NSSFでやっているThe First Shots program(初めての射撃) を開催するのもいい。
National Shooting Sports Foundation :全米競技射撃財団っていうのも我々のやっているスポーツを知らない人たちにも聞こえがいい名前だ。
Alright, here we go guys, the home stretch, everything in the past few days was to get here.
Anyway, I’m going to try and summarize, best I can, the main point I’ve been waiting to make. We are in a place in the industry right now that we haven’t ever been in. Despite so many attacks, no new Federal regulation has been put in place. This is a good thing, something that is thanks to many more new shooters, and a strong industry base with NRA and NSSF. But, let’s take a moment to step back and look at ourselves a bit. There’s always room to improve and get better, and the first step is taking an honest evaluation of where you are, and what the problem areas tend to be.
This thought train got chugging around the Fourth, when in Tyler, TX over 100 people took their long guns and marched around the town square as an “Open Carry” rally. This got me thinking... What are these people accomplishing? How does it affect the general perception of who, as a whole, shooters and gun owners are? If you take an honest look, it’s not very pretty. The hardcore anti-gun people are not going to change their minds, plain and simple. Just because they have that view doesn’t make them stupid, they will use the media, politics and (in most cases, very good) sales/marketing tactics to accomplish their goal. The same is true for people like us, we won’t change our belief based on what somebody else thinks is right, especially when most hard data tends to support our view. What we are, as a whole, is way behind the power curve when it comes to marketing who we are. It is my belief, that for every anti-gunner and every engaged gun owner, there are 3-5 people sitting on the fence, or are un-engaged gun owners.Who are un-engaged gun owners? People like my Dad before we started shooting competitively. He owned some guns, went hunting now and again, etc. When us kids came along, Mom didn’t want any handguns in the house, so he sold his S&W Model 19(darn him, those are nice!). Making a long story less long, I’m by far the youngest child in the family, and for somewhere around 20-25 years, Dad didn’t really pull a trigger. Mom wasn’t a huge fan of guns, and only after much discussion and research about gun safes, safety and responsibility was my brother allowed to start shooting USPSA. Also take note that we saw it on TV and thought it looked cool, we had no experience or anybody introducing us. Dad was an un-engaged gun owner, and Mom was sitting on the fence, leaning toward no guns (obviously, both of these things have changed in the past 10 years!).
As a CHL Instructor, I tend to use the phrase “Reasonable Person” quite a bit, and let’s put it into context here. Put yourself in the shoes of somebody who is unsure about guns, and maybe the type of people that own them. Now, imagine you turn on the 6’o clock news while the burgers are grilling and you’re getting ready to watch the fireworks display that night, because AMERICA! It does not look reasonable (legality of the action has no real bearing at this point) to the majority people, myself included, for somebody to walking through the square Small Town, USA, slung up and wearing kit like they’re on patrol in Ramadi. Period. End of Discussion. Now, add in a little bit of anti-gun marketing, and you’ve got yourself the right environment for somebody to vote for “reasonable restrictions” like “background checks for every gun purchase”, likely without really knowing what the process to purchase a gun is. Maybe they own a gun that was passed down from their father or grandfather and haven’t ever bought a gun from a dealer and gone through the 4473 process. Hell, after working in a retail store for years, I saw that very few people know what the 4473 is really comprised of.
So, while I have absolutely no doubt that these marches and rallys are extremely well-intentioned, in my humble opinion, I’m going to say that they are a net negative for the industry and shooting sports. Again, what looks ‘reasonable’ in the eyes of somebody who isn’t engaged? People walking through town wearing combat gear, or people wanting background checks for every gun purchase?
So, there’s the problem, we suck at marketing. Now, what’s the solution? Obviously the world can’t be fixed with a single Facebook post, but if we try doing a few things different, maybe we’ll get somewhere.
#1-Stop complaining. I get so tired of people belly aching about Michael Bloomberg, Sarah Brady, “Insert anti-gun figure”. They won’t change their mind, there’s nothing we can do to change their mind, so there’s no reason to get upset. I’m not saying that we should ignore what they’re saying/doing by any means, but accept it and figure out a response that doesn’t involve THE SKY IS FALLING!
#2-Take somebody shooting! I know it gets often repeated, but it’s a simple thing. I’d bet that almost everybody, knows somebody who isn’t sure about guns. Co-workers, friends, spouse’s friends/co-workers, church groups, etc. Offer to organize a simple range day with a few different people. Leave your AR’s, S&W 500 magnums, Forty-Five’s, 10 gauge side-by-side, and that stuff in the bag. Bring a 10/22, preferably one that looks cool with bright colored barrels and stocks from somebody like Tactical Solutions. Why? They don’t look, recoil or sound scary. Shoot a steel plate, balloons, something reactive, because everybody likes to see something happen.
#3- Get an event organized. NSSF is the bomb when it comes to this. The First Shots program is the best in the industry for getting people who are nervous about shooting out on the range. It’s easy to set-up, NSSF will provide assistance with guns, ammo, materials, and even co-op advertising to make sure people know about it. Having the best event in the whole world means nothing if you don’t get the word out. I’ve organized them in the past, and the response was amazing. Even the name, National Shooting Sports Foundation, sounds good when you are talking to somebody who isn’t familiar with our sport.
#4- Encourage un-engaged gun owners to try something different. Shooting is a little unique because we have such a vast number of disciplines that all fall under the term “shooting”. I love action shooting, best thing in the whole world to me. My wife, she loves skeet and the shotgun sports. Mom loves to just go out with a nice revolver and shoot groups as tight as she can. By taking somebody who isn’t engaged in what they have been doing, to something different, you have a much better chance of getting them engaged to shoot something, and that right there is the goal.
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