We live in a commercial world. It has become the norm for Americans to be consumed with our stuff. When I was a kid the notion of renting a garage just to have a place to store one’s stuff was ridiculous. Nowadays the self-storage business is one of the fastest growing small businesses in the nation.
As a writer, I have been at times inundated with stuff given to me with the thought that I would tout it in an article. The special-interest publications have been doing business like this for nearly a century. It simply is the way of the world. We writer types have our own standards of legitimacy. Some are product whores and will tout anything given to them for free. Others wrap themselves in a self-righteous manti and proclaim their prose devoid of any commercialism—usually, by the way, that isn’t wholly true, but that’s another story. Most of us are somewhere in between. The fact is, we all have to make a living, and the manufacturers—and consequently you the consumer—are a primary source of revenue. As for me, I think I have been about 95 percent honorable regarding my product assessments. The offending 5 percent being comprised of those things a publisher said, “You will put this in your magazine.” When the boss speaks, a good soldier says, “Yes, sir,” and obeys the order—even if he has to hold his nose occasionally.
As far as the gun and hunting market goes, consumers have evolved—some say (and I would not argue with them) devolved. No longer are there half a dozen fellas on any given residential block with a little South Bend or Logan lathe in their garage or basement. There’s probably less than a hundred individuals in the whole country who will make a road trip to the walnut orchards annually in search of a few stumps with which they will season the old way, saw some blanks and create their own rifle stocks from scratch. The number of do-it-yourselfers that will take apart a gun several dozen times and carefully stone a sear to get a decent trigger pull is negligible. Today’s DIY guys are all about buying a spring kit or a drop-in stock. Bluing? How many hobbyists do that anymore? Just buy a can of the newest cool camo paint and spray it. If it looks like shit, who cares? Just say it’s the latest iteration of modern sniper camo. So those who grouse that all of us writer types are nothing more than product shills have themselves to blame. Manufacturers would not make and distribute their products if it did not sell, and we writer fellers would not write about that stuff if ya’ all didn’t buy it either.
No lest you think that this is a dementia-induced rant of a doddering old flatulent—which it may be, but I’m hoping is not—I tell you this for a reason. Since I am completely on my own now, I have no specific boss to lie down for, therefore I can write pretty much what I want. (I do have to avoid my natural tendency to go off on someone or something in a libelous sort of way.) I pledge to you this: I will never tell my readers an untruth, be it about a hunt—which I have never done, but I should specify anyway—or a product. Because I am on my own, my readers are whom I must be held accountable to. Without them, I am just another windbag who has bought some Internet bandwidth and speaks from the south end of his alimentary canal.
That means that I won’t always get some cool free stuff to play with. It also means that I am not on the short list for the newest guns and other stuff. It does mean that I must rely on a loyal following in order to promote my business. We have a symbiotic relationship: I provide you with solid information and—hopefully you will agree—informed opinion. You, in turn, help me by letting your hunting and shooting friends know of a source of credible information. I need traffic to this website in order to garner sponsorship—and I will be very careful as to which such sponsorships I seek. I also need readers—followers—who are dedicated and knowledgeable so that when I approach a potential sponsor I can say with accuracy that I have a pool of readers that are the core customers for their products.
This is my business plan. It is based upon honesty, integrity and real service to my constituency—no, make that my friends. Each and every reader is more than just a reader or a constituent. You are my friends, and we gunners and hunters need our friends. As a condition of that friendship, I further pledge to work my butt off to maintain your loyalty. If you like this blog, please share it and help me promote it. And if you think I fail to meet my obligation, feel free to tell me. Deal?