President's Message: An Optimistic Outlook

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 2/17/20 11:37 AM


On the farm where I grew up, in a very rural part of North Dakota, summers were hot, and the winters were brutally cold. In the spring and fall of the year you enjoyed a few days of spectacular weather and boy did we appreciate them.

That’s a pretty big exaggeration, but those of you from the northern U.S., and rural communities in particular, likely understand just how difficult the winters can be and how quick the summers fly by. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to believe it takes a certain type of person, generally a very optimistic person, to deal with the wild swings in weather and the inherent seclusion that comes from living where you mostly have to do it yourself, and you sometimes just need to do without. There were no YouTube instruction videos to help!

A song on the radio recently referenced a “three on the tree” manual transmission and this reminded me of the time my neighbor Lyle, literally one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever known, left me to run an errand with his vehicle, a “three on the tree” manual transmission pickup. He set me to the task, and quickly took off in another vehicle. At this point in my life, I knew how to drive various manual transmission vehicles including many cars, trucks and tractors. But this steering column manual shifter was something I’d not yet experienced.

After getting in his pickup, I saw the brake, clutch and gas pedals, tell-tale signs of a manual transmission. But when I looked to the floorboard on my right, there was no shift lever. And the lever on the steering column seemed very much like an automatic shifter, but it was not accompanied by the “P, R, N, D” indicator. I didn’t obviously have the luxury of quickly dialing him on a cell phone, asking him to explain. My options were to figure it out or walk home.

After a good bit of head-scratching, I finally noticed a tiny faded diagram on the dash in the shape of an “H”, with the number “1” in the top left, number “2” in the bottom left, number “3 top right and “R” on the bottom right and it all clicked. When I arrived back later, I received a “What took you so long?” greeting, which may have been said with just a hint of a smirk on his lips.

Lyle is a great mechanic and was usually in high demand. Once, when my dad needed a farm truck worked on, Lyle agreed to fit it in his schedule if I was sent along to help him with other tasks. He handed me a carburetor from a tractor, showed me where the parts washer was and asked me to clean it, install new gaskets and put it back together. I told him I’d not worked on one before and he just said, “That’s ok, if you get done and there are parts left over, you know you didn’t do it right.” He knew I’d figure it out. And I did.

I love that man and I often miss him. Because of distance, I don’t see him anywhere near as often as I’d like. But much of his optimism, and of course that of my parents, friends and other relatives has certainly worn off on me. 

Which is why after spending a lot of time on the road in January, including the annual visit to Las Vegas for the Shot Show, I’m feeling exceptionally optimistic about the current state of the shooting sports industry. I can confidently tell you that I’ve not talked to even one single person who thinks 2020 will be a bad year. I am absolutely loving the extra enthusiasm.

Of course, the distributors are sensing this this optimism and from all they are telling me, retailers are likewise experiencing a resurgence of good vibes about the mood of our larger shooting sports community. It’s a very refreshing place to be in right now.

As you know, for many years now NASGW has been working to build and bring a data analytics capacity to our sales channel. With the development of SCOPE™, our collection of distributor sales and inventory data, we brought a lot of meaningful, actionable data to our partners. During Shot Show, we announced a new and even more exciting data-driven opportunity for the industry. NASGW has acquired the old CustomerLink Exchange, or CLX program, which will allow us to add retail level data to our already robust collection of distributor data.

When we have SCOPE-CLX™ completely built out, no other data program will match its ability to understand the movement of products from manufacturing all the way to the hands of the consumer. It’s an exciting place to be and an exciting opportunity for businesses to use data to make better decisions. If you’d like to learn more about how data can help your business, please check out what we have available, and what we’re building, on our website at

After experiencing a very difficult 2019, one that saw the loss of some very long-standing businesses in our industry, it’s wonderful to see the mood swinging in an upward direction and I hope it continues. NASGW and the entire shooting sports industry are poised to experience yet another big year and we all have great reason for an optimistic outlook.

Until next time,


Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President


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