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The Guns and Hunting Tradition

Transitioning from a Participant to a Spectator Sport

Bob Rogers

When fruit turns to fraught the firearms industry doesn’t just wrap up their tent and go home. It responds.

Since time immemorial, it seems, guns have been the target of people who don’t like them. Generally, that’s because they don’t have any guns and obviously wouldn’t know how one works unless they learned more about guns. Trouble is, they don’t want to learn anything about them. Thus, as society continues to expand like a balloon, it fosters more hot air than tenured comfort.

To gun owners, guns may be as common as a steak knife or one beer too many; either one can kill but the killing is only done by those who early-on begin rejecting life and all the good that life has to offer.

According to the Small Arms Survey, Americans own about 393 million guns. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife counted about 13 million hunters, though that was an old survey done 8 years ago. Why 8 years ago?  Our snail’s pace federal government has yet to discover regulatory fuel injection but they find it easy to count the dollars and cents brought in by those same hunters.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s lobby group, frequently addresses the economic impact on the country made by the sale of hunting permits, tags, stamps and other accounting devices. As such they put the number of hunters currently at 13.3 million, down from over 21 million in 2010.

We know there are less hunters out there in 2019 than 9 years ago because we’ve seen fewer hunters in normally popular and productive areas, especially deer hunters. While the numbers many not lie, that doesn’t mean our eyes will.

We live in Wyoming. In years past, we were constantly amazed year after year to see the interstate highways nearly plugged up with blaze orange shirts and vests, the wearers generally and almost always riding in vehicles with out-of-state plates. In the two days or so preceding a deer season opening, for instance, a common sight was dozens of hunters in local sporting goods stores stocking up on accessories for both hunting and camping to include a generous supply of Jerky, of which no hunter should be without.

But just as change comes eventually to everything – think telephones to smart phones  or typewriters to texting – so, too, are the shooting sports. The reasons are most likely multiple but, primarily, younger generations are not getting an indoctrination to hunting that our older generations did.  Instead, their recreation is texting, Faceboooking, and Facetime. Not many deer or elk would stand for that.

The gun industry, belly-built from its global sales success of the AR-15, has now slowed its once speedy rush to market to fulfill the heavy demand of formerly deployed military members and to a significant degree been concentrating on the self-protection handgun market.

But that’s not hunting. Whatever the cause, more rifle makers are now turning their attention to the newest growth segment, competitive shooting.

The number of press releases that we get daily at GunProPlus about what began as 3-gun meets, fast draw contests, and what some might classify as self-defense range shooting, reveals evidence that some gun makers made famous  for their ARs are now producing precision bolt action rifles that are catering to the growing interest in eventual long range target shooting.

There was a day when the NRA’s Camp Perry was THE place for competitive shooting, mainly pistols but changes in that endeavor to accommodate rifle matches became another sign of industry partners adjusting to the inevitable.

Shifting from a participant to a spectator sport should not surprise anyone. For any industry to flourish it must have meaning and a goal in mind. In the case of guns – considering the hack attacks from media and their sheeple following another mass shooting with an AR/AK – going for the 3-point basket shot or the 3-point between the uprights seems to make natural developmental and marketing sense.

That’s not a pleasant prospect for those of us that grew up with hunting. but it’ll have to do until, as the song says, “the real thing comes along.”

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