Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Thoughts...

First, I'm off the road for the year! Home again home again, jiggity jig.

Let me answer some questions from the last couple of posts. All my sites, taken in aggregate, run about 300,000 uniques a month. On some months with special coverage or when the blog is linked off the big conservative sites, that number will jump substantially, as much as 2X. Based on some major things we'll be announcing at SHOT, our goal for DRTV is a million uniques a month by the end of 2009. The podcast reaches approximately 150,000 people a month through iTunes and our various on-line players and RSS feeds and, again, will benefit from our aggressive 2009 business plan. The two broadcast shows (soon to be three) reach between 500,000 and a million a week for 3 showings each, depending on time of year, lead-ins, content, etc. With the addition of THE BEST DEFENSE, my new show, and the NRA's AMERICAN GUARDIAN to the Wednesday Night at the Range line-up on OC in January, I am anticipating a major bump in ratings (which are already up almost 50% in the last 18 months).

So yes, my company has a broad and deep reach into the niche, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished.

RE: Data..."lies, damn lies and statistics..." I believe is the line. My data is drawn directly from data the industry itself is using in its planning, along with proprietary sales numbers on firearms and accessories (and, yes, I am generally under nondisclosure on those numbers). There are lots of other numbers out pays your money and you takes your chances.

We are facing an unprecedented war against our gun rights. Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox put it best in this month's AMERICAN RIFLEMAN: "These next few years are either going to be our proudest moments together as NRA members and as freedom-loving Americans or the worst nightmare that gun-owners have faced or ever will face."

Yes, unity is important, but wars are fought on intelligence and money. During the last decade, we pissed away — or, more accurately, we allowed our politicians to piss away — an historic opportunity to consolidate our gains and grow our culture. That happened to a large extent because we were operating on wrong or incomplete intelligence...we spent a lot of money on things we assumed were of paramount importance, only to discover that we spent the money — our money — on the wrong things.

We must have these discussions, lest we go haring off on the wrong path again! I am at a loss to understand what's "divisive" about reporting the fact that S&W took a $76 million hit. I can tell you categorically that the implications I've talked about are being discussed at the highest levels of the firearms and accessory companies right now.

If you don't like this blog or the podcast, I encourage you by all means to start your own! We'll link you off DRTV and quote you just like we quote everyone else. The reason I have a voice in the industry is that in the long run I've been right more times than I've been wrong. I've been wrong lots of times, but I have made my living for most of three decades by analyzing trends, and I stand by everything I've said.

BTW, one of the anonymous commenters said:
"Competitive shooting has as poor a retention rate as scuba diving. Too many people get in, have fun for a while and improve, but then realize the time/$/effort commitment to get better doesn't float their boat and are tired of being at the same place on the results sheet every month.

Plinking at a one-target-one-shot-per-second range is even more boring IMO.

Fun not-very-competitive shooting (action-type or reactive-target-type) is where it's at for mass appeal, but there's precious little of that."
He or she is EXACTLY right, and that is an area that several of us in the industry are working on. We'll have announcements at SHOT.


Greg said...

Michael, perhaps you could post some links to generalized information that show the numbers (18.5m hunters, 19m shooters) as lies. Those numbers are reported by the NRA AND the NSSF. Hardly the place that I'm accustomed to finding "damn lies" from. I think you've misunderstood me. I didn't say let's get youth into hunting, even though your statement that it hasn't been effective is categorically and irrefutably wrong- based on the fish and game numbers produced lately. I say we introduce our youth to BOTH and abandon "shooting's great & hunting sucks" attitude that seems to be implied here on occasion. I do like your podcast, however, don't always agree. That happens with anyone. The fact you seemed upset is a bit surprising. What I referenced was that upon trying to introduce more people to your outlets, they weren't so happy with your approach. It's happened enough, that it seemed worth mentioning. You have great personal defense insight and ideas. But not everyone can afford an expensive gun and time/gas to travel and shoot every week. The way you reacted is typical of the "snobs" that snub their nose at the "poor boy's club". What's divisive is your occasional comments on hunting. Instead of pulling hunters into the mix of gun rights, those type of comments turn them away. There were enough people responding to that post that I think you should really think about that as a way to pull people into the fight on a broader scale. Not scolding us for disagreeing. As far as S&W's massive loss, I'd point fingers at all the buy outs and major advertising they've been spending on for the last few years. In the reduction of hunting rifle sales, it hasn't hurt the hunting numbers as evidenced by the number of purchased licenses. Every time I take a kid hunting I see orange with in 100 yards. Perhaps S&W should stop making a "new" rifle every quarter and focus on choosing the best version of one type that can be "versioned" to fit several price points. I'm sorry I seemed to have ticked you off. But the numbers that I see on your comments are the numbers supported by the industry. The point on the AK's/AR's/Hanguns, etc. vs. hunting and the "at risk" idea makes great sense and you may not be using that logic. We don't need to split the base, we need to look at introducing both sides of the coin to the other and make ourselves stronger. As far as posting annonymous. I dont have a google id. I'll email you soon with my contact information, so you could reply directly to me if you choose. I may be an idiot - there evidence of that for sure- and I understand NDA's. But it's just that research isn't turning anything up like what you are suggesting. Maybe in the future they will and I'll say so. Until they do, please show me another place to get them. Thanks.

Kevin said...

Michael, I shoot in two "Fun not-very-competitive shooting (action-type or reactive-target-type)" matches each month - both steel shoots for exactly that reason. They do help me practice skills like drawing from a holster and hitting targets at various ranges quickly, but I don't mind being firmly in the middle of the pack, and I keep coming back because they're FUN. (Though I did miss today's match for Christmas-related reasons.)

Now if they just had a shoothouse near here . . .

Anonymous said...

Data is out there....go look at the ATF production statistics for U.S. gun makers.

And the trend towards urbanization, posting of land, and cultural changes not favorable to hunting began after WWII so it doesn't take a genius to spot them. So MB I'm not give ya much credit for spotting them!

MB is right, hunting will probably not grow the sport and nor will competitive shooting. Yep, making shooting "fun" is the key. That and having a place to shoot.

clark said...

So reinventing IHMSA with hunting handguns is the wave of the future?

Perhaps harder set targets that need a real bear killer for knockdown?

Michael Bane said...


I am not ticked off...I just am at a loss to understand what you would have me do that I'm not presently doing.


Greg said...

Michael, you're doing so much and I support you. I didn't mean to sound otherwise. I'm doing my best to pull new people into either sport. I'm giving NRA memberships, taking my own children and others hunting AND shooting. I give out links to websites such as yours and some of your well known competitors to young and old. The one thing that I've had as feedback has usually been something like "this guy is knocking us". Now, I don't always see it that way, but there aren't always ways to defend you from that criticism. The appeal and outlets you have available MIGHT mean there are a great number of others that MIGHT be missing the content of your newer shows, hereby missing the importance of making sure they are an active member of the NRA and the SAF or the Gun Owners of America, etc. I talk my head off to anyone I meet at the range or in the field. But that only goes so far. This message needs to be reaching everyone that has any stake in the battle against the BHO administration and his cronnies. So hunters and shooters need to share the load and expand where possible. I can't afford any Kimber 1911, I have 4 kids. With the rising costs of everything, including hunting licenses, it's hard to justify any new expense. Now when it comes down to protecting my family and teaching each member to do the same should I not be around, that's much easier. The Personal Defense idea is a sweeping belief that has converted more antis than anything else. There's nothing wrong with enjoying hunting over shooting or vice versa. However sometimes, some of the 14-18.5m hunters (depending on where you look) feel ostracized because that's there passion when you seem to say negative things about it. That's all I'm saying. When we get BHO out of there, it's less of a touchy subject. But there seems to be other factors in why this type of rifle is selling over the other, always have, always will. But whatever the numbers are 37.5 million UNITED GUN OWNERS sounds like a much more powerful group. That's all. I'm sorry that this seems to be such a controversy. I AM a HUGE fan and I'm stoked about the Best Defense! I don't always agree with you, as you wouldn't with me. But we can work together. I hope that if I caused any negativity that you accept my apology, because that wasn't how I meant it to be accepted. Thank you for the work you do.

Anonymous said...

Middle Man said...

I can vouch for Michael's reporting of sales numbers and the trend overall. Myself and my co-workers are witnessing the same, firsthand, from the wholesale level. Sales of "hunting hardgoods" have been on the decline for 8 to 10 years. Additionally, there have been double digit declines the past several years on hunting rifle sales. Handgun and black rifle sales have grown in this same period.

While the numbers are proprietary, Michael's reporting of the trend is spot on. Big Problem is...there are a lot of people high up in the firearms industry that want to ignore the trend and pretend like the year is perpetually 1960-something. They want to believe that consumers are willing wait, with baited in hand, for the next whizz bang product for months on end. All the while, they saturate the market with advertising for products that cannot be found on retail shelves.

Anonymous said...

What isn't considered (again) is that a hunting rifle will last most hunters a lifetime. Additionally, hunting and hunting accessories are not suffering. Things that people don't always consider, such as clothing, hand warmers, etc.. Also hunting seasons are seasonal. Which means there are much less opportunities than shooting competitions. Again, hunters licenses have increased this year for the second time in the last few years. Now, hunters can and DO crossover into the competition shooting realm. The opposite is also true. Then you have to factor in the young people who don't have to buy a license and the land owners, renters, etc.. that likewise don't have to buy a license. I encourage everyone to look at the actual numbers of hunting licenses. There shouldn't be a "competition" between hunters and shooters. I agree w/ Greg that people are turned off by any such position. What in the world does it matter how many guns are sold? That isn't indicative of how many competition shooters or hunters are out there. Every gun owner I know has a primary concern of safety for his/her self and family. Why can't we stop separating the two groups? The very fact people are commenting is an indication of one side or the other feeling like they need to defend their stance. It does tend to make people look at the other group as competition rather than fellow brothers in arms. I personally have seen more youth in the field shooting and hunting - especially females. We need to work together to keep our rights and saying one group is or isn't pulling their weight isn't the way it happens. I looked at those links that were posted a couple of comments ago and they're very interesting and I agree that the NRA and NSSF aren't places that "damn lies" come from. Every poll I've seen has been pretty close to even when it comes to hunting or shooting. I've been to competitions and tried to "mingle" with some of the competitors. Granted they weren't Rob Leatham type shooters, but I little response from any of them when I tried to talk about the firearms used and training techniques. So there's a realistic "snobby" feel to the public, perhaps mistrust is a better word, but it isn't exactly what will bring people into the sport. The most popular is the SASS. Originally b/c it was relatively cheap to outfit and compete. Not so anymore. I'm glad to see that someone spoke up about it, hopefully there can be a mutual respect from both sides.

Anonymous said...

Also, I don't see any information or mention of places to find information that indicates that the numbers that were deemed as "damn lies" were actually that. If I buy an AR-15 or handgun, does that automatically make me a shooter and not a hunter? Doesn't seem logical. I've yet to meet a hunter that didn't have a handgun. You'd think that these "proprietary" numbers would do nothing but enhance a company's public profile. Why not publish those numbers? Doesn't make a great deal of sense - IMO. I think the improvements in the production process of today's semi-auto have more to do with the sales than anything else. Even a hunter would want a rifle that could shoot less than an inch at 100 yards. So in effect AR's have become hunting rifles as well. So to say that hunting rifle sales are in the toilet, may not be an accurate statement. Bolt action rifle sales in the toilet is another matter. I've personally seen many varmint hunters with AR's b/c of the ability to have a quick follow up shot without having to cycle a bolt. So let's be real when we talk about it. Hunters hunt with AR's as well. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ok, gotta make a comment here:
I've been involved for years with a program that could be classified as "fun, not serious, competition" - the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF. Something like it with all handguns participating would be neat - NSSF, NRA, anyone?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous anonymous.
ARs are hunting rifles too
I use them for varmints and if
my state allowed rifles, I would probably hunt deer with an AR as well.
traditional hunting rifles used to be priced much lower than ARs, but that is not the case any more.
A good quality hunting rifle is now not that much different in price than an AR. There are a lot of junk imported guns being dumped on consumers with big name gun manufacturers name plates on them as well.

The AR is the "IBM PC clone" of the gun industry.
And yes it is a hunting rifle.