I remember showing up to my first USPSA match and being kind of intimidated by all of the folks that were there with their fancy shooting shirts, covered in sponsor logos.
Patrick in Detroit sent in a question for the Q&A podcast way back in about July of 2016. At the time I promised him that I’d do an episode about his question, and I set out looking for someone to interview who knows more about it than I do. What I found was a little surprising: most people don’t really want to talk about the details.
So, I’ve spent the last 9 months or so looking into the different sponsorships by talking to folks at matches, reading things on the internet, and observing.
What I’ve ascertained is that there are 3 basic types of sponsorships in the shooting sports:
- The Contingency Program: This is an arrangement where someone gets a discount, or something from a company for winning while wearing the companies logo, and using their products. Some of these programs are open for anyone to join, and others require an application.
- Free Stuff: This is the most basic of programs a company gives a shooter a product in exchange for that shooter wearing the companies logo. I’ve seen these sorts of programs where the shooter ends up footing the bill for the fancy shirt, and others where it’s provided as part of the deal.
- “Team” Shooters: From the outside looking in, the “team” shooters seem to get a little more support than the folks that are part of the other programs. These sorts of programs *generally* have shooters that are hand picked by the sponsor (and I think thats the way it should be).
“The Professional Shooter”
Then there’s the category that in my pseudo-research doesn’t really exist, that people think exists and that’s the paid, professional shooter. There may be a person or two who actually gets paid to shoot matches, and practice all the time in the shooting world, but I’ve not found them. What does exist is folks who are part of a companies shooting team, but in reality they’re spokesman for that company, and spend time going to trade shows, events, and working for that company, on top of being one of the shooters for that company. The thing is this though: They’re not getting paid to go to the range and shoot free ammo all day, every day, for the most part.
Companies Looking to Sponsor Shooters:
From time to time I’ll see a shooter at a match wearing a sponsor logo who probably… shouldn’t. Grumpy old curmudgeons are some of my favorite people in the shooting sports, however they’re probably not the person that you want representing your products.
If you’re wanting to sponsor some shooters, look for the dudes that are helpful. The ones who are helping re-set steel, paste, run the timer, and the ones staying late to tear down. As shooters, we remember the guys who leave early and don’t help reset, and you probably don’t want them representing your product if they’re looked down upon by their fellow shooters.
Be careful, and realize that these folks are going to be the face of your company for a lot of shooters.
Shooters Looking for Sponsors:
A lot of shooters get into the shooting sports, see dudes rocking jerseys with all sorts of sponsor logos on it, and want to be part of that club (and potentially get some support). There’s nothing wrong with it, but I do think there are some things you should consider before you rush into signing an agreement with the first company that comes along:
- So you ALWAYS use that product?
- For instance, if you’re pursuing a sponsorship from a company that makes rifle scopes, do you always use their scopes? What if you’re sponsored by a company that makes loads ammo, but then at matches you shoot hand loads while wearing the other companies shirt?
- What if you’re sponsored by “Billy Bob’s Gun Grips” an run his grips on your 1911, but then mid way through the shooting season you decide to go shoot Production division with a plastic gun that can’t use the product that you’re sponsored to represent? If you jump around from division to division a lot, you definitely need to consider this.
- Is it a good product? Do you really want to wear someone’s logo across your back when they’ve got a junk product?
- Do they have good customer service? Trust me, once you’re sponsored, anyone who’s having problem with that company, or has had problems with them in the past will tell you about it.
- What are the terms? Are you going to be required to spam all of your Facebook friends every week with “promo codes” and make them want to unfriend you because you don’t post anything interesting anymore and just spam them constantly?
Gear that Doesn’t Suck
I’ve got Triangle Tactical shirts and coffee mugs for sale over at Teespring! They’re available until April 10th, and they ship international.