When I was young--and, yes, that was a long time ago--the average gun shop catered more to the hunter. The casual sport shooter--the term then was "plinker"--probably accounted for the second tier in the retail purchaser category. The defensive shooter was a close third, followed by the competitive shooter. The latter would buy a lot of guns and ammo, but would not be the demographic that described the typical customer, unless the shop specialized in target shooters' needs.
Over the years, that has changed. The family who is going to satisfy its firearms needs with a .22 rifle that will be fired at tin cans will probably buy it cheap at Wal-Mart. Purchases of hunting licenses, while increasing, aren't nearly what they were 50 years ago. The same media that demonized the gun has also tried to treat the great tradition of hunting like a dangerous moral defect equivalent to drunk driving, and made the firearms field sports seem politically incorrect to a huge percentage of today's American population.
Moreover, there have been ebbs and flows in the economy that have...