HANDS-ON DISPLAYS AND THE LATEST EQUIPMENT ARE KEYS TO IMPRESSIVE SALES
The reloading business is changing. No surprise, there. Like most of the industry, the reloading market isn't what it was 10 years ago. Indeed, reloading has changed fairly rapidly during the past two years.
While there are several factors driving the changes: overall reduction in hunters, fewer new shooters and high-tech entertainment competition -- the primary reason is innovations within the industry.
Ammunition manufacturers have revolutionized the specialty cartridge market with the introduction of factory ammo in calibers and performance that, previously, were reserved for the dedicated reloader.
Federal, Winchester, Remington, PMC, Speer, Hornady and others are providing shooters "hot" cartridges that rival those of the reloading elite.
Does this mean the demise of the reloading business?
"If the reloading business is dying, we must be grabbing a lot more of the market share," said Tom Shepherd, Hodgdon Powder Co. "Our business is up and we're looking forward to a very good year. While there have been changes in reloading, we're projecting continued growth.
"This is especially apparent in our metallic rifle cartridge and shotshell propellants. The numbers there are very good. However, our pistol propellants are flat. Overall, there's a lot of strength in the reloading market.
"There are still a large number of shooters who want to craft their own ammunition. It's the 'pride of ownership' part of our business. And there's still a lot of things you can do with reloading that you can't do with even the new factory ammo."
The impact of specialty ammunition on reloading is overrated, according to Allan Jernigan, general manager of RCBS operations.
"If the intent was to pull a large part of the reloading business away and into factory premium ammo, I can't say that's happened," Jernigan said. "We're actually seeing an increase in the number of reloaders, especially those involved in competition and varmint hunting.
"How many competitors do you know who use factory ammo, even the premium loads? Very few. And varmint shooters are big part of the market today."
At the retail level, some dealers have noted a "shift" in their reloading business that, however, has not dramatically affected sales.
"Yes, all the specialty ammo that's available has taken away some of my reloading business, well, shifted it really," said Clint "Shorty" Martin, owner of Shorty's Guns & Powder on...