By Russ Thurman
The beginning of a new business year is always refreshing. It’s a time of renewal, closing the books on the old year and launching into a new one with high expectations for success.
Is that the way we as an industry and as individual businesses are opening the books for 2018?
Admittedly, this is difficult for some, given the challenges of 2017. It was a roller-coaster year with plenty of whiplash and disappointments.
The anticipated — hoped for — recovery from the drop in sales beginning in December 2016 never fully happened. In truth, the industry is still in search of the new normal. With the drop in consumer sales, an overstocked pipeline plagued the industry throughout the year.
Not all categories within the industry reported losses in 2017. While firearm and ammunition sales were down last year, many accessories companies did well. On the retail front, dealers and ranges rate last year’s sales from “okay” to “beating 2016.”
Adding to the negative impact on the industry were the insane shootings, notably in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. Predictably, immediate demands were made for additional gun restrictions, bans and increased background checks. Yes, there was an increase in sales of personal-defense firearms following these tragic shootings, but such reactionary sales do not make for long-term success.
A Stronger Industry
That was last year. Where are we at the beginning of 2018? It’s good to remind ourselves of some major positives.
First, the American people still strongly support the Second Amendment — despite the ever-increasing onslaught of anti-gun/industry attacks. This is extremely important to note. However, we as an industry must never assume such support will always be the case. One of our key ongoing objectives should include reminding Americans of the importance of the Second Amendment and the Constitutional right of individual gun ownership.
Second, Hillary Clinton is not the U.S. president. Let that sink in for a bit. While the Trump Slump has been difficult to weather, a Clinton II presidency would have crushed the industry — and our nation (think: Supreme Court).
Third, President Trump supports the Second Amendment and gun ownership. We can also thank the president for the appointment of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which prevented a disastrous shift to the left in the judicial branch. Just as important, the president’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has overturned burdensome Obama-era regulations, while championing hunting, range development and expanded outdoor recreation on federal lands.
Fourth, we’ve weathered a challenging year. Hard times, successfully navigated, build confidence for overcoming future obstacles. Yes, there are battle scars, but last year wasn’t the first time the industry has faced tough years. There were the major anti-gun/industry battles of the early ’90s, the Clinton years, the 30-plus city and municipality lawsuits, the assault weapons ban, economic recession, the Obama years, etc. We more than survived — we succeeded. The industry is stronger today. The NSSF, with its 12,000 members, is the highly regarded and recognized voice of the industry, and a respected presence on Capitol Hill.
Willing To Change
Looking to the future — despite the challenges — there are new opportunities for those who create exciting new products, develop innovative marketing programs and, most importantly, are willing to change.
There is success to be had for those who learn from the past, with the fortitude to view the future with optimism.
Yes, it’s refreshing to start a new business year.
We’ve Been There Every Year
We at FMG Publications look forward to seeing many of you this month at SHOT Show 2018. NSSF is celebrating its 40th SHOT Show, and we’re proud to say our company will have exhibited at every one of those 40 shows.
Also next month, our company celebrates its 63rd anniversary. We’re proud of our history and our continued commitment to the industry and our readers. If you’re attending SHOT Show, stop by FMG Publications’ booth (#16327). We will be giving away thousands of extra copies of the December and January issues of Shooting Industry, our SHOT Show floor map and copies of our sister publications — American Handgunner and GUNS Magazine.
As we begin 2018, thank you for trusting Shooting Industry magazine to be a part of your business portfolio. We do not take such trust for granted and our team works extremely hard each month to earn that trust. We look forward to continuing as your business partner in 2018.