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Best of the best. (On a Positive Note).

Are you familiar with the Academy of Excellence Awards? Presented annually by GUNS' sister publication, Shooting Industry Magazine, these awards honor the most significant achievements of the year in the shooting and outdoor industries. Founded in 1992, the Academy of Excellence Awards have become a potent force promoting innovation in design and an emphasis on quality. Let me give you an example.

One of the Award categories is "Knife Of The Year." With perhaps a dozen really outstanding cutlery manufacturers in the country, there is fierce competition in this arena. Despite this, Benchmade Knife Company has won this award for six consecutive years. How could this happen? In short, it's the result of a determination to excel, and more than that, to continually raise the standards of quality and design.

Joe Verbanac, advertising and design manager for Benchmade touched on this when he said recently: "We looked back on the first Knife Of The Year award we received in 1998, and realized that design wouldn't even be a finalist today." Benchmade's Travis Noteboom said of the Awards, 'We're very competitive, and we like to win. We know our competitors can put Out a good product, and so we're driven to offer ever better designs and materials."

Of course the final winner in this race towards improved products is the consumer.

The method by which winning products, companies or individuals are selected is beyond reproach. New product introductions are generally made at the SHOT Show. Shortly after this event, a huge list of nominees in 12 different categories is compiled. With this list completed, preliminary ballots are mailed to the nearly 500 voting members of the Academy. These are persons in the firearms business, ranging from outdoor writers to storefront dealers to industry executives. All are people for whom shooting and hunting is both a livelihood and passion.

With the preliminary ballots tallied, final ballots showing the top contenders in each category are mailed. Voting on this final ballot determines which products, companies or individuals will earn a coveted Academy Of Excellence Award. The final winner in each category is revealed at the annual Awards presentation.

What makes these Awards unique, and what has caused them to assume such prominence in the industry is the fact that although sponsored by Shooting Industry Magazine, no one associated with S.I. nor its parent publishing group is even permitted to vote. That's right -- no back room deals, no shady quid pro quo arrangements with potential magazine advertisers -- just a straight-up vote from people like old Bob down at the local gunshop, offering his opinion on what new guns and gear are really worthwhile.

And that's why you should know about the Academy of Excellence Awards. Both final nominees and eventual winning products tend to be particularly excellent. Looking for a good rifle? Wondering what accessories have genuine merit? Thinking about a new handgun? Why not see which was voted the best in its category? For the scoop on 2003's Academy of Excellence Award winners, check out the Web site at: www.shootingindustry.com.

Is This Your Sharps?

Fine old single-shot rifles are one of my personal shooting passions. If you happen to share an interest in this subject, there's a great organization you should know about. The American Single Shot Rifle Association, founded in 1948, is dedicated to the use, study and preservation of both original and modem reproduction single shots. They publish a very fine periodical for members, the Single Shot Rifle Journal. Point your Webbrowser to: www.assra.com for more information.

For 2003, ASSRA is raffling off a magnificent custom Sharps Borchardt. Chambered in 40-70 SS, this beauty is the product of a collaboration by some of America's finest craftsmen. The action is from Al Story of the Borchardt Rifle Co., as is the excellent Badger barrel. Treebone Carving donated the stock wood upon which Bernie Harrell worked such delicate magic. The wonderful engraving is by Ken Hurst, the sights by Tom Axtell and the flawless rust blue and color casehardening by Classic Guns. I've seen this rifle up close, and it's simply splendid.

Tickets are only $10, and you may purchase as many chances as you wish. The drawing will be held August 30, 2003, so don't delay. To enter, send your name, address and telephone number along with entry fee to: Keith Foster, 15770 Rd. 1037, Oakwood, Ohio, 45873
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Author:Gardner, Jim
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:731
Previous Article:Crossfire letter to guns.
Next Article:"Hey, this is fun"! (Shotgunner).


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