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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

HOW TO C R EATE TOTA L CUSTO M ER VALUE AT YOU R STO R E Pg. 40

FOR THE Guide Richard Graham on the marsh near Honey Brake Lodge.

BIRDS WATERFOWLING IS ATTRACTING A WHOLE NEW CROP OF HUNTERS, ALL OF WHOM NEED GUNS, GEAR, AND CLOTHING PG. 24

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE FIRING LINE

GOOD STUFF

Savage enters the MSR market with four hot new models Pg. 18

Caldwell lets you sightin via a smartphone or tablet Pg. 44


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SHOT BUSINESS A U G . / S E P T. 2 0 1 7 VOLUME 25, ISSUE 5

FROM THE NSSF Specific steps to help your FFL combat theft.

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NSSF UPDATE NSSF’s 2017 Summit ignites industry leaders; SSA gun rule withdrawn.

FROM THE COUNTER How one gun shop adapts to continually changing norms.

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RETAILER TOOLBOX Consignment inventory comes loaded with risks.

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YOU SHOULD KNOW Stop SHOT Show hotel reservation poachers.

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COVER PHOTO BY TESS ROUSEY

GUIDE TO WATERFOWL SHOTGUNS Semiautos rule the roost, but there is demand for pumps as well. BY PHIL BOURJAILY

40

FILLING THE VOID Tom Hudson had a vision for a first-class shooting range and store. It’s all that—and a lot more. BY SLATON L. WHITE

EDITOR’S NOTE When conducting a new-hire interview, it’s best to keep in mind that traits, not skills, are the key to assembling a firstrate staff.

4

13

FOR THE BIRDS Waterfowling is big business. Here’s how to cash in. BY DAVID DRAPER

24 35

NEWS BRIEFS Yeti launches the Rambler Jug line; Yamaha supports SEAL–Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation; and CRKT

7

50

introduces a real Humdinger. FIRING LINE Savage boldly enters the MSR market with four new and intriguing models.

18

UNDERCOVER SHOPPER Evaluating four “shoot before you buy” retail experiences in Ohio.

20

GOOD STUFF Caldwell lets you sight-in via a smartphone or tablet. Now, you won’t have to leave the bench to see if your rifle is on.

44 46 50

WHAT’S SELLING WHERE

NEW PRODUCTS Hazard4 range bag; GSM Outdoors; Leatherman Juice B2.

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SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 3


EDITOR’S NOTE

NSSF

The People Connection Traits, not skills, are the key

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hen Tom Hudson, general manager of CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, decided he wanted to open a retail operation and shooting range (see page 40), he began with this idea: “The store needed to be warm and welcoming, and my staff needed to able to connect with people in a positive way.”

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, Digital Content Producer Hilary Ribons, Editorial Assistant CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Larry Ahlman, Barbara Baird, Scott Bestul, Philip Bourjaily, Christopher Cogley, David Draper, Jock Elliott, William F. Kendy, Mark Kayser, David Maccar, Richard Mann, Peter B. Mathiesen, Brian McCombie, Tom Mohrhauser, Robert Sadowski, Robert F. Staeger, Peter Suciu, Wayne Van Zwoll

ADVERTISING: 212-779-5316

He early on decided against hiring the all-too-common irascible gun expert. “I can’t teach soft skills,” he says. “And being able to work with people, some of whom may have very little experience with firearms, is vital to our success.” Contrast that to the tone-deafness of United Airlines, which a few months ago earned internet infamy in the dunderheaded way it handled an overbooking situation by dragging a customer off a plane. Clearly, United is not an enterprise interested in connecting with people in a positive way. Business consultant Dave Crenshaw, in an illuminating post on LinkedIn, elaborated on United’s many failings in dealing with customers, and then moved on to a pair of themes that echo Hudson’s approach to his store. “Businesses that put customers first begin with a set of company values,” Crenshaw wrote. “They are mantras that you, as a leader, want your company to believe in and exemplify. Such values alone won’t solve all your problems, but they create a marvelous foundation and provide the framework for policy when it comes time to decisionmaking. They are more important than the systems and the policies themselves, and you must build the company around them. “After you create company values, hire those values. All too often, businesses hire people because they have a skill. They know how to use

that one software. They have a background in metalwork. They have a track record in sales.” But Crenshaw says traits are far more powerful and important than skills because traits tell you who the person really is and how they will interact with your customers. “When hiring people, ask them questions about their traits,” he wrote. “Ask them to tell you of a situation in which they had to use a trait. Ask them what actions they took in that situation, and what the result was. This candidate will be forced to dispense with the script they memorized the day before and rely on personal experience.” And when you consistently hire people with similar traits, you create the culture you want. Here’s the key takeway, according to Crenshaw: “Customers are more important than policy. Without customers, your business would not exist. Without customers, employees don’t take home a paycheck. It’s customers who use your product or service. It’s customers who talk to friends and family about their experience. It’s customers who commiserate on social media. It’s customers who vote with their dollar by deciding to become return customers.” Got it?

4 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

Slaton L. White, Editor

Gregory D. Gatto, Senior Vice President, Managing Director Jeff Roberge, Advertising Director Brian Peterson, Western Sporting Goods Sales Katie Logan, Southern Sporting Goods Sales David Hawkey, Northeast Sporting Goods Sales Amanda Gastelum, Integrated Marketing Director Ingrid Reslmaier, Marketing Design Director

BUSINESS OPERATIONS Tara Bisciello, Business Manager

CONSUMER MARKETING Robert M. Cohn, Consumer Marketing Director Stephanie Fry, Fulfillment & Planning Manager

MANUFACTURING Michelle Doster, Group Production Director Stephanie Northcutt, Production Manager

BONNIER Chairman, Tomas Franzén Head of Business Area, Magazines, Lars Dahmén Chief Executive Officer, Eric Zinczenko Chief Financial Officer, Joachim Jaginder 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, Consumer Marketing, John Reese 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 25, issue 5, Copyright © 2017 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 reprints@bonniercorp.com. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to SHOT Business, P.O. Box 6364 Harlan, IA 51593.


GET YOUR BUSINESS ON BOARD The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, is launching its inaugural National Shooting Sports Month in August. As part of this coast-to-coast celebration of the shooting sports and firearms safety, retailers and ranges everywhere are invited to offer events and promotions during August to welcome new and experienced target shooters.

List your events and promotions at ShootingSportsMonth.org. For more details, contact NSSF’s Zach Snow at zsnow@nssf.org or call him at 203-426-1320 ext. 224.

#LetsGoShooting

|| ShootingSportsMonth.org

A program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation


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Bits & Pieces

NEWS BRIEFS NEWS

PROMOTIONS

AWARDS

OUTREACH

Crimson Trace Expands Network Crimson Trace recently expanded its network of relationships with a large number of premium firearms brands. For firearms buyers, this means that retail stores across America will offer more handguns available with pre-installed Crimson Trace laser sights. Supported manufacturers work closely with Crimson Trace during the firearm development period so laser sights and the paired firearm are released simultaneously. Often a laser-sight-to-firearm pairing can result in significant savings to the customer and require less shopping time when trying to determine the best laser sight for the firearm being considered for purchase. (crimsontrace.com)

Shell Shock to Open Kentucky Plant Shell Shock Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer that develops innovative case technologies for the ammunition industry, has launched a new subsidiary, ShellTech. The new manufacturing plant will open in Eubank, Kentucky, focusing on the manufacture of Shell Shock Technologies’ NAS3 cases, which are 50 percent lighter than brass. With an investment of approximately $3.2 million, ShellTech aims to create 50 new full-time jobs in a 14,000-square-foot facility. (shellshocktech.com)

This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources.

Rambler Jugs have just been added to the Yeti line.

Keep On Rambling

R

ambler Jugs, in half-gallon and one-gallon sizes, are the latest additions to Yeti’s family of stainless-steel products. Meant for bulk hydration and multiple servings, Yeti Rambler Jugs are essential for long adventures taking place far from refills. Constructed with 18/8 kitchen-grade stainless steel, Rambler Jugs are punctureand rust-resistant, and won’t retain odor. Double-wall vacuum insulation in the body and a full inch of insulation in the lid mean that the contents will remain as cold or as hot as possible until the very

last drop. The innovative MagCap harnesses powerful magnets to keep the cap secured on the lid while pouring or sipping, and a robust carrying handle makes for a comfortable haul to and from your destination. In addition, the extra-widemouth opening makes the Jug easy to load and clean. SRP: $99.99, half gallon; $149.99, one gallon. Rambler Jug Mounts ($39.99) are sold separately in both half-gallon and one-gallon sizes. Crafted from polypropylene, Jug Mounts can be fastened to a truck, ATV, boat, or trailer. (yeti.com) AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 7


NEWS BRIEFS

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Yamaha continues to support the families of SEALs.

Yamaha Supports SEAL–Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, has once again provided a new Side-by-Side (SxS), the Viking VI Special Edition (SE), to the SEAL–Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Family Foundation for auction at its annual fundraiser near San Diego, California. Assembled in the USA at Yamaha’s Newnan, Georgia, factory, the Viking VI SE raised $17,000 toward the organization’s mission of supporting SEAL members’ families. This marks Yamaha’s fourth consecutive year of aiding NSW, for a total of nearly $90,000 in funding for the much-deserving recipients. The SEAL–Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation is a San Diego–based 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2008, that raises awareness and funds for special programs in direct support of the NSW families on a local, national, and global scale. Further details about the NSW organization and fundraiser can be found at SupportOurWarriors.org and SealFamilyFoundation. org.

“Yamaha is honored to continue its support of the SEAL–NSW Family Foundation and its important mission of assisting the families of those who defend our freedoms,” says Steve Nessl, Yamaha’s ATV/SxS group marketing manager. “We know this highly respected organization’s event and donor support will continue to raise awareness and assistance for the brave SEAL–NSW families.”

“Yamaha has been a great supporter of our event over the past four years, and their vehicles are an auction favorite,” says William R. Fenick, Capt., USN (Ret), executive director for SEAL–NSW. “We are dedicated to supporting the needs of these important families, and partners like Yamaha allow us to provide the right programs—both now and in the future.” (yamaha motorsports.com)


Colt Upgrades the Series 70

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olt recently upgraded its popular Colt Competition Pistol line. All models, which were originally offered with Colt’s Series 80 firing system, will now feature Colt’s Series 70 firing system. “The Series 70 firing system has long been associated with Colt’s heritage as a top manufacturer of competition-grade firearms,” says product manager Mark Redl. “As we build more value for shooters into our Competition Pistol line, we also seek to pay tribute to that storied heritage. For weekend competitors and those looking to improve their action pistol shooting game, this race-ready pistol, which was already an excellent value, has just become even more desirable.”

Colt is pursuing yet another class of competitive shooter now with this recent change. Redl also notes that “the features that have made the Competition Pistol Colt’s number-one-selling handgun remain the same. Competitors who are preparing for their next match can pick up a Series 70 Colt Competition Pistol and shoot the match right out of the box. Features include a Novak adjustable rear sight and fiber-optic front sight for easy target acquisition, competition ergonomics, Colt-branded blue G10 grips, and Colt’s Dual Spring Recoil System to ease recoil and keep shots on target. This pistol continues to be one of the best values in firearms today.” SRP for the blued Colt

Colt Competition models now benefit from an improved firing system.

Competition Pistol in .45 ACP or 9mm is $899. The stainless-steel model in .45 ACP or 9mm is $999. The Colt Competition Pistol is

also available in .38 Super in both finishes. SRP: $949 for the blued model; $1,049 for the stainless-steel model. (colt.com)


NEWS BRIEFS

Bruce Piatt Offers Custom 1911 Build Classes

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ver a competitive career of more than 30 years, Bruce Piatt has won multiple world and national handgun championships. And he did so while holding down a full-time police officer’s position. Piatt used Caspian 1911s exclusively in competition, and he has mastered every aspect of the platform, building his own match pistols by hand. Now retired from law enforcement, Piatt intends to share his 1911 passion and knowledge with shooters across the country. A student in a Bruce Piatt Custom fiveday 1911 Build Class will begin the week with a Caspian frame and slide and a box of parts. But he or she will head home with more than just a functioning pistol. The student will learn how to hand-fit the frame and slide, and tune and fit each part to ensure optimum reliability. At the same time, they will gain an understanding of how and why each part functions and interacts with each other, thus enabling them to diagnose malfunction issues should they arise. Furthermore, the student’s Custom 1911 will be a source of pride for years to come. Piatt’s students also can take advantage of his relationships with his sponsors and will be eligible for substantial discounts for this class at Caspian Arms Ltd. and H&M Blacknitride, among others in the industry. Students are responsible for the cost of all gun parts, hand tools, and 50 rounds (minimum) of factory ammunition for test fire. The course cost is $1,500 for instruction. Piatt suggests that retailers might benefit from having a staffer attend one of his courses. “If you want your shop to be known for having great customer service, have you considered having a trained 1911 pistol technician on staff ?” he says. “Someone who has been taught to tune and install every part of a 1911 by hand, without the need for a costly machine shop. Even if you don’t want to do repairs on-site, a student in a BPTC LLC Custom 1911 Build Class is not only trained to tune and assemble every part of the 1911, but is also trained to diagnose malfunctions and can therefore assist the customer toward a safe and proper solution.” (brucepiatt.com)


Wiley X Honored as Small Business of the Year Wiley X, Inc., an innovator in premium protective eyewear since 1987, has been recognized as a “Small Business of the Year” for California’s 16th Assembly District. Chosen by State Assemblywoman Catherine Baker, the award was presented to Wiley X co-owners Myles Freeman Jr.

and Dan Freeman at a California Small Business Day 2017 luncheon, an annual event that recognizes key small-business owners for their hard work and contribution to the state’s economy. Small businesses contribute 75 percent of California’s gross state product, and more than half of the state’s private sector jobs. The event aims to “salute small business” and provides an opportunity for small-business owners to connect with government agencies, elected officials, and businesses. “Wiley X is honored to receive this award on behalf of all the men and women who have worked so hard over the years to help our company thrive and grow,” said Myles Freeman Jr. “What began as a vision by my father to provide American soldiers with state-of-the-art ballistic protective eyewear has grown into a premium sunglass brand known around the world.” (wileyx.com)

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF EVERYDAY CARRY.™

A REAL HUMDINGER Inspiration can strike in odd places. For knife designer Ken Onion, it was while he was elbow-deep in the belly of an Alaska grizzly bear. The knife he was using was woefully inadequate to the task, and he remembers thinking what he would give for a knife big enough and strong enough to make field dressing such large game more efficient. The result is CRKT’s fixed-blade Humdinger. The 6-inch black-oxide blade made of 65Mn carbon steel is designed for long, sweeping motions, which will help a hunter quickly break down a large animal. The TPU handle provides a firm grip. Utter simplicity, maximum utility. SRP: $89.99. (crkt.com)

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U P D AT E

B Y J O H N B O C K E R , N S S F S E C U R I T Y C O N S U LTA N T T E A M M E M B E R

FROM THE NSSF

Keeping a Range Secure Specific steps for protecting this unique business

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ccording to ATF’s most recent FFL Theft/Loss Reports, in 2016 there were 558 reported burglaries at FFLs and 7,488 firearms were reported stolen. That’s a 48 percent increase in reported burglaries from FFLs compared to 2015—a major concern for our industry today. There will always be criminals planning their next big heist, and that means security will always be a top concern for retail firearms dealers and firearms range operators.

Theft is never going to go away, but often a few smart investments can greatly reduce your exposure to loss. It all comes down to finding the right security solution for your budget and situation. Let’s look at the minimum requirements and recommendations you should consider for your gun range. In doing so, we’ll assume that your range is also selling or storing firearms on the premises and subject to ATF requirements for maintaining accurate inventory records and reporting stolen firearms. Also, for this article, I’ll focus on affordable security solutions, and explore more in-depth security solutions in later articles. Most criminals targeting a firearms dealer will first case the location, looking for obvious vulnerabilities, security systems in or not in place, and opportunities to successfully complete their crime. Most FFL burglaries today are committed by more than one individual, and stolen vehicles are often used to crash through a vulnerable access point to perpetrate a smash-and-grab crime. Therefore, your “impression of control”—what criminals will perceive to be obstacles to their success—will go a long way toward preventing a burglary. Common vulnerabilities criminals look for when targeting a firearms dealer or range include:

➤ Lack of adequate perimeter and site security measures, including fences, bollards, landscape design, and exterior lighting. Exterior lighting

that doesn’t illuminate all night long or include motion-sensing activation will be noted by criminal elements. ➤ Building designs that lack

security considerations, including smash-resistant doors, gates, glass, security grills and gates, or have exposed perimeter walls and easy roof access. ➤ Lower-quality, non-commercial locks and door hardware or missing lock guard plates.

Commercial-grade and key way-controlled (keys can’t be copied) access points, dead bolts, guard plates, emergency egress locks, and secondary locking mechanisms will be noted as deterrents to criminals. ➤ Alarm systems, including those that encompass glass protection, interior motion sensors, door and access panel contacts, and panic buttons. ➤ Lack of security and adequate lighting in loading docks, shipping, and receiving areas ➤ Lack of security at HVAC systems, roof access doors, panels, and duct work. ➤ Older, outdated security cameras and monitoring systems. Also, systems that are not

readily visible (the public can’t

12 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

see the cameras) can also be seen as a lack of security. Remember, this is about the impression you make on criminals. If they don’t see cameras and assume you don’t have such a system in place, you become a more promising target in their eyes. That doesn’t mean hidden cameras won’t catch them in the act, but wouldn’t you rather deter a crime rather than deal with the aftermath of one? ➤ Cameras that aren’t in every place they should be. In addi-

tion to exterior and interior points of vulnerability, cameras should monitor all gun range activity (which also serves as a safety and liability safeguard), firearms handling areas, and firearms storage locations. These public-view monitors demonstrate to visitors— including those with criminal intent—that you have made a serious investment in security and monitoring. ➤ Inferior firearms storage inside your facility. This can

include utilizing or not utilizing high-security showcases, firearms safes, cable locks, and secure stockrooms. The minimum protective measures firearms retailers and range operators should consider include: ➤ Planning and preparedness through a site-specific threat analysis and vulnerability assessment. ➤ Discuss a “consequence

analysis” with your management team; in other words, what would be the downsides to the business if a burglary were to occur? This kind of

perspective—interrupted customer traffic, sales commission loss, pay cuts, job loss, etc.—can help increase awareness of suspicious customers and improve overall store security. ➤ Develop a crisis response action plan in the event a burglary should occur. This

should include a discussion and outline of everything you would have to do in the 48 hours following a break-in. Your crisis response action plan also serves another purpose. You can use it to review, upgrade, or redesign the security requirements of your range. Never be afraid to encourage your staff—and even your customers—to follow the now-common public rule of “If you see something, say something.” That means saying something to store and range managers, and certainly to law enforcement when appropriate. NSSF’s Store Security Audit team can help you assess the need for improved or upgraded physical security requirements and pre-build design support. For more information, visit http://nssf.org/retailers/

John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member


SSA GUN RULE WITHDRAWN The Social Security Administration has withdrawn a rule and will end the practice of barring certain recipients of Social Security benefits from being able to purchase and own firearms. The move was in compliance with a Joint Resolution of Congress signed into law by President Trump under the Congressional Review Act that nullified the measure. The Social Security gun ban would have affected up to 4.2 million people, denying their rights by administrative process simply for having someone assist in managing their affairs, known as “representative payees.” Names of those beneficiaries were to be reported to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System to be included with other prohibited categories, including felons and drug addicts.

NSSF’s 2017 Summit Ignites Industry Leaders

T

he 2017 NSSF Industry Summit attracted industry professionals from across the country to Austin, Texas, June 5–7, and received high praise for the impactful and engaging information it delivered to attendees to help them grow their businesses and participation in hunting and the shooting sports. Attendance by nearly 270 industry leaders attests to the continuing value of these annual events. This year’s Summit provided valuable content for manufacturers, retailers, and ranges, natural resource agencies, and hunting and conservation groups by focusing on the opportunities and challenges the industry now faces in a new political environment and an everchanging and growing digital landscape. Presentations were given by six-time Olympic medal winner and shooting champion Kim Rhode, Wildlife Management Institute’s programs manager Matt Dunfee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy assistant

director Bob Curry, pro shooter Julie Golob, Daniel Defense’s Marty Daniel, Browning’s Travis Hall, and Winchester Ammunition’s Brett Flaugher. A state agencies panel discussed programs different state departments are running to attract new hunters through the locavore movement. The Summit wrapped up with best-selling author and inspirational speaker John O’Leary.

NSSF-Adjusted NICS Figure Reveals Record Sales in May

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ay was a recordbreaking month for firearm background checks—the highest number of checks for that typically slower sales month ever processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). In total, the FBI/NICS processed 1,942,677 checks, an increase of more than 70,000 from the May 2016 number. Our NSSFadjusted NICS May figure of 988,473 shows an increase of 6.5 percent compared to the May 2016 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 928,532. The adjusted NICS data are derived by subtracting NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by several states for CCW permit

application checks, as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. The NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide a snapshot of current market conditions, although it is not a direct one-to-one correlation to firearms sales. Note that FBI/ NICS and NSSF-adjusted NICS figures do not account for firearm sales using approved alternate permits, such as a concealed-carry

license, which is allowed by several states. In recent years, mainstream media has developed a knack for speculating on why gun sales go up or down, and they usually miss the complete picture. They tend to over-politicize the sales environment, looking to consumer fear of more restrictive gun control laws and pointing to acts of terrorism and mass shootings. The underlying sales factor that gets short shrift is that more people are participating in the shooting sports. While many new shooters try their hand first with a rental or loaner, active participation generally leads individuals to buy a gun—and quite often, as their interest grows, more than one. —Larry Keane

© 2017 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.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 13


U P D AT E

FROM THE COUNTER: NAGEL’S GUN SHOP, SAN ANTONIO, TX

Gun Shop Evolution How one seller continually adapts to changing norms

F

amily owned and operated, this retailer had its humble beginnings in Robert Nagel’s garage, in 1942. Twelve full-time and three part-time employees service the 10,000-square-foot retail shop and warehouse in metro San Antonio. Nagel’s keeps an average of 4,000 firearms in stock and specializes in defensive shooting, hunting, soft goods, and optics. The store also features a well-staffed, full-service gunsmithing department. And with more than 70 years of firearms marketing, the company has emerged as one of the larger non-chain firearms retailers in the state. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

➤ Nagel’s

customers are evolving in ways the staff had not predicted. I spoke with the store’s senior counter salesman, Gilbert Trevino, a 17-year veteran, about what they’re doing to create new demand and keep foot traffic high. “We have begun to see a real transition from the guy who must get the gun because he fears it won’t be available to the couple who want to purchase a gun for protection,” says Trevino. This couple demographic is a remarkable reset in the store’s new-customer profile. Often well under 40 years old, these evolving customers are the store’s

first-time gun buyers. They have never had a history of gun ownership in their homes, and they do not lean to the Republican right. “Not only are couples making [their firearm buying] decision together in the store, they are usually extraordinarily well informed on what they want to buy—and they expect knowledgeable service from the counter salesperson,” Trevino says. The store is also seeing an abundance of women firsttimers, from young and single to grandmothers who live alone. The common denominator is that none have owned a firearm

Nagel’s sees under-40 couples as a new-customer demographic.

14 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

before. Small concealedcarry handguns continue to be the primary focus of the store’s inventory profile. Nagel’s sales staff has adapted and is sensitive to the needs of these buyers, recommending SKUs that physically fit the operator, are easy to operate, and are comfortable to carry. BUILDING CUSTOMER TRAFFIC AND DEMAND THROUGH THE INTERNET ➤ The

owners believe that not only is the web the best communication tool, it’s the best tool for positioning the store as a go-to resource for shooters. Nagel’s has a stalwart website, with a dedicat-

ed staff to promote weekly sales and events targeting private groups that have proven essential to the store’s sales mix. However, it’s the website’s searchranking matrix that drives the cash register. “The internet staff does a flat-out amazing job of keeping the store’s name in front of our customers. Every time someone searches for a gun store or anything gun-related, our name ranks at the top,” says Trevino, who notes that this online strategy differentiates Nagel’s from the area’s bigbox stores. “It’s such an effective tool to get them in the door.


B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N

When we get a first-time customer in the store, they come back because of price, selection, and, possibly most important, service.” MOVING USED GUNS ➤ While

shiny new firearms sales have reached a plateau at Nagel’s, the store is turning its focus to rifles with some hard-earned patina, which are attracting increased attention. Although some retailers struggle with used firearms, at Nagel’s they are a part of the high-profit mix. “It’s imperative to know what you can sell in your market. In the end, the right counter knowledge is the key to making the transaction rewarding and profitable,” says Trevino. Although staff knowledge always rules, in the used-gun category it’s critical. To close the sale, the counter person must know how much the gun is worth, understand how to evaluate its condition, and have the pulse of local demand to determine its optimal price point. Another motivation in developing client interest in older firearms is that it frequently leads to other purchases in similar calibers or brands. A customer who owns an older Browning over/under can be moved to purchase a newer one as brand affinity grows. But this retailer is seeing an increase in the nostalgia factor in firearms sales and taking note. “We often hear comments like, ‘My grandfather loved that model rifle, and I would like to have one just like it,’ ” Trevino says. WEAVING GUNSMITHING INTO THE SALES MIX ➤ Since

a gunsmith founded Nagel’s, it comes as no surprise that the company sees

gunsmithing as a critical avenue to driving traffic, new sales, and strong customer service. In 2017, this focus has shouldered a weightier importance. The company staffs three full-time and one part-time gunsmith. In addition to classic custom work, there is plenty of traditional project building at this shop. However, it’s the day-in, dayout general turnaround services that keep this department in the black. “Recoil pads are a really big seller for our store. It’s not really practical for the average customer to expertly size it into place without doing damage to their rifle or shotgun,” Trevino points out. “Likewise, modifications like triggers and rail changes on an MSR often require special tools and support to get the desired results.” Nagel’s builds on that customer knowledge by offering a spectrum of gunsmithing services, from those that require expert finesses, like trigger and action jobs for semi-auto handgun owners, to those that are relatively simple, like firearms cleaning, especially for all those new firearms owners. The store also times some of these services to the season at hand. “We have a special before dove season to get a semiauto shotgun cleaned and oiled for $70. The number of customers that come

through the door is amazing,” says Trevino. There’s also a high demand from autoloading pistol owners, particularly from newer shooters. The average turnaround time at this retailer for most services is two weeks, with high seasonal traffic moving the needle to three weeks. LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE COUNTER ➤ Several

bottom-line lessons about building and keeping customer loyalty were learned across this counter. First, the counter sales staff at Nagel’s is committed to customer service. Whether it’s expertly fitting a recoil pad, adding a custom trigger to an MSR, or working with a new shooter, they take the time to build a personal relationship with their clients. Second, in addition to meeting its core clients’ needs, the company has carefully assessed the changing demands of its diverse client base. The staff is willing to pivot and change direction as new opportunities in the first-time firearms buyer sector emerge. They recognize and respond to new shooters making decisions together, monitor and respond to an increased interest in home defense, and contract with vendors for personal training to offer continued support for their novice customers. Third, while promoting

weekly sales is certainly part of the mix, the overarching goal is not to be low-price-dependent. By offering a plethora of readily available services, from gun cleaning to gunsmithing, Nagel’s has built a valuable reputation and holds a strong market position. In the end, as Trevino says, “It’s all about listening and respecting your customer. It’s really that simple.” From the Counter is NSSF’s newest feature, providing timely industry perspectives from firearms retailers across the country. Our goal is to identify and highlight innovative market strategies to help retailers compete successfully. Lessons learned will be drawn from across an array of regions with diverse market economies in an era of political change. Is your store doing something unique to improve your turn rates, margins, or customer recruitment/retention? Email NSSF retail services director Patrick Shay at pshay@nssf.org with details.

“The internet staff does an amazing job of keeping the store’s name in front of our customers. Every time someone searches for a gun shop, our name ranks at the top.” —GILBERT TREVINO, SENIOR COUNTER SALESMAN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 15


U P D AT E

BY ROBBIE BROWN

R E TA I L E R T O O L B O X

The Cost of Consignment Consignment inventory offers are loaded with risks

A

vendor rep presents you with some good-looking merchandise. You are somewhat apprehensive about adding his products to your line, but you sign on when the salesman says, “We’ll put the goods in on consignment. You won’t have to pay for them until they’re sold, and if they don’t sell, we’ll take back the inventory.”

What’s wrong with this deal? Everything! Consignment inventory offers are loaded with risks and hidden costs. Let’s take a look at these pitfalls. CARRYING COSTS ➤ Inventory,

paid for or not, has carrying costs such as opportunity costs, insurance, shrinkage, obsolescence, handling, and income taxes on paper profits not yet realized. Moreover, excess or slow-moving inventory, consignment or otherwise, lowers turns, lowers margins, and increases costs. All merchandise is in competition with other inventory in your store. It competes for shelf space, consumer spendable dollars, and sales staff attention. It also reduces purchasing opportunities: If you already own this, you can’t buy that.

LACK OF URGENCY ➤ When

buyers purchase inventory on a net 30-day basis, they tend to pay close attention to rates of sale and weeks of supply. Consignment purchases, though, tend to get far less attention because there hasn’t been a dollar investment made, so often the merchandising may be sub-par and markdowns don’t get taken on a timely basis. As a result, sale rates decrease, the inventory gets shopworn, and consumers get bored with the same old items.

BETTER BUYING DECISIONS ➤A

better course of action is to make purchasing decisions based on the merits of the inventory, the vendor, and the buying terms. Ask yourself if it will sell, in what quantity, over what period of time, and will

A consignment purchase has carrying costs as soon as it arrives.

consumers find it attractive. In other words, does this inventory make sense in the context of the total merchandise mix? The prudent buyer makes his purchase decision in the context of return on invested inventory—gross margin return on inventory, or GMROI. How many gross margin dollars will be generated for every dollar invested? When this number is more than $1.50 and moving closer to $2.00, then the inventory is producing sales, margins, and turn rates worthy of the invested time, space, and dollars. Let’s look at another facet of this. As I just explained, consignment purchases dilute the attention that should be given to that inventory. In turn, such purchases lessen the retailer’s ability to make vendor or product changes quickly in response

to changing market conditions or purchase opportunities. Then, if products do not sell well after six months of consuming shelf space, you face the inconvenience of packing up the inventory and shipping it back to the vendor (and perhaps incurring return shipping costs in the process). Now add to that what invariably follows with consignment inventory returns: the hassles of inventory discrepancies, charges for missing or damaged items, and a slew of back-and-forth vendor correspondence taking up your time. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY? ➤ Are

there any circumstances under which a consignment purchase is warranted? As a general rule, I would say no. If you lack belief in the sales potential of the products in question, then you should not make the purchase. When you pay for the goods is irrelevant. It is far more profitable to make a purchase decision based on sound buying principles versus a decision based upon when product payment occurs. If, however, you feel strongly about a vendor offer involving consignment arrangements, then at a minimum insist on a trial period not to exceed 90 days and a sell-through percentage of 70 percent. This type of stress test keeps the focus appropriately on sales.


BY CHRIS DOLNACK, NSSF SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT & CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

U P D AT E

YO U S H O U L D K N O W

Stop Hotel Reservation Poachers They’re more sophisticated and deceitful than ever

T

he malicious practices of hacking, espionage, and even the lesser happenstance of snooping aren’t the sole provenance of Russia or Wikileaks. If you’ve had your credit card or checking account information stolen, you know all too well that the theft could have happened through the hacking of a fast-food company’s server, through one of those cardcapture gadgets placed over gas station and ATM card slots, or through phishing, malware, and spam links sent to your email. And you know how difficult it can be to make right.

Of course, sometimes your information is accumulated though unscrupulous means that are not strictly illegal. Customer lists are the big one, bought and sold daily, often because doing so is allowed in the minuscule print buried in those long user agreements we all automatically e-sign these days. I’ve said this before: NSSF does not sell its membership list, nor does it sell its SHOT Show attendee list. Yet we’ve received a number of emails and calls lately from members concerned that we’ve done just that. We haven’t, but here’s what’s going on.

It seems that the current trending scam is for enterprising individuals to crawl LinkedIn and other social media platforms, aggregating lists of and contact information for anyone affiliated with a company that has a mention of SHOT Show in its profile or postings. These individuals are then taking that list and working it to scam you with “official” hotel offers for the 2018 SHOT Show. Note: One way we’re seeing these scammers tip their hand is when their communications don’t specifically mention the SHOT Show. That’s a clue that they are trying to skirt

trademark infringement. Their messaging may imply that the offer is about SHOT Show, yet have no license or approval to use our trademarks and logos. NSSF has only two partners with respect to hotel accommodations in Las Vegas—the Venetian/Palazzo Hotels and onPeak—and we strive to make sure any communications regarding hotels comes from NSSF directly so that you know these communications are legitimate. To that end we will, on occasion, include news of a hotel profile or a great opportunity for a specific hotel if such an opportunity pres-

ents itself. Last year’s announcement regarding the newly opened W Hotel as being available through onPeak is a good example. If you’re receiving emails, text messages, phone calls, private messaging through your social media accounts, or even good old snail mail advertising some “great deal from your friendly SHOT Show partner,” delete, block, hang up, and trash them. These offers did not come from us or our SHOT Show partners, they certainly aren’t “official”—and I can fairly guarantee that none of them are any “great deal.” Have you been solicited by a Las Vegas hotel or service you think is scamming you? Contact customer service at ShowMgr@SHOTShow.org and tell us so we can get rid of these unscrupulous poachers.

NSSF has only two partners for hotel reservations: the Venetian/Palazzo Hotels and onPeak.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 17


FIRING LINE

BY RICHARD MANN

The Recon’s 5R rifling not only reduces fouling, it also helps stabilize the bullet.

Bold Move Savage enters the MSR market

H

aving only a minute amount of experience in the retail firearms industry, I find myself at a loss as to how one goes about selling AR 15s in this day and age. Thing is, functionally they’re all the same gun, with most built to a mil-spec standard. Add to that more than 100 versions offered by smaller shops and custom builders, and what you really have is cornbread made a bunch of different ways.

So, what has Savage done to this mix? In a bold move, it’s added four new MSRs. Two are built on the AR 15 platform and two on the AR 10. On the smaller platform, there are the Patrol and Recon, which are chambered for the 223 Remington/5.56 NATO. The larger-format rifles include the Hunter and Long Range, which are available in 308 Winchester/7.62 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor. Prices range from a low of $852 for the Patrol to a high of $2,284 for the Long Range. That takes care of the dollars and cents. For retailers, the question is, does stocking these rifles make dollars and sense? Savage touts several value-added features across the entire line. These include 5R rifling, which eliminates the 90-degree edges common with conventional rifling, the idea being that 5R rifling reduces fouling and

better stabilizes the bullet. Barrels are also Melonite QPC coated, inside and out. This thermochemical nitrocarburizing process produces a rugged and non-reflective finish that’s harder than chrome. With four rifles positioned to arguably cover the field for just about any discipline for which the MSR is suited, decorating your shelves with Savage MSRs seems to be a shrewd approach. But selling a firearm is only the beginning of a retailer’s interaction with the customer. If the gun you sell does not work or trip your client’s trigger, you’ve created a problem the little ring of your cash register will not drown out. With that in mind, I asked Savage to send me one of the MSR 15 Recon carbines so I could answer the question of whether Savage made the right move and if retailers should buy in.

18 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

The Recon ($999) is Savage’s highend MSR 15. It comes with a number of upgrades over the Patrol, such as a free-float M-LOK handguard, Blackhawk Flip-Up sights, a nickelboron-treated Blackhawk trigger, and a Blackhawk Axiom Carbine Stock. Out of the box, unloaded and with the sights installed, the rifle weighed 7 pounds. Savage also provided a Bushnell SMRX Elite Tactical 1–6x24mm riflescope. The Recon was first accuracy tested at 100 yards from a sandbag rest. Five 5-shot groups were fired with five different loads, with bullets ranging in weight from 35 to 77 grains. The 25-group average mathed out to 1.76 inches. I’ve been testing AR 15s in this five 5-shot group manner for a dozen years or more. My notes indicate that 1.5 inches is about average for this sort of test when three loads are considered and 1.85 inches when five loads are evaluated. I’d rank the Savage Recon at just a bit better than average as far as accuracy is concerned. Considering the range of bullet weights and that the loads were selected at random, this is reasonably good performance. Bench shooting is one thing— testing a rifle under field conditions is another. After firing 200 rounds, and without cleaning or supplemental lubrication, I took the Recon out on my field course. This is a woodswalk, 10-shot, snap-shooting and precision course on steel targets at ranges from 60 to 120 yards. Thirty minutes later I’d turned in the second-fastest time I’ve recorded on this course of fire with any rifle. I also dumped another 200 rounds just playing around, and the Recon proved to be 100 percent reliable. Credit goes to Savage for putting a good trigger in a reliable rifle that interfaces well with the shooter. I was impressed with the Recon and applaud Savage for the inclusion of the user-friendly Blackhawk accessories. I also like the artisan sculpting found on the forged lower to make it more appealing to the eye. If the Recon tested is representative of the other MSRs in Savage’s lineup, I can seen no reason to not include them all on your display wall. (savagearms.com)


UNDERCOVER SHOPPER

Shield Upgrade Four “shoot before you buy” experiences in central Ohio

I

gested I might be more in the market for tritium night sights rather than fiber optics. He said fiber optics depend on daylight or bright artificial light to glow. Good advice, I thought. The store had a new 9mm M&P Shield PC in stock for purchase.

ntroduced in 2012, Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield sub-compact, semi-automatic handgun has quickly become one of America’s most popular concealed-carry pistols. I purchased the 9mm version shortly after the gun came out and have been very happy with both its performance and concealability. But when S&W introduced an upgrade to the gun, I have to admit STORE B SURPRISE FEE I was tempted. The Performance Center (PC) Shield model boasts barrel and slide porting to reduce muzzle flip, fiber-optic sights, and ➤ This gun shop is located in an upscale suburb. I was an enhanced trigger. My curiosity eventually got the better of me, so it was off to shop for a possible upgrade. However, I didn’t want greeted promptly by a friendly employee behind to just stand at gun counters and ogle the new model. I wanted to the handgun rental counter. actually shoot the firearm at each of the stores I visited, so I intenHe also was familiar with tionally chose gun shops with indoor ranges. STORE A

GREAT ADVICE ➤ Located about a half-hour drive north of Columbus, Ohio, this sprawling shooting facility is the Buckeye State’s only five-star gun store and shooting range, offering trap, skeet, and sporting clays, and indoor rifle and pistol ranges. Walking up to the handgun rental counter, I was immedi-

ately greeted by a friendly young employee dressed in a black polo shirt sporting the facility’s logo. When I inquired about shooting a PC Shield, he knew exactly what I wanted and quickly pulled a rental gun from the glass showcase. After filling out a liability form and paying for gun rental, plus 50 rounds of

ammo and a paper target, I was directed to the handgun range, which was neat and clean. I fired 25 rounds and was a bit disappointed to discover that the fiber-optics on the PC Shield seemed not much brighter than the white dots on my current Shield’s sights. I mentioned this to the range employee on my way out, and he sug-

the handgun I wanted to shoot. Unlike at Store A, though, I was required to watch a five-minute safety video. I found the range clean and well lighted as well, but a bit loud, as all the shooting bays were in use. Upon leaving the store and looking over my receipt for gun rental, ammo, range time, and a target, I was surprised to see that the clerk had charged an additional three dollars for the plastic Range Certification card he had issued me. He had explained that I would not have to watch the safety video again the next time I visited if I presented the card, but he had said nothing about the three-dollar fee. STORE C ➤ Located within the city limits, this gun store and indoor range was not easy to find. I arrived just past noon on a weekday and was immediately greeted by an employee working the gunstore portion of the business. I proceeded to the gun range, located in the rear of the store, and asked the employee there about renting a 9mm M&P Shield PC. He had one and soon had me ready to go.

20 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚

PIXEL PUSHERS

HARD TO FIND


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Broad Range of Pistol and Rifle Calibers

BL ACKHAWK.COM


UNDERCOVER SHOPPER

How’d They Do? Customer Service

Product Knowledge

Product Availability

 I was immediately greeted by a friendly, helpful employee who quickly and efficiently got me on the shooting range.

 The employee knew the gun I wanted to shoot and also offered advice about possibly upgrading from fiberoptic sights to tritium night sights.

 The firearm I wanted to shoot was available for both rental and purchase.

 I was immediately greeted by a friendly, helpful employee who quickly and efficiently got me on the shooting range, but failed to inform me about the three-dollar charge for a Range Certification card.

 The range employee knew the handgun I wanted to shoot.

 The firearm I wanted to shoot was available for both rental and purchase.

 I was immediately greeted by a friendly, helpful employee who quickly and efficiently got me on the shooting range.

 The range employee knew the handgun I wanted to shoot.

 The handgun I wanted to shoot was available to rent but was not in stock to purchase; if I wanted one, it would have to be ordered and shipped to the store.

 I was immediately greeted by a friendly, helpful employee who quickly and efficiently got me on the shooting range, but did not inform me about how to work the range’s electronic target system.

 The range employee knew the handgun I wanted to shoot.

STORE

A

STORE

B

STORE

C

STORE

D

SCORING SYSTEM: Outstanding: 

He then explained how to operate the range target system, consisting of just two toggle switches; one moved the target forward or backward and the other switch turned the shooting bay light off and on. Simple. I was pleased to hear that a free paper target came with each range visit. And I was allowed to shoot my own ammo rath-

er than buy store ammo. STORE D

CONTROL ISSUES ➤ Just two years old, this outdoors superstore is located withing the Interstate 270 outer belt surrounding Columbus. Privately owned (not a chain), the store has three state-of-the-art indoor shooting ranges, one for rifles and two for handguns,

22 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

Winner: STORE

 The handgun I wanted to shoot was available for rent but was not in stock to purchase. I was told the store could order one.

Very Good: 

Average: 

totaling 24 shooting lanes. I was waited on promptly, and the handgun rentalcounter employee quickly located the gun I wanted to shoot. After signing a liability release and paying for gun rental and a target, I was told to go watch a short safety video running on a continuous loop in a corner of the store. No one made sure I actually watched the

A

Ohio’s premier, five-star shooting facility, this gun store and range has a 20,000square-foot clubhouse containing one of the largest firearms pro shops in the state— boasting some 2,000 quality guns and shooting accessories— along with a knowledgeable and helpful staff. Black Wing Shooting Center 3722 Marysville Road Delaware, OH 43015 740-363-7555 blackwingsc.com

Fair: 

Poor: 

video, so I could have skipped it, but I didn’t. Surprisingly, the video did not explain how to operate the range’s sophisticated Meggitt Training System, used for placing and retrieving targets. For that, I needed the help of a fellow shooter to operate it. The pistol I wanted wasn’t in stock, either.


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PAGE

24

SHOT BUSINESS

FOR THE BIRDS

PHOTO CREDIT

WAT E R F O W L I N G I S B I G B U S I N E S S | | B Y D AV I D D R A P E R


AUG/SEPT

PHOTO CREDIT

2017

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25

The author collecting decoys after a morning in the marsh. Waterfowling requires a big investment in gear such as guns, calls, waders, and blind bags.


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SHOT BUSINESS

Forget

Early-season hunters may wear only a camo shirt, but later in the season they’ll need warmer, high-performance outerwear.

“In terms of species abundance, variety, and availability, it’s never been better for most hunters alive today,” says James Powell, director of communications for Ducks Unlimited. “Growing, stable, and healthy waterfowl populations for significantly more than a decade have led to long seasons and generous bag limits for most species and in most flyways, with few exceptions.” According to the most recent Trends in Duck Breeding Populations survey jointly released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service in July 2016, overall duck populations were estimated at 48.4 million, 38 percent higher than the 50-year long-term average. That includes a projected fall flight index for mallards, the most popular target for duck hunters, at 13.5 million, one of the highest totals on record. A growing population of Canada geese adapting to urban areas has led to August and September seasons for these nuisance populations, while the Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order keeps dedicated waterfowlers in the field through April and May. In some areas it’s possible for hunters to chase some type of waterfowl 10 months out of the year.

In recent years, there has been a broader awareness and acceptance of waterfowling in and among the general public and in all forms of media. Whether you attribute that to the explosive popularity of Duck Dynasty or the efforts of conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl, which have both grown significantly in public recognition over the past five to 10 years, waterfowl hunting and that unique way of life has really captured the attention of other hunters, and even nonhunters, who now seem to be intrigued by duck hunting and the waterfowling lifestyle. “I definitely experience professionally through my travels and personally through my 13-year-old son and his friends that duck hunting has become cool again,” says Powell. “I routinely see the DU duck head and other waterfowl-related stickers on truck windows. I also see waterfowling apparel worn at school and around town. And waterfowl camo? It’s everywhere. A younger generation seems to really have embraced waterfowling as not only okay to do, but as a fashionable and socially acceptable lifestyle to embrace.” Powell also notes the phenomenon is not limited just to guys. “I see it

OPENING SPREAD PHOTO: TESS ROUSEY

the Golden Age of the middle of the last century. today’s waterfowlers are wading chest-deep in some of the best conditions in modern times. A stable, and in some cases increasing, number of duck and goose hunters are enjoying an unprecedented boom in both numbers of birds migrating and length of seasons. Manufacturers and retailers are recognizing this trend and are jumping on the duck boat bandwagon with a host of new product lines and marketing efforts that are reaching an increasingly young and hungry group of hunters.


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Avery Heritage Jacket

Apparel/ Footwear

A throwback to the good old days, this 8-ounce waxed cotton classic is waterand windproof. Chest pockets are fleece lined, while the lower pockets can be stuffed with a box of shells. $220. AV E RY OUTDOORS.COM

Browning Wicked Wing Timber Fleece Hoodie

across the entire gender, race, and income-level spectrum. I keep reading in reports there are fewer and fewer duck hunters around, but what my eyes see, and my ears hear, is that there are lots of us out there.” After years of decline, anecdotal evidence suggests that waterfowler numbers are increasing or, at the very least, stabilizing. And more to the point, these hunters are passionate and dedicated to their sport, perhaps even more so than other casual hunters. In terms of gear, waterfowling is one of the most equipment intensive of the hunting pursuits, requiring a spread of decoys, a lanyard full of calls, weatherbeating apparel, insulating waders, a durable shotgun, and, of course, a case of shells. Consider this, too: A deer hunter may shoot one cartridge a season, but a waterfowler may go through a box (or more) of shells a day. Bottom line: Waterfowlers require a wide variety of products, and they’re more than willing to spend the dollars to get them. Manufacturers and retailers who ignore them do so at their own peril. “I see and hear marketing experts turn their noses up at waterfowlers as a desired demographic because there aren’t as many of us as there are big-

Next-level layering blends stretchable, mid-weight fleece with a smooth outer to make slipping on a shell easier. Windand water-resistant material on the sleeves are added protection. $186– $199. B R O W N I N G . C O M

Banded Redzone Breathable Elite Waders Banded built this set of insulated waders from advanced materials and fully taped seams, then reinforced key wear areas with an additional 900-denier facing. $380–$400. B A N D E D . COM

Drake MST Guardian Jacket A slimmed-down shell with the same waterproof, three-layer construction found in their breathable waders. All seams are taped, cuffs are made from neoprene, and even the zippers are water-resistant. A toasty fleece liner is inside. $300–$310. D R A K E WAT E R FO W L . C O M

Nomad Heartwood LVL1 Base Layer A lightweight woolblend base layer wicks moisture away from the skin. SilverZ material eliminates odor at the microbial layer. $55. NOMADOUTDOORS . COM

LaCrosse Alpha Burley Pro A warm neoprene lining finished with a durable rubber outer. Now available in a pattern designed for the wetlands: Sitka’s Optifade Waterfowl Marsh. $170–$200. L A C R O S S E FO O T W E A R . C O M


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SHOT BUSINESS

Dogs play a big role in waterfowling, and the range of dog-related accessories is vast, all of which helps a retailer’s bottom line.


AUG/SEPT 2017

game hunters,” says Powell. “That’s a short-sighted mistake, in my opinion. We’re a stable, once-again growing group that is more passionate and committed to our pursuit than anyone else I can think of. And importantly, we spend more on gear, on average, than other hunters.”

Fashion Forward For whatever reason, waterfowlers thrive in the worst conditions imaginable. From crashing waves to winddriven snow and sub-zero temperatures, the more difficult the elements, the better the gunning, or so goes conventional wisdom. It’s this kind of weather that duck and goose hunters regularly find themselves battling, and for that, they need apparel that keeps them out in it. It doesn’t hurt if it looks good too, with swamp-specific camo such as Realtree Max-5, Mossy Oak Shadow Grass, and Optifade Marsh serving as a mark of honor signifying membership in the brotherhood and sisterhood of waterfowlers. A number of brands have recognized the need for functional, quality apparel (including footwear). Tech-forward tailor Sitka introduced a waterfowl line a few years back and recently expanded on it with a line just for duck hunters who find themselves deep in the dark timber. Drake and Banded both led the way in terms of waterfowl-only apparel makers. Even the big-box stores are in on it, with Cabela’s touting its Northern Flight line and Bass Pro trumpeting its long-standing Redhead brand. All this competition for duckhunter dollars has led to increased innovation and, for waterfowlers, better gear that works as advertised. “Waterfowling has gone through several changes in the last decade, all revolving around equipment,” says John Gordon, public relations manager for Banded Holding, which recently acquired the popular waterfowling brand Avery. “The four-wheeler has given way to the UTV side-by-sides,

SHOT Business: What

Sporting Dogs at Work and Play Q&A with Steve McGrath, director of marketing, Signature Products Group

trends are you seeing in the sporting dog category? Steve McGrath: We are seeing the gear getting more specialized to the intended activity, meaning there has been considerable interest in upland and waterfowl as separate categories. Not only have the products become more targeted, but we’ve also seen things getting away from the “one size fits all” mentality. Pet owners want performance and fit out of the box, which has become a priority on vests. We’ve also seen an uptick in sales on the lifestyle pieces like beds, solid-colored collars, and leashes.

SB: How are sporting dog owners shopping and what are the buying? SM: Well, it’s not just men. The spouses in many cases are the ones buying for their pets. We offer a wide variety of Browning training items, but the off-season purchases are just as likely to be pink and light-blue collars. Dogs are a part of the family and treated the same when it comes to buying goodies for them. SB: Are sporting dog owners just buying field/hunting-related dog gear or are they

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also interested in lifestyle gear and products designed to make pets comfortable in the home? SM: The pet product category has grown to much more than just hunt/field-related gear. It’s a passion the owners seem to want to live 24/7. The Browning-branded items extend far beyond camo-clad pieces. We have a lifestyle category that competes right with the performance side of the business. Everything from pet beds to dog dishes and, of course, the toys are selling well in the Browning line.

SB: What can retailers do to capitalize on that trend and capture more dollars related to sporting dog owners and enthusiasts? SM: The retailers who have seen the most success have set aside a specific aisle or area for the pet products and carried those items yearround. Pet products and accessories have no season; collars, leashes and toys will sell at any time of the year. When a retailer hosts a waterfowl weekend, or something similar at the beginning of a new season, don’t forget to highlight the pet gear. It sells. S P G OUTDOORS.COM


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SHOT BUSINESS

Flambeau Outdoors Storm Front Pintail

Decoys/ Blinds

A bull sprig is a waterfowler’s ultimate lateseason trophy, and these bulky resin blocks are painted in Flambeau’s UVision highlights for enhanced visibility. A versatile keel design makes for all-season use. $79, per six. FLAMBEAUOUTDOORS . COM

GHG Pro-Grade Fully Flocked Mallards Avery has added mallards to its flocked collection, with a softtouch exterior that looks like real feathers and eliminates fowlflaring glare. Anatomically correct shape and plumage detailing are enhancements. $100, per six. GREENHEADGEAR . COM

Avian-X Goose Sleepers Just the ticket on cold, snowy days when geese lay up even during a feed. Onepiece shells based on carvings from worldchampion decoy carver Rick Johannsen stack easily. Available fully flocked or with

flocked heads only. $140–$160. AVIAN - X . COM

Mojo King Mallard Mojo has reinvented the motion decoy with the remote-controlled motor, wing mounts, and a drop-in battery in a housing separate from the body. A rubberized skin slips over the top. $170. MOJOOUTDOORS . COM

Hard Core Man Cave A cavernous blind, yet with a low profile. Its comfortable, padded seat and headrest are easy on the back during long, all-day hunts. Waterproof tub-style bottom. $280. HARDCORE - BRANDS . COM

Dive Bomb C1 Crane Silhouettes Chasing cranes is a hot trend, and these large dekes pull birds in from afar. Features include a textured body with a realistic paint job. $150, per 12. DIVEBOMBINDUSTRIES . COM

Rig Em Right Step-Up Jerk Rig An old-school jerk rig adds motion to an otherwise static spread. This one includes an anchor, main line, and four oversize decoy clips. $40. RIGEMRIGHT . COM

surface-drive mud motors are more the norm than novelty, decoys have become ultra-realistic, semi-auto shotguns equipped with high-performance choke tubes have taken over in the fields and blinds, and nontoxic shotshell technology has made new offerings better than lead loads of years past. However, maybe the biggest change has been on the apparel side of the business. High-tech fabrics have spilled over from the mountain expedition and skiing worlds, and have helped create clothing that is lighter, warmer, and more comfortable than anything duck and goose hunters have worn before.” Older waterfowlers, and those of us who hunted through the 1980s and 1990s in hand-me-downs, might not recognize the trim, tech-forward footwear and apparel hunters enjoy today. That leap from the ski hill to the swamp has led to better-performing products. Gone are the cold, rubber waders, cotton-waffle long johns, and bulky parkas, all of which have been replaced with modern wool blends, aerospace-grade insulations, and advanced laminates that shed wind and rain without adding bulk or weight. And while the price tags may match the technology, waterfowlers rarely balk if it means staying warm and dry in the worst weather. “Gone are garments that kept you warm and dry but sacrificed comfort,” says Gordon. “Consumers in this hunting environment are looking for the same things we value at Banded—performance and comfort. And we listen to consumers to improve constantly on our existing designs. So, we develop and test new gear with those standards in mind. How does it hold up under extreme conditions? Will it last for years under the duress waterfowl hunters put on it on every hunt? Is it as comfortable as possible in hunting scenarios? These are the questions each of our products must pass in order to come to market.”


AUG/SEPT 2017

Fake Out The other big-ticket item (not counting shotguns) for which waterfowlers willingly part with their paycheck is a realistic decoy spread. While there are hunters who find success with a handful of old blocks, most duck and goose hunters prefer dozens of the newest dekes to lure flocks that are experiencing increased pressure up and down the flyways. Like apparel (and many other categories), decoys have also benefited from modern manufacturing techniques and a renewed emphasis on quality construction versus hitting a nominal price point. “Decoys have seen the most advancement in the waterfowl world, with a constant evolution to be more lifelike in the carvings and molds, and to be more realistic with the paint and painting process, as well as flocking and the flocking process,” says Mario Friendy, western sales manager for Avian-X decoys and Zink waterfowl calls. “There are always new materials being discovered, new processes to make those products, as well as new ways to promote the products at a point of sale or in the media.” Like apparel, the market is wide open when it comes to decoy manufacturers, with all of them trying to hit the X where durability, performance, realism, and affordability meet. Avian-X, now under the Synergy umbrella, is certainly one of the big players, but Avery/Greenhead Gear, Flambeau, Final Approach, Higdon, and Tanglefree are all competing to be at the top of the decoy pile. The motion-decoy market also continues to be a hot seller, with manufacturers like Lucky Duck and Mojo leading the way in innovation with advances in different types of motion, different decoys, and multiple spinning-wing decoys at once on one frame to make setup quicker and easier. “At Avian-X, we are fortunate enough to have Fred Zink and Jimmy Wren, both of whom have been in the decoy industry for a very long time,” says Friendy. “They have the thought

Depending upon the species hunted, the number of decoys needed may range from a half dozen to several hundred.

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process to always be ahead of what is next or to be bold enough to create what should be the next big thing in decoys. It is just incredible how realistic and durable the decoys have turned out. Paint adhesion has always been the biggest downfall on waterfowl decoys, and these two have taken that to the next level for our company and have certainly set the bar for the waterfowl decoy market.”

Little Things Equal Big Returns Like any hunting endeavor, waterfowling also has room for lots of smaller add-on items and, of course, hunters are always looking for a better mousetrap. The underlying theme is that consumers seek the best quality goods at the best prices, as well as the newest gear and gadgets. One growing segment retailers should consider adding to their mix is packs and bags. Whereas once waterfowlers went to the blind with little more than a call or two and a box of shells, now they have everything from a stainless, insulated cup (likely a Yeti) to decoy remotes and batteries, a call for every situation, and a handful of energy bars. All that stuff requires something to carry it in, and most manufacturers are now offering an expanding selection of blind bags and packs designed just for waterfowling.

Among the hottest growth categories are portable, above-ground blinds, such as the Tanglefree Panel Blind and the A-Frame from Avian-X. The latter is so popular the company has had a hard time meeting demand, and other manufacturers are sniping some of that business with their own models. “Those old A-Frame blinds that were so popular on the East Coast decades ago have come full circle,” says Friendy. “Geese got so used to getting shot at on the edge of a field, they changed their behavior. So, hunters changed tactics, giving birth to the layout blind. A few years ago, Fred Zink got the vibe that the geese were getting very hip to the layout blind game and decided to go back to his roots of hunting out of an A-Frame-style blind. After success again using that style blind, he then created the Avian-X A-Frame blind. The difference from the old-school A-Frames is that this one is portable, lightweight, and can be moved by two hunters in just minutes.” Whatever new waterfowl gear hits the market this season, the one quality hunters demand is durability, so equipment must address the specific gear needs of hunters who routinely deal with mud, water, ice, and the worst conditions imaginable. “Real-world durability is the alwaysjust-out-of-reach holy grail of waterfowling gear,” says Powell.

“Waterfowlers can rip, tear, and generally demolish anything we use. It’s just a different environment to be in than you and your gear experience during any other activity. We want gear we can’t break even if we try.”

Capturing The Spend Due to the sheer numbers of whitetail hunters alone, deer hunting dominates the fall product mix, but smart retailers leave room for other pursuits as well. Among the most gear intensive is waterfowling, and waterfowlers aren’t afraid to open their wallets. Capturing that spend should be a top priority for anyone on the business side of the industry. “Waterfowling incorporates the very best of experiences—braving the elements and adverse conditions, hunting together with friends and family in beautiful settings, and the challenge of wingshooting wary, but abundant, ducks and geese,” says Powell. “Retailers and manufacturers need to capture and share that experiential story through their productmarketing campaigns. Done right, we can all create a growing base of passionate, conservation-minded waterfowlers and a new generation of customers. That outcome will benefit the outdoor sports industry, the waterfowl resource, and our society and culture.”

Part of the appeal of waterfowling in all its forms is that it’s far more social than big-game hunting.


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AUG/SEPT 2017

WATERFOWL BUYER’S GUIDE TO

SHOTGUNS

SEMI-AUTOS RULE THE ROOST, BUT THERE IS DEMAND FOR PUMP-ACTIONS AS WELL || B Y P H I L B O U R J A I LY

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Duck and goose hunters demand performance from their shotguns. Their guns must deliver heavy loads of shot reliably in the harshest conditions. Sell the right gun to a waterfowler and you can earn a customer who will be back time and again for ammunition, clothing, and gear throughout waterfowl seasons, which run almost non-stop from Canada geese and teal in September to snow geese in early spring.

When waterfowl hunters come to you for a shotgun, here’s what you need to know.

Action Most waterfowl hunters want semi-auto shotguns. Most, but not all, who buy pumps hope to trade up to a semi-auto someday. Although there are some very good pumps made, the budget, entry-level models will be most popular. Over/unders are rarely seen in the marsh.

Gas or Inertia Both semi-auto actions have their fans. In a nutshell, inertia guns are more reliable in bad weather and don’t get as dirty as gas guns, but they kick more. Gas guns offer noticeable recoil reduction, and the best of them are almost as reliable as inertia guns; they do require more maintenance, though. Be ready to explain the advantages of each. The

hardcore hunter who goes every day and rarely cleans guns may prefer inertia, while the hunter who would like to use the same gun for doves and clays is better off with a gas gun.

Gauge The 3-inch 12-gauge will serve for all but long-range goose hunting. A 3½-inch gun costs a couple of hundred dollars more than the same gun with a 3-inch chamber, and 3½ recoil can be stout. That’s the case for a 3-inch 12-gauge, but understand that many hunters want the option of shooting 3½-inch shells whether they ever actually shoot them or not. They may also want to use the gun for spring turkeys with 3½-inch shells. The 10-gauge has a small but loyal cult following, but there are only two 10s currently on the market. Unless you live in an area where Canada geese are king, you probably don’t have to stock 10s.

Waterfowlers often hunt in nasty weather. As a result, they tend to favor durable guns that can function reliably in all conditions.


AUG/SEPT 2017

H What To Sell

ere’s a cheat sheet on the waterfowl guns your customers will be asking for:

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3: The new Super Black Eagle 3 has been slimmed down and lightened, and features an improved recoil-reduction system. It also has a bolt that eliminates the “Benelli click” misfire that occurs when the bolt is nudged out of battery. SRP: $1,799– $1,899. ( B E N E L L I U S A . C O M )

37

pumps. Left-handed shooters love the BPS for its bottom ejection and top safety. Also available in 10-gauge and full-size and compact 20-gauge. SRP: $699– $949. ( B R O W N I N G . C O M )

COM)

Remington 870 Express:

Browning A5: An inertia gun with the humpback profile of the classic Auto 5, the new A5 is lightweight, reliable, and available in 3and 3½-inch versions. SRP: $1,499–$,1759. ( B R O W N I N G . COM)

Remington’s classic pump comes in several versions suitable for waterfowlers, from the low-priced base model to a full-camo, 3½-inch Super Magnum. Also in 20-gauge full-size and compact versions. SRP: $417–$629. ( REMINGTON . COM )

Beretta’s flagship 3½-inch semi-auto is the last word in gas-gun technology. It’s reliable and soft-shooting and comes with a very effective Kick-Off recoil reducer in the stock and a slick magazine cap that comes off with just a half-turn. SRP: $1,750, black; $1,900, camo.

Winchester SX4:

Replacing the popular SX3 gas gun, the SX4 is more or less the same gun at a lower price, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies. It also has a safety, bolt handle, and closer button. SRP: $799– $1,069. ( WINCHESTERGUNS . COM )

Mossberg 930 & 935:

( BERETTA . C O M )

Remington VersaMax:

Mossberg 835: The first

The softest-shooting gas gun around, thanks to its heft and a unique gas system, the VersaMax makes a good choice for hunters who shoot lots of 3½-inch shells. A no frills “Sportsman” is an excellent deal in a 3½-inch magnum. SRP: $1,069– $1,664. ( R EMIN GTO N . CO M )

3½-inch 12-gauge ever made, the 835 has a near 10-gauge diameter barrel for superior patterns with big shot. SRP: $518–$604.

Beretta A400 Xtreme:

Beretta A300:

One of the best deals in a gas gun on the market, the A300 is a 3-inch gun based on the discontinued Beretta 391. SRP: $800, black; $900, walnut and camo. ( B E R E T TA . COM)

Franchi Affinity:

The Browning Maxus comes in 3- and 3 ½-inch versions.

3½-inch versions and features low recoil, a unique forend latch in place of a magazine cap, and a “turnkey” plug that can be removed and replaced almost instantly. SRP: $1,379–$1,659. ( B R O W N I N G .

PAGE

The Franchi line (owned by Benelli) features inertia guns at a much lower price point. The Affinity also now comes in a Catalyst version with a stock designed for women. SRP: $849–$999. ( F R A N C H I U S A .

Remington V3: Patterned after the VersaMax, the V3 is a 3-inch semi-auto that fills the shoes of the legendary 11-87. Very reliable, rugged, and easy to clean, it’s a very good buy in a gas gun. SRP: $895–$995.

COM)

( REMINGTON . COM )

Browning Maxus:

Browning BPS:

Browning’s top-of-the-line gas gun comes in 3- and

A wellmade, high-quality gun, the BPS costs more than most

Mossberg offers its 3- and 3½-inch semi-autos in an impressive Pro Series waterfowler model with corrosion-resistant internal parts and stainless springs. SRP: $874–$959.

(MOSSBERG.COM)

(MOSSBERG.COM) Benelli Nova: With a onepiece polymer stock and receiver, the Nova is a durable, heavy, and slick 3½-inch pump gun. Also available in 20-gauge. SRP: $449–$559. ( B E N E L L I U S A . COM)

Weatherby SA-08: This lightweight and inexpensive Turkish-made gas gun has nothing but satisfied owners. In 3-inch 12-gauge and full-size and compact 20gauge. SRP: $649–$749, camo. ( WEATHERBY . COM )


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Twenty gauges have grown in popularity lately among experienced hunters, and they have always been the first gun of young waterfowlers, so you’ll want to have full- and youth-size 20s in your inventory. As more women come into the sport, the temptation for many retailers is to sell them a 20. However, unless your female customer is tiny, she’s probably better off with a 12-gauge gas gun, which will be soft-shooting and much more effective on game. Winchester’s new SX4 semiauto is an affordable option for many hunters.

Finish Never mind that our fathers killed birds with walnut-stocked guns. Most hunters now want synthetic, either in black or a camo pattern. Black guns usually sell for $100 less than camo. While camo looks cool to today’s hunters, a strong selling point of camo dipping is that it protects steel parts from external rust.

Weight Guns get lighter every year, with many now under 7 pounds. It’s easy to sell a gun that seems to fly to the hunter’s shoulder when they try it out, and I won’t tell you to argue with them. The truth, though, is that heavy guns of 8 pounds or so are easier to shoot and absorb recoil better; lightweight 3½-inch guns can kick brutally. If a hunter mostly hunts

Barrel Length A 28-inch barrel is the most popular barrel length, though some hunters choose 26 or even 24 inches. The old standard 30-inch barrel is rare. Barrel length has to do entirely with balance and very little with ballistics or sighting plane. Shooters hardly ever wish they had bought a shorter barrel, but often wish they

ost waterfowl guns come with sling swivels, so it makes sense to keep a selection of slings in stock. Avery’s ( AV E RYO U T D O O R S . C O M ) neoprene slings are popular among hunters. I like the Quake ( Q U A K E I N C . C O M ) rubber Claw slings. Floating gun cases ( B A N D E D B R A N D S . C O M ) are another good accessory to keep in stock, as are magazine plugs. Waterfowl hunters love choke tubes almost as much as turkey hunters do, and they make a good upsell with a new gun.

M Chokes, Slings, and Cases

ducks but wants the option of the occasional 3½-inch shell, let him buy a light gun. A goose hunter who plans to shoot a lot of heavy magnums will be happier with a heavier gun in the long run.

had bought a longer one. Push the 28-inch barrels.

Gun Fit Many semi-autos and a few pumps come with shim kits to adjust stock dimensions. Some guns also offer adjustable length of pull by means of spacer kits. Not only does that simplify the chore of altering synthetic stock length, which can be tricky, it allows a hunter to shorten a stock to accommodate heavier clothing in the late season. If you can learn how to perform an in-store fitting, you’ll be offering a service big boxes can’t match.

Patternmasters ( PAT T E R N M A ST E R S . C O M ) are probably the most popular, but Kick’s High Flyers ( K I C K S - I N D . C O M ) , Carlson Cremators ( C H O K E T U B E . C O M ) , and Brileys ( B R I L E Y . C O M ) also sell well. Instead of being sold by constriction, most are labeled by purpose, such as “over decoys” (usually a Light Modified) or “pass shooting/long range” (Improved Modified). Most hunters want the tightest choke they can get, but really they should have two—an open choke and tight choke.


MEAT AND POTATOES. LASERGRIPS AND MY .45.

Fact is, you can’t have one without the other. I’ll admit, the laser was a tough sell at first. Didn’t think I needed the extra help. Might have been the ego of my youth, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t better with it. That’s why I’ve had Crimson Trace on my 1911 for a decade now. It’s made right just like everything else I depend on: my truck, my business and my family. That means something to me. SURVIVAL IS MANDATORY. LASER SIGHTS ARE VITAL.

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Filling The Void

TOM HUDSON HAD A VISION, AND WHEN HE ACTED ON IT, HIS COMMUNITY BENEFITED BY SLATON L . WHITE


R E TA I L E R P R O F I L E

Rather than displaying products in long rows, CrossRoads has devised a floor plan that breaks product categories into easily managed segments, which promotes browsing. Popular brands, such as 5.11, are grouped together, making it easier for customers to quickly and easily find what they want.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 â?š SHOT BUSINESS â?š 41


AT ONE POINT IN HIS LIFE, Tom Hudson sold tractors to farmers. He also spent time as a media/ad executive at Meredith Corporation, a Des Moines, Iowa, media giant, best known as the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. But he was also a shooter, one who was amazed to learn that this 600,000-person community had no indoor shooting range. “I grew up in Wyoming. Guns were part of my lifestyle,” he says. So, he put together a team that included seven investors and explored the idea of filling that void. “I researched for 18 months, visiting ranges all over the country,” he says. “I looked at every one through the lens of what kind of operation my community would support.” Hudson wanted a place that had the feeling of a local mom-and-pop shop—that all-important sense of community—but it also needed to be a facility with the feel of a national brand. That meant it had to be clean, well lighted, and well organized, with a friendly yet knowledge and approachable staff. The model? Apple. “The store itself needed to be warm and welcoming, and my staff needed to be able to connect with people in a positive way,” he says. He early on decided against hiring the all-too-common irascible gun expert. “I can’t teach soft skills,” he says. “And being able to work with people, some of whom may have very little experience with firearms, is vital to our success.”

THE OTHER HALF » CrossRoads Shooting Sports opened in February 2015, in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. The store, which I visited recently, is everything Hudson envisioned. There are three shooting bays, two of which have windows so customers can watch the action. The third bay, used by law enforcement for practice and certification, has no windows in order to ensure privacy. Rather than the usual long rows of shelving, CrossRoads features a series of shorter shelves, many of which are placed at angles to create a more inviting, less overwhelming shopping experience. The low-rise gun case/countertops use soft-glow interior lighting similar to that found in high-end jewelry and watch stores. Those display cases, which Hudson admits “cost me a lot,” are also theft-prevention units with roll-down security covers. Off the selling floor, Hudson has created a conference/ training room for the various types of instruction CrossRoads offers, including permit renewals and con-

42 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

THE MISSION OF CROSSROADS IS TO “CREATE TOTAL VALUE TO THE CUSTOMER.” IT’S NOT JUST A FINANCIAL TRANSACTION. cealed-carry courses. Another room contains a state-ofthe-art simulator that also can be used to help shooters develop critical skills. Sixty percent of his customers are new shooters, and 45 percent are women, half of whom come in alone. That may be why nearly half the staff is female, including range program manager Sheena Green. Green, an accomplished shooter, says, “The numberone rule for selling to women is revolvers are great, but with all the other handguns out there, they shouldn’t always be the first option presented to a woman.” Her experience behind the counter and on the line has yielded three other tips that can help retailers connect to women shooters. “First, you need to develop the right


R E TA I L E R P R O F I L E

approach,” she says. “Be the salesperson who asks questions and really listens to the reason why she’s in your store. You may discover additional ways your business can provide service or training beyond a gun purchase. If you’re the one doing all the talking, you’ll never find those things out. “Second, give her your attention. If a couple is in the store looking at guns, but the gun will be for her, direct all your questions to her. Buying a new gun and learning how to shoot can be an empowering experience, and your sales staff should take pride in being a part of that process. “Third, keep a woman’s perspective. If you have female staff, chances are they have opinions about gear and guns. Find out what they are so you can use their experiences as examples when talking about different products. This is true when the products are designed for women. For example, I wrote up a list of talking points so our sales staff could have conversations with customTom Hudson (left) wanted CrossRoads to have the feel of a local mom-and-pop shop, but with the attributes of a national brand.

ers about the Can Can Holster line [concealed-carry holsters specifically designed for women] without me having to be there all the time.”

SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP » CrossRoads specializes in personal and home defense and concealed carry. It has a rental program that allows customers to try out firearms and calibers before they buy, which is all part of Hudson’s mission to create “total value to the customer, rather than just a financial transaction. We should be seen as a community resource.” And though the business model is firmly rooted in personal protection, Hudson hasn’t forgotten the fun of shooting. The range offers several ongoing and popular thematic shoots, such as Friday Date Nights, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween. “We even have a Silent Night shoot, one that features suppressors,” he says. CrossRoads was quickly recognized by NSSF as an exemplary facility, and it proudly posts its Five Star Range certificate. (CrossRoads earned this distinction under the old rating system; it is currently working on its application under the new NSSF Star-Rating Range Program.) It has also been honored with another award—The Crimson Trace Premium Range Award. In fact, it is the first range in the country to be so honored. It earned this distinction by participating in a retailer education program Crimson Trace calls the Crimson Trace Classroom, the object of which is to educate retailers about the benefits of laser-sight systems. The program includes a 50-round course of fire designed to give participating sales staff the kind of hands-on experience that can help them thoroughly explain what a laser sight is and how it works. Crimson Trace believes such training is vital to its continued success. That’s why it has also established the Crimson Trace Premium Range Award. “Crimson Trace has again raised the bar on customer service by establishing our Premium Range Program and working closely with top-tier firearms retailers across America to help them better serve their customers, who are also Crimson Trace customers,” says Lane Tobiassen, Crimson Trace president. Casey Hauan, Crimson Trace’s regional sales rep, presented the award to Hudson during my visit. “CrossRoads was easy to partner with because the range and shop are a symbiotic relationship,” he told me after the presentation. “They feed off each other.” Indeed they do. And given that this operation is at the intersection of customer and community service, it is also very well named.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 43


GOOD STUFF

BY JOE KELLER

Instant Feedback Caldwell lets you sight-in via a smartphone or tablet

T

here are a number of advantages to using a target camera at the range. To name a few, you can see the shots hit the distant target on your smart device, record your session on video or in jpegs, and measure groups from your bench. The Caldwell Ballistic Precision LR Camera System does all that—and more. And maybe one of its best attributes is transforming what can be a tedious chore into a fun time, especially if you go to the range with some buddies.

Normally, you’d have one guy squinting though the spotting scope and a shooter looking through the riflescope. If anyone else wanted to see the results of a shot, they’d wait their turn at the spotting scope, where they often would have to refocus to see where the shooter shot. But when I used the Caldwell app to pull up live video of the target, people gathered around my iPad on the bench to see shots as they happened. Some people were

rooting for me to get the tightest possible groups. Others—my best friends, naturally—were loving it when I put a flier downrange. But we all shared in it, the hoots and hollers, backslaps, and let-metries. It had been a while since we all enjoyed a sight-in this much. Another thing that made us smile was the price. There have been a number of remote target cams on the market, but it took Caldwell to make one in the $400

44 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

Caldwell’s system lets a shooter check groups from the bench via a smartphone or tablet connected to a camera at the target.

range. The SRP is $499, but it’s available at several retailers for $399. Here’s what you get for your money: 1) A digital video cam that you set up on its stand near the target; 2) a transmitter on that same stand that sends 720p images and live HD video; 3) a receiver to accept those images and connect to your tablet, laptop, or smartphone via wi-fi; and 4) two stands and a carry case. The app—available at iTunes and Google Play and both Apple- and Android-compatible—is a free download. Setup was easy. To start off, you’ll carry the stand that has the cam and transmitter to your target. In order to get a good image of your target before you shoot, do what I did: Train the cam on the target, open the app, and connect a smartphone or tablet to wi-fi. Next, adjust the cam so the target can be seen clearly on whatever device you choose to use. This step saves you a walk back to the target if you don’t see the target clearly when you’re ready to shoot. Caldwell claims the system can stream live video up to a range of one mile, which should appeal to long-range shooters. I used the system at a public 100-yard range, where it drew the attention of other shooters. Integrated rechargeable lithium ion batteries provide power for up to six hours, but an accessory cord can plug the system into any AC outlet. Because some of the operations are not intuitive, you should take the time to read the instructions before heading out to the range. For example, calculating a group size takes some mental gymnastics, and I was not confident the calculations matched what a caliper would have told me. In fact, it was difficult to measure groups better than to the quarter inch. I also think the stands could be more robust. In windy conditions, the targets appeared to sway, making measurements difficult. I also would like to see better overall resolution. That said, the system will give you a sense of the accuracy of your shot. You’ll also get instant feedback, whether you want it or not. (btibrands.com)


BROWNINGAMMO.COM

©2015 BROWNING AMMUNITION


W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G W H E R E

West Sporting UT Al’s Goods, Logan This general hunting and fishing retailer keeps an average of 1,000 firearms in inventory, and forecasts an increase in handgun sales for the fall and winter seasons. “We hit a lull right after the election. But our handgun department is really doing well this summer,” said counter salesman Cort Jenson. Glocks are holding a slight lead on the sales charts, primarily with the 42s and the 19s, though Smith & Wesson Shields, along with a number of J-frame revolvers, are on the rise. The entire Springfield line is moving at a brisk pace, with XDSs holding the top spot. MSR sales are rising, with up to four a week. The Springfield Saint and the M&P Sport II are the top sellers. Daniel Defense and Mossberg are also moving well.

Palmer WA Ordnance, Seabeck

This new retailer maximizes 1,100 square feet of space with a gunsmith, gun manufacturing, and retail space under one roof. Although handgun sales are seasonally off, the store owner is optimistic. “We see sales coming back strong by early September,” said co-owner Mike Palmer. Glock 19s are in the top sales spot, followed closely by Shields and Glock 43s. The Sig P238 is also doing very well. Sales of MSRs are brisk, at four a week. M&P Sports are in the lead, with Daniel Defense a close second. “We have our own line of boutique uppers and lowers debuting this fall. We see this as a great way to get our regular customers into an extra MSR configured exactly the way they like,” said Palmer.

Mossberg 930 semi-autos have moved well all summer, and ammo stocks are in excellent shape.

The OR Sportsman, Florence

This family-run store stocks about 100 firearms. It specializes in home protection, hunting firearms, and accessories. Smith Shields and Taurus Model 85s hold the high ground; M&P 640s from Smith are also moving. “Our customers are small-town locals. Our sales have rarely been affected by the news-driven political environment,” said owner Bill Pinkey. MSRs are selling at a rate of one a month; M&P Sports are in the lead. Bolt-action rifles are starting to move for the fall hunting season, with an occasional Browning X-Bolt crossing the counter. Ammo stocks are the best they’ve been in years.

Midwest Daryl’s Gun IA Shop, State Center

Keeping about 300 new and used guns in stock, this small shop is located near the center of the state, 20 miles northeast of Des Moines. Handgun sales are steady this summer, with Ruger SR 22s performing well. Another fast mover is the Springfield XDM in 9mm. The Browning 1911 in .380 is becoming one of the year’s best sellers. Although Glocks are turning consistently, the numbers are down from last year. Sales of MSRs are flat, turning at roughly one per month. “Our MSR numbers are down, but higher-end rifles, like the Ruger Precision, are starting to improve the trend,” said buyer Dana Schoppe. Most sales are leaning in the direction of the Ruger 556. Ammo stocks are strong across the board.

46 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

Little Joe’s KS Pawn & Gun East, Kansas City

Keeping about 200 guns in stock, this family-run pawn and gun shop has two locations specializing in used rifles and handguns. Handgun sales are brisk. Glock 19s and Smith Shields are firmly entrenched at the top of the new-gun list. Used Smith Kand J-frame revolvers are also in high demand. “While we still move a strong number of higher-priced, compact carry guns, if we want to move volume, the magic price point is $250,” said owner Paul Boyd. With deer season ahead, customers have migrated to Remington 700 BDLs in .270. Mossberg Patriots in .308 are also moving well. Shotgun sales are steady. Mossberg 500s and Remington 870 Expresses are moving consistently.

R H Kay MN Firearms, St. Paul

This retailer stocks an average of 300 firearms in its 500-square-foot store. The store’s primary focus is on home defense. Glock 19s and Taurus 709s top the sales list in handguns. A few Sig P320s are also moving. “It has been a slower summer than in past years. That said, we’re doing fine. Handling transfers has helped. We often get a new customer and always send them home with an armload of accessories,” said owner Rick Kay. MSR inventory is flush, with steady turns at more than one every two weeks. Saints are on backorder, and Olympic Arms is pulling the most consistent sales. Late-summer sales have been steady for Remington 870 Expresses and Mossberg 500 tactical shotguns.


B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N

East Blue Trail CT Range Gun Store, Wallingford

This gun shop and range keeps 800 guns in stock and has more than 120 covered outdoor shooting stations. Pre-hunting season, this store has moved a few lever-action Marlins in .30/30, along with Remington 700s and 742s. Ammo stocks are the best they’ve been in years. Both new and used wheel guns are in high demand. Smith Model 60s and 66s lead the revolver category, while 9mm Glocks and Ruger compacts lead in pistols. With most MSRs restricted at this Connecticut retailer, Ruger Precision’s are in high demand. “This has been a remarkably popular rifle for our customers. The ammo choices are great, and the look is just what our customers want,” said manager Mark Sloan.

A few shotguns are also turning. Mossberg 500s and a few CZ O/Us lead in sales. Gamo air rifles have been hot all summer. Anschutz air guns are also crossing the counter.

PA

Juniata Trading Post, Everett

This full-line sporting goods store stocks an average of 500 firearms and reloading supplies. Pistol demand is steady, with Ruger LCRs and LCPs pulling good numbers, and there’s heavy traffic in Smith Shields, Bodyguards, and Glock 42s. “Now that our gun rights are in better shape, all we have to do is let Trump do his job,” said manager Lin Karns. Ammo inventory is excellent, especially .22 Mag. Reloading inventory is improving; powder inventory has also improved. Led by Tikka Model T3s, boltaction rifles are turning well with a

mix of .270 and .30/06. MSR sales are down to about three a month. Top sellers include DPMS and Stag.

Firearms, NJ G&S Wayne

This small independent specializes in home defense and law-enforcement contracts. Glocks are the mainstay at the handgun counter; 19s hold the lead, followed by Walther PPQM2s. “Our transfer orders have increased and are now a large part of our business. The transfers drive accessory sales, which are more profitable,” said owner Gordon Levine. Other movers include Ruger LCRs and Smith Shields. Some specialty high-demand items include vintage Luger collectibles. Smith M&Ps, as well as a few ArmaLites, are turning the best numbers in the MSR category. Mossberg 500 defense packages are also on the move.

South GA Googe’s, Hazlehurst

This rural general sporting goods, gas station, and meat-supply store stocks 250 used and new guns. Summer has been all about plinking. “We’re so happy to see .22 ammo come back. Small-caliber sales can be a significant part of our sales in the summer,” said partner Ray Googe. Standbys like Ruger 10/22s and Marlin lever-actions are crossing the counter at this store. Handgun sales are flat but still holding their own. Glock 19s and Ruger LCPs are commanding the greatest attention. Led by the Ruger 556, MSRs are selling at about one every two weeks.

TN

Mitchell’s Country Store,

Jackson With an average of 100 guns in stock at any one time, this

is one of the only gun shops in the South where you can get a cheeseburger, an RC Cola, and a Moon Pie with your ammo. Handgun sales remain consistent, with Glock 42s and Smith Bodyguards pulling the best numbers, followed by Ruger LC9s. Ammo stocks for .22s are flush, and the store has seen demand pick up all summer. ”It’s great to have a solid stock of .22 ammo, and our rimfire rifle sales are finally up,” said owner Roy Mitchell. Sporting long-gun sales are holding steady, with several Henry .22s and Remington 700 BDLs in .243 crossing the counter.

Woods and AL Waters, Tuscaloosa

This large independent fishing, hunting, and sportsapparel store mixes storefront

sales with a strong web business, inventorying more than 3,000 products online. Handgun inventories are flush, with daily sales of Smith Shields, Bodyguards, Glock 43s, and Sig P238s. “We don’t have a thing to complain about. With overall sales consistently strong, and with all the rebate promotions from the manufacturers, our handgun traffic is good,” said counter salesman Dennon Jones. Sales at the MSR counter have averaged one to two per week, with Smith M&Ps and a few Patriots pulling the highest numbers. By September, Tikka T3s in .308 and .308 Browning X-Bolts are expected to have strong turns. Shotguns are just starting to move, and Stoeger M3500 semi-autos are selling at a faster clip than expected.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 47


NEW PRODUCTS

Firearms Business Insurance Wholesalers & Distributors Retail Sales Manufacturers & Importers Ammunition & Bullet Manufacturers Indoor & Outdoor Ranges Gunsmiths Firearms Instructors

(Continued from page 50)

Leatherman ➤ Known primarily for multi-tools, Leatherman knows that sometimes all an outdoorsman needs is a knife. That’s why its Juice B2 (SRP: $25) comes with one serrated and one straight-edge blade, each of which is made from highquality steel and backed by Leatherman’s 25-year war-

ranty. Blade length is 2.6 inches, and the knife has a closed length of just 4 inches. It weighs 1.4 ounces and is available in four colors: Cinnabar (red), Moss (green), Columbia (blue), and Graphite (gray). For those who prefer tools to blades, the Juice CS3 (SRP: $30) features scissors, a bottle opener, and a corkscrew. It is also available

The Juice CS3 has tools rather than blades.

31 Parker Road ¥ Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208

with the warranty and can be had in three colors: Cinnabar, Moss, and Columbia. (leatherman. com)

GSM Outdoors ➤ Hearing is a precious asset that must be protected. To that end, Walker’s, a division of GSM Outdoors, has created a point-of-purchase display designed to help retailers quickly and easily move ear protection products. The Walker’s Plug Display houses 58 packs of foam and silicone ear plugs in a variety of colors (orange, yellow, and pink) and configurations (corded and cases). Retailers can re-order the full display or individual SKUs. SRP: $269.99.

(gsmoutdoors.com)

800.526.2199 • info@jcinsco.com • www.guninsurance.com

Rock Solid Stability. Every Single Shot.

Lyman’s new line of shooting rests give you a stable shooting platform, at the perfect height, every time.

All of our Shooting Bags are made from heavy duty, 600D nylon with micro-suede padding on rifle contact points. They are also equipped with a non-slip rubberized base to keep them stable and in place during use. Lyman’s Bag Jack makes it easy to adjust the elevation of your rifle and bring it into line with your target, while also allowing you to maintain a comfortable shooting position. Comfort and stability, easily adjusted to your exact specifications, puts you right on target with every shot.

www.LymanProducts.com


NEW PRODUCTS

Hazard 4 If you’re going to spend a day at the range, you need something sturdy to hold all your stuff— ammo, optics, cleaning tools, ear muffs, targets, and the like. The Spotter range bag is a largecapacity carry-all that fills the bill. Originally designed to be used by the spotter in a spotter-sniper team, it features movable internal

50 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

dividers that allow you to create a custom storage bag. Internal pockets and a generous assortment of modular webbing allow for further customization, and the rubber bottom protects contents from wet and dusty surfaces. The top-zipper link utilizes a big pulling handle for fast opening and full access to the contents. SRP: $159. (hazard4.com) (Continued on page 48)


SELL RUGER , EARN POINTS, ®

GET REWARDED. T H E

2 0 1 7

R U G E R

R A P I D

R E TA I L

R E W A R D S

P R O G R A M

SM

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS * FOR 2017: 4R Reward Firearms

4R Reward Accessories

Rapid Redemption

Digital Upload

We are always working hard

You can upload your

There are now over 50 reward firearms to choose

We are continuing to offer some of our high-demand

to keep our redemption

redemption documents online

process as rapid as possible

for simpler redemption of

from for redemption!

Genuine Ruger® Factory Accessories for redemption.

to get you what you’ve

your 4R Program points.

earned, without the wait!

The Ruger Rapid Retail Rewards (“4R” ) Program SM is a retailer incentive program that rewards retail sales reps for Ruger ® firearm sales.

 Sign-In/Sign-Up

Visit the Ruger Rapid Retail Rewards Program SM website at RUGER.COM/4R. If you are a previous participant, you can simply sign in and verify your account information. New to the program? Select “Sign-Up” and you will be guided through the registration process.

 Sell Ruger

Firearms

Do what you do best —sell Ruger ®! With every new Ruger ® firearm sold between May 1, 2017 and August 31, 2017, you will earn 4R Program points redeemable for FREE Ruger ® firearms and accessories. ®

 Enter Your Sales

Sign into your my4R Account to track your sales and start earning your way to FREE Ruger firearms and accessories! ®

 Get Rewarded!

Once you have accumulated enough 4R Program points, you can redeem them for FREE Ruger firearms and accessories! ®

* For complete Rules and Regulations, please visit the Ruger Rapid Retail Rewards Program SM website at Ruger.com/4R.

RUGER .COM/4R

© 2017 Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. 050317

Find Ruger:


HE’S NOT HERE TO FIX YOUR FLAT.

PEDERSEN BLOCK DESIGN Dissapates recoil energy for reduced felt recoil

LOW BORE AXIS Significantly less muzzle rise for faster follow-up shots and reduced felt recoil OPTIMIZED GRIP ANGLE Reduces felt recoil and points more naturally

TWO SEMI-FLUSH 7+1 ROUND MAGAZINES For concealability and backup firepower

THE ENHANCED R5I SUBCOMPACT

The perfection of a truly groundbreaking design. Point instinctively. Recover instantly. Re-engineered from the ground up and rigorously tested to deliver maximum reliability, the all-new R51 gets you on target faster and more intuitively than any other subcompact on the market. Add to that its dramatically reduced felt recoil and muzzle flip, and it’s exactly what you need to perform at your best when things are at their worst. #LiveReady

PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA BY AMERICAN WORKERS ©2017 REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, LLC.

REMINGTON.COM

NSSF SHOT Business August/September 2017  

NSSF SHOT Business August/September 2017

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