to buy SIG SAUER product,” Taylor says. “We are now trying to put a discipline in place that avoids that at all costs.” Taylor says the company had MAP pricing for many years, but no MAP policy. So last summer it implemented a MAP policy that it intends to enforce. There will be consequences for dealers who break MAP policy. “MAP pricing is painful in the short term, but it has to be done,” he says. “We think it’s important that our brand has consistency in pricing.” Again, the models are Under Armour and Nike, both of which aggressively protect their pricing. “When you see an ad with a coupon for a sporting goods store, it often excludes brands like Under Armour and Nike,” he says. “That’s where we want to be. We have products that consumers demand, so we really want to have pricing and margin that the retailers can enjoy. That takes discipline, both for us and our partners.” The carrot to go with the stick is a new incentive program—SIG Rewards, which was launched last summer. “This is a fairly low-threshold incentive program for dealers and distributors,” he says. “They’re going to be able to win free guns at several levels. Some of the top sellers, as well as random qualified dealers and distributors, will be able to win a trip with a guest to our facility here in Newington, New Hampshire. They’ll get a chance to tour the factory, meet our team, shoot at the SIG Academy, and enjoy other perks.”
to install (and can significantly drive up total cost to the consumer)—SIG intends to offer the gun and an included SIG optic at a very affordable price. “So, when you buy a SIG handgun, you can get our Romeo reflex optic as well,” Taylor says. “It will be mounted on the gun in the same box. It’s ready to shoot—all at a very affordable price.” Taylor says the program will begin with military contracts, but the program should also have strong appeal for consumers and members of the law-enforcement community. “The idea is to potentially present the gun, the optic, the ammo, and the silencer as one package—what we like to call ‘total solutions.’” In fact, part of the SIG SAUER booth at the 2016 SHOT Show will be dedicated to the concept of The Total Solution Zone. Retailers who stop by will see just what he’s talking about. This program naturally helps SIG support its new complementary lines. “When a consumer walks into a store and sees a SIG SAUER gun, he gets it,” Taylor says. But he may need some coaching when it comes to the new electro-optics, ammo, silencer, and airgun lines. “By merging these together and offering them as a package, we hope to teach the retailer and the customer that these are quality products that go together,” Taylor says. “At first, we’re going to compromise margin to offer combo packages, because we want the consumer to understand we’re serious about being in these categories. We’re not interested in dabbling—that’s a bad strategy.” Another bold move to support SIG’s retailers is a revamped rep strategy. “We had a successful model that consisted of company employees, outside sales reps, and phone sales reps,” Taylor says. “In all, it was
In conjunction with these programs, SIG SAUER has also launched a ValueAdded Program. For instance, rather than have a dealer sell the customer a gun and a separate optic—which may or may not require the services of a gunsmith 36 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
The SIG SAUER MPX and P226 are worldclass CO2-driven semi-auto products.
Best known for its lineup of premium firearms, SIG SAUER brought on a new team in order to branch out into premium ammunition, air rifles and air pistols, suppressors, and optics.
never more than a dozen. But given the growth SIG has experienced over the past five years, we realized we needed better coverage. We now have more than 60 people in the field in addition to some in-house support. “Keep in mind that the new reps had to make some significant sacrifices because of our expanded product line—they might have had to make decisions on firearms, optics, ammo, and airguns as well as silencers. The ones who joined us saw where we were going and saw the opportunity.” Another new initiative is the formation of the Legion Line. “The Legion Line is going to be a unique set of guns,” Taylor says. “We’ll pick a gun from each of our major categories. They’ll be Nitron-coated gray so that when they’re on the shelf, they’ll have a unique look.” According to Taylor, each model in this line will be designed to invoke the warrior spirit and camaraderie found in the American Special Ops community. The guns will also feature upgraded triggers and sights. “This line is for consumers who love to collect our products. We think that if you’re a SIG aficionado, you buy into the whole story of the warrior spirit and what we stand for,” he says. “It’s not just about the gun. You’ll also be able to call an 800 number and join the Legion. Membership benefits include a high-end case, ‘challenge coins’ for each line, and the ability to log on to a special section of our website reserved just for Legion members.” Taylor had a great run at Mossberg, but the challenge posed at SIG proved to be an irresistible draw. “It’s a fast-paced culture that I haven’t seen since my days at Coca-Cola. Everybody is challenging each other. It’s amazing how much talent is here—at all different levels. That’s what really drew me here, the opportunity to help build this brand and company into something very special.” Taylor admits that trying to emulate the brand recognition of Under Armour and Nike is a lofty goal, but he feels it is achievable. Nike has its swoosh, Under Armour its UA. Now that SIG SAUER has what it calls the SIG mark, its next shot should be all net.
DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 37
38 RUGER The syntheticstocked GSR is markedly lighter than the original wood-stocked model.
C o o p e r â€™ s c o n c e p t r i f l e f i n a l ly y c co om m ee s s o o ff a ag g ee
PAGE DECEMBER 2015
By Richard Mann
SAVAGE The affordable and versatile Model 11 Scout is the company’s third, and possibly its best, entry into this specialized market.
ol. Jeff Cooper’s experimentation with carbines in the late 1960s led him to deduce that one configured in a specific manner could serve as the paradigm of personal weaponry. For the next 30 years, Cooper espoused the virtues of such a rifle, and in 1998, Steyr Mannlicher made his vision a reality. The world has argued the relevance of the concept every since.
the mVP Scout is currently the most affordable scout on the market.
A scout rifle is ostensibly defined as a 39-inch or shorter bolt-action, with a nominal weight of 7 pounds. At a minimum, the rifle must include metallic ghost ring sights, and be chambered for the .308 Winchester and capable of two MOA or better accuracy. A long eye-relief scope is a generally accepted feature of the scout, but Cooper made very clear that an optical sight was not mandatory. The Steyr Scout certainly is unconventional looking, to the point that some even think it ugly. Nonetheless, the Steyr and Cooper’s concept have a cult-like following. Realizing the limited, but strong, appeal of the scout, Savage introduced its version in 1999. It sold moderately well, mostly because it was one-third the price of the luxurious Steyr. In 2005, Ruger followed suit with the Frontier, but that iteration was not with us long. The discontinuances of the Frontier and the Savage scout model left the Steyr as the sole commercial option. Most considered this to be confirmation that Cooper’s idea did not resonate in the marketplace.
Then Something Happened
The Age of the Scout Rifle has dawned—sadly, a decade too late for Cooper to see. Shortly after 2008, the political winds shifted, and the modern sporting rifle became America’s gun of choice. For the next six years sales remained strong. Shooters became familiar with the platform, and manufacturers took it to a mind-blowing modular level. At the same time, prepping became a fashionable pursuit. In 2012, USA Today suggested that one in four Americans know a prepper. And in 2013, it was estimated there were almost four million preppers nationwide. By some estimates, that number has doubled, and catering to this population has become a multibillion-dollar business. What does either of these things have to do with the scout rifle? Maybe everything. Cooper envisioned the scout as the ultimate general-purpose rifle: suitable for protection and hunting, to be used by one person or a small group while operating remotely or alone. A
firearm fitting this description dovetails perfectly with the ideology of the prepper. Given that ownership of the MSR platform is severely restricted in some places, a compact, lightweight, powerful, versatile, and somewhat modular bolt-action rifle is a viable alternative. In fact, the reliability and long-term durability of a quality bolt-action exceeds that of any autoloader. Whether the scout rifle has emerged as the manually operated alternative to the MSR, or if it is in fact the ideal survivalist firearm, really doesn’t matter. In 2011, Ruger finally proved the rationale of Cooper’s design with the introduction of the Gunsite Scout Rifle. Its success is undeniable; Ruger currently catalogs 10 variations, not counting distributor exclusives. In addition, earlier this year, Savage introduced a scout rifle for the third time, and Mossberg—after several years of my continual urging—now offers a scout based on its MVP platform. Realizing the resurrected interest and competition, Steyr reduced the suggested retail price of its scout by $3,000.
A Second Chance
Retailers would be wise to educate themselves with the concept of the scout rifle and understand its appeal to the emerging survivalist movement. Somewhat like the MSR, the scout lends itself to extra gadgetry, and as firearms purveyors know, gadgets are where the money is made. In preparation for a book on the scout rifle, I’ve devoted the last two years to working with and understanding this instrument. Extensive range time with each of the four commercial variants has shown them all to be trustworthy and versatile arms. Though he’s not alive to see the success of his ideology, Cooper may have foreseen the apocalyptic worry that would embrace our nation. Or maybe his hypothesis just reflected the epitome of pragmatism as it relates to the rifle. Either way, his one-rifle answer has new life.
The Steyr Scout comes closest to fitting Cooper’s strin-
STEYR This model was the first commerical version of the scout. it remains true to Jeff Cooper’s vision.
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42 gent specifications. It weighs 6.75 pounds, and with its adjustable length of pull, has a nominal length of 39 inches. It’s equipped with back-up ghost ring iron sights and a collapsible bipod. A second magazine can be stored in the buttstock. It’s a solid, sub-two MOA performer, and with many loads will stay within one MOA. The action has an uncanny smoothness, and the trigger is beyond reproach. Out of the box, it’s compatible with an extended eyerelief scope, a red-dot sight, or a traditional scope. It’s available in .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, and .308 Winchester. SRP: $1,799.
Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle
The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (GSR) was the first scout to capture the attention of the common man. This is partly due to its more common-man price (around $1,000), but also because of its more common profile and accepted tactical features, including a flash-hider/muzzle brake, threaded muzzle, and high-capacity detachable magazine. It’s also available for lefties. The one design fault is the proprietary metal magazine, but fortunately better-performing aftermarket polymer magazines are readily available in the form of a flush-fitting, three-
LEUPOLD Long eye-relief scopes, such as this FX-II, are a popular scout accessory. rounder. This rifle also hovers around the 39-inch mark and will weigh, depending on model, from 6.20 to 7.75 pounds. Available chamberings include 5.56 NATO and .308 Winchester. SRP: $1,000.
Mossberg MVP Scout
The uniqueness of the Mossberg MVP Scout lies in its compatibility with both AR-10 and M14 magazines. With a suggested retail of $777, it’s the least expensive of the commercial scouts. Unlike the Ruger and the Savage, the Mossberg has a full-length rail, making it compatible with any optical sight. It’s also fitted with a metallic ghost ring rear sight and a fiber-optic front. The muzzle is threaded, and the rifle comes standard with an A2-style flash hider. It’s the only scout equipped with accessory Picatinny rails, one
on each side of the forend. With its 16.5-inch barrel, it measures 37.5 inches, weighs 6.75 pounds, and is only available in 7.62 NATO. SRP: $777.
of the excellent Williams ghost ring rear sight. The 11 Scout is available in .308 Winchester. SRP: $794.
Accessories and Such
Savage 11 Scout
Savage’s third scout might be its best—but at 7.9 pounds, it’s also the heaviest. It has an adjustable length of pull, with an overall length that ranges between 39.5 to 40.5 inches. The buttstock is equipped with an adjustable comb to allow for perfect eye alignment with the open and/or optical sights. It comes standard with a protected front sight and a muzzle brake. The 11 Scout delivers the accuracy you’d expect from Savage, and the large bolt handle makes fast cycling easy. The rifle can be fitted with a traditional scope, but this necessitates the removal
Scout rifle doctrine includes the use of a number of accessories. Foremost is the extended eye-relief scope. The best examples are from Leupold and Burris. Weaver offers a unique 4X scout scope, and various pistol scopes from Bushnell and Nikon can suffice. Shooting slings are another popular accessory. The presence of threaded muzzles has helped include suppressors in the scout rifle definition. Those offering quick attachment will have the most appeal, and—at least with the Mossberg MVP Scout—you have the potential to mount a light or even a laser to the accessory rails.
As introduced, the wood-stocked Gunsite Scout Rifle is responsible for the revival of the scout rifle concept.
BY JOE KELLER
Pattern without recoil with Winchester’s Pattern Board app urkey season isn’t all that far away. Hooray! Time to check the pattern in your gun again. Boo! Turkey guns can be punishing to any hunter’s shoulder, especially if he or she has a new scope to zero or is trying out new loads or chokes. Sighting in could take a few shots—or, if things aren’t coming together, a box or so.
This is a fact that has not changed since hunters first started pointing their muzzles at ol’ Tom: If you want to be accurate, you need to shoot that gun and know how it performs. But relief has come from an unlikely source. An ammo company has developed a free app and website that will reduce the number of shells you shoot, sparing your shoulder for the actual hunt. Winchester Ammo Pattern Board (winchester patternboard.com) is designed to let you—virtually—try out different gauges, choke restrictions, shells, and other variables, at different distances.
Doing Homework ➤ “We actually fired more than 3,000 rounds, shooting every turkey load we have,” says Brad Criner of Winchester. “It’s all about helping hunters do their homework before they head to the field.” Although the app won’t literally pattern a shotgun, it will tell the shooter what one of four Winchester loads will do at various yardages, with various shot sizes, shell lengths, gauges, and chokes. Of course, you will need to test-fire your gun to check the actual pattern, but the app will give you a head start and reduce the need to waste expensive turkey ammo. This is a far more shoulder-friendly approach and should help a retailer sell more Winchester brand turkey ammo. Winchester used Winchester SX3s, fitted with Invector and Carlson chokes, to gain info
44 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
Winchester’s Pattern Board app helps turkey hunters figure the best loads without shooting a lot of expensive ammo.
on its four turkey loads—the classic Super X, Double X High Velocity, Double X Magnum, and the Long Beard XR. The manufacturer plans on adding patterns from Long Beard XR Magnum soon. Considering that you can’t actually sell this app, why is it important to know about it? Because the patterns that a user sees on the web app are actual photos of actual patterns. Criner wants to make sure hunters understand that.
Shot Options ➤ When
you go to the app, you will see an intuitive screen that offers you options to choose your combination and then shoot it. For example, you might choose 12-gauge, .680 choke restriction, 3-inch shell, and No. 5 shot size in Double X Mag. at 40 yards. Then press the shoot button and a target pops up that shows four pellets in the 3-inch circle, 59 within 10 inches and 280 within 30. If four pellets within 3 inches is
not dense enough for you, try out another shell in maybe a No. 6 shot with a tighter restriction. Often, Winchester beats you to it. Whenever you choose a scenario, the program will also show what other Winchester brands will do with the variables you supplied. In my 12-gauge Double X Mag. shot, for example, the app also displayed the same shot except with Double X High Velocity. That option shows that the High Velocity choice would have jellied the head with 11 pellets within the 3-inch inner circle. Super-X would give you nine pellets in 3 inches, and Long Beard would push a devastating 13 pellets within the 3-inch circle. This app is especially timely. If you’ve shot any of the latest modern turkey loads, you know they are golf-ball tight. If your point of impact is off by just a few inches compared to your point of aim, you will miss. Considering you might only get a few shots at a turkey each season, you want to be dead-on. “Hunters are using this app to make sure their guns are ready for a long shot—out to 40 or 50 yards—or if a tom sneaks in at 10 or 15 yards,” says Criner. “Pattern Board will give you a good idea of how your shot will look.” The app has proved popular. Criner says more than 100,000 “shots” have been fired since Pattern Board was released earlier this year. More than half of all loads fired are Winchester’s Long Beard XR, and most shots are at 40, 50, and 70 yards.
W W W. E O T E C H I N C . C O M
©2015, L-3 EOTech
HHS II (G33 / EXPS2-2)
W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G W H E R E
B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N
Doug’s Shoot ’n UT Sports, Taylorsville
This all-firearms dealer built the first retailer shooting range in the state. The store keeps a wide inventory of home-defense and traditional hunting guns. Following big fall sales for boltactions, a mix of Remington 700s and Ruger Americans are selling; .30/06 is the most popular caliber. And MSRs are in demand. “We’re seeing MSR sales starting to pick up,” said counter salesman P.J. Handgun sales are brisk, with the high spot split between Smith Shields and Bodyguards. XDs and Glock 43s are hot sellers as well. Winter waterfowl season is underway, so the store is seeing Benelli Super Black Eagle IIs and Stoeger M3500s pulling strong numbers. Home-defense customers are turning to Kel-Tec’s KSG.
State NV Silver Arms, Reno
With more than 500 guns in stock and three employees, this retailer has been at the same location in metro Reno for almost 40 years. Handgun sales are strong, and Smith Shields and Glock 19s are posting excellent numbers. But the store has experienced a decline in certain handgun calibers. “We almost can’t sell a new .40 handgun. I’m not sure if it’s the improved performance of the 9mm or just the high prices on .40 ammo,” said manager Ken Walls. While sales of shotguns and boltaction rifles are the slowest this store has seen in several years, MSRs sales—about four per week— are picking up the slack. M&P Sports and DPMS Oracles hold the top spots. Used guns continue to be a mainstay, with high demand for any classic lever action.
Joe Bob KS Outfitters, Hays
Located in western Kansas, this retailer specializes in home defense and MSRs. In addition to its brick-and-mortar business, the store has a large online presence. Handgun sales have been very strong. The three top sellers have been Glock 43s, Smith Shields, and Ruger LCRs. Sales of MSRs are also strong, but the real sellers have been custom-part orders for lowers from Anderson and Spikes Tactical. “Even with slower sales for assembled MSRs, our lowers and barrels continue to grow,” said counter salesman Rolf Bertz. Other strong sellers include the Stoeger M3500 and Savage Axis in .308 and .243. Rimfire .22 longs are in stock, but .22 shorts and .17 HMR are still in short supply.
46 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ DECEMBER 2015
Guns, IL Gat’s Dundee
This suburban Chicago retailer uses 25,000 square feet to display 7,500 firearms. MSR sales are steady, with a mix of turns at the low and high ends of the pricing spectrum. “If an MSR is priced below $699, it will sell. If it’s priced above $1,300, it will sell. However, if it’s in between, it just sits. I don’t understand it, but we have adapted our inventory to meet those two price points,” said general manager Randy Potter. Daniel Defense V11 Pros are experiencing the highest turns. Handgun sales are strong. Glock 43s, Smith Shields, and Glock 19s are attracting the lion’s share of attention. Kimber CDP IIs are also making turns. Benelli 828 over/ unders are on back order, and Remington 870 Deer Slayers have sold particularly well this season.
Trading ID Red’s Post, Twin Falls
Founded in 1936, Red’s is considered to be the oldest standing gun store in Idaho. The store keeps nearly 1,000 firearms in stock. It also carries a large line of reloading gear. Handgun sales are hot, with heavy numbers of Glock 43s and 19s crossing the counter. The Wilson Combat 1911 is also a fast mover. But the retailer is readying for reloading season. “Reloading creates a strong cash flow through much of the winter,” said buyer Larry Barksdale. Varmint guns are moving. Savage Varmints and Browning X-Bolts in .243 and .22/250 are the most requested calibers. Sales of MSRs are flat—an average of one a week, mostly in M&P Sports. Over/ under shotguns are moving. Browning 725s and the Beretta 686 and 692 are selling well.
Guns, IA Davenport Davenport
This 3,500-square-foot retail space (which has 12 indoor shooting lanes) stands just yards from the banks of the Mississippi River. Keeping about 600 firearms in stock, this shop will celebrate its first year anniversary next month. “Sales continue to grow. We’re the only indoor shooting range in Davenport. It’s been very rewarding to see the response from our community,” said manager Erik Mattly. Handguns are hot, with Glock 43s and Springfield XDSs pulling the best numbers. At one a week, sales of MSRs are consistent. The top seller is ArmaLite. Bolt-actions are turning well, including the Savage Axis, Remington 700 Varmint, and Cooper Firearms Classic. Caliber sales spread from .223 to .308.
Guns, ME Howells Gray
This 27,000-square-foot store sells a mix of archery, soft goods, and firearms, keeping an average of 2,000 guns in stock. Browning X-Bolts and Ruger Americans in .30/06 and .308 sold well during the regular deer firearms season. For blackpowder season, CVA Wolfs and Acuras led the sales list. Sales of MSRs have slowed. “Though steady, MSR sales have been lackluster,” said owner Adam Copp. M&P Sports, Ruger 556s, and Windham Weaponry in .308 are moving, though at a snail’s pace. Handgun sales are on the rise, with Smith Shields and Glock 19s holding the high slots. Blaser over/ under shotguns are making strong turns. The retailer reports adequate inventories of .22 rimfire.
Sidney’s Guns, GA Augusta
This uniform and soft-goods company started to handle firearms in the 1960s. Today, it keeps more than 1,000 guns in stock. Overall, it carries more than 10 million SKUs. December is the biggest firearms sales month for Sidney’s. “Our store has fostered a gift-giving environment with many of our clothing contractors and other businesses in town,” said owner Steven Fishman. Handguns are the hottest they’ve been all year; traditional wheel guns, such as Smith 642s, hold the highest spots, but Glock 19s and 43s and Ruger LCRs are selling well. Benelli Novas and Franchi Affinitys are posting good numbers, Stoeger pellet guns are in high demand. Other quick turns are coming from Remington 700s and Sako in .270 and .308.
Dunkelberger’s, PA Brodheadsville
With two locations and a total of 35,000 square feet of display space, this retailer services a wide area from Scranton to Allentown. Deer season is finishing up with heavy traffic on Savage Axis package guns and higher than expected numbers of Ruger Americans. The most popular calibers have been .30/06 and .270. M&P Sports and Ruger 556s led MSR sales, with four to five units crossing the counters. Handgun sales have been strong and should continue to increase until Christmas. “Many of our customers give themselves a gift of a handgun,” said counter salesman Michael Frits. Ruger SR9s have been particularly strong. Smith M&P Shields are also fast movers. Rimfire ammo stocks are good, and sales of Mossberg 500s and
Arms, TN Classic Cordova
Located in suburban Memphis, this store stocks a wide variety of classic hunting and home-defense firearms, carrying an inventory of nearly 1,000 guns. Waterfowl season is in full swing, with large numbers of Stoeger M3500s and Benelli Super Black Eagles IIs moving. “I don’t know if it’s Duck Dynasty, but we have a lot of new waterfowlers coming into the sport,” said counter salesman Keith Smith. MSRs are selling at about two a week, mostly in M&P Sports and Ruger 556s. Sales of bolt-action guns have been slow, with a few Sakos in .270 crossing the counter.
Ultimate AR Outdoors, Searcy
This rural, northcentral Arkansas retailer specializes in
Remington 870s have been holding steady. Stoeger M3500s have been especially strong sellers lately.
The Outpost CT Guns & Ammo, Uncasville
This small threeemployee shop specializes in home defense and training. Handgun sales are strong; high posters are from Glock 43s, Smith Shields, and Bodyguards. “Our handgun business is a staple for our shop. Training new shooters and supplemental training for existing shooters are our priorities. This one-two combination keeps our business growing,” said counter salesman Ernie King. Other quick sellers include the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870 Express. Henry lever actions in .22 are in demand, as are Ruger Americans in 308.
hunting firearms, home defense, and archery. They keep more than 300 new firearms in stock. Sales of MSRs are improving at three a week, but only on low-price product. Smith Sports and Rugers are responsible for the majority of turns. In bolt-action guns, the Savage Axis and Tikka T3 in .270 garner most of the turns. “Our .22 ammo stock is improving, but the prices have really jumped. It seems the shortage has trained consumers to pay a higher price,” said manager Rusty Fischer. Handguns are moving well— mostly Glock 19s, 23s, and 42s, but Ruger LCRs and Kimber 1911s also are selling. Shotgun sales are brisk, with Benelli Novas and Stoeger M3500s on top. The Remington 870 Express has had a few turns of late. Youth 870s are expected to move well for the holidays.
DECEMBER 2015 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 47
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FoxPro The Fusion dual-speaker electronic caller comes with 1,000 high-quality sounds. The front horn speaker handles coyote vocalizations and common distress sounds with ease, while the rear cone speaker handles low-frequency sounds such as those made by bears, owls, and even mountain lions. You can operate the Fusion manually or with the TX-1000 remote control. The remote features a full-color graphic LCD screen that displays a sound list or sound categories. It also has an indicator that tracks barometric readings, moon phases, and temperature. FOXMotion technology allows you to fade the sound from the left speakers to the right speakers to help sell the reality of the calls; it also allows you to mix and match any two sounds at the same time during the calling sequence. The Fusion is made in the
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The RG850 is a highperformance, rugged flashlight that uses innovative CREE LED technology to ensure bright light for any illumination need. Each light is crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum with a Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish, and the textured body offers an anti-freeze, nonslip grip that helps improve utility in inclement weather. The RG850 has five light settings, including strobe and SOS for emergencies. In addition, the light is waterproof (to a depth of 1.5 meters) and impactresistant. Uses two CR123 or one 8650 rechargeable battery. Recharging is accomplished via a built-in (Continued on page 49)
50 â?š SHOT BUSINESS â?š DECEMBER 2015
PHOTO BY JUSTIN APPENZELLER
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SHOT Business -- December 2015