Brad Bahe, regional sales manager for ATK, parent company for Federal Premium and other ammo and shooting accessory companies such as Weaver and Blackhawk, attended the three-day Summer Expo at the H&H Shooting Complex which ended Saturday.
Bahe sat down with The Oklahoman for a question-and-answer session about the state of the industry.
Q: Are Federal and the other ammo companies still unable to make ammo fast enough to keep up with demand?
A: Absolutely. Demand is far outstripping production. We are running as fast as we can and as efficiently as we can and getting as much out the door as we can. We are running our plants 24/7, every day of the year. They get holidays off, but other than that, they are running shifts 24/7.
Q: Has the industry experienced anything like this before?
A: I have been in the sporting goods industry for 29 years and have never seen anything like it.
Q: Any truth to the rumor that the government has been buying the majority of ammunition and that is why there is shortage?
A: No. That is not true. Our deliveries to the government have stayed about the same since the mid-2000s. We basically have two branches: Law enforcement/government and commercial. We are committed to servicing the commercial market, getting it the majority of our product.
Q: What has caused the ammo shortage? Has it been the public's fear of more gun control?
A: I think, originally, that might have been some of it. That kind of started the ball rolling, but the biggest thing is the influx of new shooters. I'm from Minnesota, and we've got a youth trap shooting league run by the high school. In 2010, we had 340 kids shooting in that league. This last year they had 3,400.
Q: Why did ATK recently buy Savage Firearms?
A: We've been kind of building our company around things that go with the gun. The one missing piece was a gun company.
Q: What are the plans for Savage? Will the product line expand?
A: We really haven't had much discussion about it. It's still pretty fresh. I don't know really what we are going to do with that yet. For right now, it's just kind of status quo.
Q: What are the trends in the gun industry?
A: Right now, we are seeing a huge interest in handguns and AR (assault rifle) platforms. They are popular because they are fun to shoot, accurate and can be easily customized with accessories to enhance performance or looks. Just trying to keep up with that demand is all a guy can do.