Advances In Technology Help
Customers Reach New Heights
By Kevin Russelburg
Following the end of the first Gulf War, and the subsequent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the civilian/commercial market benefitted from an influx of new products and technologies. As contracts expire and clearances get approved, even more products initially designed and developed for military use have made their way to the consumer market. GPS and night vision were some of the first examples of this “trickle-down” trend. Since then, companies have adopted and developed additional high-tech products to target the civilian consumer market. The market has responded in kind, with consumers searching out these innovative products to boost their marksmanship, enhance home-defense and appease their “gotta have it” appetite. Don’t forget: Technology-driven Millennials also represent a healthy customer base.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is pulling through several technologies to make connecting devices a natural extension of the shooting sports. As a dealer, you have the opportunity to meet a variety of your customers’ needs — both young and old — by keeping up with advances in technology and talking with them about new and emerging technologies. Who knows? You may learn of a new product to help your customers as they hone their shooting skills.
Bushnell’s CONX Elite 1-mile system was developed to shorten the
learning curve for those looking to advance in long-range shooting.
Let Apps Do The Work
A progressive trend in high-tech products is in smartphone- and web-based apps, such as BulletFlight from Knight’s Armament, which bring technology right to the end user. An app developed by Runaway Technology Inc., BulletFlight is a ballistic calculator designed for ease of use by the operator. “This app is unique in it doesn’t give the user pages of data to sort through,” said Robert Silvers, owner of Runaway Technology Inc. “It was originally designed for military combat use. It gives you everything you need on one screen at once without the need to scroll through pages of data, or toggle back and forth through multiple screens.”
BulletFlight has naturally been widely accepted by competitive shooters and for general range use. “The app provides many features for combat that also appeal to the much larger commercial market,” Silvers added.
One of the features differentiating BulletFlight from others is its ability to automatically adjust for different atmospheric conditions. “A user can sight-in at sea level with a temperature of 70° F, then deploy at 8,000 feet, 30° F and the app will compensate for those atmospheric changes. The app also addresses the ‘Coriolis Effect’ — which makes adjustments for the rotation of the earth,” he said.
An additional selling point for the app is while it comes preloaded with a number of calibers and combinations, it also allows end users to customize the app and add their own data. “The database comes with a large variety of calibers and projectiles already available, as well as sample weapon profiles, and rifle/ammunition combinations. Users also have the ability to add their own data and store it for future use,” Silvers said.
BulletFlight is optimized for distances from zero to 1,600 meters and is available on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Several ammunition manufacturers, including Nosler and Winchester Ammunition, have ballistic calculators that allow users to see the performance of certain loads in different conditions.
You have the opportunity to boost sales by letting your customers know about these apps and others — it may give you an opportunity to sell a scope or other accessories during a face-to-face interaction.
The Bullseye Camera System assists shooters by monitoring shots on target
by communicating directly to a smart phone or tablet, via a free app, at
distances of over a mile.
The shooting sports industry continues to innovate and meet the needs of a growing community across a variety of disciplines — namely long-distance and sniper competitions.
Bullseye Camera Systems is a wireless target system developed to assist shooters with monitoring shots on target downrange. “Communication is sent to a smart phone or tablet via a free app at distances up to over a mile,” said Nick Skrepetos, founder of the company. “Features allow the shooter to mark, review and save shots. The last shot is presented in ‘blinking’ mode. The system is fully functional as a standalone product and generates its own Wi-Fi hotspot.”
The system allows for multiple shooters, and tracks and stores multiple sessions. According to Skrepetos, Bullseye Camera Systems’ target markets include commercial consumers, military, L.E. and the competitive shooting community.
Bushnell has also appealed to the long-range, high-tech market, and one of its new introductions has resonated with consumers: the Bushnell Elite 1-Mile Rangefinder. Featuring CONX Bluetooth technology, this rangefinder represents an advanced product for the seasoned shooter in long-range or precision shooting competitions.
“The idea behind this rangefinder’s development was to simplify the long-range shooting process for those transitioning beyond the 500-yard mark and going out to a mile,” said Jake Edson, Vista Outdoor communications manager. “The system communicates via smartphone or Kestrel products. There’s an imbedded ballistics app with a library of tables, and users can also build their own. When coupled with the Kestrel product, users can incorporate environmental data providing extremely precise hold for long range shots.”
The combination of these two products were designed to make calculations easier and shorter, resulting in “first shot” hits, according to Edson. “This military-grade system combined with CONX technology makes speed and accuracy easier to accomplish. The shooter and spotter can communicate silently,” he said.
Hartman MH1 Reflex Sight
Innovation Drives Interest For Consumers
By staying on top of high-tech product innovations, dealers can provide helpful insight for technologically savvy customers.
“There’s definitely a growing segment of long-range shooters coming in and buying a variety of rifles. They educate themselves online and then come in to ask very specific questions about how to increase their accuracy. As a local gun range with a retail shop, we need to be prepared to answer these questions. We accomplish this, in part, by pointing them to advances in technology that will help to shorten their learning curve,” said Pete Negro, the managing partner at Range 355 in Bolingbrook, Ill.
As manufacturers gauge the needs of the market, they’ll continue to design and develop new products to meet the demands of the shooting sports community. Advances in processing speeds through the IoT and the introduction of free or low-cost apps will ultimately lead to more products appealing to a variety of segments within the industry.
“By keeping up to date on advances in technology products, we have a unique opportunity to increase sales — but also to become a trusted advisor of these products by engaging with manufacturers and developers of new, innovative systems. Additionally, customers are always interested in new products coming into the market,” Negro added.
With our lives becoming more and more connected through smartphones and developers coming up with opportunities to deploy their products and software, the industry should continue to see advances in technology. This development will help improve the experience of the end user by making things easier, more interactive and a day at the range more fun.