Functional Fashion Drives Gun Girls Inc.

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

Behind many new gun-related products for women stands a woman who couldn’t find a product to fit her needs and thought, “I can make what I want — and if I want it, other women will too.” This scenario is precisely what inspired Susan Kushlin, the founder of Gun Girls Inc., to develop her own line of purse holsters and firearm-related clothing. When she first got into shooting, Kushlin said, she’d go to gun shows and couldn’t find any clothing to fit her style. Since she had a background in fashion, Kushlin thought she could fill a need for shooting-related clothing that represented women in a fashionable and ladylike way.

“Women don’t want to look like men when they shoot,” Kushlin said. “Any woman can wear anything in my line and feel like a lady. We as women should be able to know how to protect ourselves. Why not look good while we do it?”

The Gun Girls line began with purse holsters. “The handbag line sells very well,” she observed. “All of the handbags are very high quality and the price point is great — the most expensive one is $84!” There are several bags in the line ranging from clutches to totes.

One of the most popular purse holsters is the Black Cross Body tote. “These bags are so much fun and they’re just perfect for women who work,” Kushlin said. The tote’s features include a holster pocket that runs the height and length of the bag, and is accessible from both sides. Kushlin designed the holster system herself and said the Velcro on the pockets and holster keep the gun totally secure. “The gun stays where you want it to be,” she informed.

Gun Girls also has an apparel line designed by Kushlin. “I wasn’t trying to be political with the line,” she noted. “I’m embracing the fact we’re able to shoot and be trained and defend ourselves. The more trained we are, the better off we’ll be.” The clothing consists of fashion-forward, gun-related tanks, tees, tops, belts and hats — all sporting the Gun Girls logo and featuring embroidery and bling.

“My thing is to be fashionable and functional, not tactical,” she said. “Everything in the line can be worn shooting, and out and about. I want women to feel like a lady while showing the world they shoot.” All of the clothing is flattering to women no matter what their size or shape, she added.

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Gun Girls offers a compact display, which can fit easily into any in-store location.

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Responding to feedback from end users, Gun Girls introduced a line
of onesies for babies. According to Kushlin, they’ve been very popular —
selling out on a frequent basis.

Bestsellers, Plans For Expanded In-Store Presence

Two of Gun Girls’ bestselling clothing items are the camo T-shirt with the Gun Girls logo in rhinestones and a belt that sports Swarovski crystals. The belt looks like a fashion-only item, but Kushlin assured it would accommodate a holster.

Another top seller for Gun Girls is their line of baby onesies. Kushlin has received a lot of requests from couples for something cute and firearm-related for their babies. The line of onesies and bibs come in a variety of colors, including pink and green camo, and have cute gun-related sayings embroidered on them. They’re so popular Kushlin noted, they sell out on a regular basis.

Naturally, once mom and the kids were decked out in fashion-forward gun-related gear, men’s clothing was the next step. The men’s line consists of T-shirts and hats proclaiming support for Gun Girls.

Gun Girls has had a very strong online presence and Kushlin added she’s now focused on expanding an in-store presence with firearm retailers. The company offers wholesale packages custom designed for any budget. Also, to make things very easy for retailers wishing to carry their products, Gun Girls offers complete, self-contained in-store mobile stands — which act as Gun Girls “stores” and can be placed anywhere.

Kushlin underlined she can work with any size budget and give a good representation of the Gun Girls product line. The price point of their products (all less than $85) will make them highly attractive to customers. She informed the average markups are between 40–100 percent depending on the type of product.

If you’re looking to add some fashionable gun-related clothing to your retail establishment, Gun Girls is an excellent option. The space-saving display and value pricing make stocking the products a win-win proposition for dealers. Visit www.gun-girls.com.

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Lady Whitetail .50 cal Rifle

Lady Whitetail Appeal

The limited edition series of Lady Whitetail rifles by Traditions is now available. Built on Traditions’ Pursuit G4 Ultralight platform, the Chromoly tapered, fluted barrel and LT-1 alloy frame keep the gun light and balanced. The Soft Touch camo stock provides an overall good feeling when handling the rifle and enables a sure grip. The Dual Safety system includes an internal hammer block safety and trigger block safety making this gun one of the safest on the market.

The Lady Whitetail series is available with a 26-inch, .50-caliber barrel with Tactical Grey Premium Cerakote finish and 209 shotgun primer ignition. The forend and stock are given a fresh look with Hot Leaf camo. A 3-9×40 Matte black rangefinding scope (mounted and boresighted), deluxe carrying case and sling complete the package.

Another feature women will appreciate is Traditions’ new Quick-T Ramrod Handle. It functions like a palm saver and T-handle all in one, making it easier and more comfortable to load the rifle. It has a T-shaped piece with brass jag that can screw in, allowing the ramrod to function like a work or cleaning rod. The Quick-T Ramrod Handle sits on the ramrod when it is in the storage position on the rifle.

Mother-daughter hunting duos will love the fact the Lady Whitetail series also includes a Youth model with a 24-inch, .50-caliber barrel. Like the other version, the Youth model has a mounted and boresighted 3-9×40 Matte Black rangefinding scope. It also has a reduced length of pull at 13 inches, and the shortened barrel make this the perfect gun for smaller-framed shooters or children.

Read More Arms & The Women Articles

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Read More Shooting Industry December 2016 Issue Now

Viridian E-Series

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Viridian announces the E-Series, the company’s newest laser sight product line. The E-Series offers a high-quality laser sight designed to integrate with a firearm manufacturer’s highest volume pistols. The E-Series is a new line of triggerguard-mounted laser sights that boast a maximum intensity red laser. Each E-Series model features laser intensity of 5mW peak 650nm red laser — with an effective range up to 25 yards in daylight and one mile at night. Also, the E-Series has an auto shut off — the unit shuts off after five minutes to conserve battery; the battery life will last 6-plus hours with continuous use with one 1/3N battery.
(800) 990-9390
www.shootingindustry.com/company/viridian-green-laser-sights

DeSantis Intruder Holster Does and Doesn’t

The DeSantis Intruder holster you see here is a great concealment solution for Glock 30 Gen4, also seen here. Except this holster doesn’t technically fit this gun. Except for the fact that, practically, it does. Technically, this holster is designed for a Glock 17 (width 1.18”). But because I needed a concealment holster for the Glock 30 (width 1.27”), I tried it in the DeSantis and it fit just fine.

DeSantis makes the Intruder — a relatively wide design — from premium steer hide with the front treated with polyurethane for good looks and durability. A Kydex panel does the job of carrying the Glock 30 in perfect form. It holds on just right and doesn’t let go. Unless you draw it. Then it does so obediently.

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Glock 30 Gen4 in a DeSantis Intruder. Steel, plastic and leather in harmony.

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The smooth backside of the Intruder feels great. Cinch your gun belt up tight; the rig is stable, secure and comfortable.

The plastic belt clips hold well and offer a handy tab for pulling them away from your belt when it’s time to remove the holster. The Intruder does allow you tuck in a shirt over the gun you’re carrying. But that doesn’t mean I use that function. In fact, I almost never do, preferring to let a covering garment drape over the gun and holster.

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Intruder keeps the Glock 30 in a straight drop, maximizing concealment and ease of draw.

Glock 30 really is a thick and chunky gun. No surprise, that’s what you get when there’s 10+1 rounds of .45 ACP on board and the slide width has been machined accordingly. But in the Intruder it’s not a protruder. In fact, the gun rides in a straight drop pulled right up on your hip, hidden as well as can be. And comfortable!

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Intruder is a thin but strong holster for the thick and chunky Glock 30 — or whatever gun you carry.

I put the Intruder’s adjustable-height belt clips at a level to hold the gun a bit higher. This doesn’t take away from its concealment but actually enhances it and allows for more stocks to grasp on a draw.

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The wide Intruder easily handled the Glock’s girth and weight.

DeSantis Intruder retails for $70.99 and doesn’t fit the Glock 30 Gen4. Except it does. But whatever gun you buy it for, it does offer a comfortable concealment solution that doesn’t add anything unnecessary. And that’s what a good holster does.

— Mark Kakkuri

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Carry the Glock lower or higher, or at a cant, by adjusting the location of the belt clips.

Ruger American Compact in Hand

I was still figuring out how to carry the new full-sized Ruger American on my person, concealed, when word arrived: the gun’s little brother was on the way. That’s right: a Ruger American Compact. This was good news and I could hardly wait to get it in hand.

Upon arrival, I was not disappointed. The Ruger American Compact brings all the goodness of the larger American pistol: ambi mag release, ambi slide release, easy field strip, accessory rail, easy to swap backstraps for a custom fit. And the key: a shorter stock making the gun easier to hide. Even better: the short magazine with the shortest baseplate still carries 12 rounds of 9mm.

It’s no slim nine, to be sure. There’s some girth (1.05″ slide width) and some extra weight (28.7 oz.) that slim nines have shed. But positively, there’s some girth and some extra weight. And there’s 12+1 ready to go. And the spare mag carries 17 rounds. Retail: $579.

I’m on my way to the range and the Compact is on my side, in the same holster I’d carry the larger version. Watch for a full report later. In the meantime, here are my first impressions of the Ruger American Compact, in hand…

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Here’s the compact part of the Ruger American Compact: a shortened stock to make concealed carry much easier. There’s still plenty of stock to hang on to, though.

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If you burn through 12+1 in the short mag, you can pop in the 17-round spare. A spacer accommodates the full-size mag in the Compact’s stocks.

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Getting to this stage is easy. Lock the slide back, throw the frame-mounted switch down, ease the slide forward and off.

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I’m not a lefty, but with the Compact I could be.

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Customize the stocks with replaceable backstraps. There’s really no excuse for a poor fit. I have medium-to-large hands but longer fingers. So l like the standard backstrap. The key here, though, is the very nice palm swells each backstrap provides. Great fit!

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Every part of this good-looking gun is functional. A range test will see if this proves out…

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— Mark Kakkuri

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Streamlight Continues L.E. Support

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Streamlight employees present a check to C.O.P.S. for $128,700.
The flashlight maker has supported this organization for 17
years through sales of its Blue Nano Light.

Streamlight Inc. has renewed its sponsorship of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), participating in a variety of fund-raising events and incentives. Now in its 17th year of sponsoring C.O.P.S., Streamlight’s support helps to underwrite ongoing programs and activities for survivors of fallen officers.

The company’s contribution for 2016 totaled $128,700, including $13,700 in proceeds from sales of its Blue Nano Light. Streamlight earmarks a dollar from the sale of each Blue Nano LED keychain flashlight for C.O.P.S. The keychain features the C.O.P.S. logo on one side and the Streamlight logo on the other.

In June, Streamlight hosted its 2nd Annual C.O.P.S. 5K/Fun Walk at Lower Perkiomen Valley Park Trail in Oaks, Pa., near company headquarters. Streamlight employees and associates participating in the run raised more than $4,000.

Streamlight again served as a major sponsor of the C.O.P.S. annual survivor’s luncheon during National Police Week, May 15–21, in Washington, D.C. The company also was a sponsor of Law Enforcement United’s “The Road to Hope” memorial bicycle ride, which helps to raise money for C.O.P.S. programs.

Streamlight recently introduced a Blue model of the Streamlight Siege AA ultra-compact lantern, featuring one white and two blue LEDS. The company will donate $2 from the sale of each lantern, which features the C.O.P.S. logo on its globe, to C.O.P.S.

Streamlight supports or sponsors additional C.O.P.S. programs throughout the year, among them C.O.P.S. Kids Camp, C.O.P.S. Outward Bound, the Affected Co-Workers Retreat, the Annual C.O.P.S. Walk and hands-on retreats for siblings, surviving spouses, parents, adult children, in-laws and significant others.

“Streamlight salutes C.O.P.S.’ invaluable work in helping survivors of the fallen rebuild their lives. As the lighting tool brand of choice by first responders, we feel a deep commitment to give back to the law enforcement community. We are very proud to help this fine organization,” said Streamlight President and CEO Ray Sharrah.

Visit www.streamlight.com, www.nationalcops.org

Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 News

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A Smart Approach To Answer The “Where’s The Safety On This Thing?” Question

By Massad Ayoob

The buzz on the Internet — and, frankly, in most police academies today — holds the defensive handgun is a reactive weapon, and we imperfect humans might forget to wipe off a safety in an emergency and therefore need a “point gun, pull trigger” mechanism. For decades, this was an argument used to keep revolvers in police duty holsters, while patrolmen’s unions were begging for semi-auto service pistols. By the time the auto fans won that argument, GLOCKs were already on the scene, and in many departments with other guns the mantra was: “That lever on your S&W or Beretta’s slide is a decocking lever, not a thumb safety! Carry it with the lever up, ready to shoot!”

Yet, not every customer thinks this way. Some of your clientele are Internet-adept “Shooter Gen 2.0” types, and some are gun geezers like your correspondent here and some are absolutely new to the concept of the defensive firearm. A friend of mine, retired from law enforcement, now works the counter in a gun shop. He recently sent me an email, saying (his emphasis): “They really loved the safeties. New customers WANT A MANUAL SAFETY.”

If you’ve been in the business a long time, you’re familiar with the customer who looks at the pistol you’ve just taken from the showcase and blurts, “Where’s the safety on this darn thing?”

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Colt Combat Unit 9mm
For the left-handed shooter in particular, it’s critical a manual safety be
ambidextrous — as seen here on Springfield Armory’s EMP4 9mm.

The Right Answer?

Of the many possible answers to “Where’s the safety?” perhaps the worst is: “You don’t need one.” Millennials don’t like being told what they do or don’t need by older folks, a woman empowering herself with a self-defense tool won’t like hearing it from a man and we geezers don’t like hearing it from our peers (or even our physicians) let alone from “whippersnappers.”

Certainly, you can take time to explain the best-selling pistols for L.E. use are the GLOCK (no manual safety at all), the S&W M&P (ordered most of the time by L.E. agencies without the optional ambidextrous thumb safety) and SIG SAUER models (rarely encountered with manual safeties except for single-action models and an uncommon variation of the P320). After all, particularly with new handgun owners, every dealer wants the customer to leave fully conversant with proper safety protocols.

However, there’s one answer to the “Where’s the safety?” question that may be the most likely of all to end up in a win-win situation. The “win-win,” of course, is you making the sale and the customer leaving with the product that satisfies his or her own perceived needs.

And the answer is: “The safety is right here, on this other model I’m taking out of the showcase for you to examine now.”

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Springfield Armory EMP4 9mm
Thumb safety and grip safety are deal breakers for some, but selling points for others,
in classic-style 1911s like this new Colt Combat Unit 9mm.

Educate Customers On Thumb Lever Safeties

While the oddities in your used handgun showcase may include crossbolt safety buttons, most modern guns with manual safeties have them in the form of thumb levers. These may be up for “safe” and down for “fire” as with the seemingly eternal 1911, classic Browning Hi-Power, typical polymer frame HK in the manual safety variants and others. The safety levers may also be up for “fire” and down for “safe.”

These include the Beretta 92/M9 and Px4 series, first-through-third generation S&W defense pistols, the now discontinued P-Series Ruger autoloaders and, the original of its kind, the still-popular Walther PP series.

Most shooters find “up for safe, down for fire” more intuitive and quicker to learn. The opposite style requires more of a learning curve. Most people want to take such guns off-safe by flipping the thumb up from the median joint, rather like shooting marbles, but it’s not the strongest or the most positive way. I’ve learned over the years a straight thrust of the firing hand thumb upward on about a 45-degree angle (think: shove tip of thumb up toward ejection port atop the slide) works more positively, and is virtually required to off-safe the Walther PP series.

It’s counterintuitive to be sure, but consider: showing a customer how to do something he didn’t know before is never a bad thing. Indeed, it helps to reinforce the trust of the buyer in the seller — and the appreciation of the seller as the resident expert on such matters.

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A customer requests to see S&W’s in-demand M&P45 Shield. Pictured here, the
“safety catch” is engaged. He asks about the safety — how would you handle
this situation?

Rationale For Manual Safeties

There have been several cases of people accidentally shooting themselves while reholstering their pistol. In most instances, an on-safe pistol would prevent that from happening. I’ve seen many online thread discussions on appendix concealed-carry, and while those users appreciate the carry method’s tactical advantage, they often admit they went from a striker-fired gun with no manual safety to a design that did have a “safety catch” — or at least to a pistol with an external hammer that could be held in position by the shooter’s thumb when holstering.

Note: There have been cases of a poorly designed safety strap, the creased edge of a too-worn holster or the cord of a jacket getting inside the triggerguard to cause unintended discharge while holstering. Score a selling point for the manual safety, which will keep the gun from going off in that situation, no matter where on the body the gun is holstered.

Another plus for the manual safety comes in the area of weapon retention. There are many cases on record of police officers (and some “civilians”) being saved from death when a criminal managed to get their gun away from them, tried to shoot them with it and couldn’t because he either didn’t know it was “on safe” or couldn’t find the safety lever.

The best approach to the sale may be to, as motorcyclists say of helmets, “let those who ride decide.” If your customer wants a new striker-fired pistol of modern design and a thumb safety, you can certainly sell him one. SIG introduced a P320 variation with a manual thumb safety at the 2016 SHOT Show. S&W has long made their M&P pistols with an optional ambidextrous thumb safety, and has sold most of their hugely popular subcompact Shields with a (right hand only) thumb safety. Springfield Armory has offered their XD-45 with an ambi-thumb safety.

Selling the customer what he wants is, after all, perhaps the most proven strategy in salesmanship ever. And often, the customer really is right about his or her own perceived needs.

Read More Personal Defense Market Articles

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Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Varmint Hunting Sales: A Year-Round Hit

Earn Additional Profits Through Popular Off-Season Activity

By Tim Barker

In early July, Tim Van Leiden decided to take his 11-year-old granddaughter out for her first hunt. With popular game seasons still several months away, the owner of The Gun Guys in Ottawa, Kan., trekked westward across the state and into prairie dog country for some varmint hunting. There, Van Leiden and his son spent most of their time as spectators, as the young girl claimed some 80 dogs.

“We had so much fun watching her and seeing how much fun enjoyed being out there, we really didn’t care about hunting ourselves,” he said. “It’s a really good way to introduce kids to hunting.”

The weekend adventure illustrates one of the strongest draws of varmint hunting: you can do it pretty much whenever the mood strikes.

His business, like many others, is heavily skewed toward the handgun market. But Van Leiden estimates roughly 15 percent of his sales are related to varmint hunting — the loosely defined category of small game and predators.

It’s a market that varies heavily by which state you live in. And even by where you live in your state. In Kansas, it means coyotes, prairie dogs, groundhogs and bobcats. In Florida it means wild hogs, armadillos, raccoons and otters. Ohio hunters include foxes, crow and weasels among their varmint options.

Around Ottawa, where Van Leiden has been in business for 11 years, varmint hunting is essentially restricted to coyotes — which have undergone a recent population boom. There’s also a market for coyote coats, which makes them more popular to hunt in the fall and winter, when they have heavier coats.

“The market fluctuates a lot. It used to be you could get $40 to $50 for a good pelt,” he said.

But considering the range of animals available across the state, there are many options for hunters when it comes to choosing a firearm. There’s the occasional handgun hunter, generally with a Thompson Contender equipped with a scope. And some guys hunt coyotes with shotguns, using Carlson’s choke tubes designed for the animal.

But rifles remain the favorite of varmint hunters, with brands such as Winchester, Remington and Savage among the top choices of customers. The more popular calibers are .223, .204 Ruger and .22-250.

And while many hunters opt for bolt-action rifles, some of them prefer a more modern approach. “The younger guys, those 30 years old or so, are using MSRs to hunt with,” Van Leiden observed.

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Mossberg MVP Predator

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iHunt By Ruger App

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Simmons Predator/Varmint 1-6x24mm

A Similar Story

It’s a similar story at Rieg’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range in Orlando, Fla., where brothers Justin Hilton and Jesse Hastings have been in business since 2012, when they bought the shop from their grandparents.

The MSR platform is popular with some hunters (top brands at Rieg’s include Colt, Bushmaster and local gunmaker Spike’s Tactical), but there’s still a strong interest in bolt-action rifles, Hilton said. An MSR’s larger magazine offers no capacity advantage over its bolt-action counterpart, with hunters limited to no more than five rounds.

A popular seller is the Savage Axis II: “It costs enough money to feel good about it, but it’s not something that breaks the bank,” Hilton said.

More than anything, varmint hunting offers a chance for hunters to stay busy all year and to break out some guns that might otherwise stay in the safe. Larger game demands big calibers (Florida hog hunters opt for .30-06 and .308), but there’s a place for .22, .22 WMR and .17 HMR at the smaller side of game range, Hilton said. “It’s a nice time to bring out your plinking guns and actually hunt some game,” he added.

The brothers’ own favorite is a Marlin Model 60, which they’ve nicknamed “Elmer Fudd.”

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Rieg’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range

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Popular Sellers

Both stores offer rentals on their ranges to help shoppers make their buying decisions. The Gun Guys, in Kansas, offers a $5 rental option, and includes MSRs, a .22 rifle and a bolt-action .223 among the options.

When it comes to ammo choices, the answer often depends on the type of hunting involved, Van Leiden said. Centerfire hunters out for a long prairie dog hunting session, for example, are less likely to use factory ammo.

“Those guys will reload,” he said. “You can go out over a weekend and shoot 200–300 rounds. That can get expensive.”

The coyote hunters, however, are more likely to drop by the store for factory ammo. Hornady’s V-MAX and Superformance Varmint are among the top sellers.
Among the accessories that move best for varmint hunters are scopes, with a wide range of available options from popular makers Tasco, Leupold, Nikon and Bushnell. “It all depends on how much money they want to spend,” Van Leiden added.

That, and where they plan to hunt. For most Kansas hunting, there’s not much need to shoot more than 200 yards out. So there’s not as much demand for the longer stuff. “It all depends on the hunter’s preference,” Van Leiden said. “Sometimes you’ll need something that will get you quick target acquisition.”
Florida hunters are in a similar situation, with most shots occurring within 100 yards, said Hilton, of Rieg’s. Simmons also is a popular seller for the store, with 4×32 considered an ideal magnification.

“It will handle everything you are going to hunt in the state of Florida,” Hilton noted.

Bipods and shooting sticks, made by Primos and Caldwell, also are popular with hunters who use stationary positions.

There are, however, some areas of varmint hunting where Van Leiden finds it tough to compete with the larger big-box sporting goods stores. He doesn’t currently offer a line of camouflage clothing. And he doesn’t keep a lot of game calls on hand.

“I’ll get a few in,” he said. “But I can’t afford to keep 10 high-end electronic calls or compete on the low-end with Walmart.”

Indeed, the bulk of his varmint business revolves around three things: rifles, scopes and ammo. And those sales don’t always involve seasoned hunters.
On a recent Monday, a woman dropped by the store. She lived alone. And she was trying to figure out how to save her chickens from increasingly aggressive predators. “She wanted a high-powered rifle to shoot coyotes that were coming into her yard,” Van Leiden recalled.

She left with a .22-250, scope and ammo — along with the name and number of a local firearms instructor to get her started.

Read More Feature Articles

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Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Air Appeal

Highlight Airguns/Airsoft For Plinking, Hunting & Training

By Carolee Anita Boyles

The market for airguns/airsoft continues to evolve. As airguns become more powerful and accurate, they’ve increased in popularity not only for target shooting but also for hunting.

At Kames Sports in North Canton, Ohio, Sales Manager Jeff Snook said his store’s main customers for airguns are small-game hunters.

“We mainly sell to people who hunt squirrels and other small game,” he observed. “We do a little bit of target stuff, but it’s mostly a wintertime basement activity with pellet traps and things like that.”

Snook said most of his customers are buying .177- and .22-caliber airguns, but they’ve also expressed some interest in the larger calibers.
“We sell a few .25s, but the majority of our sales are in .177 and .22. Here in Ohio, small-game hunters are going mostly for squirrel, rabbit and an occasional groundhog in the garden,” he noted.

However, this doesn’t mean the market for more traditional airguns is totally dead, according to Snook.

“Especially at Christmastime, we still sell some of the Red Ryders and (Crosman) 760s, and some of the more kid-type air rifles,” he said. “But the adult air rifles have really taken over, so instead of being $29 or $39 guns, we’re now into the $119 to $299 guns.”

Benjamin is the most popular brand sold at Kames Sports. “We also sell a lot of Gamo,” Snook added. “Some of them have synthetic stocks, but we sell a lot with wood. They look a lot like Grandpa’s old hunting rifle.”

Most of the airguns at Snook’s store have optics already on them. “If they don’t, people buy optics separately. We try to keep a variety of scopes in stock, as well as a variety of pellets,” he added.

According to Snook, airguns tend to have less seasonality than regular firearms. “Adult hunting rifles sell pretty much all year,” he said. “There are critters in the garden during the summertime, and hunting in the fall. Then, around the holidays we’ll sell the whole gamut: from $29.99 airguns up to the $400 range.”

Snook added the store doesn’t have to do a lot of advertising to generate sales of adult airguns. “They pretty much sell themselves,” he noted. “We do a lot on social media, a lot of email blasts, a lot of Facebook. That’s pretty much all we do. People come in looking for them.”

Two product categories Kames Sports keeps in stock are targets and pellet traps. Other accessories also are good sellers, Snook added.

“We keep cleaning pellets, and cleaning kits made for airguns. We also carry gun cases,” he said. “For airguns we sell more bullseye targets and small-game targets.”

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Crosman Air American Classic .177 Pistol

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FN Herstal SCAR Airsoft Rifle

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FN Herstal FNX-45 Airsoft Pistol

Larger Calibers For Larger Game

Fedor Palacios, marketing communications manager for Gamo USA, said hunters are increasingly interested in airguns — and it’s not just for small game.
“First, you don’t need a permit for an airgun,” he noted. “You can just go into a store and buy one. Next, ammunition is very inexpensive and you can find it in almost any sports retailer — a big benefit.”

As airgun technology has evolved and airguns have become more powerful, Palacios said, hunters are able to use them for a wider range of game, which opens new doors.

“Now air rifles can effectively hunt medium-sized game,” he observed. “We’re talking about game the size of foxes and even up to wild hogs. On most of the TV shows we sponsor, celebrities are using our airguns to hunt hogs.”

These larger-caliber airguns go up to .25-caliber, and even up beyond that. AirForce Airguns makes a .45-caliber air rifle, which they market for deer hunting; it also comes in .30 and .357. Benjamin also offers several models in .357 and other manufacturers have followed suit, which includes Evanix with several models in everything from .22 to .50.

“These larger calibers are a niche market,” Palacios noted. “There’s a trend there, but there’s also a question about how many people are interested in it. Some manufacturers are dedicated to only big bores, but most of them are staying with .177 and .22. The .25 and up calibers are something that’s still niche.”

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Airforce Airguns Texan Big Bore Air Rifle

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Gletcher APS-A Full Metal C02 Airsoft Pistol

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Umarex Throttle Break Barrel Air Rifle

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Umarex Colt Peacemaker Nickel .177 BB CO2 Revolver

An Update On Airsoft

At one time, Snook said, Kames Sports carried airsoft products, but they discontinued doing so about two years ago because they didn’t sell in the store’s specific market.

“When we sold entry-level products, the return rate was high,” he recalled. “When we went into the higher-end guns — such as the $300 to $400 range — we sold about two a year.”
When it comes to airsoft, the buyers tend to be the same types of gamers who play paintball.

“The buyers are kids and teens, and some former military who are looking to do some gaming with military scenarios,” said Chip Hunnicut, marketing manager at Crosman. “Our research has shown parents are very much involved in purchase decisions, especially with entry-level products such as some of ours.”
There has been some slowdown in sales, he said, which may be related to some of what’s been happening with firearms in the news.

“The games these customers play are just like paintball,” Hunnicut noted. “Kids play video games, and this is an opportunity for them to get off the couch and do something active but can also replicate what they’re playing online or on their television and do it safely.”

Law enforcement is also using some airsoft for training.

“They’re using it, but they’re not coming in and buying new guns every year,” Hunnicut said. “They buy guns one time and then come in and get more ammunition. The market is stable overall.”

In order to sell airsoft effectively to law enforcement, Hunnicut advises one thing retailers need to know is what their local L.E. department is looking for in the way of training guns.

“They’re looking for things that have the similar feel and operation as their service weapons,” he said. “They want it comparable in weight, and it may have a blowback action. So if a retailer is selling an airsoft gun that may not be remotely comparable to a service weapon, it won’t be a strong seller to law enforcement — if at all.”

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SIG SAUER Quad Shooting Gallery

Crosman and other manufacturers offer products specifically made for the L.E. market. “It’s a question of knowing both the needs of law enforcement and what the gamers are looking for,” Hunnicut said.

There are basic plastic entry-level airsoft guns, and others with metal or nylon fiber frames. “There also are a number of upgrades,” Hunnicut added. “The guys who are really into airsoft will upgrade at some point. So retailers need to be familiar with what upgrades are compatible with the airsoft guns they’re carrying.”

When it comes to the L.E. market, you can find something comparable to just about anything an officer is carrying, Hunnicut added.

“If an officer is using a Beretta or a GLOCK, there are certainly comparable airsoft products available,” he observed. “If they want long guns, there are shotguns and tactical rifles available that operate pretty close to what officers are using. This is the whole attraction to airsoft: You can get products that are quite realistic in appearance to what’s in videogames and what officers are carrying.”

Editor’s Note: Dealers, have you experienced success with airsoft products? What about airguns for big-game hunters?
We want to know, send an email to editor@nullshootingindustry.com.

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Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

Safety Talk

Dealers Promote Community Involvement,
Safety Mindset For Customers

By Jade Molde

If you’ve read Shooting Industry consistently over the past few months, you’ve likely encountered a column or feature touting the importance of positive relationships in your community. Earlier this year, the March issue’s Personal Defense Market column spotlighted several dealers who have made charitable donations to local organizations, leading to stronger relationships in the community.

Just last month, in Arms & The Woman, another dealer’s efforts to introduce a Boy Scouts troop to the shooting sports illustrated how engagement with the community can successfully bring new faces into the sport. In fact, Marc Steinke, co-owner of the Salida Gunshop, summed it up succinctly: “You have to create ways to be accepted in the public eye and show shooting is a safe sport.”

These are just two examples (of many) that reveal how cultivating, and then maintaining, a positive relationship with your local community can bring extensive benefits. This can be further enhanced if your store is known to promote firearms safety. As a brick-and-mortar dealer, you’re uniquely positioned to be the local, familiar “voice” promoting safety and responsible training.

We were able to speak with two retailers who were recently recognized as “Local Champions” in promoting firearms safety by NSSF’s Project ChildSafe S.A.F.E. Summer campaign: Jared Sloane, strategic operations manager of Shoot Smart, which has locations in Ft. Worth and Grand Prairie, Texas, and Todd Lockburner, co-owner and general manager of Magnum Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Both retailers highlighted the importance of introducing new customers to the safety mindset.

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Walker’s Razor Ear Pro

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Howard Leight Impact Sport Tactical Black Collector’s Edition

Be Aware Of The Need

There’s an important first step in discussing safety with customers, according to Sloane. “Teaching safety and making people aware of it is really critical. It’s important for people to understand why firearm safety is vital for firearms ownership. It’s more about awareness more than any particular tip or rule of safety — being aware of the need is first and foremost,” he underlined.

Lockburner says the majority of his store’s members are new shooters, and they became members after becoming more interested in firearms safety.
“Our motto here is ‘Learn Right. Be Safe. Shoot Well.’ and our members have responded very well to it,” Lockburner said.

Sloane shared Shoot Smart has had an influx of “entertainment” customers, and the store guides them carefully.

“We get a lot of people coming in just for an entertainment value so they’re not interested in sitting through an hour-long safety lecture, which is why we don’t require one. We want to capitalize on their enthusiasm right away, and this is where having a strong, alert and astute team comes in handy,” he said.

Being the daily face of the industry, Sloane said it’s important for dealers to showcase safety for their customers.

“We don’t do anything different from anyone else. But I do know — like many ranges out there — we’re trying to keep the conversation alive about why people are there at the range. We recognize their level of interest, and talk to it concerning safety,” he added. “We need to be carrying the message on firearms safety; that’s our job. We know what it entails, not the anti-gun organizations.”

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Peltor Sport RangeGuard Electronic Hearing Protector

Community Stewardship

Shoot Smart and Magnum Shooting Center have each reached out to their respective communities and enhanced local interest in learning about safety.
“With the green light from our company owners, Cassie Shockey, our customer programs manager, and I got together with Project ChildSafe and created a presentation,” Sloane said. “We then partnered with a police department at a local community college and have since used their campus locations and our stores to offer seminars on firearms safety.”

These seminars have been well received, and Shoot Smart aims to expand the program to other demographics in 2017.

“We’ve had a lot of support and feedback from people. What we’d like to do is reach out to more groups on an individual basis: such as Boy Scout troops, church groups and community organizations,” he said.

Shoot Smart has also creatively raised money for Project ChildSafe, Sloane said.

“We did an experimental round-up drive — without promoting it — to see if our teams could work with the concept. It was a success, raising a few hundred dollars in small increments at a time,” he noted. “At the end of each firearms transaction, we’d ask the customer ‘Do you want to round up to the next dollar and donate the spare change to Project ChildSafe and safety awareness for families?’ For the most part, customers would say yes.”
At Magnum Shooting Center, each summer consists of a push to increase safety that reaches out to the whole community.

“Our biggest safety push is something we call the Summer of Safe Shooting (SSS), and we give away thousands of training classes,” Lockburner said. “Last year, we gave away 2,000 firearm safety classes for adults or youth, and this year we did so again and also gave away 500 concealed carry classes.”

During SSS, Magnum Shooting Center partners with several local radio stations, who give away these classes to select callers. When asked about the local community’s response, Lockburner said simply: “People love it.”

As part of this summer-long promotion, Magnum Shooting Center hosts outdoor events, which include live music and food and is done to incorporate a manufacturer. Guests can interact with company reps, get free range time and participate in product demos. According to Lockburner, sales from the featured manufacturer’s products increase “substantially.”

“We give away a lot of classes, a lot of time and spend a lot of money advertising to strictly give back to the shooting sports and our community with no intention of profit. It’s important for more businesses to do this, whether it’s a retail-only or retail/range establishment,” he added.

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GunVault MiniVault Biometric GVB 1000

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Blok Safety Systems BarrelBlok

It Starts With The Youth

“It seems like if you can get the kids interested in the safety aspect, it can lead to new opportunities,” Lockburner observed. “We’ve put on several full-week youth summer camps and parents will send their kids, even if they’re not big shooters or gun buyers, because they want their kids to get some type of education with firearms.”

These safety classes have “opened the door” for a positive interaction with parents at Magnum Shooting Center.

“By getting the parents to bring their kids in, you get the interaction where you can talk with them; it seems like it engages them much better. Then, they’ll walk through your facility, your training area so they’ll get to see what you have to offer where otherwise they wouldn’t even have come to your facility,” he added.

Lockburner says his staff plays a critical role in encouraging repeat customers.

“Anytime we get someone to come through the door, we want them to see how open and inviting we are, how friendly the staff is and everything we have to offer. You have to have a really good staff that has their heart in it and enjoy what they do,” he said.

In an encouraging trend, both stores have seen an uptick of families training together in recent months.

“We see young adults in the 13–15 age range take classes with their parents,” Lockburner observed. “We also offer private classes, so they can set up a family-only class or take a class with friends.”

“We’ve had several stories of families coming together and shooting together — and becoming a stronger unit. We love seeing things like that,” Sloane added.

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Todd Lockburner (center) and the Magnum Shooting Center team have made inroads
in their local community by hosting week-long youth camps each summer. Also
pictured, Kim Shugart (far right), co-owner, and employee David Copeland (left).

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Products For First-Time Buyers

Magnum Shooting Center has 4,000 square feet of retail to complement its range and classroom space. Lockburner’s store ensures new customers are properly outfitted.

“We encourage new customers to purchase hearing and eye protection when they make their first firearm purchase. We try to educate them on everything they’re going to need with the firearm — explaining things like how target ammo is different from self-defense ammunition, why they’re at different price points and the purpose for using each,” he said.

When discussing add-on products with new customers, Sloane says Shoot Smart sells the benefits of hearing protection.

“One thing we like to share with customers is: the better hearing protection you have, the more fun you’re going to have. You can go out and shoot longer and you won’t wince/blink each time you pull the trigger,” he said.

“Eye and ear protection is an easy sell. We’ve found our customers with very little experience are looking for real basics, like clear eyeglasses and standard over-ear muffs,” Sloane noted. “New shooters are primarily concerned with the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). Walkers and Howard Leight have the NRRs we like, and they sell well.”

Sloane added once these new customers become established shooters, they commonly customize their safety equipment to add some “unique flair.”
One welcome strong seller at Shoot Smart’s two locations is Walker’s hearing protection for children.

“Walker’s hearing protection for kids is a great seller, and it comes in excellent packaging. Even though we don’t allow toddlers on the range, parents still buy them,” he noted.

Lockburner reports his store sells a lot of electronic earmuffs — with it being a common upgrade purchase.

“Our customers tend to start with something economical. Once they start shooting more they’ll gravitate toward higher-end products like electronic earmuffs,” he said.

Sloane has observed a similar trend, saying: “We sell a lot of electronic over-ear muffs; they’re popular because people like to chitchat while shooting.”

When it comes to range rental programs, Sloane said his store makes good use of distributor offerings.

“We take advantage of range programs through our distributor for the most part. We go through AcuSport’s range program for some of our range rentals, not all,” he added.

For safe firearms storage, Lockburner said the Winchester line of safes, as well as smaller GunVault models, “sell well” at Magnum Shooting Center. Shoot Smart also carries the GunVault line of products.

Dealers, how have you enhanced safety in your local community? We want to hear from you, send a note to editor@nullshootingindustry.com.

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Read More Shooting Industry November 2016 Issue

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