MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Judging from the turnout at the recent Buckmasters Expo, the appeal of the great outdoors remains high, with plenty of spectators and vendors attending the 28th annual event in downtown Montgomery.
Jackie Bushman, Buckmaster Founder and CEO, said while the COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on many aspects of our lives, one positive did come from the restrictions. “Thank God, the pandemic is pretty much behind us,” Bushman said. “The only good thing I’ve seen out of it is the increase in the activities outdoors. The people in the outdoor industry can’t make enough product to meet the demand. As this pandemic fades away, we just hope the people who got a chance to enjoy the outdoors because of it will keep the same enthusiasm and share that vision with everybody.”
When he started Buckmasters 38 years ago, Bushman recalled that he would travel to outdoors shows across the country without any help. He erected his booth, took it down and moved on to the next show. “That’s how I signed up people for Buckmasters, every subscription,” he said. “I put everything up by myself and took it down by myself. Nobody came by to see if I needed to go to the bathroom. I said if we do a show, I’m going to help these folks get in and out. That’s what’s different about our show, and I’m proud of it.”
With participation in outdoors recreation high, those who hunt or participate in shooting sports have likely experienced the impact of the pandemic and sky-high demand for products.
Take ammunition, for example. Both Federal Ammunition and Remington representatives at the Expo said the overall availability of ammo is better, but some of the popular calibers for deer hunters remain in somewhat limited supply. “We’re making ammo as fast as we can – 24/7,” said Bill Becker of Federal. “There are still going to be some popular options that are going to be hard to find, but we’re making it as fast as we can. Demand seems to be leveling out a little bit. It’s not what we call the old normal, but the demand is still there.”
Remington Product Manager Ronnie Evans echoed Becker and said the number of new firearms owners also has the ammo manufacturers trying to catch up. “The industry as a whole just got overwhelmed by the amount of ammunition people are trying to buy,” Evans said. “In the last two years, we’ve had 14 million new gun owners. That’s a lot of ammunition for 14 million new people, not considering all the folks who have been buying for years. We’re making it as fast as we can.”
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