Decision Time

Establishing A Vision & Gaining Clarity Through Data

It was January 2015. I just started as president of the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW). My first official workday was the opening day of the 2015 SHOT Show.

It was impressive. I had to pinch myself a few times during the week to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was a bit of a “kid in the candy store” kind of moment. I grew up shooting guns and hunting, so being able to work in the shooting sports industry was a big highlight. I still don’t take it for granted.

As with any new job, there were a lot of “firsts” throughout the first year. My first NRA convention. First-time visits to many industry manufacturing leaders. The first time helping to plan and lead the NASGW Expo and Annual Meeting. 2015, and all these “firsts,” were a blur.

A Need Addressed

Hundreds of conversations throughout the first 12 months of my time at NASGW made one thing abundantly clear — there was a disconnect between manufacturers, distributors and the customers we serve over how to clearly see what’s happening in the marketplace. There was a hunger for data and information to better prepare companies for both the good and the not-so-good times that are common in any industry.

“Data in any industry is extremely important as it allows individuals the ability to review information in order to gain an understanding of trends and outliers or anomalies,” said Brian Gendron, Smith & Wesson manager of planning, allocation and marketing analytics. “Without data, it would be very difficult to make educated decisions to benefit and grow the business.

It would almost be irresponsible to not be analyzing data daily.”

By the time SHOT Show 2016 came around, NASGW leadership was talking about creating something new and different. And by October 2016, we promised the industry “big things” were coming. We’d been laying the groundwork for a comprehensive effort to gather, collect and share industry related data.

That’s when the real work began on what would become NASGW’s suite of SCOPE data programs.

$5.2 Billion In Sales Tracked In 2021

It’s of course one thing to have the big idea of collecting and disseminating data to the industry, it’s a whole other thing to pull it off. But we weren’t deterred. We set about finding a team of partners who could help us put together a program beginning on a smaller scale, by starting with just distributor data.

In an industry very used to independence and protecting the “secret sauce” they use to do business, it wasn’t easy getting our distributor members to share their data. (In some cases, technology upgrades were necessary for them to even be able to share the data.)

“ Companies can compare their performance to the market benchmarks at large, and gain incredible insights about how they stack up against the rest of the industry.”

I’m proud to say: Today, about two-thirds of NASGW’s distributor members — 18 individual companies — are sharing data, with others continuing to slowly join the SCOPE DLX program.

It has allowed us to build and track sales and inventory for $5.2 billion in firearms transactions in 2021. SCOPE also collects shipment data for ammunition, optics and all accessory data as well. This represents a huge swath of the shooting industry landscape and allows us, and SCOPE subscribers, to aggregate, analyze and understand — down to individual product UPCs — what’s moving in the sales channel, what’s popular and what might not be so popular.

Companies can compare their performance to the market benchmarks at large, and gain incredible insights about how they stack up against the rest of the industry.

All About Consistency

As you can imagine, with hundreds of thousands of products represented in our data sample, gaining consistency in the data is tricky. Even just a missing comma in a database, a period out of place or a capital letter where one shouldn’t be means thousands of transactions might not sync with the others for the exact same product. Extrapolate this across thousands of products and you can see how it can quickly grow in complexity.

The amount of time, energy and resources put into just cleaning the data is staggering. Fortunately, Align BI in Utah — the company responsible for building SCOPE dashboards and aggregating the data — has done an incredible job achieving over 95% accuracy in many verticals.

Frankly, this is unprecedented and it speaks to the incredible level of dedication and talent our entire team has in making this program something the whole industry can believe in.

Through the leadership and passionate persistence of Easton Kuboushek, NASGW director of data programs, we’ve constantly expanded our abilities to gather, process and share this data to NASGW members and the industry at large. We’re now able to share the fruits of these labors regularly in NASGW’s InSight newsletter with high-level statistical tracking.

We’ve also created quarterly and annual reports available for purchase and, with the help of Coby Gardner’s genius at Align BI, even some generic dashboards we can now make available to non-member companies. Members of NASGW will still get the most detail and more sophisticated dashboards.

To take our sharing of data to the next level, we brought in Tom Hopper, who, in addition to analyzing all these reports, now works with SCOPE subscribers to help them understand and incorporate the data in day-to-day decision-making. Tom has worked in business analytics his entire life, in a variety of industries, and his uncanny way of making the complicated seem simple means SCOPE users have an expert to call when or if they don’t understand what they’re seeing in the data.

“ Having access to dealer and distributor data is key in this ever-changing industry to determine how we compare to the other leading manufacturers in each category. DLX and CLX help to provide a barometer to this question.”

Brian Gendron Manager of Planning Allocation & Marketing Analytics Smith & Wesson

Cataloging The Data: SCOPE PLX

Tagging and cleaning data is a never-ending process, largely because our industry continues to innovate and bring new products to market. As a result, we soon learned to make sure the data is as accurate as possible, we needed some help. With the advice and support of some key industry stakeholders and manufacturers, and the technological and programming wizardry of Ben Fjare at PRIME, NASGW’s marketing and PR magicians, we created a tool to help us make it all make sense. Ben built a tool we call SCOPE PLX. It’s maybe not a perfect analogy, but SCOPE PLX is our industry “bible.”

SCOPE PLX is our go-to platform and catalog for sharing the important details about virtually every product that moves through distribution. It’s the tool allowing manufacturers to manage their products and it creates the entire backbone of the SCOPE suite of products. SCOPE PLX, with the help of our distributors, manufacturer partners and others, contains accurate images, descriptions and attributes for hundreds of thousands of products. It’s always improving. But it forms the network for generating reports and data analysis in SCOPE. The more robust we make SCOPE PLX, the more robust the data returns we will get.

Subscribers of NASGW’s InSight Newsletter can glean insights from
high-level data — featuring firearm, ammunition and optics shipments.

Tracking Purchases At Retail: SCOPE CLX

There’s more. From the very beginning, we knew the only true way to show the sales and distribution channel in its purest and best form was to include transaction information all the way down to consumer purchases at retail. We didn’t want to get overzealous in our approach, so we took things slow and built a strong foundation from the ground up.

Now, through the extensive partnerships we’ve forged with industry point-of-sale providers like Celerant, Coreware, Orchid and AIM, NASGW is launching a full version of retail transactional information through the SCOPE CLX product. We floated a “beta” version of the data to our subscribers for about a year. As of September 1, we have comprehensive data feeds flowing into our SCOPE CLX platform from over 600 retail locations with more added daily.

This information is now available, in some format, to anyone in the industry with an interest in seeing greater detail about the shooting sports marketplace. The genuine and understated beauty of the system is for every company using SCOPE PLX to manage and share product information, the system and the data, get more and more detailed and more accurate. It’s truly an industry partnership.

And on that note, we couldn’t have done this without the support of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) and NSSF. NSSF plans to use much of the data to help with their mission of strengthening and growing the shooting sports industry.

For The Industry, By The Industry

The SCOPE platforms were developed for the industry, by the industry. This clearer picture of our industry is led by distributors, but it’s designed for everyone’s benefit. When we have clarity about the world around us, we can make better decisions about the present and the future.

“Having access to dealer and distributor data is key in this ever-changing industry to determine how we compare to the other leading manufacturers in each category. DLX and CLX help to provide a barometer to this question,” said Gendron.

We live in challenging times. As an industry, we’re facing headwinds on the finance, insurance, legal and legislative policy fronts. Every day we turn on the television or scan the internet, it seems a new obstacle is there for us to overcome.

Fortunately, through the development of the SCOPE suite of products, you don’t need to worry about industry data. Let’s face it, in many cases, data is the most important asset your organization has. Because of SCOPE, gleaning insights and valuable strategies and putting data to use for your company is a whole lot easier.

Decisions about your business can now be based on fact and reality on the ground, freeing you up to spend more time on other issues.

If you’d like to learn more about the NASGW, or the SCOPE suite of products, visit

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