Georgia Resources Fire Up Shooting Sports Industry
Friday, January 21st, 2022
In a state that treasures individual freedoms, the right to bear arms is highly honored by an ever-increasing number of Georgia citizens. Boasting numerous recreational hunters and shooters, the state has scores of commercial and private hunting plantations and facilities, as well as sporting clays, skeet, and trap ranges. The state also has a strong military presence and is home to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. This avid consumer base, coupled with a pro-business environment and gun-friendly legislation, has attracted many advanced manufacturers in the defense, law enforcement, firearms, and shooting sports industries.
In addition to compatible cultures, Georgia’s superior logistics network, diverse workforce, and a strong military presence are cited by shooting sports companies as key reasons they located in the state. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recently named Georgia one of the Top 10 states in the country for gun manufacturing, with more than 70 innovative companies that manufacture, distribute, and sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment. These companies and their suppliers generate $1.5 billion in economic impact and employ more than 7,000 people as of 2020.
Georgians are proud to manufacture a product they value and enjoy using, and the state makes it easier for them by including development of advanced manufacturing skillsets among several high-demand career initiatives underwritten by free tuition.
Unusual Circumstances Bring Long-term Success
Taurus, a leading manufacturer of defensive, competition and hunting firearms, is extremely proud of its enthusiastic workforce. The company came to Georgia under unusual circumstances. While waiting out the effects of a hurricane in another state, a Taurus executive was with his family at one of South Georgia’s numerous hunting plantations. While there, he mentioned to his host that his company had outgrown their location and was looking to relocate. The host contacted the local development authority, and after conversations with state officials and visits to a site near a law enforcement firing range, Taurus was convinced that Georgia was perfect location for its new facility.
The company custom built a $22.5 million plant and corporate headquarters in Bainbridge, where it manufactures the Taurus and Heritage product lines and from which it imports and distributes its Brazilian-made Rossi brand. The plant opened in December 2019.
The state and community provided training resources so the plant could start operations on opening day. Taurus President and CEO Bret Vorhees praises the community support and great work ethic the company found in Georgia.
“Everywhere you go, people approach you,” states Vorhees. “They see our lanyards and they’re happy we’re here. We’ve had tremendous support in the community. People are interested in the product and eager to work, so we find it easy to hire and continue to grow.”
Shooting Sports Companies Respond to Increased Demand
Georgia is seeing bumps in gun licenses, background checks, and back-orders for firearms products, as well as increases in safety training, an important element for responsible gun ownership. This mirrors the growth in national demand as well. NSSF reports more than 8.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2020 and more than 3.2 million in the first half of 2021. To meet the increase in demand for their products, jobs and wages in the firearms industry are on the rise across the country, for a total economic impact of $665 million in 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Remington Firearms (RemArms), America’s oldest firearms manufacturer, is leveraging Georgia’s proactive climate to meet the growing demand. Governor Kemp, “a proud owner of some of Remington’s first-class product,” announced in late 2021 that Remington will locate its global headquarters, an advanced manufacturing operation, and a research and development center in LaGrange.
“We are very excited to come to Georgia, a state that not only welcomes business but enthusiastically supports and welcomes companies in the firearms industry,” said Ken D’Arcy, RemArms CEO. “Everyone involved in this process has shown how important business is to the state and how welcoming they are to all business, including the firearms industry.”
In 2018, Check-Mate Industries, the largest manufacturer of handgun and rifle magazines in the U.S., announced a new location in Georgia. It has invested more than $16 million in a new Thomas County facility to fulfill customers’ needs.
“Our decision to expand our operations into Thomasville is a key part of our strategy to meet the growing demands for our products and services,” said Joseph DeBello, Check-Mate Industries president and chief operating officer.
CONCLUSION: Georgia’s Aim is True
As in other industries, every firearms company is distinct. Depending on the product manufactured, requirements can include an indoor and/or an outdoor firing range, which can vary from 25 to 100-plus meters and needs to be in areas allowed by local ordinances. The Georgia Department of Economic Development partners with communities throughout the state to find locations that best meet the unique needs of these manufacturers and suppliers.
The state is also a consistent attendee at the NSSF’s annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), the premier trade show for professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement communities. Governor Kemp, an avid hunter and gun owner, will speak at the 2022 show, which attracts industry players from around the nation and world.
Firearms manufacturers and suppliers will find a welcome home to grow their business in Georgia. To learn more, visit https://www.georgia.org/GAFirearms.