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Hawkeyes: giving tour customer the most for their optic dollar.

Besides his weapons and ammunition, the hunters eyes are the most important component in hunting both big game and varmints. By using optics like a scope, a spotter, or binoculars, a hunter can greatly increase his chances of hitting his target since his field of vision will be dramatically increased.

"Simply put, optics give the unaided eye the ability to resolve detail at long distances," said Don Robertson, rifle scope product manager for San Dimas, Calif.-based Bushnell, a division of Bausch & Lomb.

"As an example, take binoculars that have optic power of 7 x 35," Robertson said. "That first number is your power of magnification. That means your target will appear seven times closer than it actually is. The 35 is the diameter of the objective lens (the lens furthest from your eye). The second number governs how much light will get to the human eye. The larger the objective the more light it will let in."

Scopes are either classified as variable (adjustable) or nonvariable (more commonly called fixed power). "The variable powers outsell the fixed by about five to one. The main reason is the versatility. The variable powers are considerably more versatile and not that much more expensive." According to Robertson, versatility at an affordable price is what has made the 3x-9x scopes the most popular in the industry. They are often the most inexpensive scopes on the market and are typically recommended to entry-level hunters.

However, the more experienced hunter's needs may be more specific. "Many big game hunters prefer to use a 1.5-6x32 scope. With big game I want the biggest field of view I can get because if I miss, the game wins," Robertson said.

A Full Range of Products

Bushnell/Bausch & Lomb sell its optics through distributors, wholesalers and dealers. "We carry a full range of products which vary in price from $19 to $1,900," Robertson said. "Some companies specialize in the high-end or middle-end of the business, but Bushnell/Bausch & Lomb handles everything."

Currently, Bushnell's biggest seller is a line of optics designed for the average hunter. "About two years ago, we put together a scope line with features that are found in the more expensive European scopes and we incorporated them into what we call 'The Bushnell Trophy Series.' It's our best seller," he said.

The Small Dealer

The biggest concern of the small gun shop owner, Robertson says, is his inventory. "He doesn't want to tie up the farm. He's going to look to carry a minimum amount of dollars in inventory and he's going to carry known lines. He's also going to try to sell something that customers can't find at K-Mart or another department-type store." One product that customers will only be able to find at small dealer shops is Bushnell/Bausch & Lomb's 'Buckhorn Series,' created just for the small dealer.

"Bushnell/Bausch & Lomb understands the importance of the small dealer and is doing all it can to help him. If the industry were to lose the small dealer we would have serious problems," Robertson said. To help promote their product, the Buckhorn Series comes with a display base.

To be successful at retailing optics, says Robertson, requires a knowledge of the products. "Having knowledgeable personnel is extremely important. The moderately experienced hunter is really going to be put off if he feels that he knows more about the product than the guy behind the counter." The small dealer can often obtain optics information from the manufacturer in the form of literature, instore videos and displays. The dealer just needs to ask for them.

Redfield, Inc.

In 1909 John Hill Redfield, a professional hunter, gunsmith, mining equipment designer and deputy U.S. marshal formed a small business and called it The Redfield Gunsight Company. Today, after 85 years, Denver, Colo.-based Redfield, Inc. has grown from its original one-room operation to a 81,000-square-foot manufacturing facility which manufactures rifle and pistol scopes, and scope-mounting systems. "We take pride in offering our full line of 50x scopes," said Redfield customer service representative Bill Mangles.

"There are many parts of a scope like the adjustment mechanism and although most are made similarly, the difference lies in the quality of the components attached. What you are paying for is the quality of the components so price is often a pretty good guide. Usually the more expensive the optic the better the quality," Mangles said. Redfield sells their products through distributors.

Depending on the hunters' needs, many choose the 3x-9x scope. "Our four top selling scopes are the 3x-9x. For entry level hunters our 3x-9x |Tracker' is very popular and is the best quality for the price," Mangles said.

"Short-range hunters may only go for low-range power because they know that's all the power they'll need. The lower the power the greater the field of vision or the more you can see. Low power is more help in the dense brush where closer shots are expected. Higher power scopes are the 6x-9x and are used for longer shots; a couple of hundred yards and more. We probably have one of the most complete lines to fit practically every budget. We can cover hunters from entry level to the most advanced."

Besides manufacturing various types of scopes, Redfield also sells binoculars and has a line of five spotting scopes, three of which are sold as complete kits. Each kit includes a spotting scope, a fully-adjustable tripod, both variable-zoom and fixed eyepieces and an aluminum carrying case.

"Usually the higher-powered spotters will need to sit on a tripod," Mangles said. "Many hunters use the 20x-60x spotter. Of course if you twitch that movement would be magnified as well so you can see why a tripod would be needed. Generally spotters are used at the rifle range for target practice or competition shooting. Hunters, particularly trophy hunters also use them when they need to shoot something far away. Sometimes as far as a mile away."

Mangles recommends that dealers keep plenty of product catalogs on hand. "If a dealers' got the catalog he can always order special items for the customer," he said. "We are happy to send catalogs to any dealer or retailer and we'll send them at no charge."

For more information about Bushnell, circle number 419 on the Reader Service card. For more information about Redfield, circle number 240.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Saenz, Lisa
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:1060
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