The longer I’m involved in competitive shooting, the more I find myself changing my thought processes in regard to competition and ambassadorship. When I first started shooting, I would squad with the same people at every match I attended. It’s always fun to squad with friends and catch up with people that you may only see once or twice a year. Then, one day at a match, I was eating lunch with everyone at the Old Fort Gun Club pavilion and I overheard a little boy tell his dad that he wished he could shoot in the squad with the kids in jerseys. He was obviously a brand-new shooter and was interested in learning from the “sponsored” shooters. His dad told him that that would never happen because those folks only shot with other sponsored shooters and their friends.
Right then and there, I decided to take a different approach my ambassadorship. Don’t get me wrong, I know that everyone has ideas of how to do things and what works for them. To some shooters, winning is all that matters, and some are there for the camaraderie and fun of shooting. I love to win, and I always do my best to make that happen. The downside to that is that sometimes when we are so focused on the match, we lose sight of the most important aspects of the “sponsored shooter” game, ambassadorship.
A brand ambassador is a person hired by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so help to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics. Sorry, I sometimes get a little long-winded. Back to my story …
Sitting in that pavilion in Arkansas, I decided to do something silly, even stupid, to some of my shooter friends. I started squadding with people I didn’t know! What? Am I crazy? No, I don’t think so. My job as a brand ambassador is to spread the word about the companies I represent. If I squad with everyone wearing the same jersey as I am, then how do new people learn about the quality and reliability of the equipment I use?
The first time I did this was at the Rimfire World Championships at Cavern Cove in Alabama. I ended up being in a squad with a bunch of self-described “grandmas.” We had a wonderful weekend shooting together. They were interested in my guns and other equipment, and from what I’ve been told, a couple even bought Volquartsen guns! I can’t describe the feeling of knowing that you’ve helped a company you work with and helped someone increase her shooting abilities because she was able to shoot with you and ask questions. I know I’m nothing special in the shooting sports, but I can help folks a little bit sometimes, even if that help comes from a kind word of encouragement or letting someone use my gun when hers breaks down.
I’ve also shot matches with kids and families that didn’t have enough equipment to go around, and I had spares so I could share. My favorite is to shoot with new shooters that may be nervous or worried. A kind word or comment from a “kid in a jersey” can help another kid relax or not feel like it’s the end of the world if a stage goes wrong. We were all there at one time and I never want to forget that.
A few years ago, a Volquartsen teammate of mine, Tim Norris, took some time out of his lunch break at a match to help me speed up my transition times. I will never forget that. This was my first match and he was the “kid in the jersey.” OK, maybe an older kid! Nevertheless, he took the time to help me when I really needed it.
Like I said earlier, everyone has a different approach to ambassadorship. I personally feel that my job as brand ambassador takes precedence over my needs to some extent. Super squads are great and I love to hang out with my friends, but I’ve made many new friends by stepping out of my comfort zone, and I would encourage you to do the same thing. Making friends and spreading the word about the shooting sports is a job I love to do!