Friday, January 20, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and Press Releases

My good friend, ace gunwriter Frank James, made this comment on an earlier post of mine, and I thought it was important enough to bring it forward and discuss it:
As you well know I am in lock-step agreement with your analysis, but how could NSSF reconcile this fact of reality with the press release put out this past week that stated "hunting" generated more revenue this past year than ever before in history. Do they think that all the rifle/shotgun companies are going to branch into camo shorts, tree-stands and deer pee to upgrade their bottom lines?
All The Best,
Frank W. James
Very good points, Frank. There are two issues that no one in the industry every likes to address. The first is that we're really good at what my mentor in the consulting busines, Dave Garwood, used to refer to as, "Breathing our own air."

We believe our own press releases. Of course "hunting" generated more revenue than ever before in history. It just takes a little creativity...why, silly us, in the old days we used to think of hunting as...hunting. That is, what happened when we got up early in the morning and went into the game fields with a gun. Now we more truly understand that we're talking about a "hunting lifestyle."

That way, we can add in revenues from "hunting apparel" and "hunting lifestyle accoutremonts," because that's part of our lifestyle. And knives...knives are hot sellers, and most knives are used in hunting, right? Throw that money into the pot! Specialized vehicles, they're used in hunting. Ammo...hunters use fact, according to our "statistics," hunters use 95% of the ammo purchased in the United States (apparently you and I use the rest of it). Did you know that 100% of the .22 ammo purchased is used in "hunting?" Or "getting ready for hunting."

Let's keep adding, it's so fun!

Bow-hunting is booming! Maybe the fastest growing segment of the hunting industry, with lots of more "traditional" hunters buying all those new bows. Bow-hunting is the future of hunting What was that, Frank? You don't hear anything going "BANG!"? What's your point? Don't you realize you can live the "hunting lifestyle" without ever owning a gun, buying a single round of ammunition or, for that matter, ever taking an animal? I have friends who are walking, talking versions of the Cabela's catalog and eat only tofu (which, I'm told, can be effectively and humanely taken with a .177 air rifle if you used the appropriate scent blockers and vegetarian. cammie).

And here's the other dirty little secret no one likes to talk about — when you build an industry on accessory sales, the guns become...secondary. Keep in mind that you can have hunting, and a booming hunting market, without gun rights. You can still hunt grouse in England, but if you use your $20,000 shotgun to save your butt from home invaders, yo're going to go to jail. Those grouse are sure tasty, though! There's plenty of hunting in Europe, if you've got the bucks. And if you've got the bucks, I'll bet you're a good consumer of all those accessories.

If the hunting market is vibrant and growing, why are long gun sales in the toilet? It's probably yours and my fault, Frank. I knew we should have bought another half-dozen rifles apiece last year. And remember, ARs — the best-selling rifle in America by a pretty substantial margin — don't count!

The industry is using our money — money from shooters — to build and promote a market in accessories that we don't necessarily need or use and that in the long run do nothing to support guns, gun rights, the Second Amendment, CCW, etc. There is no excise tax on accessories, my friends. We are paying the friggin' freight. The people who are doing this are perfectly aware that the money desperately needs to go building, supporting and promoting the shooting sports, building and protecting ranges, getting more kids to the range and supporting junior programs, fighting media stereotypes about shooters, promoting ourselves as part of the culture war we're engaged in.

Ain't happenin'...

Wonder why that is...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope Winchester's demise is a wake-up call for those few who can still influence NSSF and the other industry leaders and policy makers.

For gun companies the future and their and our financial resources must go toward more ranges and PR that promotes increased recreational competition.

However, being the cynic that I am, I won't hold out much hope that a bolt of lightning entitled real world common-sense logic will strike any time soon.

All The Best,
Frank W. James