ARE ALTERNATIVE FINANCING OPTIONS FOR YOU? Pg. 40
I N T E R E S T I N P R E V I O U S LY O W N E D F I R E A R M S I S H I G H , B U T T O C A S H I N , Y O U N E E D T O C R E AT E A N AT M O S P H E R E T H AT E N C O U R A G E S A
C U S T O M E R T O PA R T W I T H H I S H A R D - E A R N E D M O N E Y
The second time around, the Remington R51 pistol hits the mark Pg. 20
Leupold’s new high-end rangeﬁnder goes the distance—and then some Pg. 44
JANUARY 23–26, 2018 SANDS EXPO CENTER | LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
At the SHOT Show, you’ll get the most up-to-date, industry-focused information on customer trends, regulations and business-building insights to bring back to your operation. You’ll see the latest products from every firearms manufacturer as well as the equipment, tech and shooting sports accessories that will help drive sales. SHOT Show is the single best resource for store owners and range operators who want to stay competitive and successful.
SHOTSHOW.ORG/SB The SHOT Show is a trade-only event. Professional affiliation is required. AN OFFICIAL EVENT OF:
SHOT BUSINESS O C T. / N O V. 2 0 1 7 VOLUME 25, ISSUE 6
GOLDEN OLDIES Selling used guns can be a very profitable enterprise for a knowledgeable retailer. But stacking them in a dusty corner of the shop is not the way to go. BY WAYNE VAN ZWOLL
A CLEAN SLATE When Sig Sauer decided to enter the ammo business, it did so on its own terms. BY SLATON L. WHITE
FROM THE NSSF Should a firearms range instructor be in-house or a contractor?
FROM THE COUNTER How one store is battling the Trump Slump.
NSSF UPDATE NSSF debuts redesigned website; North Carolina expands Sunday hunting law; and more.
RETAILER TOOLBOX An NSSF report that will help you target a new audience.
YOU SHOULD KNOW New SHOT Show events to look forward to in 2018.
EDITOR’S NOTE There’s real value in used guns.
NEWS BRIEFS Meopta gives a helping hand to Czech glove manufacturer Holik; Outdoor Tech goes camo; Bergara looks around the corner.
FYI When you listen to the Voice of the
CAPITAL IDEA Think a bank is the only option for a loan? Think again. BY MARK E. BATTERSBY
Customer, good things will follow. FIRING LINE After a complete refit, Remington’s R51 is back— and we like what we see.
UNDERCOVER SHOPPER Can a deer hunter find the single-shot rifle he’s looking for in Richmond, Virginia?
GOOD STUFF Leupold’s new high-end RX-1200i rangefinder really goes the distance.
44 46 50
WHAT’S SELLING WHERE
NEW PRODUCTS Browning’s Black Label 1911-380 Medallion Pro; Spyderco’s Hundred Pacer folder knife.
COVER PHOTO BY TIM IRWIN
SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 3
There’s real value in used guns
ill Woods, proprietor of RW Outdoors, a new gun shop in Sheridan, Montana, is a long-range shooting expert who practices what he preaches, telling me he shoots “10,000 rounds per year” on long-range courses and competitions. While I was in his shop last summer, he showed off one of the rifles he’s tricked out for long-range shooting. To borrow a phrase from a younger co-worker, “It was totally sick”—meaning, of course, totally cool. This being Montana, the front of the shop showcases flyfishing gear, but his firearms business is good enough that he intends to use some of that space next year for new guns. He also trades in used guns because, he says, “There’s money in used stuff.” There sure is, as you will learn when you read “Golden Oldies,” by Wayne Van Zwoll, on page 26. The gun industry has experienced a slowdown in sales recently. But after nearly a decade of red-hot sales, such a decline was inevitable. One way to take up the slack is to sell used guns. But selling these guns can’t be an afterthought; you need to devote as much time and attention to this market as you would to new guns. You should also make sure these guns are not relegated to some dark and dusty corner of the store. That’s no way to attract traffic. Creating an inviting atmosphere for these “guns with experience” can increase the amount of browsing time. And the more a customer browses, the more likely he is to buy. Woods saw my look of surprise when he said he trades in used guns. It just seemed to go against the look and feel of his store. But he’s a savvy guy and says he goes by two rules. First, he won’t deal with a gun that would retail for under $500. “I need to have a mar-
gin of least 15 percent on these guns, and anything under $500 just isn’t worth my time.” Second, he emphasizes that in order to make a profit on used guns, a retailer must know what a gun is worth. If he doesn’t know that, he can get burned on the deal. That done, the rest of a transaction is settling on the exact amount RW Outdoors will offer to the seller of the used gun. If the customer insists on more, Woods passes on the deal. And here’s another tip from a retailer who knows something about used guns. Rob Gallentine, owner of Shedhorn Sports in Ennis, Montana, told me that used guns can spur sales of new guns because doing so “allows a customer to trade up to get the rifle of his dreams.” Shedhorn holds its Hunter’s Rendezvous (now in its 23rd year), a huge indoor/outdoor sale that attracts attendees from four states, every August. His used guns— rifles, shotguns, and handguns—are all neatly placed in racks (like the one from which I plucked the Remington Model 11 shown in the photo above) or display cases where they can be easily seen. It’s a great way to move the iron.
4 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
Slaton L. White, Editor
SLATON L. WHITE, Editor James A. Walsh, Art Director Margaret M. Nussey, Managing Editor David E. Petzal, Shooting Editor David Maccar, Special Projects Editor Judith Weber, Digital Content Producer Hilary Ribons, Editorial Assistant CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Larry Ahlman, Barbara Baird, Scott Bestul, Philip Bourjaily, Christopher Cogley, Jock Elliott, William F. Kendy, Richard Mann, Peter B. Mathiesen, Brian McCombie, Tom Mohrhauser, Robert Sadowski, Robert F. Staeger, Peter Suciu, Wayne Van Zwoll
ADVERTISING: 212-779-5316 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
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, 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 6, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to SHOT Business, P.O. Box 6364 Harlan, IA 51593.
Moving the Iron
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Bits & Pieces Otis Technology Announces New Sales Partnerships Otis Technology has entered into new sales partnerships with Keystone Manufacturer’s Representatives, Odle Sales, and Ron Macy Associates, Inc. Each agency’s professional sales teams will represent Otis in the state, local, and federal law enforcement markets, including wholesale and retail channels. Keystone Manufacturer’s Representatives will be responsible for the eastern U.S. region, Odle Sales will cover the central region, and Ron Macy Associates will handle parts of the western U.S. (otistech.com)
New Bianchi Holsters for the Glock Gen5 Safariland and Bianchi are releasing holsters fit for duty, tactical, and concealed-carry use for the new Glock Gen5 handguns. Working closely with Glock, the teams at Safariland and Bianchi engineered a full complement of holsters, ranging from the Safariland traditional thermal-formed holsters, the 7TS collection, and the GLS Pro-Fit series to Bianchi’s premium-grade leather holster. All current magazine pouches and Bianchi holsters fit the new Glock pistols, and the company is revising the tooling on some older, but still popular, Safariland holsters to fit the new Gen5.
This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources.
NEWS BRIEFS NEWS
Czech-made Holik gloves will now be available in the U.S.
A Helping Hand
t goes without saying that the United States is an enormous and influential consumer market. International companies know that if their products can establish a foothold in this vibrant arena, success almost always follows. But it isn’t easy. The competition is fierce and unrelenting, and sharp elbows are often a required asset. So is a helping hand. And that is precisely why Meopta—a Czech–U.S. optics company renowned for its low-light performance and European quality at exceptional price points—is helping other Czech companies of similar quality and tradition enter the U.S. market through its MeoHub program. Holik International, a Czech Republic–based manufacturer of premium hunting, shooting, tactical, and military gloves, is now sharing office space with Meopta at its Long Island, New York, headquarters. The manufacturer will also be displaying its wide array of tactical, hunting, and shooting gloves in the Meopta booth during the 2018 SHOT Show. “The MeoHub project was conceived through Meopta’s experience in trying to bring a premium Czech brand to the U.S. market,” says David Rausnitz, chief operating officer of Meopta USA. “When Meopta launched its branded sports optics
in the United States, it was a challenge to adapt to the speed and competitiveness of the U.S. market, and to understand the importance of marketing and responsiveness to customer demands. The strategies that worked in Europe were not sufficient for the United States, and it became clear why so many quality Czech brands could not make the leap into the largest market in the world. Through these experiences, Meopta decided to share its knowledge with other Czech companies to help bring their quality products to the United States. The result of that effort was MeoHub, an incubator designed to help established Czech companies enter the U.S. market.” Established in 1993, Holik is now a world leader in gloves for the military in Europe. In addition, NATO armies, police, SWAT teams, hunters, and numerous fire and rescue operations around the world have chosen Holik gloves because of their performance, durability, and comfort. What makes Holik gloves so special? According to Ladislav Kolar, sales manager of Holik America, it’s “everything from the quality of the leather to the craftsmanship and manufacturing processes, not to mention the advanced technology in our tactical offerings.” (en.holik-international.cz) OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 7
Bergara Looks Around the Corner There’s a new caliber on the block, and it’s quickly taking over the rifle scene. In fact, in 2017, nearly every company that introduced a new long gun did so in 6.5 Creedmoor. And why not? It shoots flatter, has lighter recoil, cuts through the wind better, and is just flat-out more accurate than its predecessor, the venerable .308. Customers have taken notice, and Bergara’s 6.5 Creedmoor rifles are so popular that it is selling them at a 10 to 1 ratio over its other calibers. Not content to rest on its laurels, Bergara is constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve. Although the 6.5 Creedmoor has achieved widespread acceptance among most rifle makers, there’s a new descendant of the round that’s making waves in the Precision Rifle Series community: the 6mm Creedmoor. Why? Because, the 6mm is even faster than the 6.5, shoots even flatter, and has less recoil. As a result, Bergara is now offering its LRP, LRP Elite, Premier Long Range, and Custom Series rifles in 6mm Creedmoor. “At Bergara, we’re not afraid to take risks, and it shows in our rifles,” says Ben Fleming, Bergara’s vice president of sales and marketing. “On top of that, we’re always looking around the corner to see what’s next. We’re nowhere close to done yet.” (bergarausa.com)
8 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
Outdoor Tech speakers now come in Mossy Oak camo.
Outdoor Tech Goes Camo Bluetooth technology is revolutionizing the outdoor world. Wireless speakers designed to be used in hunting camps or in the bed of a pickup truck after a dove shoot are just one example of this brave new world. It’s a world inhabited mainly by the young, but their insistence on “staying connected but not tethered” (as one manufacturer of wireless speakers puts it) is helping to spread the word about this remarkable technology. That manufacturer, by the way, is Outdoor Tech, which has long been a leader in the field. And that leadership has led
Outdoor Tech to form an important partnership with Mossy Oak, which should grow its market in the shooting sports and hunting arenas. “Outdoor Tech is making the products outdoor enthusiasts want for their ‘unplugged’ lifestyle,” says Chris Paradise, chief sales officer of Mossy Oak. “Adding Mossy Oak to this incredible product line reaches the hunting consumer and adds a rugged touch to hightech audio and power products.” The power-packed Buckshot Pro speaker, rugged Turtle Shell speaker, and portable Kodiak Power banks are a few of
the products that will be available in Mossy Oak camo. The products are not only ideal for the outdoors, camping, and shooting sports retail channels, but also the lifestyle channel, with its premium Mossy Oak finish and trendy camouflage appearance. “I’m very excited to partner with a premium brand that has the same passion and obsession for the outdoors as we do,” says Charlie Gugliuzza, Outdoor Tech’s CEO. “Mossy Oak is the leader in camouflage design, and this new collection of products fits any outdoors lifestyle.” (mossy oakhunt.com)
Federal Launches Dual-Purpose Train + Protect Ammo
rain + Protect is a new line of handgun loads designed by Federal Premium for both practice and personal protection. The competitively priced ammunition features Federal’s versatile hollowpoint (VHP) bullet and is available in three popular handgun cartridges. The Federal Train + Protect VHP bullet design provides both precise, practical performance at the range and instant, reliable expansion on impact. The new ammunition proudly honors Americans’ right to bear arms with patriotic U.S.A. graphics on its packaging. Available in 9mm Luger 115-grain
VHP, $30.95 per box of 50, $56.95 per box of 100; .40 S&W 180-grain VHP, $35.95 per box of 50, $66.95 per box of 100; and .45 Auto 230-grain VHP, $35.95 per box of 50, $66.95 per box of 100. (federalpremium.com)
GRAYBOE TERRAIN STOCK GOES INTO FULL PRODUCTION
rayboeâ€™s core business is dedicated to creating high-quality, strategically priced off-the-shelf fiberglass stocks for large OEMs, chain stores, distributors, and end users. Recently, its Terrain stock, designed to fit Remington 700 actions, moved into full production. The Terrain embraces the essence of a streamlined and minimalistic rifle stock. The smooth and classic lines make for natural handling and intuitive
pointing, whether on a hunt or at the range. The Terrain is an original Grayboe design and is constructed of the same proprietary solid homogenous fiberglass compound as the other stocks in the Grayboe line. The stock is formed under high pressure and heat, creating an exceptionally stiff and high-strength platform. Standard paint colors include black, khaki, gray, and olive. Additional colors
and paint techniques (such as spiderweb or specialized dipping options) are available to high-volume buyers. The materials used in these stocks make it possible for rifle builders to custom Cerakote these stocks to fit specific customer requests. The stock weighs 2Â pounds 4 ounces. SRP: $339. Like all its other stocks, the Terrain is made in the U.S. and carries a lifetime warranty. (grayboe.com) The Terrain fiberglass-compound stock has been designed to fit Remington 700 actions.
SOG Changes Distribution Channels Strengthening its commitment to both the consumer experience and retailer support, SOG Knives & Tools will tighten its distribution channels and launch a program designed to deliver better enforcement of its Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy. “This is an important twopronged process that will bring value to retailers and consumers, both before the purchase and after the sale,” says Patrick Carland, vice president of sales for SOG. The narrowing of SOG’s distribution channels will allow retailers access to the entire SOG product line through preferred distribution partners. These partners have proven expertise with SOG products and the ability
to service retail accounts with the highest level of professionalism, and are fluent in SOG policy and procedures. “Focusing our partnership with top-tier distributors levels the playing field for our retailers,” says Carland. “It allows SOG to deliver consistent value and gives retailers confidence that they have professional support for their efforts from a distributor that is tuned in with the ethos of SOG.”
In addition, SOG will step up enforcement of its published MAP policy and take action against authorized resellers. “The policy we have is designed to protect the SOG brand and SOG customers, who expect value from our products along with the reassurance that any additional needs will be met during and after the sale,” says Carland. SOG will utilize an ORIS Intelligence platform for
MAP monitoring. The platform is a cloud-based system that helps companies protect their brands. Carland notes that the unique ORIS platform is used by a number of companies intent on taking extra measures to ensure they’re supporting authorized retailers. (sogknives.com) SOG Knives & Tools intends to protect MAP policy through an ORIS cloudbased platform.
COLT INTRODUCES THE TROOPER PATROL CARBINE Colt continues to expand on its legendary M4 platform with the introduction of the new Colt Trooper Patrol Carbine. The Trooper, based on the LE6920, offers customers another great point of entry into the world of duty-grade Colt AR-15 carbines. “The Trooper offers a great opportunity for fans of the Colt
Colt’s Trooper Patrol Carbine has a 16.1-inch barrel and comes with a 30-round Magpul P-MAG magazine.
10 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
AR-15 platform,” says Justin Baldini, Colt’s product director. “We set out to create something that is right in line with what today’s Colt M4 customer wants, so we started with our LE6920 and worked with Centurion Arms to develop a new M-LOK–capable, free-floated forend just for the Trooper. The result is a modern-
ized carbine that’s ready for your choice of optic or iron sights. It represents an exceptional value to folks looking to get into the world of modern sporting rifles and another excellent option for enthusiasts looking to add another Colt to their stable.” The rifle is offered in 5.56x45 NATO, and features a 16.1-inch barrel and a 13-inch M-LOK–capable Centurion Arms forend with a Picatinny rail at 12 o’clock and M-LOK mounting slots at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. It has an M4 buttstock and an A2 pistol grip, and comes with a 30-round Magpul P-MAG magazine. SRP: $1,049. (colt.com)
Outdoor Research Bolsters Commitment
utdoor Research, Inc., a leader in the outdoor and tactical apparel industry, recently announced the company’s expanded commitment to U.S. manufacturing and additional investment in R&D efforts focused on the tactical market. As part of this growth, Outdoor Research will be adding new personnel with a primary focus on military and tactical business development. This commitment comes simultaneously as the brand releases its most sophisticated apparel program to date in the tactical market, the Outdoor Research Integrated Apparel System (IAS). The IAS is a 13-piece tactical apparel collection designed so that each piece layers well on top of the other, allowing complete freedom of movement. It can be used as a complete layering program or mixed and matched as needed to accommodate a huge range of temperatures and environments. Known in the outdoor industry for developing functional solutions for extreme environments, Outdoor Research has a history of successfully leveraging the best commercial market technologies to serve the needs of the armed services and first responders. Over the past year, the company has conducted a comprehensive review of the U.S. supply chain and is in active development with textile mills and materials providers to expand and elevate the capabilities of products that are 100 percent American-made. Outdoor Research’s company mission is rooted in mountain environments and its products are purpose-built for the rigorous physical demands these landscapes require. Since 1981, Outdoor Research has engineered products to help outdoor adventurers respond to the challenges presented by the wild outdoors. OR’s decades of first-hand experience developing and manufacturing products that provide capability in uncompromising situations has provided the backdrop from which the tactical team was born. OR tactical products, including the new IAS line, have been improved through cross-pollination from user groups, including the elite communities of military, law enforcement, and government agencies. The Outdoor Research Tactical Team is dedicated to developing product through
the lens of the Elite end user, focusing on solving problems and engineering missionspecific capability across all categories: handwear systems, apparel, and accessories. Over the last two years, OR has made significant capital investments designed to improve and modernize its Seattle factory. These investments allow Outdoor Research to take advantage of the company’s global knowledge of design, materials, and innovative manufacturing techniques while producing the next generation of tactical and outdoor products at its facility in Seattle. OR has continued to accelerate its productdevelopment cycle, allowing the latest innovations to be rapidly fielded to the end user, and helping increase the mobility and protection of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and law enforcement officers in the process. The latest examples of this rapid innovation process are the Integrated Apparel System and the launch of the Modular Glove System (MGS) with 3D Fit Technology. The IAS system is a complete apparel system—waterproof shells, insulation, softshells, windshells, and base layers. It includes the Infiltrator Jacket, which is designed for maximum athleticism, comfort, and user protection. The Infiltrator employs an innovative new Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable stretch fabric. With the Infiltrator, Outdoor Research is one of the first to use this material. “Developing cutting-edge military and tactical products was a key part of the business when I arrived at Outdoor Research in 2003, and it’s been an integral part of what has allowed us to maintain and build upon the domestic manufacturing capabilities that OR has always had,” says CEO Dan Nordstrom. “We’re proud of the level of innovation we’re bringing to military and tactical, and we are proud that we’ve been able to bring American manufacturing to the table to support those markets.” “This investment underscores our ongoing focus at Outdoor Research on how we can continue to build better products for the military and tactical markets,” says Michelle Wardian, president of Outdoor Research. “We look forward to continuing to seize opportunities tied to our longtime commitment to American manufacturing.” (outdoorresearch.com)
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U P D AT E
BY ED SANTOS, NSSF RANGE ACTION SPECIALIST TEAM MEMBER
FROM THE NSSF
The Best Choice Hiring firearms range instructors: In-house or contract?
our entire team of instructors and retail staff are responsible for the success of your training program, but the instructors, of course, are crucial. They must be more than good teachers. They are there not just to impart knowledge, but to support your store. A good firearms training instructor will also be skilled in selling without sounding like a used-car salesman. It is very important to empower your instructors with the knowledge and training to answer questions about gear and accessories while also having the ability to direct students to specific products and to retail associates who have the best expertise in a particular category. That being said, when it comes to hiring a firearms training instructor, the question I’m most often asked is, Should the instructor be an in-house staff hire or an individual hired as an independent contractor? My preference is in-house, whenever possible. There are a number of reasons for this. CONTRACT INSTRUCTOR VS. GUEST INSTRUCTOR ➤ Allow me to clarify the “contract instructor” term as it is discussed in this article. A contract instructor is someone who provides instruction on a regularly scheduled basis to clients of your facility. Do not confuse the term with that of a “guest instructor.” The guest instructor is typically a wellknown, nationally or internationally recognized instructor that you bring in from time to time to teach a specific program. There are some unique ways and specific times during the yearly retail cycle to bring in a guest instructor. We will discuss that in detail in future articles.
EXCITEMENT = SUCCESS ➤ The key factor in the success or failure— and, ultimately, the speed at which a training program grows—is through creating a program in which every class provides an unexpected level of excitement for the student. If a student takes a class from you and you provide a good training experience, at the end of the day, you will have a satisfied customer. But that isn’t good enough. You can’t stop there, because students can get that same experience with most of your competitors. So establishing a satisfied student should never be your
12 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
priority goal. In fact, that satisfied student will never grow your program at the rate or depth I would suggest you need to create a profitable program. What we are working toward is a student who isn’t merely satisfied, but is excited at the end of class, a student who accomplished much more than he anticipated. That excited student will leave the class and want to share his excitement with anyone who will listen. The result of such a class of 20 students on a Sunday is 20 people singing your praises on Monday morning, and even throughout the next week. This is something the satisfied student will not be doing on Monday. How do you create the excitement? Take this example from the owner of a very successful range and training operations: “We create the excitement here at Center Target Sports as follows: In our basic pistol class, we guarantee that every student will leave the class having shot a 5-shot group at
18 feet that can be covered with a quarter. No, the student may not be able to repeat this level of accuracy the next day without our instructor’s guidance. But they are all able to accomplish this in class. That is where the excitement factor comes in. They expected to learn about all the typical things taught in a basic pistol class, the topics covered by all our competitors. But they never thought they would shoot to the onehole group covered by a quarter. It is amazing to see their faces and experience their excitement when they exit the range.” YOU’RE IN CONTROL ➤ So, you must create the excitement, and to create the excitement, you must have total control of the presentation and curriculum. How does this affect your hiring choice in instructors? Whether the instructor is in-house or contract, in the mind of the student, you, as the range owner/operator, own the experience and, therefore, the reputation of your training program—good or bad. As I’ve said, my preference is for a staffhired instructor. One reasons for this is that if you intend to create a level of excitement in your training classes that keeps your students coming back for more and spreading the word, then you can’t afford to have a contract instructor teach an independent class at your facility that isn’t up to par with the desired level of your training. You and your facility will always be associated with what is taught at your location, regardless of who owns the curriculum.
THE PROFIT MARGIN CONSIDERATION ➤ This is the main reason we have never allowed local instructors to teach independent classes at our facility. Consider that a quality contract instructor will not work for less than 40 percent of the gross revenue they generate. That doesn’t sound bad, but in reality that arrangement will not result in you realizing 60 percent, as your administration of the training program alone will quickly reduce your share to about 50 percent. And why settle for a training margin of around 50 percent when you could realize a margin in excess of 90 percent?
Ed Santos NSSF Range Action Specialist Team Member
U P D AT E
B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N
FROM THE COUNTER: KIRKWOOD OUTFITTERS
The Big Change Moving from hunting to home defense Lessons learned in our From the Counter column will be drawn from an array of regions with diverse market economies in an era of political change. While this column has focused on larger retailers in the past, this month we’ll visit with a small storefront in the Heartland. KIRKWOOD OUTFITTERS, KIRKWOOD, MISSOURI ➤ Opened
in 1994, this independent dealer is located in western suburban St. Louis County, in one of the wealthier ZIP codes in the country (yes, country). Originally focused on hunting, home defense, and military surplus, Kirkwood’s Outfitters’ concentration today has changed dramatically since its inception. Behind the counter at this shop, which now specializes in home defense, is the owner, Dave Hart, and two part-time employees. The retailer stocks an average of 300 firearms. It recently moved into a new storefront a mile from its old location. The store is open five days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
“The Trump win resulted in an instantaneous halt in our retail sales. It may have been the worst Christmas sales season I’ve experienced in the store’s history. I couldn’t sell an MSR unless it was at or near cost,” says Hart. Sales slumped. But Hart reminded himself that although the heavy traffic in boom years might have been good for his pocket, he was firmly entrenched and had been lulled into a cycle of complacency. To move out of the centrifugal pull of this vortex, he would need to put his retail hat back on and strategize ways to post higher profit numbers. FACING THE POST-ELECTION LULL ➤ The
BATTLING THE TRUMP SLUMP ➤ There
was no question that when the election results were announced last November, this store’s sales floor was quiet enough to hear crickets.
post-election lull provided an opportunity for reflection. Hart’s first step was to remind himself why he had gone into the business. “I got into the gun business because I loved to shoot and
collect. I sincerely believe in the Second Amendment and my fellow Americans’ rights as gun owners,” says Hart. Hart felt that he and other retailers had lost their competitive edge in getting customers into the right firearms while also developing relationships with new shooters. Meanwhile, as January 2017 got under way, this retailer’s customers began to change. WELCOMING A NEW CUSTOMER AT THE DOOR ➤ As
a St. Louis, West County retailer, Kirkwood Outfitters’ primary demographic was a wealthy, white, and married male who already owned a large variety of firearms. But during the second week of January, two single AfricanAmerican women came into the shop to ask about concealed-carry classes. “We have had inner-city African-American customers in the past. But I could not remember the last time that a woman came into the store without a boyfriend, husband, or male relative encouraging the sale,” Hart says. “The tempo in this situation felt very different. These women understood that they needed training—and they were interested in making a handgun decision without the help of a relative. “These ladies had done their homework and they had an idea of what they wanted. Added safety and training was paramount to their decision in picking a retailer,” he says.
The following week, after attending Hart’s concealed-carry class, one of the women purchased a Sig and the other purchased a Glock. During the last week in January, four more single African-American women walked into the store expressing the same interest in concealedcarry firearms and training. It’s no retail secret that word of mouth and sending customers home with a clear understanding of the safe use and the responsibility of owning a firearm is a strong business model. Says Hart, “This pattern has replicated and grown from those first few customers.” SELLING ON THE DISTRIBUTOR CLOUD ➤ One
of the latest traffic builders has been distributorbased web sales. Tying Kirkwood’s website to a competitively priced click-through handgun purchase has resulted in consistent sales. “Almost every day I check our email to find one, two, or even three purchases from our website. Most sales are shipped to the store. On average, there’s roughly a two-day turnaround. Then the buyer shows up for a NICS check, and I have a brandnew customer,” says Hart. From the Counter is NSSF’s timely series of industry perspectives from firearms retailers across the country. Our goal is to identify and highlight innovative marketing strategies, helping retailers compete more successfully.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 13
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NSSF Debuts Completely Redesigned NSSF.org Website
s the firearms industry’s trade association, NSSF’s primary focus is its members. As such, we’ve tailored our new website’s focus to be approximately 80 percent for the members and 20 percent for the shooting public. Our members and their customers will be excited to easily find the new Where to Shoot, Where to Hunt, and Where to Buy applications from either the large callouts on the Home page, the consumer menu triggered in the upper right of the screen, or, in the case of Where to Shoot, by clicking the target icon in the header. Each of these three has been rigorously updated in look, content, and accessibility.
By prioritizing this functionality and giving the entire site a clean, modern feel, our message is, “We, the industry, are here to serve you with modern technologies.” Also important to note is that both the Where to Shoot and Where to Buy pages are updated nightly. For our members, that means it is important to update us with significant changes to your business. For example, if you’re a firearms range and you’ve recently added a 1,000-yard shooting range, but our Range Locator has you listed as having only 200 yards, simply update your record to reflect that. Functionality has also been significantly expanded for our industry member persona menus—Retailers, Ranges, Manufacturers, and Media. They now include a fullfeatured dropdown menu complete with links to helpful resources, personalized content, and videos targeted to each persona group.
When our members told us which three pieces of information they need the most, we listened. That’s why we made three key callouts for Safety, Government Relations, and Compliance. We also spent a lot of time looking at data and interviewing folks, and what we learned was that you needed to find what you were looking for faster. We’ve been able to fix this in several important ways.
On the Home page, you will see the most recent news posts constantly updating. As soon as a new one is posted, an old one drops behind it, so please check back often! On your persona home page, you will see three to five key news posts just for you. On all of the sub-pages, you will see key news posts in the right rail. The News page features all
the articles filterable by category or tag. See a category or tag grouping you want to keep up on? Bookmark it and you can always return to the freshest information in that grouping. The Search feature located in the header now indexes site-wide. We also listened when you told us you couldn’t find an NSSF research article you were looking for, so we’ve included a prominent spot for them on the Home page as well as within the “hamburger menu” in the upper right corner of the site. Much of this research is available in the Log In section of the site. Our next step is to continue listening, continue refining, and continue serving you—our customers and friends—as you serve the shooting public. We encourage you to visit the redesigned nssf.org site often and provide us with feedback so we can continue to make improvements.
Seven Firearms Ranges Earn Five-Star Ratings
ugust was a busy month for NSSF’s range evaluation staff, with facilities across the country requesting evaluation. Seven made the top Five-Star grade, including California’s
Poway Weapons & Gear Range; Vandalia Range and Armory, in Ohio; On Target Range and Tactical Training Center and Maxon Shooter’s Supplies
14 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
and Indoor Range (both in Illinois); Carolina Sporting Arms, in the Charlotte area of North Carolina; Nashville Armory, in Tennessee; and Colorado’s Bristlecone
Shooting, Training, and Retail Center. Ranges interested in applying for evaluation under NSSF’s Star-Rating Range Program should visit nssf.org and click on the Ranges heading at the top of the page.
North Carolina Praised for New Sunday Hunting Expansion Law
SSF in July praised North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper for signing his state’s bipartisan Sunday hunting expansion legislation. The legislation—HB 559, Outdoor Heritage Enhanced—improves upon the Outdoor Heritage Act passed in 2015, and creates additional opportunities for North Carolina sportsmen and women. “Many hardworking hunters without access to private hunting lands will benefit by being able to participate with their children in the precious limited time available during their favorite hunting seasons,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “We thank Gov. Cooper for standing with North Carolina sportsmen and women by removing barriers to these traditions.” Additional barriers to Sunday hunting will be lifted by allowing the state Wildlife Resources Commission to create a process that could open more than 2 million acres of public land for Sunday hunting. Outdoor Heritage Enhanced also removes prohibitions on hunting within 500 yards of a residence, allows the Wildlife Resources Commission to
conduct a comprehensive study and formulate rules allowing migratory bird hunting on Sunday, removes the blanket prohibition of hunting within counties having a population greater than 700,000 people, and requires any county wishing to “opt out” of Sunday hunting do so by a county-wide voter referendum. The legislation gained the support of Richard Childress, a North Carolina native and life-long hunter. Efforts to create additional hunting opportunities were the focus of the N.C. Sunday Hunting Coalition, including NSSF, NRA, and other shooting-sports and hunting organizations.
SESSIONS INTENDS TO CHARGE MORE CARRIERS OF ILLEGAL GUNS
uring April, May, and June, federal prosecutors brought unlawful possession charges against 2,637 people, mostly convicted felons, according to the Justice Department. During the same period in 2016, prosecutors working in the Obama administration charged 2,149 people. There was also a 10 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for using a firearm in a crime of violence or drug trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that, “Following President Trump’s Executive Order to focus on reducing crime, I directed federal prosecutors
to prioritize taking illegal guns off of our streets, and as a result, we are now prosecuting hundreds more firearms defendants.” As Mr. Sessions’ statement noted, the prosecutions send “a clear message to criminals all over this country that if you carry a gun illegally, you will be held accountable.” According to the statement, the second quarter figures are part of a significant
trend in prosecutions: Based on data from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), in Fiscal Year 2016 (starting October 1), 11,656 defendants were charged with firearms offenses under 18 U.S.C. 922 or 924. EOUSA projects that in Fiscal Year 2017, the department is on pace to charge 12,626 defendants with these firearms crimes. That would be the most federal firearms cases since 2005. It would also be an increase of 8 percent from Fiscal Year 2016, 20 percent from 2015, and an increase of 23 percent from 2014.—Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel
NSSF HOSTS IMPORT/ EXPORT CONFERENCE NSSF, along with the Firearms Import/ Export Round Table (F.A.I.R.) Trade Group, hosted its 16th Annual Firearms Import/ Export Conference this past August in Washington, D.C. The conference focused on ensuring compliance for sales, record keeping, trade controls, export documentation, and understanding International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). NSSF thanks its many industry members and associates for their support of this event, including Platinum sponsor Magpul, Gold sponsor Reeves & Dola, LLP, Silver sponsors Mark Barnes & Associates and TLR, and Bronze sponsors A.N. Deringer; Associated Services in Insurance/ Firearms Insurance Agency; Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP; OCR Services, Inc.; Orchid Advisors, and TWI Group, Inc.
© 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.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 15
U P D AT E
B Y J I M C U R C U R U T O , N S S F D I R E C T O R , I N D U S T R Y R E S E A R C H & A N A LY S I S
R E TA I L E R T O O L B O X
Target Audience Info to help you sell to hunting’s biggest demographic
ith the year at the halfway mark and summer under way, firearms retailers across the country are beginning to shift their inventories in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons. While every year your regulars come into your store for their annual box of sighting-in ammo and maybe a new pair of boots for the colder months, there are many more hunters out there who are tapped into all the current hunting technology and looking to upgrade. Those equipment upgrades—whether guns, optics, clothing, treestands, decoys, or dozens of others—can be your year’s silver lining. But how do you know what to stock—and, more important, how to market it to the right audience? NSSF recently partnered with the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) to look at who’s participating in the shooting sports and hunting. The resulting report, “NSGA Shooting Sports Participation in 2016,” provides a treasure trove of answers to those questions, giving retailers an easy way to tap into their customers’ needs and stock the merchandise that will generate high turn rates and profits. Let’s look at just one of the highlights from this report, and examine how working with this information can help you do just that.
WINNING THE BIGGEST DEMOGRAPHIC ➤ In
2016, 33 million people participated in hunting or target shooting in the U.S. Of that number, the largest group of participants were those in the 25- to 34-year-old age range, which topped out at 6.7 million participants. What can you do with this information? INVENTORY: While your annual sighting-in ammo buyers are true to you and you’ll want to make sure you have on hand what they need, they aren’t your profit center. That center, it should be obvious, is with those 25- to 34-year-olds, because they’re the ones with the highest participation. So, if
your store is lacking in customers falling into this age group, then you’ll likely want to add inventory that interests this group specifically. Think about what you wanted when you were that age. Probably the latest and greatest, right? That means you better be up to speed on the products that are cutting edge technologically. For instance, you’ll want this year’s trail camera models (because last year’s are so, like, last year). Same with clothing and footwear. Remember that when you focus your inventory on goods that are more complex— advanced fabrics and camouflage patterns in clothing and footwear, connectivity to smartphones and tablets for trail cams, etc.—your staff will need to understand and be able to fully discuss with their customers all the advances in this year’s products over last year’s. This customer group can be savvy in their buying decisions. They know where to find information—it’s all just a click
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away—so you’ll need to wow them with customer service and expertise to earn the instore sale instead of losing it to the internet. Of course, the benefits of having your staff educated on new inventory won’t be limited to just that group of rising young professionals and hipsters. That kind of well-versed staff will be able to convert hunting and shooting sports participants of all levels and demographics into loyal customers that will provide you with steady business. MARKETING: If you’re going to stock inventory that a younger, educated crowd will buy, you’ll have to let them know you have it. So, if your annual marketing plan has been to place an ad in the Saturday sports section of the local paper, you’re going to need to change things up. Improve your store’s online presence (including its ability to rank high in search results), expand your social media outreach—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter—and work with an ad agent who can help you place cyber ads in the right places. Another trending tactic is to include short video clips on your website and social media posts, especially those telling about products both new to the market in general and new to your store. But you can mix it up with things like
“Shooting Tip of the Week,” “Gun Care Tip of the Week”— anything that’s short, sweet, and grabs the viewer’s interest, leading them to see you as a go-to resource for all things firearms. CREATING NEW MARKETS: With an age group that’s prone to wanting to have the newest thing on the market, you may have an unrealized used-product market at your fingertips. Sure, most firearms retail stores sell used firearms, but what if you were to create a used-goods section for other merchandise—optics, clothing, last year’s trail cams, last year’s bows, etc? That 25- to 34-yearold group is one that’s embraced a world with less waste, so if you provide them with a place where their previous purchases can be recycled—something those in older demographics and who aren’t so inclined anymore to desire the newest of everything will appreciate and take advantage of as a bargain—you’ve put money in your pocket, money in theirs, and, when they buy this year’s latest, more money in your pocket. This is just one example of what you can do with the “NSGA Shooting Sports Participation Report” when you examine its statistics and compare them to the customers your store is seeing and the goods it’s selling them. There’s much more. The report is free to NSSF Voting Members and $150 to all other NSSF Members.
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
A Coming Milestone Mark your calendars for 2018 SHOT Show events!
e’re now just a little more than three months away from the 2018 SHOT Show. This coming show is a milestone for us. It’s our 40th anniversary, and we’ve come a long way since our humble beginnings at that first show, in St. Louis, in 1979. I don’t know that anyone back then could have envisioned the evolution SHOT Show would take to what has now become SHOT Week. That means there’s a lot to celebrate, and the best way we can do that is by having the best SHOT Show ever. For everyone planning to attend the SHOT Show and celebrate the success of our industry, here’s what you can look forward to.
HAVA GOLF CLASSIC ➤ Join
more than 100 industry leaders during SHOT Week for the NSSF/Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) Golf Classic on Sunday, January 21, 2018, at Bear’s Best Las Vegas. HAVA is a firearms-industryrun organization that helps with the healing and reintegration of disabled combat veterans back into civilian life through participation in hunting and shooting sports. The HAVA Board of Directors, which includes chairman Tom Taylor and myself, is made up of industry executives committed to directing more resources from such events to immediate work for these returning heroes and their families. All the proceeds from this event will benefit HAVA outreach programs. Participation in the 2018 NSSF/HAVA Golf Classic is The invitation-only Industry Day at the Range event occurs on the day before SHOT Show.
only $200 per golfer, and companies registering for a foursome receive one complimentary registration (foursomes can register for $600). Don’t miss out on a fun-filled day of golf and camaraderie. Go to shotshow.org and click on the Events heading at the top of the page. There you’ll find the link to the HAVA event, where you can register online.
SHOT Show. If you’ve received an invitation to attend Industry Day at the Range, don’t pass up the opportunity to attend. Feedback from buyers who have attended in the last two years tells us this hands-on experience is invaluable to making buying decisions at the show and their ability to sell to their customers back home. More information is available at shotshowrangeday.com.
INDUSTRY DAY AT THE RANGE ➤ This event takes place at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club on Monday, January 22, the day before the show opens, and is an invitation-only event for media members and buyers. NSSF is the day’s title sponsor. More than 170 manufacturers will be attending to provide a first look and opportunity to shoot and experience the firearms, ammunition, and gear making their debut at the 2018
EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT SEMINAR ➤ Hone your leadership skills and discover management techniques to make workplaces more productive and profitable, while also building employee and customer satisfaction and loyalty. If you’re running a company of any size or employ layers of management staff, put this daylong seminar—taking place Monday, January 22, the day before the show opens—at the top of your SHOT Week schedule. For more information, go to shotshow.org and click on the Events heading.
SUPPLIER SHOWCASE ➤ Last year, we debuted our Supplier Showcase as a way to enhance connections between our industry’s manufacturers and those third-party OEM suppliers essential to their busi-
nesses. This event was so successful—more than 3,000 CEOs, procurement specialists, engineers, and manufacturing designers met with more than 200 suppliers of plastics, fabrication processors, machinery, metals, fabrics, tools, software, and logistical support—we’ve made this a two-day event for 2018. We know that many readers of SHOT Business are manufacturers who will be attending SHOT Show either as exhibitors or as those working with our International Buyers Program and Trade Centers. If this describes you, ink in the 2018 Supplier Showcase, taking place Monday and Tuesday, January 22 and 23, on your planning calendar. Go to shotshow.org and click on the Events heading for more information. SHOT SHOW UNIVERSITY ➤ Whether
you’re a buyer attending your first SHOT Show or a veteran of all 40, SHOT Show University offers something for everyone. Taking place Monday, January 22, the day before the show opens, this premier educational forum for retailers and range owners covers subjects as diverse as leasing versus buying retail space, employee engagement and retention, marketing through new media channels, and modern range technologies. Go to shotshow.org, click on Attendees at the top of the page, and follow the link labeled Retailers and Ranges in the dropdown menu.
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 17
B Y R O B E R T F. S TA E G E R
Guided by Voices Before sinking a fortune into a new product, let the Voice of the Customer help steer development
oe Jackson sang, “You can’t get what you want/till you know what you want.” And getting what you need is another song entirely. But how can you tell what a customer wants, when often they don’t even know it themselves?
One effective way is Voice of the Customer (VOC) research, a technique developed in the early 1990s. Gerry Katz, vice chairman of Applied Marketing Science, a market research group that specializes in VOC studies (and who spoke at the 2017 SHOT Show Executive Management Seminar), explains the problem with standard market research. “Most customers aren’t very creative, so what they do is they play back something that already exists in the marketplace. In Voice of the Customer terms, what we really want to do is ask them why they think they need that.” Therefore, VOC research takes a deeper look with a twostage process. First up are a series of extensive interviews in which users are asked about a product, and are observed interacting with it. Let’s say a manufacturer wants to redesign a handgun because they’ve gotten feedback about loading issues. “We shouldn’t be asking customers how to solve the problem,” says Katz. “I want to understand what makes it difficult to load. I might want to watch them loading it. If they say they’re having trouble with the safety, show me. My job in VOC is to get a really detailed, thorough understanding of the underlying need.” It’s important to record the interviews as they’re conducted, and not just take notes. (Notetaking will be colored by the interviewer’s unconscious biases.) To get a truer reflection of customer needs, each interview is transcribed, and then the
“need” statements are plucked out and compiled. Eventually, similar statements are grouped together. Typically, the research yields 20 or 30 need groups. “Then we ask customers to prioritize those groups,” says Katz. “They prioritize them in two ways. They rate each of those 20 to 30 clusters on how important they are, and how well satisfied they are by current products.” From there, it’s possible to rank the needs into four quadrants: Those high in importance and high in satisfaction; high importance/low satisfac-
tion; low importance/high satisfaction; and low importance/ low satisfaction. Obviously, the high-import, low-satisfaction areas are crucial to work on. If your product is failing at one of its primary functions, fixing that is a top priority. But the low-import, lowsatisfaction needs are worth addressing, too. “Those might be hidden opportunities,” says Katz. “Some needs get rated as unimportant because people think the market can’t do better.” That is, until an innovation turns the industry on its head.
Figuring out just what customers want when they’re in your store can be tricky because what they say may not necessarily be what they mean.
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Consider portable music, says Katz. When he was a kid, it meant settling for the mono fuzz of a transistor radio. But sound quality wasn’t considered important back then—the static was just an inescapable fact of life. Young Gerry would’ve rated sound quality as low satisfaction/low importance. Then came the Walkman. And aftermarket headphones. All the way up to his current, high-end choice. “Today, I pay $300 for Bose noise-canceling headphones, because you can get really, really good sound. So there are some hidden opportunities in those lowimportance, low-satisfaction areas,” says Katz. What about results? Some studies offer convincing proof of VOC’s effectiveness. The Product Development and Management Association surveyed 216 companies in 2012, and found that the companies rated in the top 26 percent of performance (“the best”) were three times more likely to use VOC studies than the lower 74 percent (“the rest”). “Companies that do VOC succeed more often,” says Katz. “It’s not a guarantee, but you’re more likely to work on the right problem, come up with better solutions, and end up with a more successful product and happy customers.” If you’re interested in pursuing VOC research for your business, Applied Marketing Science (ams-inc.com) is one of the leading firms in the field. (One of its founders, John Hauser, helped originate the technique.) AMS can handle all the research for you, but it also offers seminars on how to conduct it yourself—and has a menu of options to mix and match if you prefer to do the research in collaboration with the firm. Ultimately, the job of VOC is to identify your customers’ underlying needs. Once you know those, you have a better shot at filling them.
Meet your next rifle.
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BY RICHARD MANN
The R51 is a single-action, 9mm hammerless pistol that is an ideal candidate for concealed carry.
Perfected Protection Remington’s reintroduced R51 hits the mark
doubt another firearm in recent memory has caused as much controversy as Remington’s R51. Originally introduced in early 2014, the R51 was a radical departure from conventional handgun design. Because of the R51’s unique character, Remington initially struggled with the manufacturing process and quality control. A portion of the 3,000 pistols released had issues. The resulting online frenzy was unparalleled.
Perfectly working pre-production samples sent to gun scribes for review were part of the problem. The writers reported positively, but when some R51s reached consumers, they didn’t work. Bloggers and buyers began posting bad reports. This led to a conspiracy theory that Remington was working with magazines and editors to propagate a lie. The idiocy of this assertion staggers the imagination. Unquestionably, Remington rushed the R51’s release, but the manufacturer stepped up and issued a voluntary recall that incorporated a generous replacement offer. Then, it went to work correcting the problem. It was not a quick fix. Last summer, Remington re-released the R51. I received one of the new R51s for testing. If you’re unfamiliar with the R51, here’s what you need to know. The R51 is based on the Remington model 51, a handgun design from 1917, engineered by John Pedersen.
What’s unique about Pedersen’s design is the fixed barrel and the camming action of the breach block. Together, they allow for an easy-operating slide, a low bore axis, and controllable recoil. Obviously, these features are very desirable on any 9mm self-defense pistol. The pistol’s appeal does not stop there. It is only 6.68 inches long and 4.63 inches tall. And, at its widest, it measures a scant 1.08 inches. Sans magazine, the R51 weighs 21 ounces. Fully loaded, with seven in the magazine and one in the chamber, it weighs 26.3 ounces. That’s impressively light for a compact, +P-rated, non-polymer pistol. At first look, you’ll think the R51 is striker-fired. Actually, it’s a singleaction with an internal hammer. This allows for a pleasingly crisp 4-pound trigger pull. In addition, the R51 has an ambidextrous magazine release, snag-free three-dot sights, and a streamlined profile, making it well suited for concealed
20 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
The author shot more than 1,100 rounds through the reintroduced R51 and experienced only three stoppages, all within the first 60 rounds.
carry. Combined with a low suggested retail price of $448, the reintroduced R51 should appeal to anyone prepared to take responsibility for his or her own safety. The question that remains is if Remington fixed the R51. As when testing the early pre-production R51, all I have to go on are the reintroduced pistols that I shot at the factory and the R51 I abused at home. I fired 1,156 rounds through that pistol using nine different loads. There were three stoppages within the first 60 rounds, but the pistol has run flawlessly ever since. A brief break-in is of no consequence; only a fool would carry a pistol he’d not fired 100 times or more. Some online commandos are still giving the R51 the stink eye. This, I suspect, is mostly a way to increase web traffic. I’ve the same opinion of the reintroduced R51 as I had of the original: I trust it, especially when it’s the only thing between me and evil. (remington.com)
UNDERCOVER SHOPPER group of employees to greet me. I asked my question. “Well, we don’t have anything new in stock, but we can order a Ruger No. 1,” he said. “And we have several used firearms that will serve you well.” He reached into a line of single-shot rifles and handed me a Thompson Centerfire (T/C) Encore 7mm Rem. Mag. rigged with a camo stock, a Bushnell 3200 scope, and a bipod. “This is a good gun, a good package, and a good caliber. It’s a good price, too. You would be ready to go with it.” He then introduced me to another employee, who owns several Encores. He, in turn, spent a half-hour discussing the versatility, performance, and price of the Encore platform. I thanked the men and left, wishing this was my local store. STORE B
“Whatcha Got in a Single-Shot?” The single-shot big-game rifle doesn’t appeal to everyone, but several retailers around Richmond, Virginia, did their best to meet a customer’s needs
ingle-shot .22s inspire memories of first guns and wrapping paper. And it’s easy to forget that these guns have filled their share of sacks with small game, turkeys, and even whitetail deer. In the fall, I will hike into the Colorado backcountry for muleys and elk, and I want to do so with a single-shot. So, I visited four gun shops around Richmond, Virginia. I explained my hunt and asked, “Whatcha got in a single-shot?”
NOT ORDINARY ➤ The
store was a big square, no denying it. But, two things told me this was no ordinary big-box store.
The unfamiliar store name was punctuated by an “Established 1947” tagline, and right near the front door a guy was selling Rappahannock oysters from
22 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
his pickup under a handmade sign. The expansive back wall of the store was dedicated to long guns, but I had my doubts. One employee stepped out of a
➤ A giant stone fireplace and full-body mounts of a trophy whitetail buck and a doe welcome visitors to this store. No staff, though. In the firearms section, a crowd of customers stood around trying to decipher the system of access to the few employees behind the counter. I found an employee and stood at the fringes of his conversation with some customers for about 30 minutes. Finally, I got my chance and I asked my question. He led me over to a Browning Model 1885 High Wall 7mm Rem. Mag. “This will do it,” he said. Then he answered the phone and chatted for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I discovered a rack of a dozen Ruger No. 1s. After a while, the employee stopped in to explain these rifles were bought a long time ago and never sold. “I need to go take care of something,” he
DON’T BOTHER ME
UNDERCOVER SHOPPER said, and that was that. STORE C
ON POINT ➤ Polished. Inviting. Thoughtfully presented. From the broad street sign to the product layout and the presentation of services, this place was on point. An NSSF range-safety video played on a big screen for all to watch and hear. Shooters stepped out of the range at the back. Several families perused the shelves, which were filled with tactical gear, concealed
carry, and other gear for learning and practicing the shooting sports. MSRs covered the walls. Handguns filled the glass cabinets. I knew this wasn’t a hunting store, but I thought I’d take my chances. The guy behind the counter welcomed me. I explained my situation. As luck would have it, he turned and picked up a used Ruger No. 1 in a .30/06 with a bipod. It was one of maybe a half-dozen traditional rifles and shotguns, and it would
definitely get the job done. We talked for a moment about the Ruger. Then he made the best case he could for an M&P MSR in a .308. It’s one-third the weight, has more carry options, and it’s highly adjustable, he said. I thanked him, reiterated my preference for the single shot, and left—envious of shooters who live nearby. STORE D
SPECIFIC BASE ➤ The business name online suggested I would find a
world of gun options. But when I arrived, two business names marked the aging building, and they suggested very different things. Inside, it was clear that the business, in fact, serviced a very specific customer base: local law enforcement. The guy behind the counter welcomed me. He explained their LE focus and pointed me to a .270 single-shot Rossi Wizard. He then recommended a couple of other businesses. I thanked him for his time.
How’d They Do? Customer Service
The staff shared my interest and appreciation for singleshots. And their focus was on my preferences and my success.
They were knowledgeable about many single-shot rifle makes and models. And, specifically, they had years of experience hunting with a platform that matched my needs.
While there is relatively little demand for single-shot rifles, they had multiple rifles on hand that would get the job done for me, and offered to order new rifles.
While customer service is not what draws us to big-box stores, this experience may just have determined that I only shop at a national chain in an emergency—and only online.
The salesman was right: The Browning Model 1885 High Wall 7mm Rem. Mag. would get it done. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it wasn’t a guess.
They had some new singleshot rifles that would meet my needs.
Even though this wasn’t a hunting store, he knew hunting and knew his firearms.
There was no reason to expect this store to have a rifle that would meet my needs, but they did.
The staff member was friendly and helpful.
The saleperson was helpful and friendly, and willing to direct me elsewhere.
The staff member knew his firearms—though hunting guns were not his strong suit.
The business name suggested something they didn’t offer: a world of guns.
The staff at Green Top Sporting Goods were knowledgeable and well equipped to help. Store C (colonial shooting academy) deserves a special shout-out for providing superior customer service in a product area outside its business model. Green Top Sporting Goods 10150 Lakeridge Parkway Ashland, VA 23005 804-551-9021 greentop huntfish.com
SCORING SYSTEM: Outstanding:
24 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
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PHOTO BY TIM IRWIN
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Used guns can be a valuable proďŹ t center, but not if theyâ€™re relegated to a dim corner of the shop By Wayne Van Zwoll
S H O T B U S I N E S S O C T. / N O V. 2 0 1 7
Hoo-boy. Twelve hundred bucks. “I remember when these sold for $25!” I couldn’t help saying so. The proprietor shrugged. “Wish I’d bought a bunch of ’em, too!” He understood. An old Krag carbine propped in a corner once got all the attention of a broom. Now, an unaltered specimen is a prize. None of the rifles in that secondhand rack had escaped damage or tinkering. I’d scrutinized all, from aged infantry arms to a bruised Savage 99 perforated for a side mount. The dozen or so shotguns had seen hard field use, with one exception—An early Ithaca 37 appeared factory-fresh. No tag. “How much?”
SELLING USED GUNS
“I’ll knock off some for cash.” He then quoted a figure six times as much as the 16-bore had cost new. I sighed, thanked him, and perused the pistols. A Python at two grand. A reblued S&W K38, a few 1911s, and Ruger singleactions.
Paying the Bills You may not have left that shop, as I did, without a closer look at those new striker-fired guns or the AR-15s and synthetic-stocked bolt rifles lining the wall. But if you’re selling, not shopping, your habits matter little. Customers pay your bills, and right now in many gun stores, traffic is migrating toward secondhand racks. “We get regular visits from old duffers,” a shop owner told me. “They shuffle past the new stuff, hoping they’re first to a recent trade-in we’ve underpriced.” While we talked, one of his regulars entered. Plaid shirt and roomy jeans. Fleshy middle. Silvered hair thin at the hem of a ball cap. He paused briefly at the Krag, lifting his chin to check the price through bifocals. “A hard sell,” nodded the
help create a nostalGic atMosphere that can nudGe a custoMer to pull out his wallet.
proprietor. “Knows guns. But he’ll strip out the green if he thinks someone might otherwise beat him to a deal.” Later, in another shop, I watched a repeat of that scene. This time the customer was young, in his mid-30s. He wasted not a glance at a row of shiny new MSRs. Instead, we shared the secondhand rack. If visitors to your shop are spending less time browsing lately, they’re probably spending less. As automobile dealers know, people kept onsite, eyes and hands on product, are most apt to buy. You’ve no doubt completed 4473s for customers bent only on leaving with specific hardware, but such blessed sales may well diminish as the imperative to snap up modern sporting rifles has faded, if only temporarily. From what I see and hear, enthusiasts are now supplanting first-time buyers of bedside pistols and novice hunters sifting prices of entry-level long guns. Enthusiasts include an eclectic mix of people, some with narrow focus. You won’t lure them all. However broad and competitively priced your selection of firearms, it will only by chance draw a check from an advanced collector. But the history, scarcity, and obsolescence that make guns collectible enhance the value of more available, affordable models. These can suck in traffic to your shop when monochromatic ranks of the latest MSRs fail to draw a crowd. Remember wood? It once appeared on firearms. At a gun show decades ago, I bought a restocked Mauser with a lovely piece of French walnut because the owner had many rifles to sell and quoted a grad-student price. That .270 would bring with it the friendship of a man who, over many years, would teach me much about rifles. I bought a dozen more from him. He had no shop, but I was surely a customer. A single sale can spark a relationship that serves buyer and seller. It
INSIDE PHOTOS BY AUTHOR
SELLING USED GUNS
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EARLY TANG SIGHTS BrinG Fat prices . their reMoVal aFFects the Value oF a riFle liKe this 1892, But not By Much.
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THIS HOLLAND & HOLLAND was stored in a coat closet. put out the word youâ€™ll pay For used Guns!
SELLING USED GUNS
can broaden the enthusiast’s field of interest, as it did mine. It all but ensures repeat visits as well. If memory serves, I’ve returned to every shop that has sold me a firearm, and referred other enthusiasts to them.
Character Matters Unlike new models with only mechanical and ballistic virtues, secondhand guns have character. They’ve traveled, some to wild places. They’ve molded someone’s holster or scabbard, or pulled birds to someone’s prize retriever. Each has a past as unique as the walnut in its stock or grips. Last fall I hunted with a borrowed 1899 Savage. This .25/35 had short reach, an anemic punch. But it brought to hand that innocent time before the Great War. Silently it carried an era all but palpable in its wear-polished walnut,
barely veiled behind its brass front blade. “I got a new rifle last week,” said a pal on the phone recently. He builds super-accurate rifles on costly actions, so I expected him to extol the virtues of some modern wunderkind. Instead, he said, “It’s a .22 High Power. Dates to the ’20s. Know where I can find some .227 bullets?” You won’t get such interesting firearms from factories or distributors. You’ll have to buy or trade for them. The internet has reduced the chances you’ll find a steal in local classifieds. But not every hunter old enough to have paid $315 for his Browning Superposed or $95 for a S&W 38/44 Outdoorsman lives online or wants to ship guns. Let customers know you’re looking for used firearms—and can appraise them. The best guns from estates often wind up with appraisers. When price stalls a customer
draw attention, and displays such as this can help clinch a deal.
ogling a new gun at your counter, recite the car-dealer mantra: “We give top dollar for trades!” A car lot packed with shiny vehicles draws the most interest. So your shop will get more traffic if the used-gun racks are full. Plumping your secondhand inventory also costs less than adding new guns. The Blue Book of Gun Values is a huge help in pricing firearms. Reaching beyond local markets, you’ll find more secondhand guns and can nudge your asking prices higher. But staying local throttles advertising and shipping costs as well as risk. You get models and chamberings popular in your region, guns most likely to attract walk-in buyers. Your gun shop isn’t a hardware store. Customers don’t need firearms the way they need hammers
S H O T B U S I N E S S O C T. / N O V. 2 0 1 7
SELLING USED GUNS
Cartridges and Caveats Most shooters know the .244 and 6mm Remington are identical, that the 7x57, 7mm Mauser, and .275 Rigby are also one, and that the 7.62x51 NATO is a military .308. They know you can fire .22 Shorts in .22 Long Rifle chambers, .38 Specials in .357s, .44 Specials in .44 Magnums, .45 Colts in .454 Casulls. They may know the .41 Magnum, with a .410 bullet, doesn’t follow suit; .41 Long Colt bullets mic .386! Knowing common cartridge substitutions in old firearms—and those to avoid—can help you sell guns bored for obsolete rounds. For instance, .25/35 ammo can be used in rifles for the .25/36 Marlin. But while .38/55 rifles accept .375 Winchester ammo, its high pressure makes it hazardous in vintage .38/55s. A common question: Are the .223 and 5.56 the same? The .223 arrived in 1957 for the Armalite AR-15 rifle. After adoption by the U.S. military, and a couple of bullet changes, it became the 5.56x45 NATO. Remington began barreling .223 rifles with an abbreviated throat and steep leade (entering angle of the lands) to enhance accuracy. The generous chambers of battle rifles aided cycling with dirty ammo. Case dimensions for the .223 and 5.56 are the same. Ballisticians tell me, though, that the .223 is loaded to 55,400 CUP, 5.56 service loads to 58,500. Freebore in .223s is commonly .125 shorter than in 5.56s. SAAMI recommends that shooters do not use 5.56 ammo in .223 barrels. Guarantees on used firearms? Your call. Whether buying or selling, I assume every sale is final. It’s the frontier way to deal in used guns.
and saddle are Both hard-used. But toGether they draw the eye. character sells, so Be sure to tap into it.
and doorknobs. They don’t dash in and hurry out. Instead, they loiter, holstering, aiming, and swinging as they imagine the next hunt or contemplate personal safety. They find in your digs other enthusiasts to chat up, learn from, and argue with. A used-gun rack triggers memories that fuel stories. Everyone likes stories. Everyone longs to be an important part of a larger narrative. Oddly enough, many shops give secondhand guns second-tier status, stacking them at rack ends or in dim corners. To draw attention to used guns, display them prominently and apart from new ones, so buy-
ers like me see them. Mark the model, chambering, and price on a hang tag anyone can read without having to handle the firearm. Add another tag to note attributes that hike value (“pre-’64” for a Winchester 70, for example). Accoutrements like costly scopes and folding tang sights may profit you most when sold separately. Cabela’s taps into the imagination of customers with plush Gun Libraries that add perceived value to used firearms. Bristling with antlers bigger than most hunters will ever see afield, Cabela’s is a destination, not just a source. Your gun shop, if
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Selling Tips By the Dozen HAVING BOUGHT MANY FIREARMS SINCE MY FIRST IN 1964, AND SOLD FAR TOO MANY, I’VE LEARNED THE FOLLOWING:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
BRANDS MATTER. Guns with a name other than the manufacturer’s (Glenfield, not Marlin) bring less. COMMON MODELS in pristine condition sell quickly and at a premium, especially with box and tag.
PRETTY WOOD makes an ordinary gun look valuable. So do screws that have never been touched. A LIGHT SCRUB with a toothbrush and boiled linseed oil renews checkering. Follow with a dry brush.
REFINISHING AND ALTERATIONS repel enthusiasts, even if the changes don’t affect feel or function. CLEANING A BORE is like detailing the interior of a car: a quick, easy effort certain to be noticed.
A CHEAP OR MARRED scope adds no value to a fine rifle. Ditto a cheap strap. A proper leather sling can! UNSCARRED PERIOD scopes and mounts are best left on if the rifle was drilled or altered to accept them.
less palatial, can work the same magic. Besides taxidermy, you can add posters and calendars. The iconic image of John Wayne, Winchester in one hand, saddle in the other, still appeals to men of his generation— but also to youth. The Duke was a screen hero; heroes command attention. Although black-and-white Westerns have given way to dark police serials, the appeal of a cowboy at full gallop, carbine or six-gun in hand, remains. Resurrect the Old West near racks of early lever rifles and stacks of Cowboy Action ammo, and you may attract even those
ogling the guns of “black-ops” video games. Theme-based enticements to other firearms include hunting photos, vintage cartridge boxes, or copies or covers of period magazines. Old bullet boards and the more affordable tin reproductions of industry placards also set the mood. Bringing your shop to life in this manner broadens the overall appeal of these guns and helps draw in new, younger customers. When bent, graying duffers in loose overalls must step around customers in their 20s and 30s to peruse your used firearms, you’re on the path to bigger profits.
CUSTOM-BUILT RIFLES seldom bring near-replacement cost, and are often hard to move even when priced low. A DARK BORE or a frosted throat doesn’t preclude tight groups, but it can affect how soon a gun sells.
CYLINDER PLAY on the crane and indexing tells much about a revolver’s past, and its accuracy. REPLACING A BADLY fitted or shaped aftermarket recoil pad, or a disfigured one, can help a gun sell.
COMPLETE SHOOTABILITY: LIGHT, CRISP M2.0 TRIGGER. TACTILE RESET. AGGRESSIVE TEXTURE. OPTIMAL GRIP ANGLE. MADE IN USA
A CLEAN SLATE For Sig Sauer, building a state-of-the-art ammo plant required a whole new approach BY S L ATON L . W H I T E
. W. Bliss was a manufacturer of heavy equipment (power-stamping presses and the like), founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1867. It has long been out of business. So, why, you might ask, will you find one of its vintage machines on the brass line at Sig Sauer’s brand-spankingnew ammunition factory in Jacksonville, Arkansas? A factory that was designed—according to Daniel Powers, president of Sig’s ammo business—to be a state-of-the-art facility created from “the ground up with a clean slate” to use the latest in efficient production techniques?
Because Powers is no dummy, and he knew that those old Bliss machines, once properly retrofitted with modern software controls, would work splendidly with Sig’s new high-tech machines, some of which he personally designed. Another question that might occur, given the competitive nature of the ammo business, is why Sig Sauer is in the ammo business at all? The answer to that question is supplied by Bud Fini, Sig Sauer’s executive vice president. “Why did we feel it was necessary to design and build a new ammo plant? Well, there were two reasons. First, as a manufacturer of firearms, we shoot an awful lot of ammunition while testing and developing our products. Millions of rounds per year. And we found that the ammunition we purchased on the open market was not up to our standards.” Think, for a moment, about the magnitude of that
A mixture of vintage equipment married to modern software helps Sig Sauer’s ammo plant achieve its goal of quality and efficiency.
problem. You’re spending precious resources to develop high-quality firearms, and you don’t know if function issues are the result of a design or production flaw on your part or the ammo you’re using in testing. “We realized it wasn’t the firearm,” Fini says. “It was the ammunition. And the only way to get the quality of ammunition we wanted was to make it ourselves. “Second, Sig is an international company. We do a lot of business overseas with governments, military, and police, and those people have become accustomed to what a lot of people have become accustomed to—onestop shopping. Consumers like to go one place for a complete system.” That rationale dovetails into the first. “If they [government, military, police] do a tender for a firearm and someone else supplies the ammunition, who do they go to if they have a problem? Is it an
ammunition problem or is it a firearm problem? Selling complete packages solves the problem.” One last question. Why should a retailer carry Sig Sauer ammo? What’s the benefit? “I’ve been in the industry for 42 years, and I’ve worked with or for a number of manufacturers,” Fini says. “I find Sig to have the highest customer loyalty of any company I’ve ever worked for. People are truly dedicated to the brand.” Fini believes a smart retailer can take advantage of that brand loyalty. “I think a retailer’s sales ability increases when he tries to give someone a corresponding product made by the same manufacturer.” In other words, if a customer purchases a Sig Sauer firearm, the retailer should be able to put a box or two of Sig ammunition in front of that customer and make that additional sale. There’s also something else at work here: a company ethic that prizes quality above all else. “At Sig, we do things a little differently,” Fini says. “We don’t buy other people’s inventions or companies and re-brand them. We start from a clean sheet of paper and we build it from the ground up because we think we can build a better product. “Jacksonville started with a completely clean slate. The building was a former warehouse, and that allowed us to custom-design the facility exactly the way we wanted. That gives us an incredible competitive advantage. And it gives the retailer who carries Sig ammo
along with other Sig products a competitive advantage in a highly competitive marketplace.”
PROVING THE THEORY Sig Sauer made the decision to manufacture its own line of ammunition in 2012. By early 2013, ammo was rolling off the line in a 25,000-square-foot plant in Kentucky. It wasn’t an ideal site, but it was a start. “Kentucky proved our theory, that we could make our own quality ammo,” says Powers. “We started with five products, and within a year were producing 26.” What became very apparent, very quickly as it turned out, was that the Kentucky facility was woefully inadequate to meet Sig’s long-term needs. It didn’t even have enough room for a brass line, a component for which Sig wanted full control. Sig not only needed a facility large enough to house those old Bliss warhorses, it also required a site that could accommodate the manufacturer’s ambitious plans for growth. The Jacksonville site covers 70,000 square feet, leaving plenty of room for expansion. In addition, the company purchased another 43 acres of adjacent land. “A clean slate and a new site required new thinking and a new way of doing things,” Powers says. And that “clean slate” concept allowed Sig to incorporate on-site testing facilities into the original design in Jacksonville. “We Automation rules, but there are still key steps that require the human touch. The typical workweek consists of four 10-hour shifts.
38 Testing for FBI protocols (right) with 9mm V-Crown JHPs. Ballistic gelatin (below) is made on-site in a temperaturecontrolled room.
couldn’t shoot on-site in Kentucky,” he says. “Here, we have six ranges on-site, and we can shoot indoors, in controlled circumstances. It saves us a lot of valuable time.” The plant also has a climate-controlled room where specs can be checked. For example, during my visit, a technician was checking the runout of selected casings. Here, again, you will see a blending of the old and the new. The stout gauge stands were from the 1940s, but they were equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, all of it tied into computers and iPads. Another room is devoted to making ballistic gelatin. The hot-water tank where the gelatin is dissolved and the refrigerators where the blocks are stored are precisely controlled for temperature. In this way, Sig engineers know they will have a consistent and unvarying medium into which to shoot. Testing for FBI protocols is across the hall, limiting the distance the gelatin must
Current Offerings Currently, Sig Sauer ammunition is available in the following configurations. Pistol: V-Crown (JHP): .380 Auto, .38 Spl., 9mm, .357 Sig, .357 Mag., .38 Super +P, .40 S&W, 10mm, .44 Rem. Mag., .44 S&W Spl., .45 Auto, and .45 Colt. SIG FMJ: .380 Auto, .38 Spl., 9mm, .357 Sig, .357 Mag., .38 Super +P, .40 S&W, 10mm, and .45 Auto. Rifle: Match Grade Open Tip Match (OTM): .223 Rem., .308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., 300BLK Subsonic, 300BLK Supersonic, and 6.5 Creedmoor. Hunting: Sig HT: .223 Rem., .308 Win., .300 Win. Mag., and 300BLK Supersonic.
travel. Doing so also saves a great deal of time, further enhancing the efficiency of the facility. This attention to detail extends to the components sourced from other manufacturers. “We work with various powder and primer manufacturers and test 50 to 75 different loads of every powder and primer for overall performance before selecting the combination that meets our goals for each particular round,” says Powers. “Similar care is taken when selecting the best brass from various sources, and we are moving toward making our rifle brass in-house.”
PRECISION AND CONSISTENCY Powers likes to say, “We consider ourselves to be an engineering company. Right now, the plant employs 72 full-time workers, 10 of whom are engineers.” He’s proud of that ratio. “We spend more on R&D than any other company,” he says. Here’s just one example of that philosophy in action. Sig engineers are obsessed with ignition consistency, as they believe, rightly, consistent ignition helps produce consistent accuracy. So, they designed and built a proprietary machine that could precisely fashion the flash hole that would help deliver that consistency. These telling details also help explain the overall design of the plant. The engineering team can get to the line quickly and easily, and the testing areas are just off the main floor. Powers believes the layout of the factory lets his team be “more nimble,” which helps lower the cost of the final product. But to Powers, the most important aspect of the new plant just might be quality. “Here, we can control quality right from the beginning.” And that’s a great place to be.
BUG OUT BAGS
PIC RAIL LIGHTS
COMPLETE PATS KIT
OCTOBER + NOVEMBER 2017
Alte rnative f in a n ci ng o pt i ons for s mall b u si nes s es a r e growing qu ic k ly. B u t yo u n eed to lo ok c lo se ly b ef or e yo u l e ap. + By Mark E. Battersby ďż˝ Illustrations by adofo valle
OCTOBER + NOVEMBER 2017
Small-business lending is becoming big business, with hundreds of millions of dollars raised from new and unique platforms such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and marketplace lending. How can a shooting, hunting, or firearms business, particularly one that might have been denied funding from where permitted, firearms businesses. Equity-based platforms provide backers more conventional sources, take advantage with shares of the business in exchange for the money pledged. In fact, thanks of these speedy financing options while to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, small businesses can avoiding the risks associated with borrowing raise more funds from small investors with fewer restrictions, thus creating from these relatively unknown and more interest in crowdfunding. New businesses or those in their unregulated lenders? early stages can pitch an idea to ordiFirst and foremost, you need to understand the various options now on the market. The basics: Crowdfunding employs an online platform to raise small amounts of money for a project or venture from large numbers of people. Only recently has crowdfunding entered the equity arena. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending involves matching borrowers and lenders through other online platforms. The newer marketplace lending, while largely undefined, encompasses lenders that make loans to higher-risk, lower-income borrowers using microfinance from larger-scale lenders. The entire online lending marketplace, sometimes referred to as “shadow banks,” is an emerging segment of the financial services industry that increasingly uses online platforms to lend directly or indirectly to both consumers and small businesses. Borrowers in need of capital are able to gain access to funds quickly, and typically at lower interest rates than those offered by many banks, making them an attractive loan alternative for borrowers. Let’s take a closer look at each segment of this intriguing and evolving source of capital.
CR OW D FU N DI NG
Crowdfunding platforms are most commonly known for raising money for worthy causes and special projects. Popular platforms include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Crowdrise, which provide reward crowdfunding and, more recently, crowdfunding equity and debt financing. Today, with the permission of the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), crowdfunding is challenging venture capital and angel funding as an alternative source of financing for many small businesses, including,
42 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
nary people as well as wealthy investors who might be interested in investing small amounts of money. In exchange, the business owner offers some small incentive to donors (e.g., a free T-shirt) or a larger incentive (e.g., equity in the business). The new SEC rules allow businesses to raise up to $1 million online from non-accredited investors in a 12-month period. The compliance (essentially, the federal rules under which lenders must operate) usually required in private fund-raising is waived, though borrowers still must provide financial statements. These statements, however, do not have to be audited. Naturally, the ATF’s “responsible persons” rules, as well as state and local laws, apply. The amount an investor can invest via crowdfunding will depend on the investor’s income. According to the SEC, an investor with an annual income and net worth of less than $100,000 can invest $2,000, or 5 percent of their net worth, whichever is greater during a 12-month period. An investor with annual income or a net worth equal to or more than $100,000 can invest 10 percent of their annual income or net worth, whichever is greater. The crowdfunding sites, not the firearms business, must be registered with both the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
P EER-T O- PEE R
Borrowing from individuals and other organizations has also grown rapidly and moved into its own category, often referred to as P2P (peer-to-peer) lending. Much like crowdfunding, P2P lending matches borrowers and lenders through an online platform. P2P borrowers can gain access to funds quickly, and often at lower interest rates than those offered at banks, making this, again, an attractive alternative to more conventional bank loans.
The loans issued are made up of funds from many different investors, ranging from individuals to institutions. P2P lenders underwrite borrowers but don’t fund the loans directly; instead, they act as an intermediary between the borrowing business and institutional investors such as hedge funds and investment banks. Those third-party investors can invest in the loans on online P2P marketplaces, and they, not the P2P lenders, take on the investment risk. Both individual and professional investors benefit by being able to lend money at a range of interest rates based on proprietary credit scores assigned by each platform. Since investors typically fund only a portion of a loan, they can potentially receive steady, attractive returns with the risk spread among multiple borrowers. As a borrower, the firearms business interacts only with the P2P lender. After investors agree to fund the loan, the P2P lender transfers the total loan amount into the borrower’s bank account. The business/borrower repays the P2P lender, and they deal with repaying the investors.
MAR KE TP LA C E L END ING
As a more diversified set of investors, especially institutional investors, become involved on lending platforms, they are driving what has become known as marketplace lending. Online marketplace lending refers to the segment of the financial services industry that uses investment capital to lend directly to small businesses and consumers. Although the volume is tiny when compared with traditional bank lending, marketplace lending is growing. Marketplace lenders employ new, largely automated underwriting processes. Some lenders purportedly rely on big data not evaluated as part of a traditional bank’s underwriting processes. However, there has yet to be one consistent, concise definition of what marketplace lending truly means. The U.S. Treasury has issued a rather broad definition for “Marketplace Lending,” stating that it is: “The segment of the financial services industry that uses investment capital and data-driven online platforms to lend either directly or indirectly to small businesses and so-called consumers.” They go on to say: “Companies operating in this industry tend to fall into three general categories: (1) Balance sheet lenders, (2) online platforms (formerly known as “Peer to Peer” or “P2P”), and (3) bank-affiliated online lenders.” In general, a marketplace lender can be described more concisely as a non-banking financial institution that heavily leverages
technology to drive simplicity and speed of process, and serves a two-sided market of consumers and investors. Marketplace lenders are currently required to comply with federal consumer financial protection laws, such as the Truth in Lending Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Gramm-LeachBliley Act. Peer-to-peer lenders who fund loans through third-party investors (rather than from their own balance sheets) may also be subject to securities regulation. For the most part, though, marketplace lenders usually are not subject to comprehensive federal or state supervision. However, many marketplace lenders rely on banks to originate loans and merely purchase those loans for resale to platform investors. For these lenders, a borrower may indirectly receive the same regulatory protections as any bank customer. In addition, a marketplace lender that acts as a service provider to one or more banks may be examined by bank regulatory agencies.
O LD O R N EW ?
The majority of alternative online lenders lack a brickand-mortar presence with which to interact with borrowers. This makes it extremely important for borrowers to spend the time necessary to differentiate the models. As previously explained, each type of lender has its own unique business model, with varying revenue streams and diverse motivations for serving their customers. Bank loans continue to dominate the financing space for small and mid-size businesses in need of capital. But by design, online funding portals are more nimble, enabling them to operate with lower costs by not having to follow the same compliance and regulatory requirements. Crowdfunding, peer-to-peer loans, and the closely related marketplace loans offer an often less expensive source for the funds needed by a firearms business. They also tend to be much faster than funding through a more conventional bank or financial institution. Deciding which alternative will benefit your firearms business and be less costly may require the services of a loan broker or other qualified professional. At the very least, all options should be thoroughly researched on the internet they all utilize. In this case, it surely pays to look before you leap.
Alternative financing methods can be a faster process than conventional bank loans, but they don’t provide the same level of federal oversight. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ 43
BY BARBARA BAIRD
Precision Measurement Leupold’s high-end rangeﬁnder goes the distance—and then some
ast December, I sat in an elevated blind during Missouri’s alternative deer season, watching a hilltop meadow as one doe after another grazed at 250 yards, oblivious to my presence. There was just one problem—250 yards downrange was too far for my muzzleloader. To leave the blind and put on a stalk would require me to be a shapeshifter, and even the best camo in the world can’t aide with that process. But with a few hours of daylight left, I had time to wait out the deer. I had high hopes they would continue to feed, moving into range as they did.
I knew they were at 250 yards because I had checked the distance with Leupold’s RX-1200i TBR/W rangefinder. And while the deer worked steadily, if slowly, toward me, I used that rangefinder to establish shooting points at 150, 125, and 100 yards. Just before sundown, the deer had moved to within 100 yards. I centered the reticle on the oldest and biggest of the does and was just about the squeeze the trigger when something spooked the herd. My doe trotted out to 125 yards before stopping and nervously looking over her shoulder. It was now or never. I took the shot and she ended up in my freezer. Those venison cabbage rolls now come with a story. There’s something to be said for knowing precisely how far away the target is, which is why so many hunters now use rangefinders. The rangefinder I used on this hunt, introduced last year by Leupold, is at the top price point of its line. Offering the manufacturer’s trademark highperformance DNA (Digitally Enhanced Accuracy) engine, the RX-1200i allows rifle
Leupold’s weatherproof RX-1200i TBR/W rangefinder can read distances out to 1,215 yards.
shooters to enjoy all of its True Ballistic Range (TBR) capabilities along with milliradian-based shot-correction data. Now in its third generation, Leupold’s DNA provides excellent ranging of objects, regardless of texture or color. This new generation is
44 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
smaller than its predecessors and offers several display-intensity settings, available with a quick click, and can be used one-handed. A few of its other user-friendly features include multicoated optics, selectable reticles, and measurements in yards or
meters. As one who wears glasses, I also appreciate the folddown rubber eyecup. Leupold is proud of its Advanced Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology, available in this model and in the RX 1000, which means you will
receive three times greater light transmission as compared to other rangefinders in this class. Whereas traditional rangefinders usually offer a Liquid Crystal Display, the OLED display offers a beautifully clear image because it reflects the display into the light path of the RX optical system. I used the Quick Set Menu for that meadow hunt, which meant I spent my time hunting rather than reading a complicated manual. The RX-1200i weighs only 7.8 ounces. Actual magnification is 6X, and it can read distances out to 1,215 yards. It is also, like other Leupold products, fogproof and weatherproof. I know how I felt about the rangefinder’s performance, but to see how others felt, I checked Leupold’s website for user reviews. Hunters loved the uphill and downhill calculations that seem to return at the speed of light. They also noted the long battery life. Bowhunters will love it, too, because it can drop down to 6 yards accurately. SRP: black/gray, $519.99; Mossy Oak Infinity, $549.99. (leupold.com)
EVERY GIRL’S GOT A TRICK OR TWO UP HER SLEEVE. MINE’S GOT A LASERGUARD.
When it comes to protecting myself, some things just go hand in hand. For me, that’s a Springﬁeld XD-S with a Crimson Trace Laserguard. Surprised? Yeah, I carry. Online dating, working late, single in a huge city. I’ve got to have my own back. I really feel more conﬁdent knowing when that beam comes on it’s like a giant stop sign. Any bad guy’s deﬁnitely going to think twice when they see that dot on their chest. And if he doesn’t stop, I know exactly where my bullet is going. SURVIVAL IS MANDATORY. LASER SIGHTS ARE VITAL.
MY STANDARD EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE AT YOUR PREFERRED RETAILER
W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G W H E R E
B Y P E T E R B . M AT H I E S E N
West Outdoorsman NM of Santa Fe, Santa Fe
This retailer has been in business for more than 40 years and caters to a traditional hunting and custom firearms clientele. Handgun sales are steady. Glock 43s and CZ 2075s hold the top positions, but Shields are just behind. “Overall numbers are good for this store, and the fall season is shaping up nicely,” said counter salesperson Lane Smith. Sales of bolt-action guns are just starting to pick up. Browning X-Bolts and Ruger Americans lead the pack. Sales of modern sporting rifles have been slow all year. Ammo stocks are excellent; even rare calibers are in stock.
550, this general hunting store carries archery, soft goods, firearms, and reloading supplies. The store reported the best summer sales in years. Plenty of Ruger 10/22s and Marlin XTSs in .22, and a lot of .22 ammo crossed the counter. “While .22s finally got on track during the summer, our demand for bolt-action rifles has yet to materialize—at least not so far,” said owner Jane Gustafsen. MSRs are still moving at more than 10 a week. Handgun sales remain strong for Springfield 1911s and XDMs in .40. Smith Shields and hammerless J-Frames are garnering attention, and powder supplies are improving.
Goods for CO the Woods, Durango
Red Rock MT Sporting Goods, Miles City
Located on U.S. 160-
on the high plains of southeastern Montana, this large, independent retailer stocks soft goods, firearms, and reloading supplies. Fall rifle sales are heating up, with Cooper Firearms of Montana, Tikka, and Kimber rifles posting impressive numbers. The most popular calibers have been 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win. Mag., and .243. “Our fall rifle sales are an important part of our business. Handguns sustain us, but boltaction rifles are what we do,” said the owner, who asked to be identified only by the initials C.B. Shotguns are warming up fast, and Benelli Super Black Eagle IIIs, Super-Xs, and Browning BPSs are moving quickly. Handgun sales are steady, with Kimber 1911s and Smith Shields pulling the strongest numbers.
Midwest Gun Shop, WI R&R Loyal
Located in a converted barn in central Wisconsin, this small-town retailer keeps its firearms inventory below 60 units. It also has a limited selection of archery gear and fishing tackle. Top handgun sales go to Shields and Kel-Tec PF9s. A few Glock 43s are also in the mix. “Our customers are very price-sensitive. To meet their needs, we offer layaways. It seems this early summer was slower than I ever remember, but fall is picking up,” said owner Bruce Denton. Bolt-action guns, including Savage Model 93s in .17HMR and Axis rifles in .223, are getting more than one look. Ruger Americans are moving across the counter as well. MSRs are selling at a trickle. The Ruger 556 sits alone in the top sales slot.
46 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
Trigger Time MI Outfitters, Big Rapids
With fishing and archery taking up equal amounts of retail space, this mid-Michigan shop also keeps an average of 400 long guns and handguns on display. Coming out of one the slowest summers in the store’s history, sales have climbed steadily in the last 30 days. “We have really come back since June and July. With the exception of MSRs, our overall numbers across the board are now at or above our 2016 levels,” said counter salesman Curt Campbell. Kimber and Colt 1911s are really making the register ring; Shields and Glock 43s are tied for third place. Bolt-action rifle sales are picking up fast, mainly in .243. Other high-demand calibers include the 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Win. Mag.
Guns, OKButch’s Woodward
The largest firearms dealer in western Oklahoma, this shop specializes in hunting, home safety, and reloading. The storefront keeps nearly 3,000 guns (new and used) in inventory. Handgun sales are steady at this location, with Glock Gen5s and Smith Shields topping the list at the counter. While MSR sales have slowed to one a week, the primary turns are going to Ruger 556s and Sporter IIs. Bolt-action rifle sales are trending up. Ruger American Predators and Precisions, and Savage Model 10s in 6.5 Creedmoor, are turning in the best numbers. “There’s no doubt in my mind that any rifle I stock in 6.5 Creedmoor is going to sell,” said owner Butch Fjoser. “It’s a perfect new caliber.”
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W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G W H E R E
South Dependable AL Sporting Center, Russellville
Stocking just under 200 new and used guns, this gun counter rests inside a hardware store. It keeps two dedicated employees busy catering to a rural northwest Alabama clientele. Handgun sales are even with last year’s numbers, with Glock 43s and SCCY 9mm pistols holding the high sales spots. “We are just as busy as we were last year. Our customers are open to buying anything that’s on sale,” said counter salesman Jeff Robinson. MSR sales have slowed to just two per week—the Ruger 556 is the best seller. Bolt-action sales are up, with an even mix of Browning X-Bolts and Ruger Americans. The 6.5 Creedmoor caliber is dominating sales. “If I get a 6.5 in any configuration
of bolt rifle, it’s gone in a week,” said Robinson.
Lawson’s TN Clothing, Shoes & Outdoors, Loretto
Sport LTD, TX Gun Odessa
Located in middle Tennessee, this large independent has more than 16,000 square feet of floor space, with a mix of soft goods, fishing supplies, and 1,600 firearms. Sales of .22 long guns are the best the store has seen in the past couple of years. Ruger 10/22s lead the pack, but Ruger Americans and Marlin lever actions are posting higher numbers as well. The Savage Stealth in .308 and the Howa 6.5 Creedmoor are also experiencing increased demand. MSR sales are relatively slow, selling at an average of three per month. American Tactical is firmly in the lead. Handgun sales are holding steady, with Glock 43s, Smith Shields, and Kimber 1911 Raptors posting strong numbers.
Etchen PA Joel Guns, Ligonier
Van Raymond ME Outfitters, Brewer
This west Texas retailer specializes in a mix of high-end custom rifles, home security, and reloading components. The store inventories more than 3,000 new and used guns, and has an average staff of six employees. Sales numbers are steady, and handgun sales have been very good. Top sellers include Kimber 1911s, HK VP9s, and Glock 43s. “Our MSR sales are down to about one turn a week, but, overall, our 2017 numbers are looking great,” said manager Kimberly Roberts. At the rifle counter, all things 6.5 Creedmoor are turning quickly. High numbers of Browning X-Bolts and Cooper Firearms of Montana are also passing through the door.
East Beikirch’s NY Ammunition, East Rochester
Started as a hardware store in 1933, this large independent has one New York and two Pennsylvania locations. The three stores move thousands of firearms per year. Handgun sales, however, are not hot, though they have been steady. Glock 43s and Sig 1911s are at the front of the pack. Other movers include Smith Shields and Bodyguards. “Our overall sales are about 50 percent of last year’s. In the Obama era, I could have sold a flamethrower to a snowman,” said owner Alan Rice. Mossberg 500 sales are picking up, as are a few Browning over/ under clay guns. With deer season around the corner, sales of Savage Model 10/110 and 11/111 packages in .270 have been heating up.
48 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
Located in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, this store has a long family history in competitive clays. Located on U.S. Route 30, the shop stocks one of the East’s largest inventories of higher-grade shotguns. The store keeps five full-time employees on the move, including a woodsmith. Browning CX Series over/unders and Beretta 682 combos in 20and 28-gauge are doing well. “One surprise has been how remarkably strong sporting clays has remained in our area. We frequently see brand-new shooters, often from corporate events. These shooters are completely new to shooting sports,” said owner Joel Etchen. Other good sellers include Benelli Vincis, 28-gauge Cordobas, and Beretta A400 Lites.
Stocking more than 600 used and new firearms, this Bangor-area store specializes in hunting, shooting, and flyfishing. Handgun sales are consistent. Smith Shields hold the top spot, followed by Ruger LC9s and LCRs. Glock 43s are also turning regularly. “It’s a price-sensitive market, and we are about 25 percent off in our firearms sales across the board compared to 2016,” said counter salesman Rick Lozier. MSRs have slowed to one turn every week and a half, with sales divided about evenly between Smith Sporters and Ruger 556s. Bolt-action rifles are selling slightly better than they did last year, with Browning X-Bolts and Ruger Americans pulling the best numbers.
NEW PRODUCTS (Continued from page 50)
The design of the Spyderco Hundred Pacer folder was inspired by a deadly Taiwanese viper.
Spyderco ➤ The
Hundred Pacer folder was inspired by a deadly Taiwanese viper with a dis-
Mountainsmith’s softsided coolers now come in three versions.
tinctive horned nose. Its venom is reputedly so toxic that a person bitten by it could only walk a hundred paces before expiring. Designed by knife enthusiast Johnny Liao, the Spyderco Hundred Pacer translates the sweeping lines of the snake’s head into a broad, dramatically curved, full-flat-ground blade. Crafted from premium CTS XHP stainless steel, it features Spyderco’s trademark Round Hole for swift, positive, one-handed opening with either hand. The knife’s stunning handle
scales are machined from layered G-10 to create a non-slip, snakeskin-like texture and contrasting color pattern. To keep the Hundred Pacer poised and ready, the knife features a reversible deep-pocket wire clip that supports ambidextrous tip-up carry. SRP: $359.95. (spyderco.com)
Firearms Business Insurance Wholesalers & Distributors Retail Sales Manufacturers & Importers Ammunition & Bullet Manufacturers Indoor & Outdoor Ranges Gunsmiths Firearms Instructors
Mountainsmith ➤ The Cooloir cooler series features a waterproof, 400-denier TPU/PU coated-nylon exterior, water-resistant zippers, and a removable EVA foam inner-cooler box. Available in three versions: Cooloir 12 (12 cans and ice), Cooloir 24 (24 cans and ice), and Cooloir 36 (36 cans and ice). SRP: $119.95 to $179.95. (mountain
31 Parker Road • Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208
800.526.2199 • email@example.com • www.guninsurance.com
PHOTO BY TESS ROOSEY
Browning The 1911 design has withstood the test of time, but Browning’s new wrinkle is the Black Label 1911-380 Medallion Pro. Designed to accommodate recent advances in .380 ammo, this single-action semi-auto comes in two versions—full size and compact. The fullsize version weighs 17 ½ ounces and has a barrel length of 4 ¼ inches; the compact version weighs 16 ounces and comes with a barrel length of 3 5/8 inches. Both are suitable for sport shooting and concealed carry. Other features include an 8-round magazine capacity, a checkered rosewood grip with gold Buckmark insert, a skeletonized hammer, an extended slide release, and an extended manual thumb safety. SRP: $799.99 to $879.99. (browning.com) (Continued on page 49)
50 ❚ SHOT BUSINESS ❚ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017
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