The mass resurgence of hunting is set to outlive the social distancing age, with huge gun sales to new hunters backing this claim.
If gun manufacturer American Outdoor Brands Inc.’s numbers are to go by, America is in for 1 million+ new hunters. This number, even, is a conservative guess.
The company’s CEO, Brian Murphy, says “there has already been a wallet share shift.” The shift Murphy references comes as indoor activities – such as dining out and movies – fall to the wayside due to health concerns from the deadly COVID-19 Pandemic, and social distancing pushes a mass return to outdoors activities, instead.
“Obviously, there’ll be some return once a vaccine is widely distributed,” Murphy continues, “but it’s people, at least, again, what we’re seeing, intend to continue this, now that they have this newfound activity that a lot of times, they didn’t have the time for before or to even try.”
In 2020, as social distancing quickly became the norm, hunting license sales saw an enormous boost alongside gun purchases. America produced a 12% increase nationwide in new hunters, The Wall Street Journal cites via the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This alone will put 1 million or more new hunters out into nature for 2021.
America’s Modern Outdoors Age: Rise of the New Hunters
As a result of the nation’s renewed interest in outdoor sports and activities, companies like American Outdoor Brands are raising their projections for the coming fiscal year. And in no small manner, either.
For AOB alone, estimates for their 2021 sales have now risen to $235 to $245 million. This is a staggering jump from their prior projection of $195 million.
To put this in perspective, AOB has seen a rise of 66% in revenue in 2020 from previous years. In 2019, the company saw an almost $400,000 loss. 2020, however, brings them a $7.3 million profit in comparison. Talk about a 180.
In addition, the political climate of 2020 has also bolstered gun sales in America. Civil unrest is at a decades’ high due to many factors, including modern-political rhetoric and police brutality. More U.S. citizens bought guns in 2020 than ever before, as a result. This incredible factoid comes courtesy of Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting chief economist Jurgen Bauer. Moreover, Bauer reveals that over 20 million guns found new homes in 11 months of 2020, producing said record numbers.
For November alone, Bauer says sales were 49% higher in 2020 than in 2019. And that was the smallest increase of this year over last.
Gun Sales Records Factor into Nationwide Ammunition Shortage
Astronomical gun sales are resulting, however, in a national ammunition shortage. Fellow firearms manufacturer Vista Outdoors Inc. reveals that they are working through an “unprecedented” $1 billion backlog. This entire backlog is comprised of ammo orders.
As a result – how all 1 million of America’s new hunters will load their guns is to become an entirely different matter.
Moreover, Vista Outdoor CEO and Director Christopher Metz warns that the shortage will last well into 2021.
“We currently have over a year’s worth of orders for ammunition in excess of $1 billion,” he clarifies through a quarterly sales briefing. “This is unprecedented for our company. With demand far outstripping supply and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing.”
Metz adds that the volume of new shooters the industry is seeing is a driving factor.
“According to data from the NSSF, there are 6.2 million new shooters in 2020,” Metz continues. “This rate is more than twice the number of new shooters in the former surge. Anecdotally, there is no shortage of reports of sold out shooting ranges and backlogged firearm safety classes around the country.”