Crimson Trace

March 7, 2012

Between The Berms: Taurus Is Bullish On Jessie

Just say "Jessie" and everybody knows who you're talking about. Photo by P. Erhardt
Almost two years ago, while standing around in the airport waiting for a flight, I wrote a piece for Michael Bane's DownRange.tv about Jessie Abbate's departure from Team Glock.

But before I revisit the story of the Jessie Sweepstakes, let's agree that when I say "Jessie" y'all know exactly who I'm talking about. Following her divorce, Jessie Abbate went back to using her maiden name, Jessie Harrison. Then, just a week ago, she remarried and is - technically speaking - now known as Mrs. Matt Duff.

To add to the confusion, she goes by yet another name, Jasmine Jessie, in Cowboy Action competition. So, just "Jessie" keeps it real simple and we all know who we're talking about...and let's do exactly that.

In my article I said that Jessie "tops the list of women shooters currently unaffiliated with a gun company and, excluding Bob Vogel, the list of all shooters without direct gun company sponsorship."

Here comes Team Taurus.
That is all still true, but for the unaffiliated part. In today's Shooting Wire Taurus announced that Jessie will be anchoring its foray into competition, an area that the Miami-based gun maker previously paid little attention.

Back when I wrote about Jessie's future sponsorship prospects I would have been hard pressed to bet on Taurus winning the Jessie Sweeps. In fact, I said they were a wild card at best. This is what I said about them...

Now this one is a true wild card and would never happen but with their 1911 and 24-7 they have guns that could compete in Single Stack, Production and Limited-10. Grab an STI and rollmark the slide with the Taurus bull and you'd have an Open gun. This isn't as far fetched as it would sound considering that it was rumored a couple were made for Doug Koenig's use way back when he had some sponsorship connection to the company.

The odds of Taurus jumping into competition went from 'long shot' to 'better than 50/50' when the company announced back in July that Mark Kresser was taking over as President and CEO on September 1st.

Kresser is a good friend of mine and we talked some last July about his plans for Taurus. And back then he was already looking for areas, like competition, where Taurus hadn't played.

The odds of Jessie's joining Taurus got a whole lot better than 50/50 a couple months later when Kresser took over the C-suite and was approached by Jessie about sponsorship opportunities at Taurus.

Kresser, who is one of the sharpest people in the firearms industry, immediately recognized the value of a shooter like Jessie who not only wins titles - like clockwork - but also co-hosts (with her husband Matt) the Outdoor Channel's Friends of the NRA television show.

With a growing fan base and plenty of PR material from competition wins, Jessie brings a lot more to the table than most shooters.

If you spent any time at all with Jessie you already know this. She's charming, articulate and very poised for a woman of her young age. And she's really, really attractive, which is hard to overlook.

The ammo goes in the gun, and then the trophy goes in the case. Photo by P. Erhardt
Of course, if you get caught up in the charm and good looks and think that's all she's got when you face her in competition, you're going to come away wondering how that nice young lady beat the living crap out of you on the range. Jessie is a fierce and talented competitor with a trophy case packed with more awards than you can count.

So she offers potential sponsors a lot more than most 'pro' shooters.

In a market that's dominated by men, an attractive, articulate woman spokesperson who can out shoot the vast majority of men isn't a bad idea.

With women's participation in hunting and shooting surging, along with the number of women getting CCWs, an attractive, articulate woman spokesperson who can out shoot the vast majority of men isn't a bad idea either.

You may be looking at the face of Taurus's upcoming new product launches. Photo by P. Erhardt
I won't be surprised if we see Jessie's role at Taurus to include not just competitions and the trade show booth appearances, but dealer/distributor events, gun writer events, and integrated new product launches.

How many gun makers would love to have somebody like Jessie, who's comfortable in front of the camera, talking about the features and benefits of a new product and can then turn around and hammer the hell out of steel plates with the gun?

Factor in that women tend to be more active on social media than their male counterparts - and that's particularly true in the shooting sports - and you can see why a sharp, forward thinking CEO might go with a top woman shooter to lead their company's entry into competition.

I talked to Jessie back in November regarding her prospects with Taurus and outlined all that she was capable of bringing to the table beyond just shooting titles. I even made the "attractive woman" comment and lived to talk about it, proving she's comfortable in her own skin and has a good sense of humor.

In today's marketplace, the calculus it takes for a firearms company marketing department to determine the value of a sponsored shooter to the company is getting more and more complex. And when you know how to do the math, its easy to see why women shooters like Jessie have the ability to bring more to the table than their male counterparts.

Right now very few companies realize the value of a top tier woman shooter. Glock and Smith & Wesson, with Randi Rogers and Julie Golob, get it - and of course Safariland - but hardly any others do.

Taurus is not one of those companies. They get it, and it probably won't take long for Taurus's customers, dealers and distributors to realize the impact of today's announcement.

- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network

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