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Like me, many sportsmen and women are always looking to improve their hunting and fishing gear.

Simply stated, we are gear-heads when it comes to fueling our passion for outdoor pursuits.

Ask any hunter or anyone who fishes and they will happily let you know that the amount of gear they own or wish to own, is a serious commitment to their sport.

We are always looking for ways to become better and any edge gained through gear or technology is an easy sell to this crew.

As a collector of outdoor gear for over 40 years, I fall deeply into that category.

Walleye baits, trout flies, turkey calls and shotguns, deer rifles and scopes, clothing, optics and, of course, my vehicles all represent my lifestyle and my unabashed feeling toward promoting the history and culture of hunting and fishing in my home state of West Virginia.

This past year has been, well, an unusual year to say the least and, hopefully, a new sense of normal may exist one day soon.

A fine example of unusual times exists, or in this case, doesn’t exist on retailers’ shelves across the county.

Ask anyone trying to find ammo, boats, fishing lures, or most any sporting goods and they are most likely they’re finding thin inventories or out-of-stock and notify-me-when-available messages.

To understand why this might be happening, I scoured the news for a reliable resource for some insight and landed on Southwick and Associates — a market research and economics firm, specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and other outdoor recreation markets for more than 30 years.

Here is what they recently published, titled “Southwick Associates releases reports on the size of the 2020 hunting, shooting and sportfishing markets”:

“2020 fundamentally changed the volume and types of hunting, fishing, and firearm-related products consumed. In response to many factors such as distancing requirements, social unrest, political changes, and more, demand reached unanticipated levels, creating challenges no business expected entering the year. To help businesses understand the size of the 2020 retail markets, Southwick Associates has released two reports, one covering the $10 billion fishing tackle market and the other covering the $24 billion firearms, hunting, and recreational shooting market.

“‘2020 presented many business challenges that both spiked and suppressed sales,’ said Nancy Bacon, Vice President at Southwick Associates. ‘COVID-19 and social issues drove demand to all-time highs. Simultaneously, the same factors resulted in depleted wholesale and retail inventories, closed factories, shortages of materials, and backed-up ports, causing significant supply pressures. These new market size reports are designed to help businesses better understand the new operating world.’

“All major categories tracked by Southwick Associates showed increases. After slight growth in the first quarter of 2020, firearms and ammunition sales exploded the rest of the year, experiencing growth exceeding 60% even with supply constraints. Hunting and shooting sports accessories also saw growth, along with fishing tackle retail sales that saw an overall 55% increase. For more information, please reach out to www.southwickassociates.com.”

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