Diversity Becomes A Key Focus For The U.S. Gun Industry

Sign posted on the riverwalk outside the Savannah Marriot Waterfront.

If you noticed that posting was a little sparse hear at Bearing Arms earlier this week, it’s because I was out of town. Specifically, I was in charming Savannah, Georgia, at the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF) Industry Summit.

The longstanding NSSF Industry Summit has been responsible for many innovative and effective programs that have helped build participation in target shooting and hunting. The Summit provides attendees with the latest research related to industry, hunting and target shooting, and delivers cutting-edge information from experts in their field.

The goal of the 2015 NSSF Industry Summit will be to share dynamic and reputable models of success that contribute toward a common Industry goal of increasing participation in hunting and target shooting.

Those attending the NSSF Industry Summit are decision makers from all segments of the firearms industry, including firearms retailers, range owners, members of the conservation community and state wildlife agency professionals.

The NSSF Industry Summit is where the leaders in the shooting sports industry come to sharpen their edge and figure out how to reach out and get more Americans involved in the joys of the shooting sports.

Among the speakers at the Industry Summit were Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates, Rick Tobin of Tobintel, Seth Mattison of Futuresight Labs, Jeremy Gutsche of Trendhunter.com, and Mike Helton of NASCAR.

There were also a number of shooting sports industry speakers in breakout sessions and on panels, including one or two you might know, such as Barbara Baird of Women’s Outdoor News, Top Shot Chris Cheng, Julianna Crowder of A Girl and A Gun, Natalie Foster of Girl’s Guide to Guns, and some guy named Bob.

Natalie Foster, Michael Bazinet, and Bob Owens take a “selfie” with some of the audience at the NSSF Industry Summit In Savannah, GA. (via Girl’s Guide to Guns on Instagram)

Natalie and I were on a panel discussion moderated by the NSSF Public Affairs Director Michael called “Leading Gun Bloggers,” where we discussed the use of blogs, Facebook, and other social media for the shooting industry. We also shot a “selfie” with the crowd for the Girl’s Guide to Gun Instagram page, as shown above. It wasa heck of a lot of fun.

I had a wonderful time being part of the panel with Natalie and Michael, but what really blew me away was the clear focus on embracing diversity that was a major focus of this year’s Industry Summit as shown in schedule.

While there were a wide range of topics covered by the 21 speakers (including several who participated on multiple panels), the clear intent of the 2015 Industry Summit was to reach out to minority communities, including African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and women.

This shows that the industry has been responsive to the increase in the number of young, urban, and female shooters, and is now try to be proactive so that the industry is poised to welcome diverse populations to the shooting sports. This is a Very Big Deal, as we’ve long stereotyped as the realm of “fat old white guys” or the “pale, male, and stale.”

It was refreshing to see these sessions packed with industry leaders listening intently and taking notes on how to better meet groups on their own terms, in their own spaces.

The more effort we spend in sharing our love of shooting, the more friends and allies we will make, and the better we will be poised to protect and reassert our Second Amendment rights.

The future is bright.