Two years ago when I took my tour of Smith & Wesson, S&W’s Paul Pluff talked with me about current the boom in gun sales. He told that something like 50% of recent gun buyers were first time gun owners. He said the challenge the shooting industry faced was to turn those new gun owners into shooters or they would not be repeat customers, and the boom would be but a one-time spike in sales.

Pluff drew an analogy to Harley Davidson. A lot of people buy Harleys just because they are cool American icons. If they never ride their Harleys (and some don’t), they never have to buy new ones. Harley Davidson, therefore, puts on events and rides specifically aimed at getting people out and riding their bikes so they will buy more. The firearms industry, said Paul, needed something like it.

A couple of days ago I received a release about the Armed Citizen Alliance (ACA) which appears to be an initiative like the one Pluff was describing. The ACA, among other things, plans to offer shoots for carry guns. From their website:

_”ACA “Practice & Confidence” recreational events offer an appealing alternative, designed specifically so people can “Shoot what they actually carry; the way they actually carry it.” Only store-bought handguns of carry-concealed configuration are allowed. No special-configuration custom guns, no non-standard refinements.

The format and structure of ACA events themselves will be simple, safe, and fun. Basic and necessary forward-looking rules will provide for the inevitable desire of returning participants to expect growth and improvement as they become “captured” by the challenge–and the enjoyment–of developing personal defense abilities and confidence, and seek ways to “keep track of how well they’re doing.”_

It seems like a sensible idea all around. The shooting industry needs to sell guns, ammunition and holsters. People with permits should practice and become more familiar – and therefore safer and more responsible – with their firearms. They should have fun with them, too.

Discussion questions:
Would you shoot in an ACA event with your carry gun?
If ACA events catch on, do you predict they will become serious competitions in their own right the way skeet and sporting clays evolved from hunting practice to target sports.