In the past I've discussed my SHOT Show observations and how the gun industry is failing to promote itself, as witnessed by what programs the big players are (and are not) putting emphasis on.
If you missed it, here’s a one-sentence synopsis: The folks who work with actual end users (i.e. rank-and-file gun owners and hunters) realize the way to recruit, retain, and develop a positive community presence is by hosting and promoting quality events but big companies would rather focus on the gizmos that they sell, even though this will have no effect for successfully promoting shooting, or successfully marketing their products in the long run.
I recently had an illuminating discussion with a person who has never hunted or even fired a gun before. When he asked what I do, I told him about HunterShooter, about how I’m working to form an organization that establishes marksmanship events for hunters and promotes the winners as champions, just like the NFL establishes football contests and promotes their champions.
His response was priceless:
“You mean they [hunters] don’t do that already?”
He isn’t the first non-shooter to make such a comment to me. It’s been my experience that people with no shooting background who don’t harbor bias towards hunting or gun ownership assume that hunters must have an organized way to test skills and advance their champions, but because these non-shooters aren’t personally involved, they just haven’t heard about it.
It is a reasonable assumption. Kids with skateboards do this much. Witness the rise of the so-called X-Games. Certainly an institution as large and established as hunting does the same thing with their marksmen. With big game seasons lasting a few short weeks surely dedicated hunters must do something hunting related during all that down time.
You would think…
Apparently, if the large gun organizations, publishers, and companies have their way, this off time activity should be absorbing the over-priced advertising and ‘articles’ they sell to the manufacturers trying to convince us that we need to replace the perfectly good shooting gear we currently own with a newer new if we want to be successful on the range or in the field.
The problem is this doesn’t fix any of the big problems. Take the Remington case as reported by CBS. Is the problem a ‘defective’ trigger unit that has been in production for decades and is good enough for target grade rifles, such as the 40-X? Or is it poor operator maintenance and the sloppy gun handling displayed by box-a-year hunters? What’s worse, even in the hands of a more competent hunter ‘better’ equipment still helps little.
Let’s look at some of the world record trophies and how they were harvested.
Milo Hanson Buck
Rifle Used: .308 Winchester Model 88 Lever Action
Scope Used: K-4 Weaver
Bullets Used: Winchester 150-grain Pointed Soft-Points
Distance of Shot: 100 yards
Ed Koberstein Buck
Rifle Used: Remington - Model 700 BDL - 270 Caliber
Bullets Used: Hornady 130 GR Spire Point
Distance of Shot: 43 yards
Ed Broder Buck
Rifle Used: Winchester 32 Special
Distance of Shot: under 100 yards
I’m not a trophy hunter and don’t place much value on the trophy rating systems such as Boone and Crockett points (see below) but these animals are as good as a hunter has a right to expect. The ‘world records’ were taken at close to moderate range with typically boring equipment. Nobody in his or her right mind could argue that using ‘better’ equipment would have made any difference.
What should we focus on? Organizations like Boone and Crockett do our community a valuable service. I’m not trying to imply they do a poor job on the whole, only that there are a few crucial topics that need to be considered but have been missed.
The inherent flaw in the Boone and Crockett rating system is B&C points are awarded based on measurements of an animal harvested in fair chase and NOT based on the skill of the hunter. From the accounts of ‘World Class Records' it is pretty obvious that the ‘world record holders’ were/are mediocre riflemen. They were up to the challenge presented at the moment of truth, and that is certainly commendable, but the challenge presented was of less-than-heroic proportions.
- Koberstein waited all of 10 minutes before the hunting gods bequeathed upon him a ‘world record’ within rock-throwing distance.
- Hanson and his friends fired well over a half dozen misses at what should have been reasonable distances before anchoring the animal.
I give these guys credit for admitting that their harvests were thoroughly unimpressive, but I have to resist gagging when the title of ‘world record’ is attached to them. It’s like claiming the winner of a lottery is a financial genius.
We’re actually living in the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, non-gun owners believe that hunters are organized enough to run tournaments to test their skills, but we don’t on any serious level (yet). On the other hand, even if we were doing so, the idea of marksmanship as a ‘real’ sport is so foreign to most folks, including many gun owners and hunters, that they dismiss the concept as silly. More than one sports “journalist” has made some mindless remark about how shooting isn’t a real sport. Gun owners stand appalled, whining about the anti-gun media, and then do nothing to change the public’s perception.