President's Message: We Are Made of Strong Stuff

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 8/16/23 4:33 PM

Kenyon Gleason, NASGW President

I’m sure you have heard it by now. But over the weekend a new song (some might say a working man’s anthem) and a virtually unknown singer vaulted to the front of our consciousness thanks to at least one redeeming quality of social media, the fact that good people from relative obscurity can become folk heroes overnight.

Virginia native Oliver Anthony performed his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” and posted it on his social media channels. In a matter of days, the song and the singer have achieved a cult-like following and his song has supplanted Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” as the top song on the U.S. country music chart. The man is an overnight sensation.

Anthony’s original acoustic performance comes across raw, real and reflective of a man and millions of people who are starving for honesty and reality in a world that seems more upside down every day. It’s a song striking a chord with millions who are fed up with what’s happening in our country and want to see us do better, be better.

On Sunday, Anthony performed a live concert at a Currituck County, NC, farmers market, a venue he had played most recently in June. He tells the story of how last time there was maybe a total of twenty people in the crowd. That was decidedly not the case on Sunday when thousands of people filled up 25 acres of parking to see him. He’s become a voice for millions of people who feel like they are fighting a culture war against people openly hostile to their beliefs and values.

I’ve said before in this column, and you’ll probably hear it again – our industry, like our culture at large, is facing challenges the likes of which we could never have imagined just 20 years ago. The politicians and anti-gun crowd knows full well they can’t beat us on the issue directly. They understand completely that overturning the 2nd Amendment is simply too challenging, if not impossible. I liken it to the thief who sneaks through the window because coming in the front door would be too “public” and the back door would be too “noisy.” So, they slide through the window because they’re determined to succeed at all costs.

The shooting sports industry must be as determined to succeed in keeping the thieves out. We can’t allow them to weaken us by dividing us from the inside. We can’t allow them to litigate us into the poor house. We can’t allow them to create so many financial and regulatory hurdles that doing business becomes impractical or impossible.

There’s an old saying that to be a good coach, you must be focused on getting all your players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. It’s sort of like that for us right now as an industry. The constant bombardment from those who want us out of business tends to wear us down, to alter our focus.

While the NASGW is not a giant organization, we are working hard to grow and expand our voice and reach. We’ve been around now for 70 years and we believe we have even more to offer in the next 70. It’s why we continue to research new and creative ways to keep these thieves out of our industry.

To illustrate my point, leaders from about 20 of our distributor companies are coming together in just a couple weeks to discuss more opportunities to stand together and to stand against these dark-of-night tactics. I’m proud to be a part of a group that is putting aside its differences, setting aside the competition of business, and focusing on what’s good for not just themselves, but the entire industry. We know, what I think you intuitively know as well – we are much stronger together than we are alone.

Understandably, this is not easy for a lot of reasons and likely some of our efforts will not succeed. But does that mean we should not try? Winston Churchill once said that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” I’m a big fan of Churchill because though he had flaws, he knew when and how to rise to the occasion, and he almost single-handedly carried England on his back and kept them from falling to the Germans in World War 2. He just wouldn’t accept failure.

At NASGW, we’re not worried to fail and we’re not giving up because that’s simply choosing to fail by not trying hard enough. Just know the NASGW will not sit back and watch and then wring our hands when it’s too late. There’s just too much at stake. If I can be so bold… we’re made of stronger stuff than that. I believe if you’re reading this, so are you.

I hope you’re making plans to join us in Columbus, Ohio in October. We’ll do a bit of reminiscing about the past 70 years of NASGW’s success, and we’ll do even more looking ahead to what incredible successes we can achieve in the next 70 years.

If we work together, if we refuse to accept failure, then I know we’ll do some big things. I’m getting excited to see you all in Ohio.


Until next time,

Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President

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