May 27th, 2009

Spaniard Wins 2009 European Steel Challenge

European 2009 Steel ChallengeJorge Ballesteros of Spain captured the coveted Steel Challenge title at the 2009 European Speed Shooting Championships held May 22 and 23 in Winterswijk, Netherlands. Facing Europe’s best shooters, Ballesteros won the Open Pistol title with a time of 61.31 seconds, besting last year’s top time by over two and a half seconds. Jan ter Borg of the Netherlands finished second while Germany’s Oliver Damm placed third for the second year in a row. Defending 2008 champion Saul Kirsch of the Netherlands finished fourth.

The European Steel Challenge drew 135 top speed shooters from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United States, all vying for their share of $40,000 in cash and prizes and the title of Europe’s Fastest Gun. The match was shot indoors and featured six of the eight stages used in the USA Steel Challenge: Smoke & Hope, Five to Go, Roundabout, Speed Option, Accelerator and Outer Limits.

“The European Steel Challenge is growing in popularity thanks to the hard work of match director Hans Wigger and, with so many strong competitors, it’s only a matter of time before we see a squad of top Europeans competing at the World Speed Shooting Championships here in the U.S.,” said Dave Thomas, executive director of the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA).

Fierce Competition Among Wheel-Gunners
In the Open Revolver division, shooters from the Netherlands ran the table with Mario Siemeling leading the way and defending his 2008 win by posting a time of 68.99. Harry ter Borg, who finished third in 2008, moved up to second shooting a time of 77.00 seconds. In third, with a time of 78.35, was Jan ter Borg. Below is a video from the 2008 ESC showing Harry ter Borg, Mario Siemeling (at 4:00 minute mark) and other wheel-gunners in action.

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May 27th, 2009

Firearms & Hunting Product Sales Top $4.6 Billion in 2008

NICS background checksWe all know that sales of firearms, ammo, and reloading supplies have surged since the November Presidential election. Federal excise taxes, collected on guns and ammo sales, rose 13.9% in 2008 compared to 2007. Likewise NICS background checks are up dramatically. Data released by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 1,225,980 checks in April 2009. This figure is a 30.3 percent increase from the 940,961 reported in April 2008.*

What does all this represent in terms of sales revenues? According to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), Americans spent over $4.6 billion on guns and hunting gear in 2008. That’s a $500,000,000 increase over 2007. Yes, business is booming for the gun industry. The rise in firearms sales has benefitted major gun makers such as Ruger, whose stock has nearly tripled in price since November 2008. (Check out this chart — with hindsight, we all should have invested in Ruger last fall.)

Sturm Ruger stock price 2009

Sales of hunting and firearms equipment showed the greatest percentage increase in 2008 compared to all other sporting goods equipment categories with sales of more than $1 billion, the NSGA reports. A new NSGA report shows hunting and firearms equipment sales rose 16 percent to $4.6 billion in 2008, up from $3.9 billion in 2007. That’s a $500,000,000 increase in one year — and we can expect the trend to continue in 2009. Overall retail sales of sporting goods (footwear, clothing and equipment) fell 1 percent in 2008 to $53.4 billion.

*The April 2009 increase follows a 29.2 percent gain in March and rises of 23 percent in February, 28 percent in January, 24 percent in December and 42 percent in November when a record 1,529,635 background checks were performed.

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