Last night, after a rather relaxing day spent with family at the shooting range and then in our backyard pool, I went to bed and received a well deserved good nights rest.
What I woke to was a nightmare.
58 People were killed, and over 400 Wounded. Photo Courtesy of ABC News
When I woke up at 5 AM this morning every one of my newswires were LIT UP.
At that time, reports were coming in that they thought 20 to 30 people had been killed and several hundred wounded. That turned out to be almost 60 people dead with OVER 400 people wounded by an evil, maniacal gunman that opened fire on a concert crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
There are many hypotheses and theories as to why and how this person chose his location, why he wanted to kill a bunch of people, and if this evil could've been avoided.
The bad news is, it CAN'T.
Unless we, as Americans, are willing to give up many, many of our freedoms in exchange for a fleeting sense of "security," there is little we can do to prevent events such as this from happening.
One of the top and most effective ways of saving more lives from evil like this is to expand and allow citizens to carry firearms in order to protect themselves, their families, and their friends.
Another is to study and observe mentally ill people and monitor them for signs of violence or further illness.
Ironically, whenever there is a situation such as this, the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is the first one that many pundits are quick to attack- Such as "if guns like this were not available, mentally ill, criminals, and terrorists would not be able to get them."
Politicians respond with sensationalizing quotes, texts, and tweets such as "We MUST do something about assault weapons" or "When will we learn that guns are the problem?"
The wildly liberal publication, GQ, was quick to publish an article by Jay Willis entitled "Why we are losing the war against gun violence."
The author, mistakenly, goes after the NRA and America's lawful gun owners as part of the problem – even going so far as to state that " The entity that still bills itself as the world's "premier firearms education organization" is, in fact, one of the loudest and most influential voices in American politics. At this point, even gun owners aren't so sure that the NRA is honestly representing them as recreational hunters. It doesn't matter, though. Although some of that cash comes from selling individual memberships, a lot of it's money flow street from gun manufacturers, who have savvily disguised their would-be marketing efforts as the patriotic defense of your bedrock constitutional rights. Gun companies place their employees on the NRA's Board of Directors and buy expensive advertisements in their various publications. Last year alone, Ruger donated two dollars to the NRA for every firearm the company sold. "
I don't even know where to begin to explain the reality of our rights as Americans to this mislead, misleading and constitutionally and economically illiterate voice of the left.
We can start with some very simple truths – the first being that the second amendment to the constitution of the United States has absolutely nothing to do with hunting or recreational shooting. Hunting and recreational shooting or mentioned nowhere in the entire constitution.
This is simply a "talking point" that helps political and media elites to gain greater control over you, your freedom, and your mind with what they deem as "simple" and "commonsense" regulations that, in bits and pieces, TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHTS.
Second, in any industry, it is not only common but EXPECTED that business and businesses in that industry will have representatives that assist and direct whatever association or group that represents their Business interests.
Were it not for companies like Ruger and the immense membership and lobbying power of the national rifle Association, many of our rights, not just those related to firearms, would most likely already be gone.
As of right now, we don't know the exact motive that Stephen Paddock had for committing terror and mass murder.
What we do know is that "normal" people and every day citizens don't do these things.
Whether he was mentally ill, was affiliated with, as many news outlets are now reporting, ISIS or the Muslim brotherhood, or wanted revenge for some sort of wrong he felt was done to him, we may never know.
What we do know is that what he did was pure evil.
Guns are NOT the problem. EVIL is the problem.
More to come as news and events come to light.
Your competition LOVES YOU...
If you are a typical player in the marketplace that thinks you "get all your business from 'word of mouth' and referrals," or you "do facebook ads" or "Advertise on outdoor television shows and in XYZ publications...They love you even MORE.
You see, they IMMEDIATELY KNOW that they can OWN all of the customers that actually look for WHAT YOU DO WHERE YOU DO IT.
I offered this to several of my groups 3 months ago- and some VERY SMART BUSINESS OWNERS took advantage.
Some of the results are in this video.
I'm absolutely SHOCKED at how many people in the outdoor industry will not/do not/can't/won't invest in the absolute NUMBER ONE, MOST EFFECTIVE way of ensuring that when people search for WHAT THEY DO rather than WHO THEY ARE, they show up PROMINENTLY in that search rather than their competition.
Check out this video- and the absolute DOMINATION of the search results.
It doesn't matter WHAT you do. It has an ABSOLUTE, MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE and you can CANCEL IT ANY TIME.
Some of the phrases available NOW:
Best African Safari Company
Best Concealed Carry Holster
Best Rifle Scope
This works for ANY business- regardless of what you do, are doing, have done, will/might do- you get the picture.
I have personally worked with physicians, car dealers, gun shops, plumbers, HVAC- and, yes, even ATTORNEYS- and if you know any attorneys- tell them that the best phrase in the country was JUST SOLD... "Mesothelioma Attorney" - with Pay per click rates >$1000 PER CLICK- to Sokolov Law Office.
Now they can't have it.
If we can do THAT for THEM, what do you suppose we can do FOR YOU???
Get in touch with me ASAP.
When I moved to the desert southwest, I had heard of all kinds of alien encounters. I had mine while on a quest to find a better daily carry option.
One of the things that has always been a dilemma for me when carrying concealed day is how to keep a weapon concealed in warm weather. A move to the desert southwest has led to several different carry styles and, yes, even though I’m several hundred miles from Area 51, an “alien” encounter.
For years I lived in the Midwest, where I experienced both extremes of temperature- Hot and cold- each with their own set of challenges for carrying. If the temperature is below 40 or so, a jacket or parka can hide just about anything.
Some are even specifically designed to do so, with special pockets and integral holsters “built in” to the system. Alternately, in the winter a weapon carried inside the waistband under a coat required too much effort to reach. However, when the temperature climbs, we shed layers of clothing, exposing our previously well-concealed firearm.
In the summer I most often carried a smaller weapon in order to minimize its profile, as I believe that the best concealed weapon is:
a. The one you CARRY, and,
b. The one nobody else, but especially the bad guy, knows is there.
With the increasing wisdom that age brings, I recently moved my family from the upper Midwest to a place where removal of snow in any form is a conscious choice, requiring the drive of approximately 100 miles to do so, but also for several months of the year allows you the convenience of baking cookies on your car dashboard and frying eggs on your sidewalk.
We simply don’t wear a lot of clothes when it’s hot.
This led me on an entirely new search and an encounter with an “Alien” that has become my daily companion.
Having carried a firearm almost daily for the better part of two decades, I have learned a few things in the way of Carry and comfort. (and, If you don't think carrying in comfort is a big deal, look back at the previous article I wrote regarding an incident where I was forced to brandish my carry weapon – and that I would not have had, had it not been comfortable.)
Because of this, my preferred weapon for every day carry had been a subcompact .380. I alternate between my Taurus 738 and a new Glock model 42. Both have an extremely small profile with the Taurus being slightly slimmer and the Glock a bit more comfortable for me to shoot.
Both are also what some in the industry refer to as “Ballistically Challenged,” meaning any larger caliber has a great deal more stopping power.
Much of my day is spent wearing slacks and dress clothes, with the occasional jacket worn for client meetings. Obviously, a suit coat makes concealed carry a breeze. However, when I carry in the summertime in the desert, I was previously relegated to 3 methods of carry: pocket, ankle, and "tucked."
This method is my preferred when carrying micro-compact firearms. A sleeve for your weapon that is made out of a material that grabs the material of the pocket around it keeps your weapon concealed, clean, and away from loose change or other items that may interfere with your draw. An additional benefit- having your hand n your pocket is a "normal" and non-threatening position.
Anyone that watched a television show "Miami Vice" in the 80s is familiar with the ankle holster, As it appeared seemingly in just about every episode. When carrying for "ultra-concealment" in warmer climates, this is a preferred method. It is almost impossible to detect, and you can carry even a "Midsized" compact firearm. Wearing shorts with this method is really not an option, though.
One of the easiest methods of carry for small sub-compacts is in a "pocket holster" designed to hide the profile of your weapon while tucked into the front pocket of your pants. When carrying a micro or sub compact, this is also one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to be prepared with your weapon. People tend to ignore when you reach into your pocket, as it is a very common movement. Lifting your leg or grabbing at your ankle is not.
The main drawback is that it limits the size weapon you can carry to something rather small in the .22 to .380 calibers.
Many people like to wear their concealed weapon on their waist between three and 5 o'clock on their person, and, due to the genetics of our population, most wear them on the right hip.
I have never been that comfortable when carrying this way, and, due to a few too many good meals at meetings and home, don't want to go buy all new pants to accommodate the additional thickness of a holster in addition to my own. Because of this, and especially when I carry one of my larger size compacts, I prefer to carry just to the right of midline in the small of my back.
Until recently, I used a very simple holster from Blackhawk that is essentially a “pocket” for your gun with a clip to hold it to your pants to prevent the gun from sliding down while you have it tucked in your waist band. The up and downside to this method is that the gun can slide out relatively easily- good when a situation arises and bad when you are exiting your vehicle and the gun slips out!
My “Alien Encounter.”
Ever on the search for a better option, and after reading hundreds of reviews, I recently acquired an Alien Gear “Cloak Tuck 3.0” holster. This holster is rated highly in just about every review for its extreme comfort, and I agree. Most of this is due to the material used against your skin – neoprene – one of the softest and most comfortable-yet-durable (and rather breathable) materials out there.
In warm weather a gun against your skin can be rather irritating and your sweat and body oils can do it great harm. Alternately, a holster not fit properly to your firearm can cause issues with unintentional un-holstering and dropped on the floor – a bad, and according to some regulations, possibly illegal, scenario.
Alien Gear solves this by combining a custom ballistic nylon shell fit to many popular handguns.
As I stated above, I am a believer that the best concealed weapon is the one that is truly concealed – that way the bad guy can never tell who's in the fight. My concern with a “tuckable” holster was that it would be evident without a jacket, so I put this holster to what I referred to as the "white dress shirt test."
If a holster can hide a weapon under a tucked in, white dress shirt, I consider it "fully concealed."
While not as completely invisible as an ankle or pocket holster, the only sign that I am carrying a weapon with a tucked in shirt is two small clips that, when positioned the right way, can blend with your belt loops quite nicely.
The best news? This was the same whether carrying a micro-compact or my mid-sized Taurus millennium 40 caliber.
If you can hide a black gun under a white dress shirt, consider it concealed!
Every Alien Gear product includes their “Iron Clad Triple Guarantee.” Try their holster, risk free, for 30 days and if you’re not satisfied with it for any reason, they’ll buy it back. In addition, all of their concealed carry holsters feature fully swap-able shells for use with inside the waistband or outside the waistband holsters. If you ever decide to carry a different handgun, you can simply trade your shell for a new one.
Last, but not least, every holster is covered Alien Gear’s “Forever Warranty.” If any part of your holster breaks for any reason, they will repair or replace it for free.
Alien gear makes holsters to fit most makes and models, and sometimes can even accommodate a newer weapon if you give them a call. After several weeks of daily wear, I highly recommend it.
I certainly don't know how other people did it, and, with my experiences with some, even WHY they are still here.
I will never forget
my first serious attempts to "get in" to the outdoor, hunting, and
I had been the victim
of the massive layoffs that hammered the pharmaceutical industry back in the
early 2000's and was located in a rural area with not many other options. I had
met several traveling "reps" that sold things like hunting gear,
fishing rods, etc. and thought that as
long as I was going to sell something, why couldn't I sell something that I
As with most things
that I do, I jumped in not only with both feet, but with a "Ready, Fire, Aim" mentality and MASSIVE action-taking including flying out to Las Vegas on my own dime and attending my very first SHOT Show.
I spent a TON of
money (in the realm of several thousand dollars) on drinks, dinners, and taxis-and made a large number of
I got some very good
leads, chased down every single one of them, and basically went "one for 30."
A position as a "pro staffer" for a large
rep group in the industry.
Things were a little
different then as companies all paid pro staff a significant daily rate plus expenses and, usually, some gear as a "bonus." Because of this, they had high expectations and expected sales from their people.
I went after it with
zeal and enthusiasm as well as implementing numerous different sales processes and
I developed an inventory tracking sheet and customer questionnaire that is still being used in a revised for almost a decade later.
I thought that this
would be a great "entry point" to being further along in the industry.
I was wrong.
Most of what I found was more opportunities to work events as a "pro staffer." No full time gigs.
So... I build a business around prostaffing- and it went from there.
By the time I decided
to "go it alone" and build my own "niche" in the outdoor business, I had
interviewed with approximately a dozen different companies while submitting my resume to sixty or seventy.
For the right
opportunity, I will still entertain a conversation and I have even interviewed several times again over the past several years.
Several of those
interviews stand out clearly in my mind if only for their unbelievable attitude towards
experience and value.
Needless to say, it wasn't what I expected.
The first was for a
sales position with a rather large retailer of apparel that crosses several
markets in the outdoor and sporting goods industry.
I made it to the
"final" interview only to lose to what turned out to be a much less
experienced person that had worked in a retail store and then sold for a small
rep group for several years.
I reached out to the
hiring manager who was very amicable and asked him why they had chosen the other
candidate and what I could do to further my chances for the next time.
His answer was rather
He said simply that
"while we were impressed with your sales skills, your sales
accomplishments, awards, and your personality and affect, you didn't have
any experience selling apparel."
Ace has won awards, smashed and set sales records for numerous Fortune 25 companies.
Big mistake, and probably for the best for me, anyway.
At this time, I had
worked for three different Fortune 10 to Fortune 50-level companies, winning numerous
presidents club and other incentive awards, selling everything from marketing
and advertising (and coming into that position with zero experience and going to the number one representative out over 1300+) to life saving
medications to advanced external defibrillators and resuscitation medical devices
– pieces of equipment that, literally, were used to stop and start peoples heartbeats after heart failure and/or
cardiovascular surgical procedures.
I think I might have
been able to figure out how to sell some jackets, shirts, and pants to retail store owners and management, don't you?
Ace Luciano has attended over 100 seminars on success, sales, marketing, and public speaking. This one included a day of "face time" with noted speaker Les Brown.
Never one to sit idle, over the past decade I have also partnered with and received training from leading marketing experts and speakers like Dan Kennedy, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, and Steve Sipress, attained a "Mastery Certification" from SSS Marketing University, and built a network in the Hunting and Firearms industry numbering in the tens of thousands. Finally, in the last several years I have written two Amazon best-sellers in their category.
I advise that if you are looking for opportunities of any kind, you do the same.
Certification courses are readily available, online, full of useful skills, and will help you to attain an "expert level proficiency" in numerous things in a reasonably short time.
That being said...
A few years ago, I had another experience with an employer that did what seems to have become a typical thing in the outdoor
They hired for "cheap" rather than "value."
What do I mean by
The company was
clearly interested in working with me as they proactively reached out,
contacted, recruited, interviewed, and maintained their interest over the course of 8 or ten weeks. They then
brought up a discussion regarding compensation and, specifically what I thought the job should be worth. .
This is always a
You see, I am of the
opinion that, regardless of your business (and your hunting equipment) you
should always go with the best that you can possibly afford, plus some- because something so very important is usually not glaringly
apparent until you really, really need it.
Think of a lower priced rifle scope with
a "lifetime guarantee" and ""free replacement" that fails on top of a mountain
during the sheep hunt or even on a deer hunt in your back 40 where you can't see the big buck you've been waiting all season for as he steps out for 15 seconds at last light...
Yes it was less "expensive."
Yes, you will get another scope for free- but that isn't worth
anything to you sitting on the side of the mountain trying to pick off a rocky
mountain bighorn that, in many places, is a "once in a lifetime" tag.
They were seeking over a million dollars worth of sales responsibility from me- but they only wanted to pay for $250,000.00 worth (and, by the way, if you ever want to absolutely GUARANTEE your salespeople won't sell anything, then don't pay them a lot of money or, worse, "cap" their earnings)
Suffice it to say, we
were a significant amount of money apart in what we thought the position was
worth and they were not open to a "performance based model"- so they wound up hiring the "other guy."
Then, when he burned out, they hired
And, less than a year later, they hired "another
guy," Who also became noticeably absent from company communications and
emails less than one year later.
Did that company
What do you suppose
it cost them to interview and hire three new people in less than two years?
What do you suppose
the business cost is having those relationships that are so hard to build
"interrupted" three times in less than three years?
What do you suppose
the difference might've been with a high-level professional that is used to
closing deals in the 6-to-7-figure levels in that position instead of someone
who had sold " outdoor related products" for a pittance?
They, and we, will now never know.
Finally, and one that really surprised me, was the company that had churned through several of my acquaintances in 18 months whose recruiter called me and asked if I would be interested in the position for, not only a pay cut from my current compensation but SIGNIFICANTLY less money than either of them had made over the last 3 years!
The lesson to take
away is that getting "in the door" in the outdoor industry is not easy, and you need not only a plan of action, but a standard that you are willing to accept to get there.
How often does this come up every day in your life or business?
Do you buy the
"cheap option," when a proven, high-quality option is available for
not that much more in your gear? Your employees? Your business?
Do you "spray
and pray" with your marketing and advertising, hoping that some of it
works the way you want it to because you
want to "do it yourself?"
It's a hard lesson on
both sides of the equation sometimes- One that it pays to learn early.
As my good friend and business mentor, Steve Sipress, is fond of saying, "You can make excuses or you can make money – but not both!"
And, yes, that is a picture of a penis in a business related blog post.
It means something and will prove an excellent point, I promise.
The firearm and outdoor industry is in a tizzy right now.
Gun company stocks dropped the day Donald Trump was elected president. Millions of dollars of firearms orders were canceled within the Weeks after SHOT Show and the presidential election.
Gun Stocks Aren't doing so hot...
Everywhere you turn you hear the same thing… "Our budget is already allocated." Or "we love what we hear- come back and talk to us in October."
Or, my favorite excuse making phrase, "The industry is changing. Sales are down. We need to cut our marketing budget in order to SAVE money."
Long term agencies are being cut by their clients.
Long-term advertising partners are being reduced and eliminated.
… And it's all completely ridiculous.
I know – that's a bold statement.
I'm a bold guy.
If you want to "save money," turn off every other light in your building. Turn your thermostat a few degrees up in the summer and down in the winter.
Don't over water your grass or run the faucet while you brush your teeth.
If you want to MAKE MONEY, you need to MARKET EFFECTIVELY.
Remember – you can make EXCUSES or you can make MONEY… But you can't make BOTH.
Every phrase above is an excuse.
Really. Look at each one.
Think about it.
Remember the movie that came out last year titled, "Greater?"
It's a great movie.
"Greater" is the story of Arkansas Razorback football player Brandon Burlsworth. Brandon was "A Division I football player in a Division III body."
Anyway, it's a great story about someone who "accepts every excuse," never lifts weights, hardly does a running drill, really doesn't do much of anything, and "waits to see what happens" - and, miraculously, makes it as a starter for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team and becomes an all-star player....
That's not what happened?
He didn't "cut back on his exercise regimen" so he could "save energy" and improve?
When he received one low-level school scholarship, he didn't "sit back and wait and see what the college football market was going to do?"
I'M ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED!
If you seen the movie,(and, if not, I highly recommend you do so-and then watch "Rudy" and "Hoosiers" and "Remember The Titans", "Ali," "Rocky I,II,III, IV, V, and Rocky Balboa"-and every single other "Overcome extreme hardship/Obstacle/Work/Challenge to reach glory movie) you know that Brandon became the EPITOME of work ethic – getting up in the dark to run and do drills. Spending extra time in the weight room. Losing the weight he had to and improving his speed and endurance by leaps and bounds…
...And it follows the exact same story line of just about every success story ever told or ever experienced.
Isn't that what you really want for your business or company?
Are you making your decisions more like the first scenario or the actual movie?
What would you choose??
Now… About this penis picture....
This is the story of success from my own life – when a complete disaster was entirely averted in my very first "grown-up" sales job – selling pharmaceuticals in a rural and very, very large geography.
I had a product that was worth approximately 20% of my sales "quota."
The product was called "Caverject," and it was dosed by taking a hypodermic needle and injecting it directly into the corpus cavernosum of the male penile organ. I was given this drug to sell the year that Viagra was launched – a pill that a man could take two, hypothetically, give the exact same effect as my injectable product.
There was mass hysteria in the salesforce.
Almost everybody "Wrote off" 20% of their commission and focused on trying to INCREASE their other products to compensate.
I sat down and analyze the situation.
I knew that my company would not reduce their expectation on me because of a market change (note-one of the biggest curses in sales – companies will take all the glory for your performance, but when there are circumstances outside of your control, they will be the first to blame you. If it's YOUR company – don't be "that guy.")
I knew that the biggest obstacle to treating man with erectile problems with getting them to talk about it in the first place. I knew that Pfizer would make sure that everybody was talking about it.
I then changed my message so that it HELPED my customer.
You see, my product had a less than 5% failure rate. Viagra's was almost 26%. I simply went around telling my doctor clients the truth – that no man would want to try my product first, but once they got their hopes up and FAILED, that would be a great time to bring up Caverject.
Needless to say, I was number two in the entire Midwest division that year, thanks in no small part to a product that everyone else had written off.
What do you suppose would have happened if I had "cut back" my sales efforts and "waited to see what the market was going to do?"
Instead, I simply changed my marketing to better reflect the new market.
Remember- Money doesn't "disappear."
Stop making "excuses" that do nothing but get in the way of you making MONEY!
If you want to be better than average, you have to give
better than AVERAGE.
Quick – name the most AVERAGE baseball player in the major
Who wins the title for the MOST AVERAGE basketball player
in the NBA playoffs?
Who is the MOST AVERAGE hockey player to ever play the
Do you find it hard to come up with those names? You
Which one do you want to be?
You know, Children are a great reflection upon society. They are,
for the most part, pure innocence and pure, uncorrupted emotion.
Watch your child playing in the sand experiencing pure joy. You
could sit in that same stand and be bored. Or aggravated.
You could become unmotivated and lie down.
...But if you watch the child digging in the sand – he or she
is usually fascinated. They're fascinated by the texture. The feeling. The fact
that they can mold and shape to their will. That brings them joy.
I bring this up for a very good reason.
Think back-- for some of you way, way, way back… To what
you wanted and dreamed as a child.
When you were a child did you want to be
When you were five or six years old, did you look at the
world and say, "when I grow up, I want to sit in a cubicle punching keys
all day, work for a mediocre boss, At a mediocre company, doing the same thing,
every single day of my entire life?"
If you did, you were the odd one.
Most likely you wanted to be a superhero.
Perhaps as you
got older he wanted to "be like mike (Michael Jordan), you wanted to
be the quarterback of your favorite football team, or some other
If you want better than "average", you have to
give better than "average."
One of MJ's most famous commercials was highlights of him
sinking winning shots, winning big games, etc., but the background was Michael
"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've
lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I've been trusted To take the
game-winning shot… And missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my
life. And that is why I succeed."
Michael Jordan used to practice his shooting technique – not
just his shot – but his actual "technique" for 2 to 3 hours per
Tiger Woods hit hundreds of golf balls every single
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. He
has won 19 gold medals- and as impressive as that is, his training
routine is even more so.
He swims 50 miles per week – an average of 8 miles per
Plus dry land workouts.
He works so hard and so long that he needs to consume 12,000
calories per day just to maintain his body mass.
If a training day falls on Christmas, he swims in my
house. If it falls on New Year's – 8 miles. Nothing gets in the way of his
Even me, an- I hate to even say it- “average” guy- competed
nationally in Olympic Taekwondo.
I trained 3 hours a day, PLUS my regular team and sparring
I never lost because the other guy outlasted me and set a record
for most knockouts.
I still work out every day.
I read a book a week and write at least one content piece,
published or not, twice a week.
The important question is, what are you willing to give
THIS YEAR in order to get?
One of my most recent articles talked about the state of
the outdoor industry – how the gun economy has definitely changed.
How many companies out there are going to look for "average" results this year?
How many companies in the gun world are going to, rather than put in their "8 miles"
of training – "cut their expenses" (which I've always found
ridiculous, as marketing should never, ever be put under your ledger as an
Instead of working harder, smarter, and doing MORE, many
honestly believe that they will get by with doing LESS.
If you were on any type of sports team, when you really wanted
to get BETTER and WIN MORE, did your coach ever say to you, or did you ever say
to yourself, “You know what? We need to do LESS! We’re going to NOT WORK AS
HARD in order to get BETTER and WIN MORE!”
I didn’t think so.
The next year will separate a lot of "average"
from many new and up-and-comer's that will become "exceptional."
Which camp will you be in?
Last week, I was fortunate to, once again, attend the NRA Annual Meetings, held this year in Atlanta, GA.
While there was quite a bit of apprehension in the opening few days of SHOT Show this year, there was a palpable sense of relief in the convention hall, the press room, and various other places where people were gathered.
Donald Trump became the first president since 1983 to address the membership. His speech was full of enthusiasm and shined a light of hope after eight years of apprehension and fear.
... which brings me to my next point.
The industry has changed.
No longer do we have a "fear-based market."
As recently as a year ago and excellent deal on an AR 15 platform might be in the $700 range. Today, there a half a dozen for under $400.
Several manufacturers lamented canceled firearm orders- One that was in the millions of dollars.
Yet, NICS Checks for March 2017 are up more than 5%.
SOMEBODY is clearly buying SOMETHING...
"In a press release sent to Breitbart News, NSSF reports the number of NICS checks for March 2017 was 2,422,749. But after adjusting checks–eliminating those that were not the result of sales–the figure was 1,356,929. The number of NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for March 2016 was 1,289,670. This means the number of checks actually connected to gun sales increased 5.2 percent in March 2017.
The number of NICS checks–including NSSF-adjusted checks–is not a precise indicator of the number of guns sold, as checks are conducted on buyers rather than guns bought. Moreover, each buyer may legally purchase multiple guns after passing a background check, which means an adjusted figure of 1,36,929 checks may not even come close to representing the number of guns sold."
When markets change, businesses must change with them.
While many tactical based manufacturers are seeing lower sales, some custom manufacturers in the same space are seeing an uptick in their sales.
Optics manufacturers are having a banner year. Companies that make accessories for AR 15's (and other weapons) are off to a great 2017.
Hunting rifle and high end shot gun sales are up.
This, of course, makes perfect sense when you realize that people are no longer afraid that they have to have 10,000 rounds of ammunition, a tactical weapon or two, and a pile of high-capacity magazines before they are banned.
That budget can now go back "into the system" to purchase things like accessories, as well as hunting and sporting weapons.
What this also means is that many small and medium size businesses in the industry have an unprecedented opportunity.
That opportunity is to take market share from some of the "big players" who, foolishly, will look at the economy and surmise that they have to "cut their budgets" for marketing and advertising.
You see, many large companies both in and out of the firearm industry, are run by "boards of directors" and CEOs that are accountable to "shareholders."
All those shareholders care about is the bottom line.
They will take that short term increase to the bottom line, completely ignoring the long-term consequence to the overall business.
Quite frankly, they can afford it.
If you are a small or medium size business, you can't.
Or at least you shouldn't.
Obviously, you can't afford to waste a single penny– especially in the "new gun economy."
Even BIG companies shouldn't waste marketing dollars, yet many do.
The outdoor industry is approximately ten years behind in most marketing methods.
I'm hearing from more than a few companies that they are "pulling more out of print" and "putting more into digital."
Some are "wowed" by Facebook.
That's all good- but the MOST important thing to know is DOES IT WORK?
The truth is, it does.
Yes, even print (though for how much longer is uncertain) works and can give great ROI.
The important thing is that you can TRACK it.
So, what SHOULD you do?
I'm glad you asked!
You can take a portion of those dollars you would spend on "traditional" marketing (Magazines, TV shows, etc.) and put them in front of over 3 million PROVEN BUYERS of Outdoor, Firearm, Hunting and Fishing products.
100% Trackable, and in whatever amounts or frequencies you like.
If that interests you, reach out or comment below.
Regardless of what you do, remember-
"Keep it the same" should not be an option this year.
Six Calibers That CAN'T MISS
I am often asked what are the essential hunting calibers. It is an interesting question and after much thought I have narrowed it down to six different calibers and specific types of weapons that will cover just about every hunting possibility you could imagine. The following are my choices based on both extensive personal experience and queries of some very serious shooters and hunters. They are listed by the lowest-to-highest caliber.
1. A 22-caliber rifle with scope.
There are many reasons why every shooter should own a .22 – the number one being they are cheap to use for practice, and practice, as we all know, increases shooting proficiency. They are great guns to start kids on, and they can be used for a variety of small game hunting. Squirrels, rabbits, and even varmints up to the size of coyotes have fallen to this diminutive little caliber. There are a lot of great .22 rifles out there, and some really nice ones for not a lot of money. If you want to help your shooting tremendously, buy a bolt-action that is closest to the size and weight of your hunting rifle.
2. A bolt-action .223 rifle.
This caliber effectively “spans the gap” between small and large rifles. I chose this caliber over the .22-250 because .223-ammunition tends to be more widely available, and is also a lot more reasonably priced. For around 100 fps difference, you can save about 75 percent buying off-the-shelf ammo. Plus, if you upgrade to one of the AR platforms later on, you’ll already have an ammo supply. Top this with a high-quality scope from Leupold, preferably in a varmint-style reticle, and you’ll have a serious varmint rifle for up to 400+yards.
3. A .30-06-caliber rifle.
If you have read any of my previous columns, you know my affinity for this caliber. There is darned little that you cannot do with it, and if you do not travel beyond the continent, you will never need another rifle. My advice here – spend a little more than you can afford on both the rifle and scope. Amortize that over the next 30 years and you’ll realize it’s really not that much money- plus you’ll be happier with your purchase!
4. A bolt-action .375 H&H magnum rifle.
If you ever decide to travel beyond the continental U.S. borders, you will need a larger caliber for big and dangerous game, quite often as a result of local law. .375 is the minimum requirement for all dangerous game in Africa. The new .375 Ruger is a fantastic caliber and Ruger makes some great rifles, but I’m an advocate of shooting guns that have readily available ammo. Maybe someday Ruger will match the Holland & Holland, but that day is a long way off. It just so happens that the .375 is also excellent medicine for grizzlies and larger game such as elk or moose in North America as well.
5. A 12-gauge 3.5 inch magnum.
Ace is a fan of semi-automatic actions when choosing a 12 Gauge
This choice is all about versatility.
You can shoot any size load for 12 gauge in this chambering, from light target loads to the heaviest waterfowl loads. My recommendation? Spend a little extra and buy a semiautomatic shotgun. Your shoulder and face will thank you if you ever have to do some serious shooting. If that’s not possible, make sure to install a gel-type recoil pad made by Sims or Pachmayr. Trust me, they help a lot.
6. A .50 caliber, in-line muzzleloader.
Today’s muzzleloaders are clean, easy to shoot, and deadly accurate. You can extend your season by several months in many states. Most shotgun-only areas (like Illinois and Iowa) will allow a muzzleloader during that season. With today’s optics and powders, these are legitimate 200+yard weapons.
There you have it. If there are some holes in your collection, start saving and fill accordingly!
I welcome your additional caliber suggestions in the comments area below.
For more information on Ace and his adventures, visit www.AceLuciano.com
Ace Luciano is perplexed by the recent NRA/USCCA issue
I have to say that I'm a little perplexed by the following press release.
The NRA has not given any announcement nor insight into this as of today.
Many are hypothesizing that they do not feel it "appropriate" as the NRA now offers products that are in direct competition with the USCCA's product.
Guess we'll find out.
Disclaimer: I am an Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association and have been a LIFE MEMBER from the time I was 16 Years old.
I was a member of the USCCA for one year and then changed to another protective service that I felt better suited my needs- but still feel they are a quality organization with a quality product. .
The following press release was sent by the USCCA, and also a letter from USCCA President and founder, Tim Schmidt.
The National Rifle Association Disinvites US Concealed Carry Association from Annual Meeting and Exhibits
USCCA Will Continue to Support NRA’s Mission
West Bend, WI – The United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) today announced that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has disinvited the organization from its 2017 Annual Meetings & Exhibits and the 2018 Great American Outdoor Show because of “concerns regarding its programs.”
The move shocked the leadership of the USCCA because they were given less than two weeks notice that they had been banned from the annual show, even though they had attended for the past several years. This decision also came as a surprise because over the past two months, the leadership from the NRA and the USCCA met twice to discuss the shared goal of the two organizations in support of the Second Amendment.
In a note sent to millions of USCCA supporters, Founder and President Tim Schmidt said that even though the NRA might be fearing the competition, USCCA will still support the NRA’s efforts to protect the Second Amendment.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little perplexed myself. The truth is, I don’t really know the motive behind the NRA’s move. I mean, the USCCA has ALWAYS had a great relationship with the NRA. And the way I see it, we’re all in this together,” Schmidt said.
“If I had to guess, I’d say that perhaps this is a strategic business maneuver,” added Schmidt. “I mean, the concealed carry market has really exploded over the last decade — just look at how long the USCCA has been around! Maybe the NRA recognizes us as the frontrunner in providing the absolute best education, training and self-defense insurance in the industry. And perhaps they’re starting to see us less as a partner and more as a competitor.”
“As much as it sort of stings that we got ‘booted’ from the NRA Show, I believe that this sort of competition is a good, healthy and even exciting thing — especially from a goliath like the NRA.”
“Whether or not the NRA supports us, we will continue to support them,” Schmidt said. “We will continue to believe in their mission. We will continue to respect the historical significance of what they have done to preserve and protect our God-given rights. And we will always support their legislative and lobbying efforts. I personally will continue to donate to the NRA as a proud Lifetime Member.”
About The USCCA:
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) provides education, training and self-defense insurance to responsible American gun owners. Headquartered in West Bend, WI, the USCCA is the largest and fastest-growing, member-owned, private association whose sole focus is the responsibly armed American.
For more information, please contact Ryan@BonjeanCompany.com or call 224-723-8688.
Photo Courtesy of N2 Growth Blog
“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
One of my favorite books on business and success is "Good to Great," by business researcher and author Jim Collins.
It is a must read for anyone in business today.
One of the major lessons from it is how "hubris" in a company or by the officers of the company are often one of the main reasons for lack of performance, a not-as-good-performance, and/or failure.
An article by Jim Shepard, of "The Outdoor Wire," recently reminded me of how prevalent this "disease" is in the outdoor world.
Name three "Great" retailers...
Many average, many good- but darn few "great."
The irrefutable rule of business is "adapt or Die." However, too many businesses in the retail and, more specifically, the outdoor world, have failed to "adapt."Many have taken their customers and retail clients for granted.
I can't tell you how many companies I've spoken with in (and, to be fair, out of) the outdoor world that have tales of woe and, quite frankly, not the nicest of business dealings with large scale retailers.
Forced to jump through hoops, demeaning attitudes towards their products and business, and, basically, making new and even rather innovative brands grovel and beg (or even pay) to be placed on their shelves.
Can you blame them for jumping to the online bandwagon?
Even I, with numerous connections on both sides of the issue, sometimes need clarification as to just what the difference can be to a business.
One source who shall not be named said it to me very plainly.
"Ace, I can sell 1/3 to 1/2 less and make as much or as much as 25% more by not dealing with them at all and going directly to the consumer."
Now, what happens most often is that the "brick and mortar" companies or stores tell a "tale of woe" like the one below- blaming technology and the internet rather than looking into the mirror.
What if we had "regulated" the automobile because farriers and stables were going under?
How about preventing cellular companies from selling their wares because "old time" telephone companies were losing money?
It sounds rather silly, doesn't it?
I can't say that I should be surprised, as what that boils down to is just more proof of a gross lack of "marketing savvy."
As a matter fact, there are very, very few business problems that cannot be solved by "effective" marketing.
What do I mean by "effective?"
Marketing that does more than just "put your name out" or is something that is done "because you've always done it this way" needs to be put aside.
I deal and interact a great deal with companies that say things like "Our budget is full" or "come back to us in six months."
That then turns into ANOTHER 6 months. Then ANOTHER. Then, well... then, if they aren't in great shape they expect a "miracle in a box" or "magic wand."
The economy and business- REGARDLESS of your business- is like a river.
You can swim, paddle, row, or motor, but the SECOND you stop, you will be swept downstream.
When you have Hubris (and there are several LARGE, clear examples of this in recent years) you are "staring into the boat" - unaware and blind to the movement of the water.
Want to see a great example of a company that is on the "front edge" of TODAY'S Economy?
Check out this video from a company I met called OUTDOOR VITALS- a company that has more than doubled every year they've been in business.
P.S.- Your CUSTOMERS are dictating what they want- rather than fight it, don't you think it would be better to give them what they want?
The following is the article from Jim Shepherd of "The Outdoor Wire."
You can reach them at www.theoutdoorwire.com.
"Last week, I heard some scary advice from a bankruptcy attorney for retailers: "find another line of work."
Hugh Ray of McCool Smith wasn't joking.
The lineup of failed companies in bricks-and-mortar retailing looks like a lineup of former blue-chippers who have "lost a step" in sports parlance.
Even discounters aren't being spared. Payless Shoes, I'm told, will file for Chapter 11 protection "any day". That's after closing 1,000 stores.
Sears Holding Corporation has (finally) admitted that it is "essentially no longer a going concern" despite belt tightening and the closure of 150 locations. Radio Shack owner General Wireless Operations is already in bankruptcy, as is HHGregg. Others, from J.Crew to Ascena (the company that owns Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Lofts) have suffered two mortal wounds: dropping sales and/or plummeting share price.
Add in the problems for Macy's, Staples, Office Depot, Kohls, and CVS, and it seems there will be plenty of storefronts available in 2017 -especially across rural America. Small-town stores are normally the first casualties.
Outdoor retailer Gander Mountain has already sought bankruptcy protection. It's not the only outdoor group teetering on the edge today.
Online retailers like Amazon are draining traditional storefront operations dry.
Only those destination-type retailers are hanging tough - and their operations aren't thriving, despite what you might hear.
Last week, I was writing an undated obituary for the Bass Pro Shop/Cabela's deal- until a last minute decision by Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corporation to buy the Cabela's credit-card business seems to have pulled the deal out of the proverbial fire.
Most people forget the mega-merger of outdoor retailers Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's was really an intertwined two-part sale: BPS would take the retail business, and Capital One would buy the credit card business.
The second part of the deal ran into trouble because of money-laundering allegations (and an ongoing investigation) at Capital One. Their timetable had slipped to the point the deal seemed in serious trouble.
Now Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corporation has stepped in to buy the credit card portion. It's one of those deals I'd like to make: Synovus buys the Cabela's credit card business, then turns around and re-sells it to Capital One. That avoids a more in-depth review of the deal by regulators.
In exchange, Synovus keeps around $1 billion (yes, billion) in deposits held by the Cabela's bank - and grows from a $30 billion dollar bank to a $31 billon dollar depository- three plus percent growth on a single business turn is nothing to sneeze at.
At that point, Johnny Morris and BPS takes over Cabela's -and the $3.6 billion in business Cabela's generated last year. If/when that happens, count on a brief period of stability, followed by the inevitable "combination of operational areas" - and another glut of available retail space.
Unfortunately, there are no white knights riding to the rescue of independent retailers.
They're under nearly unbearable price pressures, and facing the realization consumers are coming to them for their expertise- then using their newfound knowledge to search for the best price- usually online.
Last weekend, I watched a shopper question a knowledgeable salesperson about compound bows. The salesperson was both courteous and knowledgeable, answering the shopper's questions while showing the different bow sight options on demo mounts.
After several minutes of questions, the shopper and the salesperson decided a particular three-pin sight would be the best choice for this customer.
Instead of asking the price, the customer whipped out his smartphone, took a picture of a packaged sight, thanked the salesman, and left. I was flabbergasted.
The salesman shrugged and explained: "happens pretty often. We have the knowledge, but not the online price."
Curious about the price difference, I went online -at the counter- to see how cheaply I could find that particular bow sight online.
The difference? Seven bucks- not including shipping ($3.95).
For less than three bucks, the "smart" shopper essentially helping put their go-to source for help and expert advice out of business.
This exchange summarizes where outdoor retailers, regardless of their size, find themselves. I've seen it happen before.
As a beginning photographer, most of my early knowledge came from local camera stores. Local shooters freely shared their experiences and expertise. Today are very few of camera stores. Instead, innumerable online videos from online sellers quickly help me through any technical issue I have with my digital gear.
The same's true for a lot of the technical aspects of the outdoors. But there's still no substitute for "local knowledge" in the outdoors. What works in Bozeman usually doesn't apply in Birmingham.
As a business observer, it's tough to watch people who love their business and readily share that "local knowledge" increasingly forced to "find another line of work".
But I've seen it happen frequently enough to recognize the symptoms.
Unfortunately, recognizing symptoms does nothing to slow the inevitable march of progress. Consumers decide what businesses succeed."