NEWS

Publisher's Note

The Outdoor Wires remind all Corporate Members that it's time to renew for 2009. If you have not already received an invoice for 2009, then contact us at info@theoutdoorwire.com. Without that Corporate Membership, all press releases in 2009 will be published in the abbreviated Briefly sections of the Outdoor, Fishing, Shooting, Women's and Dealer Wires.

Arizona Game and Fish offers grants for public shooting range development

Shooting clubs, sportsmen's groups and government agencies involved in the development, improvement or maintenance of public shooting ranges, including archery ranges, have an opportunity to apply for grant funds from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, but the application deadline is January 15, 2009.

Winchester Ammunition Adds To Super-Target Family

Clay target shooters will have a new shotgun shell to try in 2009. Winchester® Ammunition is adding a 12-gauge, 2¾-inch, 1-ounce load to the Super-Target line. This shotshell is designed to give outstanding clay-busting performance in sporting clays, trap and skeet-at a highly competitive, value price.

NRA National Championship Sponsorships Available at Camp Perry

The NRA's Competitive Shooting Division is now accepting sponsorships for the 2009 NRA National Rifle & Pistol Championships taking place this summer at Camp Perry, Ohio. . These matches, considered to be America's "World Series of Shooting Sports," have been a tradition at Camp Perry since 1907.

Bass Pro Shops Partners With Legacy Sports To Benefit Wounded Soldiers

Bass Pro Shops has partnered with Legacy Sports International to sell a commemorative rifle from the Puma brand of lever action rifles to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Legacy will donate $50 from every WWP commemorative rifle sold to the WWP.

Shooting USA Features Precision Shooting With An Accidental Disaster

This week's episode of Shooting USA on Outdoor Channel features an impossible shot no one expected - Byron Ferguson destroys as camera while attempting a 100-yard shot. Brian Speciale hosts this budget-busting episode.

Brownells AR-15 Assembly Videos Now Available on DVD

Responding to customer requests, Brownells announces the release of a DVD version of their "How To Build An AR-15" instructional videos designed for those who don't have access to the video series available on Brownells.com, or folks who want to see the videos in high resolution, or take a portable DVD player to the workbench or a friend's shop.


FEATURE


Industry Hanging Onto A Single Category

For the past few weeks, it may be that we've given a false impression as to how well the firearms industry is really doing. The net of all the numbers is that if you're a company with a strong line of high-capacity pistols and AR-style rifles, you're doing land office business. If you're heavily dependent on hunting, you are hurting.

Some companies, unfortunately, are seeing those languishing hunting sales carve -deeply- into their bottom lines. Take, for instance, Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC). The company's Military & Police (M&P) line of AR-style rifles and polymer pistols are facing significant back orders due to the incessant consumer demand for high-capacity pistols and military-style rifles that will likely face a resurrected "Assault Weapons Ban" in 2009.

Despite that solid performance, however, Smith simply couldn't overcome the impact that hunting-centric subsidiary Thompson/Center Arms has had on the overall corporate balance sheet. When Smith & Wesson purchased Thompson/Center Arms in 2007, it looked like a solid acquisition. As a category-leader in hunting that also had a barrel-making facility, it seemed a great fit into the S&W portfolio

Today, smart might better be applied to the stinging negative impact T/C is having on Smith & Wesson's stock price. On Monday, Smith announced the previous quarter turned from a profit to a loss after a write-down taken due to the hunting rifle business. That write-down resulted in a loss of $76.2 million- roughly $1.62 per share in the period ended October 31. Without that "impairment charge" S&W would have shown a profit of around a penny per share.

As a public company, that change brought the wrath of investors and analysts. If you're a public company, you dare not disappoint the analysts. Should that happen, they take their pound of flesh out of your stock price. And Smith & Wesson stock has been pounded, losing slightly more than thirteen percent of its opening stock price yesterday, closing at $2.32.

Despite a forty percent rise in pistol sales over last year and a demand for their M&P and Sigma line of products, there was just too-much baggage from the moribund sales of Thompson/Center products. Hunting lines lost forty-one percent, with a miserable $11.5 million in sales.

They're not unique in having the bottom drop out of their hunting product, but as a public company, they are taking their lumps pretty publicly.

Meanwhile, industry sources tell me that the glut of firearms that aren't potentially threatened by any sort of high-capacity ban are sitting idly on store shelves. Not a good sign as we move into the final week of sales before Christmas.

Another cloud lurks in an already gloomy sky. It might be said that cloud isn't black, but it's certainly lead-gray. Despite strong resistance from the industry, the assault on lead in ammunition continues.

Granted, the results from testing on wild game containing lead fragments have done anything but prove conclusively that the longstanding ingredient of ammunition is negatively effecting the health of wild game consumers, but the facts have very little to do with the argument. Anti-gun groups are quietly meeting with public health advocacy groups in Washington this week, and we're hearing they are encouraging a "combination of interests" in order to push to have lead listed as a top priority in public health issues.

If that happens, there is very little any of us can do to fight that argument. With a zero-tolerance policy, health officials are going to pay precious little attention to the fact that the evidence is, at best, thin against lead ammunition.

Some ammo makers are already making it known that they are creating ammo lines that are lead-free. Others, reliable industry sources tell us, will have announcements at SHOT Show that will make it obvious to even the most stubborn holdouts that lead is on the way out in ammunition.

Not things that contribute to a Merry Christmas. Unfortunately, the opposition to firearms have apparently bifurcated their attacks on the industry, looking to ban classes of weapons and magnitudes of ammunition.

We're listening, and we'll keep you posted.

- Jim Shepherd




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