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Letters to the editor.

Clean Up Your Act

This letter was sent to the editor of American Handgunner. Because of its poignant message, we have presented it here. We welcome comments from dealers or anyone else in the industry.

But the question remains: Is Mr. Warner on target?

As an enthusiastic handgunner, I am highly involved in our sport and the image it portrays. People new to shooting are to be welcomed and made to feel comfortable. We must act like "normal people" who happen to enjoy the shooting sports in order to win further acceptance and respect for our activities. We should make our various gun venues places where we are not afraid to be with our families.

Having said that, has anyone else noticed that most gunshops and gun ranges are not very nice places to visit? I love to look at and handle fine guns and talk about guns with gun guys, but even I feel unwelcome at many gunshops. How many times have you been to a gun shop, and, if you are greeted at all, you are greeted by a monosyllabic, un-groomed "salesman" wearing an: "If you run you'll only die tired" T-shirt! Typically, the store is poorly lit, badly arranged, and not a very welcoming area at all. Many ranges I have visited have similar flaws, except you can add a dose of cursing and bad language on match days that I definitely do not want my child to hear.

Once in a while, you find a gunshop with people who smile, have good social skills, and seem to enjoy their work. In my part of the world, for instance, I recently discovered Wayne Bergquist's Custom Pistols in Naples, Fla. In addition to being a first rate gunsmith, Mr. Bergquist is a talented businessman. You walk in, and immediately a friendly, clean, well-dressed and knowledgeable person makes eye contact, smiles, and says, "Hello, can I help you?" They are happy to show you the stock in their bright, clean, well-stocked store. New shooters are given lots of help. I have heard the employees and Wayne himself take time to thoroughly explain the workings and safety aspects of a new gun (or guns)! They take time to do this even when their store is full of busy shoppers. Hmmm, do you think there could be a connection here?

So come on guys. Shave, smile, and clean up your act. Trade the camo gear and T-shirts for a polo shirt and a friendly handshake. I like Mr. Bergquist's gunshop so much that I drive three hours round trip to get there and back and I've been there four times in two months. I've spent $3,000 at his store so far, and my next pistol will probably be purchased there next month. Shooting sports are fun and respectable, so change your business from a backstreet-tatoo-parlor operation into to a luxury-import-dealership style of operation. And then the people will come!

Thank you for this opportunity to get that off my chest and I hope you can print this letter to maybe get the message out. American Handgunner is my favorite magazine (I'm not just saying that to suck up!). Thank you and keep up the good work.

Simon Warner

Sarasota, Fla.

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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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