You guys know this is a subject that has been on my front burner for years, right?
I stopped hunting a long time ago, largely because I have the attention span of an 8 year-old...made me a good IPSC shooter and a miserable person in a tree stand. Hunting and shooting are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. My gripe was that hunting was the giganto senior partner, to the virtual exclusion of the shooting sports side of the coin.
Several things have happened to change that perception:
• Eventually, people in the industry started listening to me and other voices, like Paul Erhardt, Jim Shepherd, Tom Taylor at S&W, Steve Sanetti and Ken Jorgensen at Ruger, Paul Januzzo (formerly) at Glock, etc. When I keynoted the last huge hunting enclave several years ago — the guy who was there to tell people what they didn't want to hear — my comments were met with stony silence. I said the truth — deal with us, work with us, because we're half the market and we pay 75% of the excise taxes that state fish and game run on...I said taxation without representation is STILL tyranny...one of the reps from a huge hunting accessories company pigeonholed me after the talk..."Good work, jerk," he said, although he used a stronger word than "jerk." "You're single-handedly going to tear this industry to pieces."
However, at the upcoming NSSF Shooting Sports Summit in a couple of weeks, the list of speakers has totally changed...me, Erhardt, Shepherd, Sanetti (now head of NSSF), etc.
Even more importantly, for the first time we have a definitive study that totally backs up everything we've been saying...the (as yet unreleased) omnibus NSSF study on hunting and shooting trends in the United States. It's scary negative, but here's the key stat...of the overall market:
• 43% define themselves as primarily huntingEQUAL MARKETS, as we've been saying for the better part of a decade!
• 43% define themselves as primarily shooters
• 14% do both
• The Zumbo Effect...no other single event had the profound effect on the industry as the slagging of Jim Zumbo. Jim made his ill-thought-out remarks on a Friday afternoon; by Sunday evening the entire firearms industry understood who was now driving the machine. I've told Jim to his face that I was sorry for the role I had to play, but that it had to be done! We could not continue, much less go into another election cycle, with everyone, including Congress, acting like "hunting" and "shooting" were synonymous, so all anybody needed to do to suck up to us was conserve some wetlands and talk about ducks!
• The ascendency of the AR-15 platform as the most popular rifle on earth...when I first started talking about the size and depth of the black rifle market 3 or 4 years ago, I was flatly told by "industry experts" that I was crazy. This numbers are now accepted as the baseline (and 2008 sales, driven by Obama, are at levels that are already breath-taking even to me). OUTDOOR LIFE magazine considers my 6-page article on ARs in the field a year or so ago to be one of the most important articles they've ever published, and it laid to rest the naysayers.
• The rise of industry "heroes," like the inestimable Ronnie Barrett, who showed everyone what "standing up" looked like, and people like the aforementioned Sanetti, Taylor, Jorgensen, Bob Morrison at Taurus, former NSSF head Doug Painter and NSSF legal expert Larry Keene, former NRA Prez Sandy Froman and new Prez John Siglar and many others, who understood and understand that the world is changing and were willing to put the gun culture first.
I've said this before, we go into the most important elections of our lives more united than we've ever been before. We on the shooting side need to reach out to the hunting side...there is still some awkwardness, but nothing we can't overcome.
Make no mistake about it...the gun culture is going to war. The Democrats have given in to their basest instincts and given us a candidate who, all hyperbole aside, will if he gets the power take our guns — all our guns! — and gut the Second Amendment, a man who holds what we believe in to the core of our beings in utter contempt.
I watched Bob Barr on Glenn Beck last night. Bob is a man I've met, a man I hugely respect, a warrior, a man who has a spot-on analysis of America at this juncture...and a man I will not vote for this November! If te Dems had run one of their "political whore" candidates, maybe even the lovely and talented Hillary Clinton, I might have opted to vote Libertarian, where my heart is, rather than for a man I particularly dislike who champions a morally and ethically bankrupt political party of weasels and morons.
But that's not what the Dems have done...they've played the scary card.
And as is typical, we as a voting block are invisible. Ever wonder why the MSM never seems to mention guns as a major battleground? Because they totally understand, as do the Dems, that the more invisible we are, the easier we are to step on after the election. Is there anybody here who doesn't believe that an Obama as President with a huge majority Democratic House and Senate won't do exactly what he says he will do and ram through a new — and permanent — AWB? Ammo controls like microstamping? "Smart gun" initiatives and restrictions on "unsafe" guns? Closing public lands to shooting? Lots and lots of "reasonable" gun laws...
Okay, rant mode off...remember, my job is to be strident, because so many in our culture aren't.