Volume 26, Number 2 February/March 2018

Archive for the ‘December 2016’ category

Hamburg, PA., – Doug Koenig, Competition Director of the Sportsman’s Team Challenge announced the return of Bass Pro Shops’ as the Title Match Sponsor. The match, now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, will be held at the Heartland Public Shooting Park in Grand Island, NE. Match dates are July 20-22, 2017 and is open to the general public, industry and to all levels of shooting competitors. Registration begins February 1, 2017 at www.stcnationals.com.

Koenig said, “It’s exciting to have Bass Pro Shops’ support again as we celebrate a special milestone this year. We’ve added a variety of unique side matches and clinics along with random draws for commemorative firearms.” Koenig added, “We had a terrific turnout last year, but it was the warm reception the entire Grand Island community bestowed upon us that made our decision to return an easy one.”

Sportsman’s Team Challenge

John Acosta, Director of Marketing, Customer Acquisition for Bass Pro Shops added, “Doug has been a brand ambassador for Bass Pro Shops’ for several years and we are excited to partner together again in 2017 to promote shooting in a family-centric format with the Sportsman’s Team Challenge. It is important for us to continue to advance the participation of shooting sports to the next generation of outdoorsmen and women. Bass Pro Shops’ is thrilled to celebrate the 30th year of the Sportsman’s Team Challenge, and we congratulate them on such a successful event.”

New this year for Match Sponsors will be the addition of a Vendor Row; competitors will be able to view new products to enhance their shooting experience at the range while supporting match sponsors. More announcements will be made regarding special VIP’s attending and activities planned.

From its inception in the late 1980’s, the Sportsman’s Team Challenge will celebrate 30 years of attracting juniors, newcomers, families and competition shooters who continue to enjoy its popularity and rich tradition. The match is a two or three person team event, which combines multi-discipline shooting competition of a rifle, pistol and shotgun. Information about the Sportsman’s Team Challenge, required course of fire for each event and rulebook can be found at www.stcnationals.com. Follow us at: www.facebook.com/ShootSTC.

Bass Pro Shops is a leading destination retailer offering outdoor gear and apparel in an immersive setting. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today 101 retail and marine centers host 120 million people annually. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is known as a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.”


BEAVERTON, Ore. — Leupold & Stevens, Inc., and Seek Thermal announce a strategic alliance to bring cutting-edge thermal products to the hunting and shooting industry.

As the leader in premium sports optics, Leupold® has long been recognized for its legendary product performance and unparalleled customer service. By partnering with Seek, Leupold will offer an exclusive and extensive line of thermal products that will create industry-leading value.

“Seek Thermal is an innovator in their field,” said Bruce Pettet, president and chief executive officer for Leupold & Stevens, Inc. “We are honored to partner with a company whose drive and spirit to continuously improve performance matches our own.”

The first release of this partnership was the Leupold LTO-Tracker™, a handheld observation and game recovery tool. The LTO-Tracker is designed to aid outdoorsmen and women in both situational awareness and tracking of downed game. With a 21-degree field of view, 600-yard detection range and retail price of $699, the LTO-Tracker is the beachhead product in the line of performance thermal optics.

Designed, Machined and Assembled in the USA, Leupold’s line of thermal optics will go through the same rigorous manufacturing and testing standards as its world leading riflescope offering.

“We are very excited to create this alliance with Leupold,” said Mike Muench, president and chief executive officer of Seek Thermal. “We are technology leaders in thermal imaging, Leupold is a world-class company and premium outdoor brand. Together, we are bringing innovative products exclusive to Leupold that create real value for the hunting and shooting community..”

For more information on Leupold® products, please visit us at www.leupold.com.

Join the discussion on Facebook, www.facebook.com/LeupoldOptics, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LeupoldOptics or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/LeupoldOptics.

Founded in Oregon more than a century ago, Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is a fifth generation, family owned company that designs, machines and assembles its riflescopes, mounting systems and tactical/Gold Ring® spotting scopes in the USA. The product lines include rifle, handgun and spotting scopes; binoculars; rangefinders; mounting systems; and optical tools, accessories and Pro Gear.

Seek Thermal (www.thermal.com) engineers, designs, manufacturers, and markets high quality thermal imaging products and core platforms for consumer, commercial, and IR sensing iOT / IIoT platforms in Santa Barbara, California.


Nearly everyone who owns a firearm has heard of Crimson Trace, the shooting-sports industry leader in laser-sight design and manufacturing. Many of those firearms owners have also heard of the man behind the iconic company and brand—Crimson Trace’s founder, Lew Danielson. After more than two decades as a leader in the company and the industry, Danielson has announced his retirement.

“I am very proud of what Crimson Trace has become and what we have accomplished in the laser-sighting industry, with the many innovations we’ve introduced to the marketplace,” says Danielson. “I’m also proud of the team of employees who have worked hard to make our company the industry leader that it is today.”

Lew Danielson

After more than two decades as an industry leader, Lew Danielson, founder of Crimson Trace Corp., has announced his retirement.

Danielson, a trained engineer, co-founded Crimson Trace in the back room of an Oregon machine shop in 1994. He is known for the simple 18-point business plan—handwritten on a piece of standard yellow notepad paper—that became the map for the fledgling company’s success.

“Lew is a one-of-a-kind guy who believed in an idea and had the tenacity and foresight to take risks and follow his dream,” says Lane Tobiassen, president of Crimson Trace. “Everyone at Crimson Trace wishes Lew well in this new chapter of his life, and we thank him for the opportunity the company has provided to the more than 120 employees who work here.”

Among Danielson’s many recognitions and awards is the National Rifle Association’s prestigious Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award. That award noted that Danielson was “fundamentally responsible for the invention, development, marketing, and/or promotion of products that gained widespread use and which fundamentally changed some aspect of shooting-sports equipment or related products for the better.” Those words referenced Danielson’s establishment of America’s premium brand of laser-sighting systems for firearms.

The company is widely recognized for bringing more than 250 laser-sighting products to market, including the new LiNQ wireless light and laser sight for modern sporting rifles. Crimson Trace is also widely recognized for supplying sighting systems to military and law enforcement units in America and around the globe.

The first Crimson Trace laser sights were designed for Glock handguns. Originally a customer would send his pistol to Oregon for machining and installation of the laser sight. Today, Crimson Trace offers more than a half-dozen distinct product lines and offers them to consumers directly and through numerous retailers. Crimson Trace also works with more than a dozen firearms manufacturers to provide laser sights as pre-installed systems direct from those manufacturers.

Danielson was inducted into the Oregon State University Engineering Hall of Fame in 2013. His name is on many of the patents held in Crimson Trace’s product portfolio.

Lew Danielson

Timney Triggers has been asking shooters and hunters, “What trigger would you like us to build next?” Thanks to customer involvement, Timney recently announced the 2016 Customer’s Choice: a two-stage, self-contained, drop-in trigger for the Ruger Precision Rifle.

The pull weight is factory-calibrated for a ½-pound first stage and a 1-pound second stage. The first stage is user-adjustable from a ½ pound to 1 pound, and the second stage is user-adjustable from a ½ pound to 2 pounds. The trigger is offered in straight and curved trigger-shoes models.

The trigger housing is constructed of a military-grade 6061 T6 alloy and is anodized for superior durability. The trigger is heat-treated as well. The sear is wire EDM cut, heat-treated to 58-60 Rockwell, and Teflon-nickel-coated for long-lasting service life. SRP: $219.95. (timneytriggers.com)


Remington is launching the RP, a new full-size, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol. The semi-automatic will feature interchangeable backstraps (small, medium, and large), a reversible magazine release, and an undercut trigger guard to allow for higher hand hold to better increase overall control. In addition, the slide has been designed for easier manipulation, and the pistol can use double-stack magazines. Available calibers will be 9mm and .45 Auto. (remington.com)


After setting not one, but two world records at the 2016 Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) National Championship in May, Team Bianchi’s Kenda Lenseigne added another record to her impressive repertoire at the CMSA World Championship in Amarillo, Texas, recently. In a world-record run, Lenseigne won the Cimarron Eliminator CMSA World Champion Cowgirl title.

As one of Cowboy Mounted Shooting’s most renowned competitors, Lenseigne held numerous titles and records prior to this victory, including winning this event four times before on her champion horse, Justin, between the years of 2005 and 2014. However, this is Lenseigne’s first World Championship win on her mare, Sparky, since retiring Justin last year.

“This win is incredibly special to me,” says Lenseigne. “I knew I could trust in my equipment to perform perfectly, but it is a big feat to be the World Champion in a first-year partnership between rider and horse.”

Lenseigne finished the competition in 10.764 seconds, which was 0.12 second faster than the previous world record. Beating out the other 163 competitors entered in this category, Lenseigne ended with the overall fastest time for women.

“We are thrilled to congratulate Kenda and Sparky,” says Scott Carnahan, vice president of Safariland and Bianchi. “We are so proud of their accomplishments together, and we thank Kenda for continuing to be an incredible ambassador for our brand and the sport.”

Team Safariland members are an integral part of the company’s product development process who regularly test Safariland materials and products to ensure design and development. During the championship, Lenseigne utilized her Bianchi exclusive Kenda Lenseigne Signature Series Smokechaser Cowboy Holster.


The Colt M4 continues to be the platform of choice among military, law enforcement, and firearms enthusiasts alike. Now Colt is offering yet another option for enthusiasts looking for that robust and well-fielded platform—the Colt Combat Unit carbine, featuring Colt’s new mid-length gas system.

The Colt Combat Unit carbine offers many of the features shooters love about the Colt M4 platform, but now Colt is introducing its first production mid-length gas system. “Producing a mid-length gas system was the logical next step for us, and it’s long overdue,” says Justin Baldini, director of product marketing. “Shooters will find that by moving the gas block closer to the muzzle, as this mid-length gas system does, the felt recoil is more consistent with what is fielded by our troops carrying a 14.5-inch barrel M4.”

The Colt Combat Unit is a team of sponsored shooters and product advisors with whom Colt has worked closely to develop the Colt Combat Unit line of firearms that are tailored to the needs of today’s more savvy operators, law enforcement, and firearms enthusiasts. “When we decided to put together the Colt Combat Unit team, we sought out the upper echelon of the world of elite operator training. These are all former Special Forces trainers who are helping us understand what the folks in the field want from their firearms, which has been proven with the success of the Colt Combat Unit Rail Gun.”

The Colt Combat Unit carbine features a Magpul SL buttstock and pistol grip, as well as an MOE trigger guard. The carbine is the first to feature Colt’s new mid-length gas system. It has a low-profile gas block that allows for the use of its M-LOK-capable Centurion CMR free-floated forend. SRP: $1,299. It is available exclusively from TALO Distributors. (taloinc.com)


Gamo Outdoor SL, along with its U.S. subsidiary Gamo Outdoor USA, recently acquired Daisy Outdoor Products, maker of the famous Daisy Red Ryder BB gun as well as other airguns and outdoor equipment. In announcing the acquisition, Keith Higginbotham, president of Gamo Outdoor USA, said, “We believe this to be a great relationship with complementary brands. Gamo’s roots run deep in the outdoors, while Daisy is a part of Americana. We both share a passion for the shooting sports and are excited for the future, with a vision to grow the Daisy brand and recreational shooting for generations to come.”

Higginbotham, who has been at the helm of Gamo Outdoors USA for about two years, added, “When I first joined Gamo, we identified Daisy as a target acquisition, a very complementary acquisition, since Gamo had basically nothing in the youth market and Daisy had relatively little in the adult market. When the opportunity to acquire Daisy came along, we pursued it enthusiastically.”

When Gamo looked at it strategically, they saw a perfect fit. “Daisy has a foothold in the youth market, mainly because of the movie [the iconic Christmas Story], as well as the heritage, the 130-year history,” Higginbotham said. “We can now go from teaching a young child how to shoot and carry them through equipment into their adult years. We’re committed to the shooting sports and its safety education. Now we can meet the needs of all consumers, from BB guns to high-accuracy precharge pneumatics.”—Jock Elliott


By Jock Elliott

Big-bore airguns are just the ticket for nuisance wildlife control

Coming soon to a residential area near you: whitetails, coyotes, and hogs. Whether it is the woodchuck in the garden, the raccoon in the garbage can, the bear under the bird feeder, the deer and the coyotes almost everywhere, or the feral hogs exploding across the landscape, people are coming into collision with wildlife.

Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars, says, “The return of deer, geese, beavers, coyotes, turkeys, bears, and other wild creatures amounts to a huge 20th-century conservation success story worth celebrating. And yet, in the 21st century, instead of celebrating, we’re often fighting about whether we now have too much of a good thing, and, if so, what to do—or not to do—about it.”

Hatsan Carnivore

Fitted with an elevation-adjustable comb, integrated Picatinny rail, and a heavy-duty, secure 11mm/22mm Weaver-style scope mount, the Hatsan Carnivore is a good choice for predator control.

He points out that it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals and birds and trees today in the eastern third of the United States than anywhere on the planet at any time in history. “Some people say our conflicts with wildlife are our fault because we encroached on their habitat. That’s true. But that’s only half the story. As their populations multiply and spread, many wild creatures encroach right back.”

AirForce Texan PCP Big-Bore rifle

The AirForce Texan PCP Big-Bore rifle is powerful enough to take deer.

The kicker, according to Sterba, is improved habitat. “Our habitat is better than theirs. We offer up plenty of food, water, shelter, edges, and protection. We plant grass, trees, shrubs, and gardens, put out birdseed, mulch, and garbage, and fill up Dumpsters. All this amounts to a giant buffet for all sorts of critters. It’s the reason that suburban sprawl’s biological carrying capacity—that is, the population limit the food and habitat can sustain—is far greater than an unpeopled forest.”

When the interests of people and wildlife come into conflict, typically the next thing that happens is a phone call to state wildlife authorities or to a private contractor. Sometimes trapping/tranquilizing and moving the animals is the answer. Depending upon the jurisdiction and the species, however, it can be flatly illegal to relocate an animal. Sometimes there is a substantial breeding population in the area, so that relocating one individual animal becomes a symbolic, but ultimately useless, act. And sometimes lethal removal of the wildlife is the only sensible answer.

Limited Range, but Enough Power

That’s where big-bore airguns—air rifles of .30 to .50 caliber—come in. Chip Hunnicutt, marketing manager for Crosman Corporation, says, “When it comes to lethal wildlife control in an urban or suburban environment, you want limited range, not a lot of noise, and—above all—sufficient accuracy and power to provide a humane kill. Big-bore airguns deliver all that in a package that is easy to shoot well.”

Big-bore airguns also present an opportunity for new sales for firearms dealers because they provide a solution for wildlife control in many venues where discharging a firearm is forbidden. A number of states have approved, or are in the process of approving, the use of large-caliber airguns for harvesting deer. In addition, airguns often offer greater profit margins than do firearms.

Chuck Sykes, Alabama’s director of wildlife, says, “Large-bore airguns serve the purpose very well. You need to be proficient and know what range you are effective at, but you can kill a 180- to 250-pound deer at 100 yards with one. For nuisance wildlife control, anyone can afford them, anyone can use them, and it’s a lot cheaper to use an airgun than a firearm with all the hassle and expense of a suppressor.”

Big-bore airguns

Suburban habitat offers plenty of food and shelter for a wide variety of species, not all of which are welcome in a backyard. Big-bore airguns can help control such populations.

Benjamin Bulldog bolt-action .357 PCP airgun

This coyote was taken with a Benjamin Bulldog bolt-action .357 PCP airgun. A baffle-less SoundTrap shroud acts as a suppressor to lower noise levels. The rifle also has an easy-to-load five-shot magazine.

Big Opportunity for Retailers

Barry Stewart, a rancher with in-depth experience in wildlife control, says, “I use airguns for reduction of noise. If you are looking at a whole group of feral hogs, with a .223 you won’t get a second shot, but with an airgun you could. I get 1- to 1.25-inch accuracy at 100 yards with a Benjamin Bulldog, and it makes just as humane a kill as a firearm.”

Hunnicutt attended the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting in Tucson last fall and found wildlife managers advocating the use of large-bore airguns for a number of applications. “There is a lot of potential in this market,” he says. The market has not gotten a lot of attention, and Crosman is supporting both wildlife managers and wildlife control professionals with performance data and information kits.

Eric Arnold, editor of Wildlife Control Technology magazine, says, “In terms of legalities, the number-one issue with state laws is whether or not air rifles are authorized for taking the conflict animal.” His view is that when an air rifle is legal and alternative methods for control are ineffective or too costly, then choosing a big bore (.30 caliber or larger) would be appropriate for wildlife that typically weighs from 15 to 80 pounds. This includes foxes, raccoons, coyotes, porcupines, and feral hogs. Larger big bores (.45 and .50 caliber) are more suited for larger wildlife weighing from 80 to 250 pounds, such as whitetail deer, large feral hogs, and small black bears.

He adds that a .30-caliber has more than enough energy for taking problem wildlife such as prairie dogs, rock chucks, ground hogs, skunks, raccoons, beavers, and foxes out to 100 yards, and coyotes out to 75 yards. But it can cause other problems if a miss occurs or the animal is too close and the projectile passes through. In short, shooters need to match the air rifle and pellet selection not only to the targeted wildlife, but also to the shooting conditions at hand.

Three things are clear: The incidence of conflict between wildlife and people is likely to grow; big-bore airguns can play an important role in helping to deal with the problem; and large-caliber airguns present an opportunity for dealers to sell air rifles, ammunition, charging systems, scopes, mounts, rangefinders, and other accessories.

Big-Bore Airguns sidebar

By Mark E. Battersby

Illustrations by Pixel Pushers

An employee benefit that also benefits ownership

Employee ownership in a shooting-sports business can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Employees can buy stock directly, be given it as a bonus, can receive stock options, or obtain stock through a profit-sharing plan. Some employees become owners through worker cooperatives where everyone has an equal vote. But by far the most common form of employee ownership in the U.S. is the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In addition to being an excellent exit strategy with significant tax savings for gun shop owners and shareholders, ESOPs are also great for motivating and rewarding employees and for taking advantage of incentives to borrow money for acquiring new assets in pretax dollars.

Almost unknown until 1974, ESOPs today are used by many businesses for a variety of purposes other than the succession planning with which they are most closely associated. But launching an ESOP isn’t just about benefiting the business owner. Business owners willing to go to the trouble of implementing such a plan frequently have the interests of their employees and the business in mind.

The Basics

An ESOP is a qualified retirement program in which employees receive shares of the business rather than stock. ESOPs are said to be “qualified” because they qualify for federal income tax deferral until the stock is turned into cash at retirement.

An ESOP offers employers two advantages. First, the business gets significant tax breaks. It can, for instance, borrow funds through the ESOP for expansion or for other purposes, deducting both the repayment and interest when the loan is repaid. (With ordinary loans, only interest payments are tax-deductible.) Second, the owner of a firearms business who sells his or her stock to the ESOP can defer or often even avoid capital-gains taxes associated with the sale of the business. With these essentials, ESOPs have become an important tool in succession planning for business owners preparing for retirement.

In addition to an important succession planning tool for shooting-sports business owners thinking about retirement, employees also benefit from an ESOP. When it comes to the employees, ESOPs are in most respects similar to 401(k) plans, except that, instead of cash, the business providing the ESOP “pays” in its own stock. Under both an ESOP and a 401(k) program, employees receive monetary benefits on retirement or in the event of death or disability. The chief difference is that with a 401(k), the funds paid in are usually invested in a diversified portfolio; in the ESOP, they hold only the company’s own stock. The advantages and risks of ESOPs derive from this difference.

Useful Tool

An ESOP can also be a useful tool when it comes to buying and selling the shooting-sports business. In fact, an ESOP is often an excellent tool for selling a minority interest in the business. By selling a portion of the business, an owner can invest in other assets, providing much-needed wealth diversification.

For example, a business owner nearing retirement age can sell his or her stake in the business to the ESOP in order to gain tax advantages and provide for the continuation of the business. According to many experts, transferring ownership to the operation’s employees in this manner is preferable to a third-party sale.

After all, with a sale to a third party, buyers may be difficult to find, and after the transaction, collecting installment payments may turn out to be difficult or costly. With an ESOP, more certain results are possible.

The ESOP can borrow money to buy out the owner’s stake in the business. If, after the stock purchase, the ESOP holds more than 30 percent of the business’ shares, the owner can defer capital-gains taxes by investing the proceeds in a Qualified Replacement Property (QRP). QRPs can include stocks, bonds, and certain retirement accounts. The income stream generated by the QRP can help provide the business owner with income during retirement.

ESOPs can also prove helpful to those interested in buying a small business. Many individuals and businesses have raised the capital for financing a purchase by selling nonvoting stock in the business to its employees. This strategy allows the purchaser to retain the voting shares in order to maintain control of the business.

The Catch

As attractive as these tax benefits are, there are limits and drawbacks. The tax laws do not allow ESOPs to be used in partnerships or most professional corporations. ESOPs can be used in S corporations (a form of corporation that meets specific Internal Revenue Code requirements, giving a corporation with 100 shareholders or less the benefit of incorporation while being taxed as a partnership), but do not qualify for the unique rollover treatment accorded those ESOPs using regular corporation entities. They also have lower contribution limits.

Privately held firearms businesses are, for instance, required to repurchase the shares of departing employees, and this can become a major expense. The cost of setting up an ESOP is also substantial; it can be as much as $40,000 for a simple, basic plan for a small business, far more for a larger enterprise with more employees.

And remember, anytime new shares in the business are issued, the value of the stock owned by existing owners is diluted. That dilution must be weighed against the tax and employee motivation benefits an ESOP can provide. Finally, ESOPs will improve corporate performance only if combined with opportunities for employees to participate in decisions affecting their work.

Reportedly, only about two-thirds of ESOPs are used to provide a market for the shares of a departing owner of a profitable, closely held business. Most of the remainder are used either as a supplemental employee benefit plan or as a means to borrow money in a tax-favored manner. Less than three percent of ESOP plans are in public companies.

Is an ESOP right for you? Weigh the pros and cons presented here and then consult with your tax professional.

Employee Ownership

At A Glance

ESOPs have a number of significant tax benefits, the most important of which are:

Contributions of stock are tax-deductible. That means a firearms business can get a current cash flow advantage by issuing new shares or treasury shares to the ESOP. Doing so, however, means the shares of existing owners will be diluted.

Cash contributions are deductible. The business can contribute cash on a discretionary basis year to year and take a tax deduction for it, whether the contribution is used to buy shares from current owners or to build up a cash reserve in the ESOP for future use.

Contributions used to repay a loan the ESOP takes out to buy shares in the business are tax-deductible. The ESOP can borrow money to buy existing shares, new shares, or treasury shares. Regardless of the use, the contributions are deductible, meaning ESOP financing is done in pretax dollars.

Sellers in a regular C corporation (the most common type of corporation) get a tax deferral. With an incorporated business, once the ESOP owns 30 percent of all the shares in the business, the seller can reinvest the proceeds of the sale in other securities, deferring any tax on the gain.

In S corporations, the percentage of ownership held by the ESOP is not subject to income tax at the federal level (and usually the state level as well). That means there is usually no income tax on 30 percent of the profits of an S corporation with an ESOP holding 30 percent of the stock, and no income tax at all on the profits of an S corporation wholly owned by its ESOP. However, the ESOP still must get a pro-rata share of any distributions the firearms business makes to owners or shareholders.

Dividends are tax-deductible. Reasonable dividends used to repay an ESOP loan, passed through to employees, or reinvested by employees in the business’ stock are tax-deductible.

Employees pay no tax on the contributions to the ESOP, only the distribution of their accounts, and then at potentially favorable rates. The employees can roll over their distributions in an IRA or other retirement plan or pay current tax on the distribution, with any gains accumulated over time taxed as capital gains. The income tax portion of the distributions is, however, subject to a 10 percent penalty if made before normal retirement age.

Not too surprisingly, all contributions are subject to certain limitations, though these rarely pose a problem for a well-advised firearms business.