Promoting Fun Over Fear

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“We’ve doubled our sales numbers over last year, and could have tripled them if we had been able to keep our inventory levels up.”

If you can resonate with this quote (emphasis added) from T&L Tactical Owner Laurie Fettig, you’re not alone.

After several months of record-setting sales, it might be tempting to disregard participating in summer outreach efforts. But, as the “strike while the iron is still hot” adage infers, doing so while interest in firearms ownership is at an all-time high could secure the longevity of your business — which seems odd to write as sales records continue to be shattered around the industry.

Wind Back The Clock

Think back to 2017: The industry was in a state of flux following President Trump’s surprise victory in the Nov. 2016 presidential election. Just months prior, a period of fear-induced buying — fueled by a divisive, contentious, exhausting and often vicious election cycle (déjà vu, anyone?) — resulted in what was then an unprecedented run on firearms, ammunition and related accessories.

After the results of the election and year-end buying season, skyrocketing sales were suddenly replaced by a prolonged stretch of sluggish demand. Inventory flooded the channel, leaving dealers and wholesalers alike in compromised positions as demand dried up. Some businesses never recovered, and the retail landscape was permanently altered.

With National Shooting Sports Month now underway, emphasize the “fun” side of the shooting sports.
It can lead to repeat visits from the legions of first-time gun owners. (Image: NSSF)

Later that year, NSSF unveiled a campaign to help drive participation by declaring August National Shooting Sports Month (NSSM). The timing was ideal as it gave dealers and ranges a ready-made opportunity to engage with lapsed participants during a historically slow period in the calendar year.

Now, here in Aug. 2020 — with the perfect storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and another contentious, uncertain election loom-ing — the fourth running of NSSM comes at an even more important time, despite sales (again) never being higher for many businesses.
Why? Frontier Justice Co-Owner/President Bren Brown captures the spirit behind the initiative pretty well: “Fear is fleeting, but fun is forever.”

If your store can propagate the “fun over fear” message during NSSM and through the rest of this uncertain time — it will be to your long-term benefit.

#RangeChallenge Debut

Zach Snow, NSSF director of retail and range business development, sat down with Shooting Industry to talk about the benefits of promotion fun at the range and a new effort debuting this summer.

“As much as we’re trying to capitalize on the high volume of sales and signups for classes, whenever there’s a little opportunity to put a touch of fun in the equation, it’s only going to help instill memorable experiences — especially for those who are new to the sport,” he said.

Coinciding with NSSM, the #RangeChallenge series is a new endeavor to promote seasonal fun at the range. This series features a “Summer Shots” target, which will offer three courses of fire for participants. They’re encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the #RangeChallenge hashtag, tagging the range and inviting friends to take part in the fun.

“Ultimately, we want to leave them with a great experience and shift their focus from fear to a lifelong engagement with a sport and industry we love and are invested in.”

Jason Gentz, Manager Arnzen Arms

“We’re not heavily focusing on the competitive angle of this, rather a friendly competition between peers — so there won’t be a national scoreboard,” Snow confirmed. “We want this to be inclusive of all skill levels and welcoming for the new gun owner to the seasoned target shooter. It will also increase user-generated content of people having fun at the range.”

Another facet of this endeavor to drive consumer engagement will be weekly #RangeChallenge promotional Gearbox Giveways throughout the month.

“We know ranges and retailers are busier than ever right now, and it’s tough to come up with new events. One easy way to get on board and celebrate NSSM is signing on to be a host of the #RangeChallenge series,” Snow said.

Snow added this is the start of a regular seasonal offering, with a harvest-themed target coming in the fall — which will be heavily co-branded with the +ONE Movement. For more info, visit LetsGoShooting.org/RangeChallenge.

The #RangeChallenge experience is a new component to NSSM — and will be continued on a seasonal basis,
according to NSSF Director of Retail and Range Business Development Zach Snow.

It’s Not Too Late

Even if your store hasn’t done any promotion or prep work to participate in NSSM, it’s not too late. NSSF released a comprehensive e-book resource for ranges: “How to Create Participation and Sales with National Shooting Sports Month.” It’s available, free, to both members and nonmembers.

“This new e-book was developed to ease event organization in these rather chaotic times so our retailers and ranges can do what they do best — get people shooting,” Snow said.

The 30-page downloadable PDF features insights from dealers on the successes they’ve had in having NSSM-themed events, as well as essential tips for getting started, preparing messaging and event promotion. It also provides an outline for running an event day smoothly — including a welcoming environment, safety and follow-up.For more information, visit ShootingSportsMonth.org.

Develop Lifetime Participation

Although one-off sales to entirely new customer groups is certainly welcome for the moment, it would behoove your team to develop these customers into lifetime participants. Jason Gentz, manager at Eden Prairie, Minn., Arnzen Arms has ensured his staff keeps this mindset in the midst of the pandemic and period of social unrest.

“While these are clearly unprecedented times, we do our best to avoid getting romantic about the politics and instead focus on what’s so,” he shared. “What’s so is, right now, we have a lot of new people making the existential choice to arm themselves. We see it as both a duty and an opportunity to treat them with care, honesty and integrity. Ultimately, we want to leave them with a great experience and shift their focus from fear to a lifelong engagement with a sport and industry we love and are invested in.”

If your store can propagate the “fun over fear” message during NSSM and through the rest of this uncertain time — it will be to your long-term benefit.

Doug VanderWoude, Range Systems managing director, commercial shared the value of your store’s participation in NSSM this month.

“This year, more than ever, NSSM is important to your business. Self-protection is on the public’s mind, and NSSM emphasizes the fun of our sport — which can last a lifetime,” he said.

And beyond the scope of NSSM, with November’s election looming large, hosting an event at your store or range could influence the voting preferences of these first-time gun owners.

“Times are unprecedented, with sales rapidly expanding — but elections present new risks,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “It’s critical for retailers, manufacturers and all parts of our community to come together to engage with our new and potential customers and build a strong future for our businesses.”

So, with all of this in mind, what’s holding you back from participating?

NEW PARTNERSHIPS

DISTRIBUTION

Davidson’s Inc. announced the addition of Barrett Firearms, D&H Tactical, Elite Tactical Systems, German Precision Optics USA, Hi-Point Firearms, Pioneer Arms, Polymer 80, Radical Firearms, Riton Optics, Standard Mfg. and Weaver to its product lines. In addition, it has partnered with Blue Line Solutions to add Mauser and ISSC firearms to its product lines.

Zanders Sporting Goods extended product lines in its firearms and outdoor products inventories. Dealers can now select products from: Angstadt Arms, Christensen Arms, Cobratec Knives, Energizer, Hatsan USA, H&N Sport, Nomad, Riton Optics and UST.

Bear & Son Cutlery appointed Kroll International as a major distributor for 2020. Starting immediately, a product line of American-made automatic, tactical, rescue, and EDC knives will be offered to law enforcement, public safety, military and homeland security dealers throughout Kroll’s distribution channels.

Tactical Gear Distributors is now distributing of Riton Optics products.

AmChar Wholesale has added the Winchester ammunition product line to its distribution inventory.

Springfield Armory entered a partnership with MGE Wholesale to serve as one of the company’s firearms distributors.

RSR Group added Berger bullets to its product offering, and will provide distribution through its retailer network across the U.S. RSR Group also announced the addition of Legacy Sports International’s HOWA 1500 Rifle lineup to its distribution offering.

Chattanooga Shooting Supplies Inc. added 1791 Gunleather brand holsters to its stock, including the new Ultra Custom Concealment Holster.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. added Silencer Shop as an independent retailer of Ruger sound suppressors.

Military Products Inc., parent company of TAC SHIELD, entered a distribution partnership with Sports South.

To expand its distribution network, Tactical Solutions (TacSol) selected Bangers as a distributing partner.

Victrix Armaments and ROME chose ZRODelta to serve as exclusive
distributor of professional and sporting products for all commercial applications in the U.S.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Polymer 80 (P80) selected Global Defense Trade Network as an international sales representative for the export of P80 products to distributors and dealers around the world to service commercial, military and law enforcement markets.

Rinehart Targets announced a partnership with Canada’s Can-Am Sales Group as the company looks to continue to grow in international markets. Can-Am will be responsible for all sales north of border in all Canadian provinces.

SALES REPRESENTATION

German Precision Optics (GPO) USA announced a partnership with BCE Marketing for sales representation in the TALO states, and JES Marketing for the Western U.S.

Brenton USA signed Outdoor Marketing Alliance to expand distribution channels throughout the Eastern U.S.

Breakthrough Clean has engaged Ken Jefferies & Assoc. for sales representation in 37 U.S. states.

Daisy Outdoor Products and GAMO Airguns hired Murski Breeding Sales for representation in the MINK and TALO regions, as well as the Northeast and Southeast of the U.S.

Clenzoil announced the appointment of Rogers Sports Marketing as its sales agency of record for the Southeast.

PR & MARKETING

In anticipation of forecasted growth, AmmoSquared Inc. partnered with public relations firm Laura Burgess Marketing (LBM). LBM will disseminate company news and stories, and assist with the influencer-marketing program and social media platforms.

Blue August has been selected by Elite Iron to assist in public and media relations through brand awareness, product promotion and industry presence. Additionally, it has partnered with Legal Heat, a training organization with both in-person and online training courses and CCW permit classes.

Bow Spider announced Hunter Outdoor Communications (HOC) as its agency of record. HOC will collaborate with the brand to communicate the product technology, company story and corporate initiatives.

DSG Outerwear selected Full-Throttle Communications to spearhead all media relations and PR initiatives for the growing women’s apparel brand in the hunting and fishing markets.

Source Outdoor Group has been named the primary communications agency for Nomad and Safari Club International. Each partnership will allow Source Outdoor Group to leverage media outreach, digital publicity tactics, content placement and strategic marketing to maximize the growth of both entities.

RubLine Marketing was named agency of record for Black Gate Hunting Products and Veteran Innovative Products.

Nosler Inc. selected Dangersoup LLC to help with efforts to connect with both the hunting community and members of the media who cover hunting and firearms.

Harris Global Marketing & Communications is now handling public relations and media needs for SIGHTRON. Harris manages SIGHTRON’s day-to-day communications with journalists, publications and editors, and creates and distributes the company’s press releases. They are also the point of contact for all sample product, image and information requests.

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