If all the manufactures know their own sales numbers of sporting vs hunting, and are members of NSSF, why did it just switch to an all hunting logo, and why does the NSSF and the industry promote hunting the way it does?Hell of a question, Overload, and a pretty complex answer that cuts to the heart of problems within the our gun culture. Let me just give you the Cliff's Notes answer, based on a lifetime as a shoooter (and occasionally a hunter) and almost a decade on the front lines, including time as a consultant to NSSF and the firearms industry.
Peterson Pub, Primedia and others also know their sales of hunting vs sport vs tactical magazines (and of course the general guns magazines sales vary based on the cover and contents)
Again, if you're right, and I have no reason to doubt you, is there the emphasis on hunting?
1) Many of the people who run our industry and lobbying groups grew up in a time when hunting played a drastically larger roll in the gun culture than it does now. They are hunters; they associate with hunters; they understand hunters. Quick funny...I was talking to one of the most powerful men in the industry at a luncheon, a man who has run one of the largest gun companies in the world (and that includes one of the most respected shooting schools in the world). I was asking about comp'ing some media into the school; he listened for a minute, then stopped me. "Oh I'm sorry, Michael," he said, grinning and addressing the other people at the table. "You're talking about the shooting school! You're going to have to repeat yourself, because when you're not talking about blood sports, I'm just not that interested..."
2) The hunting lobby itself is old, extremely well organized, extremely heavily funded and extremely efficient. My hat is off to them.
3) Companies that service the hunting market understand the necessity of spreading a lot of money around.
4) The hunting market itself, while shrinking, is still extremely lucrative, especially in accessories (think cammie underwear!).
5) It has only been in the last decade that the shooting sports and the self-defense/tactical market have emerged a clearly separate, and large, markets, and these emerging markets are far less well understood by the majority of the industry.
6) Neither the shooting sports nor the self-defense/tactical market have anying lobbying efforts to speak of. The hunting lobby, however, was quick to see the emerging markets as threats to their dominance, and they have responded with an unprecedented push to retain that dominance.
7) In the absence of effective lobbies — or, for that matter, any effective representation at all — the shooting sports and self-defense/tactical markets have been unable to "make their case" to the industry as a whole. For example, studies tend to focus on hunting or hunting-related issues. Since there are no spokespeople or representatives for the shooting sports as a whole or the self-defense/tactical markets, no one from those markets is consulted on industry policies. The squeakiy wheel gets the grease.
8) The industry sees what it wants to see. I have been told repeatedly that hunting accounts for the majority of ammo sales in the United States, which is patent nonsense (we were able to quickly account of 40% of the ammo and components sold annually with competition and plinking). The studies the industry relies on lumps "plinking," which is informal competition, into hunting, disregards component sales and, occasionally, sales of "military" calibers...funny, since 9mm and .223 are according to my sources the best-selling ammo in the country. All shotgun shell sales are presumed to be for bird hunting or practicing for bird hunting, despite millions of "registered" rounds fired in shotgun competitions.
9) Hunting is politically correct; shooting is not. I would have preferred this not be a factor, but in my direct observation, it plays a huge role. Many of the people who represent us are uncomfortable with handguns used for self-defense or those pesky assault rifles...they live in states or cities where they sometimes can't own or carry handguns or possess an AR-15, so they don't have any "gut" feelings on the issue. Quick funny anecdote from a SHOT Show...I was getting ready to go out to dinner with my pal Scott Smith when we ran into a bunch of industry heavyweights, who invited us to go along with them. As we were walking out Scott turned to me and asked, "Hey Bane, you got a piece? If you don't, I got extra." I said not to worry, that I had my carry gun in the car. This stopped the industry heavyweights dead in their tracks...one person said, "You guys are carrying guns?" Well duh, Scott said. "Why would you be carrying guns?" we were asked Think about it...
10) Underneath all these factors, there is a nasty undertone that, in the end, we are going to lose big chunks of our RKBA, and at least portions of the industry want to make sure their asses are covered. Out huge successes in the last few years — especially the pre-emption bill — have mitigated this factor somewhat, but the unspoken sentiment for years has been that whether there are carry handguns or not, there will always be hunting.
As you noted, our industry trade groups are moving more and more to hunting exclusivity even as their own numbers show hunting declining and sport shooting and self-defense/tactical shooting booming. I received my NSSF REPORTS newsletter for September last weekl, and they listed 13 partnerships and programs — every single one of them about hunting. They also reported that $1,363,278 of OUR MONEY has been given out in state agency hunter recruitment, rtention and access efforts. As near as I can tell, exactly $0.00 of OUR MONEY has been handed out for shooting sports recruitment and retention.
I support NSSF for their spectacular lobbying work in D.C., and I support hunting. But I am losing my patience with this industry continuing to act as if I, my friends, my fellow competitors and trainers and my viewers don't exist!