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GunTV: A Possible Avenue for Growth of Shooting Sports Events

16 Dec, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Events for Competitive Shooting Teams for Youth and Adults, as Well as Biathlon, Modern Pentathlon and Others Could Reap Ancillary Benefits from New Network

The recent announcement of GunTV (just what it sounds like: a home shopping network dedicated to personal armaments) brought with it a flurry of attention.

According to the New York Daily News, “the QVC for guns will launch Jan. 20 on at least one cable provider, according to Laura Burgess, a spokeswoman for the television channel.”

The concept of a 24-hour ‘home shooting network’ (also known as ‘all guns, all the time’) has made its way onto the radar of a number of political and social interest groups. But stepping beyond the Second Amendment issues, the pro and the con, an interesting thought takes root: will this become a new way to grow shooting sports and as a result, shooting sport events?

It’s an idea that bears consideration. After all, interest in gun sports is climbing. In some states, high school-based skeet and trap shooting teams are making headway among students who prefer non-traditional (i.e. not ‘stick-and-ball’) sports or who don’t crave the stadium spotlight. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in fact, recently hosted a competitive event for this age group. On the college level, competitive shooting teams, fueled by gun industry funding, are also gaining ground. One example is the way Pima, Arizona, Clay Target Center is hosting the University of Arizona’s shooting team.

Then there’s hunting. While not a competitive sport at either the high school or college level (although industry-sponsored bass fishing competitions do exist for both age groups), hunting has been growing in popularity among youth, with some states setting aside ‘youth only’ hunting periods before the opening of official season. These initiatives could help serve as a portal to bring more young people into shooting sports.

And the demographics of shooting have been shifting – and that shift continues. A recent report commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and conducted by TOBINTEL found that there is an opportunity to attract a new and passionate constituency to the shooting sports. While a report commissioned by the NSSF six years ago found that modern sporting rifle users were 86 percent white, Hispanic/Latinos were the next largest ethnic group at five percent. This figure would appear to be on the rise.

“The Hispanic segment in the U.S. is a highly relevant, dynamic and multifaceted market, and this study helps manufacturers, retailers and ranges understand the strong interest that Hispanics have to learn about firearms, own them and participate in shooting sports,” said Rick Tobin of TOBINTEL.

Two state-of-the-art facilities, Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, Virginia, and Eagle Gun Club in the Chicago Southland area, actively market themselves to shooting sport enthusiasts, meaning the opportunities to host events are also growing. And with the 2016 Olympics on the horizon, it’s a chance for shooting sports to get some decent airtime – for once.

The 24-hour nature of GunTV will appeal to gun sport enthusiasts who know shows and commercials that appeal to their interests are currently only aired at times that make it difficult for them to watch. An article in MediaPost noted that some of the sports networks air hunting shows in off-hours such as early mornings on weekends. Marketers of various sporting goods advertise on these shows.

While shooting facilities and competitive shooting events would not be candidates for actual merchandise advertisers on GunTV (which describes desired products as "all kinds of firearms, munitions, outdoor and shooting sports products"), it is not difficult to imagine sponsorships, partnerships or other events that would help raise their profile – and for that matter, the profiles of USA Shooting, USA Biathlon, USA Modern Pentathlon and Paralympic sports involving shooting.

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