Streamlight Pistol-Grip Searchlight Models

Streamlight®, Inc., a leading provider of high-performance flashlights, significantly upgraded the lumen output of the Waypoint® Alkaline battery model and the Waypoint® Lithium Ion Rechargeable pistol-grip spotlights, while also enhancing both lights’ design. Handheld and powerful, the lights feature C4® LED technology to provide extremely bright lighting with an integrated long-range targeting beam.

The updated Waypoint Alkaline now features 550 lumens, 100,000 candela and a beam distance of 625 meters on the high setting. The Waypoint Rechargeable now delivers 1,000 lumens, 115,000 candela and a beam distance of 678 meters on high. The Waypoint Rechargable also has been redesigned to include a Medium setting, while the updated Waypoint Alkaline model adds a trigger style switch that allows for momentary light up capability without clicking the switch to lock the light on. Both lights feature an integrated stand for hands-free scene lighting. The Waypoint rechargeable model also will float if dropped in water.

“Both of these models are ideal for boating, camping and other outdoor pursuits, as well as for a wide variety of search and rescue and other first responder applications,” said Streamlight Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Michael Dineen. “They’re rugged and dependable, and extremely bright whether used as a handheld mobile searchlight, or as a hands-free, stationary light to illuminate a scene.”

The Waypoint Alkaline, when powered by four “C” alkaline batteries, delivers 10 hours of run time on high, 82 hours on both low and emergency signal mode, and unlimited run time when using its included 12-volt DC power cord. The Waypoint Rechargeable uses a Lithium Ion battery that is rechargeable up to 800 times. It offers 3 hours of run time on high, 6 hours on medium and 80 hours on low. Both lights feature a C4 LED that is impervious to shock, and use a deep-dish parabolic reflector to produce a long-range targeting beam while also optimizing peripheral illumination. The lights have cushioned handle grips to eliminate user hand fatigue, as well as a removable high-strength wrist lanyard.

Featuring a high-impact polycarbonate housing, the Waypoint Alkaline weighs 1.8 pounds, while the Waypoint Rechargeable weighs 1.52 pounds. Both measure 6.75 inches long by 7.14 inches high. The Waypoint Alkaline features an IPX4 rated design for water-resistant operation, while the Waypoint Rechargeable has an IPX8 rated design for waterproof operation to two meters. Both are impact resistance-tested to one meter and are available in black and yellow.

The MSRPs for the updated Waypoint Alkaline and Waypoint Rechargeable are $102.00 and $204.00, respectively. Both feature Streamlight’s Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Practice AR Handling With a .22

AR-15 rifles, by their nature, offer continuity across the platform. Train on one brand of AR-15 and you can pick virtually any other and, for the most part, everything will be the same. If you like to shoot an AR a lot and want to train a lot, while not burning through all your precious .223 ammo, consider an AR-15 chambered in .22LR. This CMMG MK4 T 22LR retails for $899.95 and functions exactly like it’s .223 big brother. And if buying one for the training value isn’t really your thing, this gun is an absolute hoot to shoot and a great way to introduce youngsters to the AR platform with a lesser round.

This CMMG sports a Nikon P-Rimfire scope and mount, which I’m going to ignore for now because there are too many other fun things to mention just about the gun. So I’ll get back to you with a fuller review including the scope, okay?

Here are the specs from the CMMG website:

Caliber: 22 long rifle

Barrel: 16, 1:16 twist, M4 profile, 4140 CM, SBN

Muzzle: A2 comp., threaded 1/2-28

Hand Guard: CMMG RKM11 KeyMod hand guard

Furniture: A2 pistol grip, M4 butt stock with 6-pos mil-spec receiver extension

Receiver: Forged 7075-T6 AL M4 type upper, AR15 type lower

Trigger: Single stage mil-spec style trigger

Weight: 6.3 lbs (unloaded)

Length: 32 (stock collapsed)

Since I’m fresh off completing a Gunsite 123 Carbine class, I’m appreciating the CMMG’s overall feel. I ran through most of the basic handling functions taught in the class and found a virtual match in this .22LR version. Some differences include the charging handle which, on this model, has a much shorter travel. The mags look and feel the same when inserted but obviously the feeding mechanism bears a different design.

Some other notes…

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Looks just like an AR, ya? Feels like one, too. Fit and finish are outstanding, to say the least. This is a serious gun but outrageously fun, too.

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Mag release right there. Check.

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Bolt release. Right where it should be. Safety, too.

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Charging handle. Just have to get used to about half the travel as a typical AR. Forward assist is there, too. Never needed it.

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And, on the business end, a flash suppressor.

In a brief range session, I ran through a few magazines of .22LR and found it difficult to … wipe the grin off my face. You know an AR-15 chambered in .223 is easy to shoot; chambered in .22LR it is even easier. And more fun, too!

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Precision plinking made possible by this great Nikon scope… But you’ll have to wait for a later review for more info.

— Mark Kakkuri (text: 248-328-2538)

NYPD Approves Springfield Armory XD-S For Off-Duty Use

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By Jade Moldé

A special edition of Springfield Armory’s XD-S 9mm pistol has been approved by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for carry by off-duty uniformed officers. The NYPD officers may also carry the XD-S 9mm “NYPD model” as a backup gun while on duty.

The NYPD Firearms and Tactics Unit worked in cooperation with the Springfield Armory engineering and design teams to develop a version of the XD-S pistol that conforms to the exact requirements of the NYPD. After passing the department’s rigorous testing procedures, the XD-S was approved for use with no performance modifications and only minor adjustments to meet NYPD policy guidelines.

“We’re pleased that we were able to work with the team in the Firearms Training Section to meet specific needs of the department,” said Dennis Reese, CEO of Springfield Armory. “Our engineering team developed a new disconnector and grip safety spring that adjusts the trigger pull weight of the XD-S to the specific policy requirements of the NYPD.”

The NYPD XD-S pistol includes many of the features that have made it popular in the commercial concealed-carry market. A mere 0.9 inches wide and weighing 23 ounces, the XD-S is easy to carry concealed.

The Springfield Armory law enforcement team completed the XD-S Armorer’s Training Program prior to the official launch of the program to all uniformed officers.

“The concealed-carry community has responded to the XD-S with overwhelming approval, so we’re pleased that law enforcement officers can use it, too,” Reese added.

Visit www.springfield-armory.com

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Nighthawk Custom Partners With Korth Arms

Nighthawk Custom, known for its high-end 1911s, has partnered with Korth Arms, the storied German firearms manufacturer, to bring Nighthawk-designed, Korth-built revolvers to the U.S. market.

Nighthawk Custom and Korth Arms have also entered into an exclusive distribution agreement for all Korth firearms being imported into the U.S. Certain models have been enhanced to meet U.S. gun buyer’s needs and desires, according to Nighthawk officials.

“This collaboration with such a renowned maker as Korth, who has the same attention to detail and unwavering commitment to quality that Nighthawk does, is a natural progression for both of our brands. We are proud to have our name on these Nighthawk-influenced Korth revolvers,” states Mark Stone, owner and CEO of Nighthawk Custom.

The initial offering of Nighthawk/Korth revolvers will begin with the Mongoose, an L-Framed .357, 4-inch revolver (the Mongoose is also available in 3-, 5.25- and 6-inch barrel lengths), the Super Sport, an L-Framed 6-inch target/hunting/competition pistol and the Sky Hawk, a concealable 9mm, 2-inch double action gun available in other barrel lengths (3 and 4 inches).

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Mongoose

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Sky Hawk

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Super Short

Brothers and owners of Korth Arms, Andreas Weber and Martin Rothmann, also expressed their excitement on this new partnership. “Uniting with Nighthawk Custom on this venture allows Korth to bring our unique and exclusive products to the U.S. market with a company that has the same quality standards, the same passion for their products and the same moral compass,” said Martin Rothmann, co-owner and chief developer.

Added Co-Owner Andreas Weber, “The pairing of the companies into the U.S. market complements both brands. Having our classic designs Americanized to the Nighthawk standard allows more shooters to enjoy and appreciate the level of functionality and beauty a revolver can achieve.”

Visit www.nighthawkcustom.com

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MarketPlace Insight Increases Century’s Profits

MarketPlace Insight (MPI), a leading source of data analytics and insights for the outdoor industry, is helping manufacturers turn data into a competitive asset. The company leverages data ranging from transactional data on GunBroker.com to data from email subscribers. In a recent press release, the company announced its efforts helped Century Arms grow new lines of business and increase profitability company-wide.

“The analytics from MPI have enabled us to create a new multi-million dollar line of business from scratch. It’s also enabled us to create huge growth and profits across the rest of the company, creating double-digit growth this year. We have a certain line of pistols that sold a few thousand units in 2014. This year, that number will increase by 500 percent,” said Jim Drager, COO of Century Arms.

Drager noted the data and analytics are a “huge part of that growth” and have “[unified the company’s] decision-making and actions.”

“We’re working very hard to bring together the most comprehensive data, spanning all manufacturers, models, and customer demographics, to provide unparalleled insight into outdoor enthusiasts,” said Ryan Nokes, director of MarketPlace Insight. “We see this as a win for everyone. Manufacturers and advertisers gain a better understanding of their customers — what content they consume, what they’re interested in, what media they watch, what they buy and why — and in turn, outdoorsmen and women get a more targeted, customized experience based on their needs and interests. Our data allows the industry to move from guesses and gut instinct to facts and data-driven intelligence.”

To learn more about how your business can improve decision-making with access to MPI data, contact Christen Everly at Media Lodge, christen@nullmedialodge.com, (952) 847-4437 or (612) 306-2274.

Visit www.marketplaceinsight.com

B2B New Partnerships

DISTRIBUTION
Tactical Gear Distributors (TGD) is now stocking a selection of FN America firearms and Böker knives. According to David Nau, president of TGD, “Tactical Gear Distributors is pleased to partner with FNH USA; this iconic company has a rich history of service with the American military. Nau also welcomed Böker, saying TGD is “confident military retailer and commercial retailer bases will do very well with the Böker product Iine.”

Zanders Sporting Goods has announced it is now stocking Colt’s new solid copper hollow point (SCHP) centerfire pistol ammunition. With on-target penetration and expansion, this all-copper ammo is ideal for concealed carry weapons. Zanders also announced it is expanding its inventory of archery supplies. “We’re excited to offer an ever-expanding line of archery products and accessories to our customers,” said Darell Seibold, archery buyer for Zanders. “Not only will we be expanding our already robust inventory, we‘ll be offering products from trusted brands such as Bear Archery, Carbon Express, and many more.”

Ruger’s ARX line of ammunition, manufactured by Polycase Ammunition, is now being distributed by MidwayUSA and Davidson’s Inc.

Crow Shooting Supply announced it has added two lines of firearms to its offerings: Mossberg and Thompson/Center firearms. Mossberg adds 360 new SKUs to Crow’s selection, while T/C adds 120.

SALES REPRESENTATION
Blackbird Products announced the appointment of OMG Associates LLC as its representative in the Southeastern United States (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama). Mike Hannigan, president of Blackbird Products said, “We are very enthusiastic about further growth and are thrilled to have OMG Associates representing our fine products in the Southeastern territory.”

Breakthrough Clean Technologies has signed with Outdoor Outfitters Group to be their representative in the Midwest. Outdoor Outfitters will represent the Breakthrough Clean brand along with its line of cleaning products in 12 states in the heart of the U.S.

Baschieri & Pellagri has added four new representatives to sell the company’s products in the U.S. The Italy-based shotgun ammunition manufacturer chose GB Stumpp & Associates, Frontier Sales and Marketing, Ferguson-Keller Associates and Owen J. Brown Associates.

Kahr Firearms Group (KFG) has partnered with H&G Marketing to represent their products in the Southeastern U.S. The marketing group will represent Kahr as well as Magnum Research and Auto-Ordnance products. “With the growing demands we have been experiencing from strong sales to our consumers, dealers and distributors, we just felt we needed to expand our sales efforts quickly and effectively. H&G, with their impressive client list and proven sales efforts, convinced us that this would be a good fit,” said Frank Harris, VP of sales and marketing for the Kahr Firearms Group.

PR/MARKETING
Blue Heron Communications announces it has partnered with SIG SAUER Inc. to provide PR and marketing support to the New Hampshire-based company’s firearm, ammunition, silencer and airgun divisions. “A fixture in this industry for over 25 years, Blue Heron’s reputation for delivering proven communication methods across diverse product categories will greatly assist SIG SAUER as we continue to expand our new business units into broader markets,” said Tom Taylor, CMO and executive VP of commercial sales for SIG SAUER.

Creedmoor Sports Inc.has selected Source Outdoor Group (SOG) to promote its growing line of shooting gear and accessories, plus the company’s precision ammunition, Creedmoor Ammunition. “We’re going to greatly expand our reach with a lineup of new products and a number of innovative marketing and PR campaigns,” said Greg Kantorovich, owner of Creedmoor Sports. In addition, Diamondback Firearms has also selected SOG. “We looked at several marketing agencies in the industry, and it was clear to us that SOG was going to be the best fit for Diamondback,” said Bobby Fleckinger, owner of Diamondback Firearms.

H&N Sport announced Chevalier Advertising Marketing and Public Relations is its agency of record in the U.S. This new partnership will combine H&N Sport’s nearly 190 years of experience in precision projectile manufacturing with Chevalier’s 63-plus years of experience in brand development, public relations, advertising and marketing within the shooting and outdoors industry.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:

www.auto-ordnance.com
www.baschieri-pellagri.com
www.blackbirdproducts.com
www.blueheroncomm.com
www.boker.de/us
www.breakthroughclean.com
www.chevalier-adv.com
www.colt.com
www.creedmoorsports.com
www.crowshootingsupply.com
www.davidsonsinc.com
www.diamondbackfirearms.com
www.ferguson-keller.com
www.fnamerica.com
www.frontiersalesandmarketing.com
www.gbstumpp.com
www.gzanders.com
www.hgreps.com
www.hn-sport.de/en
www.kahr.com
www.magnumresearch.com
www.midwayusa.com
www.mossberg.com
www.omggetsresults.com
www.outdooroutfittersgroup.com
www.owenjbrown.com
www.polycaseammo.com
www.ruger.com
www.sigsauer.com
www.sourceoutdoorgroup.com
www.tacticalgeardistributors.com
www.tcarms.com

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Flourishing In The Face Of Growing Competition

By Massad Ayoob

In June 2001, firearms enthusiast Ernie Traugh (rhymes with “Draw!”) fulfilled a life-long dream and opened a gun shop in Marion, Iowa, a suburb of Cedar Rapids. The facility was all of 1,200 square feet, and he would soon have two full-time employees at Cedar Valley Outfitters. At the time, there were three other gun dealers in the area, one of them a behemoth Gander Mountain store — and this didn’t even count the “Monster Mart” firearms retailer, Wal-Mart, in Cedar Rapids.

Before long, there were five other gun shops in the area. One of them was a spare-no-expense modern facility of substantial size, complete with a state-of-the-art indoor range, a tremendous attraction in a region whose four-season climate makes outdoor recreational shooting less than pleasant for the customers. This competitive store had been built at an estimated cost of more than $3 million. How was a small businessman supposed to compete with that?

Ernie Traugh competed by expanding his sales space three times over, hiring three more employees, and racking up millions of dollars in sales. Here’s how he did it.

A Focus On Defense

In April 2013, Ernie moved Cedar Valley Outfitters into a 3,600-square-foot facility in the same strip mall, having outgrown the original workspace.
While Iowa is heartland hunting country (to that end, Cedar Vally Outfitters sells a full range of hunting rifles and shotguns), Traugh recognized early on personal defense was the core of the gun market in his particular region.

His strategy? “Truly, it came down to only selling guns I would trust my own life to,” he said. “We won’t sell certain brands that haven’t proven themselves in the field, or have shown themselves to be unreliable or problematic. It’s our rule. When new guns come out, we go out and shoot the heck out of them. If they work, then and only then will we sell them to our customers.”

His best-selling products are in line with what many have observed around the country. “The GLOCK 43, S&W SHIELD, and Ruger LC9s Pro are our best-selling guns; we sell all we can get,” he says. “In long guns, MSR platforms, and particularly those from Ruger and S&W, are dominating sales.”
Sales Tip: Don’t ignore police sales! Traugh is a part-time sworn police officer himself, and his appreciation for cops shows through, and earns the trust of his local market.

“Law enforcement is almost 20 percent of my business,” he noted. “We’re the Blue Label GLOCK dealer in the region, and one of only two in the state. We’re also the only Perfection dealer here in Iowa. A Perfection dealer for GLOCK has to buy guns in larger quantities, and carry the full line of GLOCK products. We sell several hundred GLOCKs per year.”

While the Blue Label program from GLOCK does not give a big margin per gun, it increases volume — while also increasing ancillary sales. The Blue Label program also encompasses civilians who shoot in the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation matches (GSSF), who burn up a lot of ammo and buy a lot of spare magazines, aftermarket sights, etc. GSSF shooters buy ammo by the case, not by the box, and tend to buy from dealers who support them and their chosen sport.

Editor’s Note: For more insights on the GLOCK Blue Label program and to see if it works for your store, see Mas’ column in the September 2015 issue. Visit www.shootingindustry.com/digital-version.

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Traugh tests new guns for reliability before he carries that
model in his shop. Here, he wrings out the new Honor Guard 9mm.

Create Your Advantage

Remember, trade-in guns are profit centers! “We sell a lot more ‘used guns’ than most of our competition,” Traugh noted. “The profit margins can be significantly more, too. A lot of our inventory comes in through police trades.”

Training provides another advantage for Traugh over his competition, which he started doing in 2008. He now personally teaches Combat Focus Shooting and several other I.C.E. courses under the umbrella of well-known training instructor Rob Pincus. Ernie does 45–60 classes a year himself, counting Iowa CCW courses, doing the live-fire work on rented outdoor ranges in hospitable weather. In winter, he offers indoor hand-to-hand, weapon retention, women’s self-defense, pepper spray and Kubotan (mini-baton) courses, bringing in outside subject matter experts to teach as necessary. He hosts 12–15 outside classes per year. Traugh comments, “Training is profitable. It constitutes less than 5 percent of my sales, but more than 20 percent of my profit.”

Another important point: stay on top of sales trends. I arrived at Ernie’s shop a week after Iowa passed a law approving silencers, and Ernie already had a SilencerCo rep in the shop giving his sales staff a tutorial on the product. “I think our sales patterns will change now that we have suppressors, and I expect to sell more bolt actions for people who want the most silent rifles for farm pest eradication. I have more people coming in to buy threaded-barrel rimfire rifles. We have tremendous backorders for suppressors already.”

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Traugh, second from left, helps a customer with a 4473 while the
rest of his staff deals with the other customers in his store.

Community Exchange Benefit

When “little guys” are up against “big guys,” strategic alliances make sense. Says Traugh, “We try to work with other small shops. At one other shop, the owner is an AK manufacturer, but not into training. I send people to his shop for custom AKs, and AK work, and he sends people to me for training.”

Ernie is active in the Iowa Firearms Coalition, as a member of their executive board. It’s his way of giving back to the shooting community. Altogether, the flourishing of Cedar Valley Outfitters in the face of increasing and massively better-funded competition is proof “ethical marketing” is not just a buzzword, but also a strategy that works for small businesses in the ferociously competitive field of retail firearms sales.

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Get Creative To Provide Personal Protection Tools For Women On The Go

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

Airline travel presents a conundrum to personal defense-minded women. Weapons of any kind are forbidden in the cabin of an airplane, and regulations regarding checked baggage vary from airline carrier to carrier. Before women reach their destination, they’ll need to do some serious homework to make sure they’re in compliance with local laws. This can be especially challenging when international travel is involved. So, what’s the best personal-defense tool for the female traveler? Just like any personal-defense situation, the more tools a woman has in her toolbox, the better her odds of avoiding or surviving an attack while traveling.

Perhaps the most innocuous seeming (and versatile) defensive tool women can take with them anywhere is the tactical flashlight. Flashlights have many advantages and uses, the first of which is women can carry a flashlight anywhere without restriction. The first rule of personal safety is avoidance, and this is where the flashlight shines brightest. Tactical flashlights are designed to be blindingly bright — which is the purpose they’re best suited for — to blind an attacker, giving a woman time to get away. Most flashlights also come with a lower light setting, making them useful for everyday situations as well..

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Sabre RED’s Runner Personal Alarm will stand out to your active customers.
The alarm features a pull-ring, which will activate a 130-dB alarm that can
be heard up to 1,000 feet away.

In the worst-case scenario where a woman has to physically engage with an attacker, tactical flashlights can also be used as a bludgeoning weapon. Quality hard-anodized aluminum housing flashlights are strong enough to cause pain on impact and many tactical flashlight models come with bezel edges that can be used for defense. The bezel edges also make these flashlights ideal for emergency situations like breaking glass to escape a vehicle.

When assisting women in choosing a tactical flashlight for defense, an important consideration is size. Flashlights the size of a baton make great clubs, but odds are it would be under the seat of the car when a woman needs it because it’s too big and bulky to carry on a regular basis. Likewise, a tiny keychain model is too small to be effective. A high-lumen, palm-sized flashlight is the right tool for the job. Companies like SureFire, Fenix and Streamlight all carry a wide range of tactical flashlights that would work for personal defense. Stocking a variety of tactical lights, both in terms of price and features, will give women the options they need to buy the right tool for their needs.

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Crkt James Williams Tactical Pen

A “Layered Approach” To Defense

Kathleen James, VP of operations at the Arms Room in Dickinson, Texas, said women often come to her store looking for a means of personal defense while traveling. The Loaded Ladies of the Arms Room, the local women’s shooting group, recently held an event where they discussed non-lethal defensive options and how to use the things women typically carry in their purse to defend themselves. One of the outstanding options mentioned was a high-quality flashlight. James said her store carries a wide range of flashlights from companies including Streamlight and Browning, but her personal favorite is a SureFire flashlight.

“SureFire flashlights are really bright, they last a long time, come in different cases and just give you more options,” she observed. “The Browning flashlight with a striking tool is also a good choice.”

Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) offers a flashlight and tactical pen designed by personal-defense expert James Williams. This combination of non-lethal tools can be carried just about anywhere, and provide a woman with a layered approach to personal protection. The flashlight is used to blind the attacker, and if this isn’t enough of a deterrent, the tactical pen can be used to disable him. Several other companies like SureFire, Smith & Wesson and Gerber Knives also offer tactical flashlight and pens that can be used as a potent, multi-layered non-lethal defense combo.

A word of caution for your customers traveling with defensive items, such as a small baton on an airplane: A friend of mine ran afoul of TSA when she took her keychain model Kubaton through a security checkpoint. She admitted the item was for personal defense and, as a black belt, she knew how to use it. TSA confiscated it and she spent some uncomfortable moments explaining herself when they declared it a lethal weapon and thus illegal to take on an airplane. Even non-lethal defensive tools need to be checked for air travel.

The Well Armed Woman founder, Carry Lightfoot, notes small flashlights, and other non-lethal items such as the Cat or Brutus keychain with point jabber ears, or the Monkey Fist — paracord rapped around a metal ball — are also good non-lethal defense options. “I see self-defense for women when traveling as a layered approach — situational awareness is key,” she stated. “When in unfamiliar areas all of our senses must be on high alert at all times and women must trust their gut, no matter what.”

Traveling with a gun or knife is Lightfoot’s first preference, but if local laws make traveling with those impossible, she said, the items mentioned above should always be near at hand. When it comes to securing a hotel room, Lightfoot suggested women should always use the extra door locks no matter what time of day. “There are door braces and small door alarms that can provide extra layers of security to your room,” she cautioned. “Don’t forget any adjoining rooms as well.”

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Cat Self-Defense Keychain

Final Thoughts

The Arms Room also carries small personal-defense items and James said small safes disguised as everyday objects are a good way to secure valuables. One of the more popular cache safes is disguised as hairspray or lotion, so it can be left out on a counter while hiding valuables in its false bottom.

“A good old whistle is also a good way to get attention because people aren’t used to hearing it,” she noted. Another option is a personal alarm, but some would argue the whistle is more effective as people have become accustomed to ignoring car alarms and will be less likely to investigate.
A valuable resource for anyone who travels is The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States by Attorney J. Scott Kappas. In addition to touching on the various state laws related to firearms, Kappas provides information on non-lethal weapons as well. It’s a great resource for helping women decide what type of personal protection they can use while traveling.

The bottom line: When it comes to women’s safety while traveling, dealers need to offer creative solutions to a very real problem. The first choice for most women would be a knife or firearm, but these choices can be impractical for reasons explained earlier. Consider the accessories you carry in your store and how they can be used as defensive tools. It would make a great ladies’ night topic and could add up to increased accessory sales for your store.

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Attracting Early Hunting Season Customers

Stock The Right Mix Of Products,
And Let Them Know You Have It

By Carolee Anita Boyles

The time leading up to hunting season can be a “Black Friday” of sorts for gun dealers. Hunters always want new stuff, and the last few weeks before the season starts can represent substantial income for prepared retailers.

Chuck Lock is vice president of Mack’s Prairie Wings in Stuttgart, Ark. One of the biggest changes he’s seen in early hunting season sales is hunters are upscaling the types of archery tackle they’re purchasing.

“The average ticket per bow sale is higher than what it’s been for the past several years,” he observed. “People don’t mind spending extra money to get the best. They’re buying Mathews and Obsession bows for deer hunting.”

Lock is also seeing increasing sales in crossbows. “It’s the same picture there,” he said. “The average ticket on a crossbow has gone up. The number one brand for us is TenPoint.”

On the other hand, according to Lock, muzzleloading is not as popular as it once was.

“At one time, black powder was a big deal for us,” he noted. “It’s really not anymore; that part of the business has gone pretty flat.”

When it comes to early waterfowl seasons, Lock has seen the quality of ammunition improve.

“Customers are purchasing higher- quality ammo,” he said. “Winchester Blind Side is a popular brand for us, as well as Hevi-Shot Hevi-Metal. Those are our top two sellers.”

Lock thinks hunters are spending more because they can — and because they value their recreational time.

“They don’t mind spending a little extra money when they know it will enhance their experience,” he said. “Nothing frustrates me more than to spend money and take time off to go somewhere, and then have a piece of equipment not work. My time is more valuable than that.” Customers are willing to spend more money to make sure they have equipment that works when they need it, he said.

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Thompson/Center Compass

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Skull Hooker Bone Bracket XXL

Strong Sellers

According to Lock, several product categories sell well at Mack’s Prairie Wings, including firearms.

“We sell a lot of Benelli, Beretta, Browning and Winchester,” he said. “Most of our firearms business is in shotgun sales. We also have a full-line gunsmith who makes custom rifles, which sell very well.”

The custom guns are sold as Spoon Custom Rifles, made by Matt Spoon. These are serious firearms, retailing for $2,400 and up.

“The caliber that’s really popular is 6.5 Creedmoor,” Lock observed. “In the custom round market here, it’s probably the number-one caliber. Most of the guns Matt builds shoot factory ammo very well.” Mack’s Prairie Wings carries 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition from Winchester and Hornady.

The accessories categories are big at Mack’s Prairie Wings, Lock said.

“The days of the $25 turkey decoy are over,” he said. “People don’t mind spending $80 to $100 on a good decoy because they want it to work. Sitka is a perfect example: People will spend the extra money because they know a piece of Sitka gear is going to protect them from the elements and enhance the experience they have on their hunt.”

Chest waders also are good sellers, Lock said. “And waterfowl decoys are a good category for us,” he said. “We sell as many $150 a dozen waterfowl decoys as we do $40 or $60 a dozen decoys because of the realism in the more expensive decoys. This is what people are after.”

Mack’s Prairie Wings sells a lot of GHG decoys, according to Lock. “We also sell a lot of Dakota decoys and a lot of Avian X decoys,” he added. “Those are our three top sellers.”

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Courtesy Of Howard Communications

A Different Story …

At Greenacres Sporting Goods in Jacksonville, Fla., the picture of early season hunting sales is quite different.

“The hunting industry has kind of taken a downturn for us,” said store manager Phillip Gazaleh. “This includes new rifle sales and the amount customers are willing to spend on a rifle. Our customers are going more toward package guns, which come with the scope and the gun together and are in the $400 to $500 range.”

In the past, Gazaleh said, customers were purchasing more expensive combinations, such as a Browning rifle with a Swarovski scope on it.
“Also, the biggest difference in our business over the past couple of years is more people are gearing toward guns such as the MSR platform and firearms like that,” he said. In other words, Gazaleh is seeing two separate trends: customers who purchase more conventional hunting rifles are going to less expensive rifle/optics combinations and other customers are tending to purchase MSRs.

Customers who are purchasing more traditional hunting rifles are buying Savage Axis and Ruger American rifles.

“The Remington 783 is another popular one,” Gazaleh noted. “The majority of customers are staying in this modest price range. A few customers do still come in and purchase rifles like the Browning X-Bolt.”

Greenacres Sporting Goods has a fairly good-sized archery department, and sales in the department generally are pretty good during the early part of hunting season according to Gazaleh.

“We get both hunters and 3D shooters, and we get some recurve shooters,” he said. “We actually stay pretty steady all year with our archery sales. People tend to come in every year or so and trade their bows in for the newest model.”

Archery sales tend to be technology driven, Gazaleh added. “It’s like computers,” he said. “Every year there’s something bigger and better.”
Gazaleh agreed with Lock: muzzleloader sales have dropped off.

“Muzzleloading is not as busy as it once was,” he said. “The season here in Florida is so short, so people don’t buy new guns every year. We see a little jump in sales every three or four years when people come in and buy new guns, but typically our muzzleloader customers just buy a little powder and some bullets, and that’s it.”

Waterfowl season makes little difference to sales at Greenacres, Gazaleh noted.

“We have a little spike in steel shot,” he said, “but we don’t do much in bird shooting.”

Hunting knives always are good sellers at Greenacres.

“Our customers particularly like Benchmade, Kershaw and Case,” Gazaleh said. “But the biggest sellers right now are snake boots. It’s always an early purchase before hunting season; we do a lot of snake proof and waterproof boots, we sell a lot of Lacrosse.”
Gazaleh has noticed the overall cost of hunting is impacting his business.

“The cost of hunting is going up,” he said. “There are fewer places to go, and the people who have places charge a lot. It’s hard to find a reasonable land to hunt.”

Communication With Customers

At Mack’s Prairie Wings, Lock communicates with customers about what he has in inventory in several ways.

“We do a mail-order catalog,” he said. “We also convey this message on our website and through social media.”

Gazaleh said traditional advertising works well for Greenacres.

“We use the newspaper, Facebook, our website, radio and TV,” he said. “What works best for us is actually the radio. Even the newspaper works well — not many people read the newspaper any more, but for some reason if we put an ad in the sports section we always do very well with it.”

Finding early hunting season customers isn’t difficult, however; it just takes having the right products in stock for your market and letting hunters know you have what they want.

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