First, the news. Make that big news.
Randi Rogers, the marketing and sales manager for Comp-Tac Victory Gear, and Team Comp-Tac shooter, has signed on as the newest member of Team Smith & Wesson.
Yes, you read that right. Randi is now Team Smith & Wesson's Randi Rogers. So it really is S&W For The Win
Smith & Wesson's Paul Pluff wasn't going to let Comp-Tac's Randi Rogers get away and signed her as the newest member of Team S&W. They're going to need a bigger trophy case in Springfield with Randi shooting for 'Big Blue.' Photo: P. Erhardt
This is indeed what you would call big news, especially as it means that there's one less top level, bankable/marketable shooter, unaffiliated with a major gun maker, out there roaming free on American gun ranges.
Now, how did that happen? And why is it such an important development? Well, this all started back around the time of the NRA Show in Houston.
As you probably know, Randi had left Glock
to take the job at Comp-Tac. In addition to the new marketing job, Randi picked-up a new holster sponsor (obviously) but left behind a handgun sponsor. Though still shooting a Glock, she was now unaligned with the Austrian-U.S. maker and free to sign with another gun company.
Taking into account her considerable talents with a pistol - not to mention the single action revolvers, pump action shotguns and lever action rifles of Cowboy Action Shooting - it's hard to believe that companies weren't immediately courting her for a prominent spot on their shooting team.
When I say Randi is bankable as a competitive shooter I mean she wins with a regularity that is the very definition of impressive. Forgetting, for the purposes of the S&W news, Cowboy Action where she is all but unbeatable (when her gun doesn't go down like it did this year), Randi is working on her 5th (maybe 6th) straight undefeated season in IDPA.
In other competitive disciplines, like IPSC and Speed Shooting, Randi is almost equally dominant. And she's now turned her sights towards 3-Gun competition where her years in Cowboy Action will certainly aid in her transition into the sport.
For a company sponsoring shooters, Randi is a guaranteed return on investment. But none came calling until earlier this year.
Now, if you know Randi you probably understand why. For those that do not, I'll explain.
Randi is not among those shooters we might consider in the category of 'shameless self promoter.' She is not one to brag, and despite all her numerous wins, she was hesitant to approach companies about what interest they might have in her joining their team.
Yes, she does need to get over this hesitancy to self promote, but it's one of her endearing qualities that makes her very approachable by even the most novice of shooters. Not exactly a bad thing in the current market where the number of new gun owners is exploding.
Realizing that Randi needed a little 'representation' Comp-Tac's Gordon Carrell stepped in as her unofficial agent and began opening conversations with various contacts.
During this year's NRA Show Carrell pulled aside Tom Yost with Smith & Wesson to ask if there was interest, and room, at Team S&W for Randi. Yost talked to Randi and then reported back to the guy at Smith & Wesson who's in charge of the shooting team and S&W's numerous shooting sports sponsorships - Paul Pluff.
Pluff is among the sharpest people in the firearms industry, and widely regarded as such. He was very eager to meet with Randi and hear what she wanted in terms of sponsorship and more importantly how she saw her role on the team.
A few years ago S&W had built up a huge shooting team totaling upwards of 25 or 26 shooters and anchored by Jerry Miculek, Doug Koenig and Julie Golob, the team's captain.
The giant Team S&W gobbled up titles left and right and the PR, both traditional and on social media, that followed from those wins. Though the shooting team as PR/marketing machine was not new - remember, Safariland did it first
- S&W was the company really bringing back this template aggressively. And their program spawned several copycats.
Unfortunately for Team S&W members, higher-ups at the company put the brakes on the team program while they studied it and what role it would play in the new, hip world of social media marketing. Of course those copycat teams moved full steam ahead and S&W gave up a lot of ground as the king of that particular hill.
Thankfully, Paul Pluff isn't one of those people who needs to do a lot of studying so when Randi voiced interest in shooting for Smith & Wesson the answer was basically, "Yes."
The fast pace of a conversation that went from "let's find out if there's any interest" to "what do you want" to "sure we can do that," caught Randi off guard. You could measure the entire process in hours, after all.
But there were still i's to dot and t's to cross, and Yost let Randi know that once it went to the lawyers the pace would fall off somewhat. What took hours to agree to in principle took four months to iron out thanks to "legal."
There is one other player in this story that deserves mentioning, and that's Para. Somewhere around February, Para started talking to Randi, but that conversation seemed to stall and delays kept Randi from getting her hands on pistols to test drive.
Going into the NRA Show nothing was even close to locked down with Para, and while they have sponsored shooters - the awesome Travis Tomasie and the soon-to-be awesome Lee Wills - I think that we can agree that when comparing apples to apples S&W has the advantage. Para's interest in Randi is hopefully a sign that there's more to come from them in terms of Team Para.
Unfortunately for Para though, S&W's interest was greater and after having missed out due to budget timing on the opportunity to sign Max Michel who went to Sig, Paul Pluff was not going to let Randi get away.
So why exactly is this such a good fit for both Randi Rogers and Smith & Wesson?
First, S&W adds a bunch more wins to their match tally which they will take advantage of for PR purposes - particularly in IDPA. It's no secret they are very committed to IDPA because of its low-cost barrier to entry for new competitors and the fact that they make a gun for all five of the sport's divisions. While other competitive organizations have taken S&W's support for granted, Joyce Wilson at IDPA has put great organizational and personal effort towards insuring IDPA's relationship with one of the industry's most powerful players.
Outside of IDPA, with S&W's M&P Pro, 1911, M&P Shield, numerous revolvers and AR platform, Randi can represent the company in a wide variety of competitions - and win.
Second, Randi is a natural 'co-conspirator' in delivering a one-two punch competing side-by-side with Julie Golob. The two are good friends and even co-host a podcast about the shooting sports. As Julie returns to competitive form after the birth of her second daughter earlier this year, she and Randi can approach matches with a divide and conquer strategy allowing Team S&W to double down on High Lady titles. But, I should note that Randi is now a top competitor in IDPA and cannot be viewed simply as the High Lady contender. As she gets stronger she could begin winning matches outright - a fact not lost on Paul Pluff or S&W.
Working together Randi and Julie also provide Smith & Wesson with more marketing and social media support. I've said it before and it remains true, the women in the shooting sports deliver more marketing value to companies than their male counterparts.
Third, the timing could not be better since NSSF's latest report
shows that 37% of new target shooters are female compared to 22% of established target shooters. Adding another female as one of the faces of Smith & Wesson is a very smart move right now. Of course, S&W has always had a solid focus on its female customers.
All in all, this is a very, very good fit for both sponsor and shooter, and one likely to reap immediate rewards...well, just as soon as they send Randi her new guns and she gets them dialed in. Look for her rocking, what, an M&P Shield I'm guessing, at the Back Up Gun Nationals that S&W is hosting in November.
From what I've been told they have a good number of firearms industry press coming in for the match making it an ideal time for Smith & Wesson to formally introduce their newest shooter.
- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network
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