Larry Piercy is on his way from Old Town, Maine, where he has been visiting the Old Town Trading Post, to Pennsylvania. Peering out through the diner’s windows in the pouring rain, I can see the custom van he drives, tricked out with Precision Airgun Distribution graphics, and the plain white enclosed trailer behind it that is nearly as large as the van itself.
The entity that most airgunners think of as Airguns of Arizona is actually two companies. There’s Airguns of Arizona, which retails air rifles, air pistols, pellets, scopes and related gear through a shop in Gilbert, Arizona, and the internet, and there’s Precision Airgun Distribution, which imports airguns from various manufacturers around the world and provides them to dealers throughout the United States.
Piercy is National Sales Manager for Precision Airgun Distribution, and his job is to support existing dealers and to introduce potential customers (mostly gun shops) to the wide world of adult precision Airguns. Over the past two-and-a-half years, he has literally been from Maine to California and from Florida to Washington and a lot of places in between.
He observes that 90 percent of potential airgun dealers want to learn about the technology and handle the guns. The Precision Airgun Distribution van is set up as a rolling show room so they can do just that.
“They are shocked at the technology and the accuracy of the guns,” Piercy says. “Most have no clue about the world of adult precision airguns, so a lot of what I do is education, giving prospective dealers an idea of the full range of airguns.”
He adds, “I run into basically two types of people: those that really enjoy the outdoors, hunting and shooting. With them, I emphasize that airguns can expand the places that you can do hunting and shooting, and that airguns are often a good solution for nuisance wildlife control in places where firearms would be inappropriate. And then there are the business people, and there you emphasize the profit to be made and the increase in the base of the business.”
“Of course, there are some who don’t want to take time to learn about airguns. Most are either new in the business or they have been at it forever and don’t want to change.”
In his travels, Piercy has learned to talk with all kinds of different people, and there are geographic differences. “In Vermont, they expect you to shoot the breeze for a while before you get down to the purpose of your visit, but in California, they want none of that; they expect you to get right down to business.”
“When it comes to visiting existing dealers, that’s always a call I never mind making. Dealers really appreciate that we stop in and to see how they are doing. If we make arrangements in advance, a lot of times they will notify their customers, and the customers show up. That’s always fun.”
He adds, “Dealers will share issues they might be having. We take a look at how we can meet their needs, so they are successful and we are successful. If we can do something about the issue, we will. If not, we get back to them and let them know why. I really enjoy those calls on the dealers, and a lot of times afterwards they place an order.”
He notes that one of the dealers – Holland Shooters Supply in Powers, Oregon – uses airguns to train people for thousand-yard shooting with firearms. After a day-long “chalk talk” about the intricacies of long range shooting, half of the following day is spent shooting with airguns where the instructor can observe the students’ technique without the problem of recoil.
A third element in Piercy’s job description is to represent Airguns of Arizona at airgun shooting events. “There’s an old saying that if you want people to show up at an event, provide food. Well, if you want airgunners to show up at your van, provide air.”
Toward that end, there are two compressors aboard the van. One is electric, and the other is powered by a six horsepower Subaru engine. In addition to a wide variety of air rifles and air pistols, the van carries a number of parts (including o-rings) as well as a selection of tools and a small work bench.
“There have been at least two times at national or regional events where I have been flagged down by an airgunner in distress even before I got parked,” Piercy says. “One required a complete teardown of his gun just two hours before the event and the other had blown an o-ring. In both cases, I was able to get them to the firing line on time.”
Reflecting on his job, Piercy says, “I like it. I get to meet a lot of neat people, seeing a lot of things you don’t see from the air. This current trip has been a long one, and I’ll be more than ready to get back home.”
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott