Celebrating its “first” 20 years of activity, the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA) held its annual Plenary Session in Nuremberg, Germany, in conjunction with IWA 2016, the International Trade Fair for Hunting and Sport Shooting
As every year, the Plenary Session of the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA) as many good reasons to focus the attention on current political and market challenges constantly threatening all sport shooting and hunting activities.
But what attracted our interest has been the core part of this year event. This year in fact the WFSA general meeting has considered very important – as it is at all effects – to bring all attendees to reason very seriously on the strategic importance of Social Media and their understanding and active use to manage the interest of the sport shooting and hunting World.
The importance of Social Media - with all what they move at daily level for billions of people all over the World - is more or less clear to many of us.
But unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Gun Industry in general, where since few years companies has started using them for “product promotion” purposes, but not really that much to support active communication in defense of the sport guns market itself.
This is both a technical and cultural deficiency that should be recovered and filled up in the shortest possible time, in order to face and contrast the continuous attacks coming from anti-gun groups and legislations, that in various countries, often exactly using Social Media, with the ever-green excuse of “fighting terrorism and grant security” have been able to obtain consensus and bring to success several actions against law-abiding sport shooters and hunters.
The main focus of the various speeches held by experts like Andrea Luminati (Italy) and Daniel Morgan (USA) arrived to one same common conclusion: a strong need to have all companies in the Industry reviewing the way in which they communicate what and to whom in the market, using Social Media in an ever more competent and effective way.
A must-have strategy that unfortunately, still nowadays in 2016, seems to be not that easy to be accomplished by the most part of International companies, often not yet able to take advantage of digital communication over the WEB.
To empower these concepts, Mr. Rick Patterson, Executive Director at the US Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI), has announced that next month of October, the World Forum on Shooting Activities will host in Scottsdale (Arizona) an International workshop totally dedicated to Social Media, what they are and have become, explaining how they can be used to gain a better connection with the real people, other than just shooters and hunters.
The 2016 WFSA Plenary Session has been opened by a speech from Mr. Gilbert De Turckheim (France), former President of The European Federation of Associations for Hunting & Conservation (F.A.C.E.), who has been the keynote speaker for “True Conservation in a Modern World”, an analysis dedicated to sustain an ever more active communication of hunting to non-hunters, aimed to increase the understanding and acceptance of hunting within the European public.
The public’s opinions impact directly on the behavior of political decision-makers and subsequently their voting in hunting-related decisions. “We need to convey the value of hunting – said Mr. De Turckheim -, its value for conservation, for biodiversity, for rural communities and economies and not least its role as provider of a healthy food source”.
On the more general side – but as well, more critical – the current situation and possible alternatives concerning effective Gun Control strategies at International level, have been reported by two top level speakers: Mr. William Kullman (USA), Senior Advisor for International affairs at ATF and the United Sates Department of Justice; and Mr. Stephen Petroni (Malta), Chairman of the Foundation for European Societies of Arms Collectors (F.E.S.A.C.).
Mr. William Kullman has provided an overview of the United Nations Legislation on Firearms, then coming to what himself has defined a three-fold strategy, that in short can be summarized in:
1) work on a stronger presence in the rooms were the decisions are taken;
2) learn how to face and manage more strategically legal battles in defense of gun rights that often can last many years;
3) put the expertise of FWSA and the many other National and International communities at the service of our respective governments and lawmakers, to prevent political manipulations from the anti-gun front or unreasoned legislative actions.
On his side, Mr. Stephen Petroni has once more brought the attention at European level, where wrong and dangerous political decisions, that nothing have to do with the “contrast to terrorism” excuses used to vote them, are seriously endangering the social and cultural interests that characterize the sport shooting and collectors communities in Europe.
Strongly focusing on the threats caused by the current EU firearms directive amendment proposal, Mr. Petroni has discussed about the need for a proposal to reopen the EU Firearms Directive, clearly and once more asserting that “a contrast action will be possible only through a full cooperation between the manufacturers, the gun owners organizations and the stakeholders”.
As usual, the International studies and actions of the World Forum on Shooting Activities are focused on very delicate issues, with most of them unfortunately become very usual in last years.
So, what we can hope on our side is to see the reactions from the gun industry and the International organizations not as “usual” as in the past, but ever more strong, as the International political situation and consequent challenges for the market and sport related activities ask for.