Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hunters vs. Shooters

I posted this rant on a DRTV thread on "Hunters vs. Shooters," and upon reflection thought it needed to be a blog post as well:

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 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, 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 hunting
43% define themselves as primarily shooters
14% do both
EQUAL MARKETS, as we've been saying for the better part of a decade!

The Zumbo 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.


Anonymous said...

Amen brother. You said it. Since you are the one with the political connections, I would like to hear McCain swear a blood oath that he will not back more anti-gun legislation. Including the fictional "gun show loophole". And the main thing that is needed is work on the local level for seats in Congress. Hopefully the Supreme Court will give us something to hang our hats on in a couple of weeks. And the best we can hope for is redemption in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there still remain a sizable number of Fudds who will sell us out. Frankly, I never believed Dumbo's apology. I read his blog and I am convinced he meant every word of it and the apology was a lame attempt to save his career. I have shared a duck blind with a gentleman who couldn't understand "why anyone needs to carry a gun". Fudds believe lying sack of turd pols who tell them their duck guns and deer rifles are safe. Altho a large number of hunters are strong 2A supporters the majority, I believe, are not. The NSSF should commision a poll to see just how strongly the average Fudd supports the 2A. I predict the industry would be shocked at the results.

Frankly, I agree with fiftycal that we had better hope for a favorable ruling from the Supremes and better gird ourselves to fight the upcoming battles in court. You see, I am convinced Obama has a damn good chance at becoming prez. If he makes it it will be with the help of Fudds and those imbeciles who say "McCain is no better than Obama" and who will cast a 3rd party vote.

And if Obama wins there will be a Republican bloodletting across the country with progun Repubs going down in flames to antigun Dems. And those who count on 2010 to set things right are betting on a longshot. Obama could well make the liberal orthodoxy the dominant political voice in this nation for a generation.

Kevin said...

Amen, Brother.

I will say in Jim Zumbo's defense that by about apology #6 or #8, he really had figured out what he'd done wrong, and was actually sorry for what he'd said. And said. And said.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting for Barr.

Obama is the most ineffective democrat in the race. McCain knows how to get things done, that is why he is more dangerous. Heck, McCain doesn't even want my clingy, bitter conservative vote. He thinks I'm a racist because I don't want our nation flooded with immigrants.

Face it. McCain will sign any antigun legislation that passes. He is NOT a friend of the second amendment and not of the first and not of the rest of the bill of rights.

Obama and McCain, the only difference is effectiveness.

Now, the biggie question is ... who will the NRA endorse? McAmnesty? or Barr who is a true pro-gun guy and a Board Member. Remember, no Republican has won the white house without the NRA endorsement since they started.

Mike Johnson

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

McCain voted against the AWB and he voted against limiting magazine capacity - the two biggest anti-gun bills to pass. Not sure what part of his record indicates that he'd "sign any antigun legislation that passes." He even signed on to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson's amicus brief on the Heller case.

Anonymous said...

Invisible like the elderly in the nursing home. Take a look around at your gun club. What is the average age? How many 12 to 24 year old folks belong and attend regularly? At the NRA meeting in Louisville it was refreshing to see kids and young folks but the vast majority were over forty. The national statistics show this also.

Sadly you buy political and/or commercial respect with growing demographics or with economic power. Per the above, ours is a graying demographic.

The entire industry, despite what you might want to believe, is tiny. It is a niche market. Check out what kids spend on itunes and ipods.

Now that is not to say that massive political activism could help counteract the above. But the reality is that a very small percentage of any shooters OR hunters are willing to get off the couch and REALLY participate.

We rattle the swords and say that this is a civil rights movement. Can you imagine if MLK had the same kind of apathy? Where was our march on Selma and Montgomery? On Washington DC? Where are the visible celebrity faces? Gunny R. Lee Ermy? Denis Ming? Which celebrities attended and had press conferences at the NRA meeting? NONE. Tom Selleck shows up at SCI and talks to Cam Edwards. Woopie. Other than Heston (god bless him) who else stands up for us? Who do we have in front of the camera? Glenn Beck only recently has given us continuous blessed attention (does Rush? no). Wayne does great but he is one man. The second tier are a bunch of no names. John Sigler? No one knows who the heck he is? Nice guy but no presence. No celebrity types, no one with charima. No one to break thru to the MSM.

Final thought is we have no sugar daddies. Soros and the left wing loones pump enormous sums into their activism. Where are the Texas millionaires? Name one who is putting 100 million $$$ into 2A rights activism?

It is amazing that we are doing what we are with all the above. I just am not optimistic for the future. I wish it were different.

the pistolero said...

Amen, brother. I hope that includes calling out the Fudds for who they matter who might find that term "divisive," it's really the only one that fits.

Anonymous said...

nj_larry hit it on the head.

It is time for the Fudds to wise up. I think I'm beginning to realize I don't care if I piss Fudds off anymore (like I really ever cared). They will probably vote their pocketbook (i.e. my money to theirs) before the 2nd Ammendment.

I SAID FUDDS NOT HUNTERS!!! Fudds are a particularly displeasant set of control freaks that primarily inhabit the hunting genre'. Control kind of sums it up...sort of like the dirty words l-i-b-e-r-a-l and Marxist-socialist... someone wanting to tell someone what to do to excercise power and gain prestige.

Crush your them out from before you...hear the lamentations of the women. Oops...swiped that from MB and DRTV...

Anonymous said...

Judges like ..... Supreme Court Justice Lindsey Graham .... Supreme Court Justice Susan Collins .... Supreme Court Justice Mike Dewine .... Supreme Court Justice Olympia Snowe .... I don't trust him on Judges.

Sure he voted against the stupid AWB but he wants to "close the gun show loophole". You know the loophole that allows the government to determine who can buy a gun or not. Its enshrined in the 2nd Amendment ... the right of the government to screen buyers of guns shall not be infringed.

What other reason is there to vote for McAmnesty. Oh, I got one ... ATF Director Michael Sullivan.

We should not support a candidate that promises us that he'll cook us slow versus Obama who will cook us fast. Like I said, I'm going with Barr as he is for the second amendment, the rest are the same, just at different speeds.

Mike J.

Anonymous said...

Over at the J&G sales site is a poll asking who you are going to vote for. "None" and "other candidate" are getting about 10% each. Interestingly, B. Hussein is running about 10%.

Altho I realize this "poll" is not indicative of much I still find it troubling that McCain is doing so poorly on a site that I suspect is visited only by those of us heavy into the "gun culture".

I see deep trouble ahead for McCain in this election.

Petey said...

Center of the 10-ring, Michael.

As a part of the 14% who both shoot and hunt, I used to (back in my teens when I didn't really know better yet, during the Clinton Oppression) subscribe to the "You don't need that for deer hunting" idea. But it only took a couple of years to understand that that mentality is completely separate from the point.

Anybody who tries to talk just about the RTKBA in terms of hunting has to have their head in the sand. Simply look at the rise of shows like "Shooting Gallery" and "Shooting USA." I remember that just 5 years ago, I had never heard of organizations like IDPA or SASS. These groups are not about hunting, but love of shooting.

And all you have to do to understand that the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting is look at history and the words of the Amendment. The framers of the constitution included the 2nd not to make sure we could always hunt, but that we could always maintain our liberty. Unarmed people can't fight back. The 2nd is supposed to be a part of the checks and balances of the government.

It is that we have a right to own, carry, and use firearms.

be603 said...

Obama is a lockdown guarantee of more Ginsbergs.

McCain makes strong consistent committment to appointing constructionist judges to SCOTUS. Lipservice? Perhaps.

Still that's a world of difference Sir.

As (i presume) a brother in arms standing watch over our freedoms, I urge you to check out of Hotel Utopia and get out onto the highway of reality. Our freedoms and the security of the nation depend on it.

be603 said...

Mo Greg,
Perhaps it's a matter of degree -- and I would argue of significant degree.

The Republican party pretty reliably runs it's crooks out of town on a rail when they're "outed" as crooks or pervs.

Not so the Dems. Look no further that Barney Frank and Ted "The Swimmer" Kennedy who are still in office.

oh and, it's still THE JUDGES STUPID!!!

Anonymous said...

Michael, Thanks for the "floater" in the proverbial punchbowl. Now I'd like to pee in it too.
We can't forget that this is bigger than hunters AND shooters. It's about gun "owners" too. Yeah, gun owners like those that have guns for self defense and the defense of others; gun collectors, and everyone else that just plain has guns because they want to have them and know that they have the right to have them. Any, or all of these people who "cling to their guns" may noy even consider themselves as hunters, or shooters. We need to all hang together and include them too.
Life Member

Anonymous said...

Life Member you are on the right track. But may I suggest a an even broader view. As I mentioned above the concept of this being a "civil rights" movement has recently been raised by the NRA. Now at first blush this hits ya like more hype. But when I think of it longer, it seems to be the right focus. So let me offer the following: Gun "freedom" has NOTHING to do with Hunters or Shooters. It has everything to do with "American Citizens" and citizenship. It is part and parcel of the social contract we as Americans have. You hit the nail on the head because if you say all this "fuss" is about gun owners or shooters or hunters, then everyone else will view this as a parochical issue. Oh those guys again! kind of response.

What we need to have is a way of getting all American citizens to buy into this. We need to market to the entire country. Owners and NON owners, hunters and fishermen, left, right, rural, urban, gay, straight, religous, athetist. Everyone. To me that is what makes the "civil rights" vision as so attractive. Quite frankly it blurs the issue of a mechanical device and its role in society. It becomes more acceptable to people as a whole if it is not tied to a "thing".

This is what the left is so good at. The slow relentless shifting of values from fringe to mainstream. The adjustment of thinking on the part of everyone. But it will require the funding and in your face activism.

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay.

BTW, is there any reason you haven't filled the much-needed and as-yet-nonexistent gun columnist spot at Garden & Gun magazine? You're a Southerner (I think), a gun expert, and write well, plus I assume you know (or at least are known by) Sid Evans, given your AR article for Outdoor Life. Just asking.

Michael Bane said...

Sent a note to Sid Evans today...oh heck, why not? It's not like I have anything to do!


Eric said...

To quote the late Col. Cooper, "It appears there are still hunters who do not understand about the Bill of Rights. These people are hard to reach, since they do not participate in any of the shooting sports other than the annual fall deer hunt in the Northeastern woods. There are, however, a lot of them, and it is up to us to convince them that they are on our side in this struggle."

Commentaries, Vol. 12, No. 1
January 2004

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