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Shooting Sports Launch Beginner-Friendly Website to Grow Participation

25 Jul, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Is there an echo in here?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced the launch of a new website, LetsGoShooting.org, intended to make shooting sports more accessible and beginner-friendly. It’s eerily similar to the website, TakeMeFishing.org, a product of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF).

Both websites are set up to serve as a go-to for beginners to learn about the sport. In fishing’s case, TakeMeFishing teaches would-be anglers how to acquire a license, find fishing areas and identify basic types of fish, as well as to learn about different disciplines of fishing (freshwater, saltwater, ice fishing and fly fishing, for example).

LetsGoShooting is similarly intended as a resource to those new to firearms and the shooting sports, especially those who haven’t yet taken their first shots or purchased their first firearm. Information includes various disciplines (skeet, 3-gun, cowboy action shooting, IPSC, blackpowder metallic silhouette, sporting clays, precision air pistol, high power rifle, bull’s-eye, trap, etc.) It also has listings of firearms retailers, maps showing area ranges, shooting and safety tips and information on finding instruction.

Unlilke fishing, though, the shooting sports industry overall is battling tremendous amounts of negative news. In the wake of the Parkland shooting in Florida, multiple retailers changed their policies about selling firearms. Some decided not to carry them at all. Other companies cut ties with the NRA. The recent shooting at a Maryland newspaper office that left five dead, in which a legally-obtained gun was used, was equally troublesome. The economic impact to the industry has been as tremendous as it was multi-layered. American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith & Wesson, posted a nearly 25 percent decline in sales for the year. Remington Outdoor Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late March (it exited in May) and firearms background checks began a slide that has not stopped yet.

SGB Media noted that sales of firearms totaled 2.8 million units in the first half of 2018, down 1.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to SGB Media’s sister company SSI Data. In dollars, sales are down 4.9 percent. However, the report hypothesized, this reflects the typical “ebb and flow” of the industry. It is, according to Brian Rafn, gun industry analyst for Morgan Dempsey, an industry waiting for a new model (or perhaps a new hero in the sports world) to make it popular again.

However, the industry may need to wait for a high-profile event such as the summer Olympics for shooting to get some positive publicity. (Its best hope for a hero there may be multiple medalist Kim Rhode, who recently 21st ISSF World Cup gold medal in skeet shooting.) In the meantime, it has been contending with proposed legislation to limit student access to shooting sports, such as in New York this spring, a move that was decried by shooting sports organizations, including USA Archery.

Will the new website help shooting sports reach their goals? SDM will follow this developing issue.

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