What Having A Shooting Sponsor Actually Means

Sig Sauer

Sponsorship: What Does It Mean?
When you watch competitive shooting videos on YouTube or show up at a match yourself, you might wonder what’s up with the people who are wearing fancy shirts imprinted with logos of different gun-related companies.

sig sauer sponsored shooter

The author’s shooting jersey, showing all of her sponsors

Many, though not all, of these shooters have been sponsored by the companies named on their shirts. Sponsorship can be awarded for a variety of reasons including a company wanting to associate with a high profile champion, to support a personal friend in the sport, or to promote the growth of a certain demographic in the shooting world. While many sponsored shooters excel with their chosen firearms, shooting skill is not always the only or even biggest factor for a company selecting who it sponsors. In most cases, sponsorship is one of many marketing tools available to a company, and sponsored shooters are selected with an eye towards that function.
sponsored shooter

Images of Team SIG member Mason Lane were used in full-size ads at SIG’s 2016 SHOT Show booth

There is no one definition of what it means to be a sponsored shooter, so you can’t assume what level of support one might receive. Every sponsor relationship is individual in terms of what is provided and expected. A sponsored shooter might get anything from discounted or free products or services to monetary support, normally in the form of free match entries. It’s very rare for even top shooters to be able to shoot all that they would like and to make ends meet with just sponsorships, and they often supplement with day jobs that may be inside or outside of the firearms industry.
While it might seem like sponsorship is about free or cheap “stuff”, the relationship goes both ways. In return for support, sponsors expect their shooters to be brand ambassadors. That’s one of the many reasons sponsored shooters wear logos on their clothing and talk about their sponsors in person and on social media. Sometimes, you’ll also find them doing giveaways of samples, free gear, and discounts to help promote their sponsors’ products and services.
Some sponsors will also ask their shooters to work booths at matches or shows, present awards or prizes on their behalf at events, or appear in educational or advertising material. Sponsored shooters are often also accessible as local representatives who can help you with questions you might have about their sponsors’ products or who have products on hand so that you can touch and feel before buying.
Sig Sauer

Some of the author’s personal and demo grips, with various treatments and in different sizes for shooters to try in person

In addition, companies may work with their sponsored shooters to develop new products or incorporate feedback on existing products. Whether that feedback is from the shooter testing prototypes or bringing new ideas to a company, or from the shooter communicating what they hear from others that they interact with at matches or through social media, sponsored shooters are an avenue for real-world input to product design.

shotshell vest

An Invictus Practical DeTurk Vest – Lite, developed by Invictus Practical with its shooter, Dean DeTurk, as an innovative chest-mounted shotshell carrying solution

So next time you see a shooter in a fancy shirt covered with gun company logos, don’t be intimidated. Sponsored shooters are just as friendly as everyone else in the firearms community. They might have a slightly different relationship with the companies that support them, but they’re still just there to shoot and have fun like you.
Do you have any sponsors for your shooting pleasures? If so, please let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Gun Carrier YouTube Channel.


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