Early last year the board of trustees of Peoples Rights Organization, an Ohio firearms rights advocacy group that among its many missions also conducts firearms safety training, was approached by C&E/ShowMasters Gun Shows to work with them in presenting gun shows in the Buckeye State .
One of the responsibilities PRO took on was to run a National Rifle Association recruiting table in the front lobby of each show. Since this group had already been listed as a NRA recruiter some years past, they jumped right in, but they had never recruited more than a couple dozen members at any event. And, when they were told they should work at recruiting at least 5 percent of the attendees at each show, they gulped hard, thinking this was a bit aggressive.
It was when you do the math! That’s 300 membership signups if there are 6,000 customers. When PRO (author's note for full disclosure: I am one of those members of the PRO Board of Trustees) contacted the NRA recruiting office in D.C. they requested enough kits for 1,000 people. This made sense because three big shows and two Basic Pistol Marksmanship/CCW classes were to take place in a six week period in August and September of 2008. However, the staff at NRA HQ told our point man that we should only order enough for 100 for each show. He was told this is all most recruiters achieved at a gun show.
Fortunately, AND I MEAN FORTUNATELY, others made contacts for him and he was able to obtain applications and 500 hats for giveaways. Still, the feeling at the NRA was that we should not get our expectations up too high, as we were being too optimistic.Without any experience in putting together a professional sales booth, they relied on the NRA’s recruiting supplies catalog to build a fair looking set of tables and banners. This really helped.
It was our first time out of the gate, we were quite pleased by that big number. This initiation provided just enough experience for the small group of firearm safety trainers to be prepared for a historical election year gun and ammunition buying spree. By the September 2008 show, the American public began to fear the likelihood of an anti-gun candidate (well, neither was pro gun, but then Sen. Obama was definitely gun "unfriendly") getting elected president.
It seemed too easy. Even on the slower day of Sunday, when the church-goer crowd arrived, a high percentage of those walking in would stop at the table to join. The only people we could not sign up were those that had just renewed via a NRA phone recruiter or were already life members.
By the end of 2008, NRA headquarters was swamped with membership applications. But our happy little bunch of men and women, many of whom who donate their time as a community service by teaching firearms safety classes and doing advocacy work at the Ohio Statehouse, was not fully aware of the national situation.
This was PRO's first year of serious involvement in this activity, so the numbers of people signing up, we thought, was either the norm -- OR we were some awesome sales people! Neither was true. When our point man contacted HQ as to why it was taking so long for new members who had signed up to get their membership packets, cards and magazines (we were seeing and hearing from people who wondered why they had not yet received membership packets), the office worker expressed some . . . well . . . frustration.
Oh, by the way, did I forget to mention (as if you didn't already know) that there is a severe ammunition sales volume causing at least one industry some success? An issue that is not being reported by the legacy media? Nevertheless, firearms owners know. Law enforcement knows. Competitors know. Hunters know.
The NRA is getting, and will have plenty of support, because their recruiters across the nation are easily exceeding their goals. Because the American public is increasingly aware of the fagility of their Second Amendment rights.
I can't speak for recruiters in other areas of the U.S. , but for our merry little band in Ohio ? We are loving it!