Syren pro-staffer Kate Ahnstrom runs through the how’s and why’s of hosting a Syren Demo Day.
“Do NOT go out and buy a shotgun.” When I tell my students this, their mouths usually gape open a bit in total disbelief. The fact stands, 99% of the people that want a new shotgun, have no idea what they want to purchase. Unlike most of your Amazon purchases, there is no return policy on guns – or even ammo, for that matter. You own whatever you purchase until you can either convince your buddy that she wants it more than you do, or sell it through an online site or your local sporting goods store. None of those options will ever recoup the price you paid, because it is technically now a used a gun.
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This is why I absolutely love hosting a Syren Demo Day. Twice a year, spring and fall, for a few hours at my home course, I will bring in Syren with a selection of inventory and some great swag so students, clients, even the general public may try before they buy. There is zero commitment to purchase, only encouragement to take advantage of the chance to shoot so many very fine shotguns in one event.
Syren Demo Day is a phenomenal way for a competition clay shooter to put her hands on the Julia Sporting to see what she can really do, or perhaps to shoulder the Trap Combo. A huntress will delight in being able to do a true side-by-side comparison with a Syren Elos D2, a Tempio Light and a Waterfowler to name a few.
The point of this day is to allow shooters, of all disciplines, an opportunity to push a variety of Syren shotguns through the paces so they can make the best gun selections for their particular applications. So, how does one go about finding a Syren Demo Day?
Easiest answer is to just host one of your own! The Demo Days, by nature, are a crowd favorite but, before you start shouting it from the rooftops, there are some key components and a few logistics that you will want to get sorted. Remember, a smooth-running event is always a great event.
Obviously, since the main purpose of a demo day is for the attendees to shoot, you will need a proper facility. Your local gun club that you already frequent is a great option. Saturdays and Sundays are the best days because people will be more available than say a random Wednesday. Typically, I love to set up a Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. This window of time allows a majority to enjoy a well-deserved leisurely morning and those with busy kid schedules to have the remainder of the afternoon for activities and social events.
Demo Day is best hosted at a 5-stand so that people may try a gun then pass it off quickly to the next person. For higher-level shooters, I will allow them to visit a nearby station on the course to shoot a few rounds. They tend to be more comfortable putting the gun through the true paces if they can get into a rhythm.
Schedule – You MUST pick a date that works for Syren so that the guns will be there. These guns are in very high demand and there are multiple events throughout the country that pull guns for demos, shoots and tournaments. Be sure to schedule! Call the main office in Cambridge, Maryland, ((410) 901-1131) to schedule.
If you love to host friends and family for small get-togethers, then this will be a drop in the bucket for you! While it may initially seem rather daunting to put together an event such as this, it’s really quite easy and has a natural flow.
The Crowd – The magic number of attendees is surprisingly low, just about 25 people. When I post this event, I cut it off at 30 people. It’s impossible to have a gun for every single person, so there is a fair amount of swapping in/out. There are only five shooter’s boxes on the 5-stand, and you don’t want to have people waiting for more than about 3-4 minutes, at the absolute most, in-between shots.
You should have at least two safety officers/coaches to assist down the line as people shoot. If you have an instructor at your disposal, that is even better. Remember, people are trying these guns and they should feel like they can hit clays with them, especially brand-new beginner shooters. As an instructor, I will still find a safety officer or two to assist me on the line to keep things moving, answer questions and help as needed.
Presentations – Inquire to the trap setters at the hosting course if they would kindly “loosen” up the presentations on the 5-stand. There should be a floating, soft incomer and a slower outgoing bird, as well as a nice, medium-speed crossing bird that just needs a foot or so of lead. A rabbit and a big teal also make for fun presentations. Feel free to throw in a couple more difficult shots for higher-level shooters, but the majority of the presentations should be easier. You can always throw report or true pairs to make it more challenging.
Safety – Inexpensive chalk boards from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s are great to welcome your guests and to post the safety rules. I will bring the safety rule chalkboard up to the 5-stand and use it when I welcome everyone at the opening of the event. Be sure to also introduce any Syren pro-staff and let people know that they are there to help answer questions. You may even be so lucky as to have Deirdre Lang, a sales representative from Syren/Caesar Guerini USA, in attendance to help with your event!
The most important thing: Know your ammo! I add in my safety briefing that we are using multiple gauges and it is imperative to match the correct shells to the gun. Don’t be bashful about this. Safety is NO accident. Tell everyone that every gun there has the gauge stamped clearly right on the side of the barrel. Let them know this is the time to ask questions. Don’t be embarrassed.
Flow – To kick it all off, I ask for five shooters to grab a gun, any gun and head into a box. Then, one by one we go down the line for each of them to shoot two to four shells each. That’s all. They will have two or three rotations and then the next five shooters will rotate in and have their shots. Quite often, there will be a small line at one box as there are multiple people that want to try a particular gun. The Syren Elos D2 and the Julia always have a following. After a few moments, you will see a natural flow progress as shooters rotate in/out of the boxes. Everyone is welcome to shoot more, but it’s important to get a gun in everyone’s hand at least once or twice before opening the flood gates.
Cost –Syren offers free demo days in connection with certain dealers and ranges which are also open to the public, so be sure to check the details for the specifics of each event. Syren also offers free demos at most major competitions where they attend. To demo a Syren at one of these state or national competitions, first check the event calendar for listings, then stop by the Syren vendor location and talk to one of their representatives. There is often no instruction with these types of demos at competitions, so if you are looking for more of a guided experience, you may want to keep an eye out for events that are specifically titled “Demo Day.”
I charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of clays and ammo. I prefer to supply the ammo so that a better brand is used instead of a jawbreaker load. By charging a small fee, you also “commit” people to coming to the event, instead of seeing a bunch of last-minute cancellations.
Just being able to try so many amazing shotguns is a treat in itself. Feel free to embellish as you desire. I like to put together a small bouquet of flowers and set up a table with a logoed tablecloth from Syren. That table will also hold any handouts, swag (stickers, pins, magnets) and giveaways. For the giveaways, I just use either a random name generator app on my phone that I preload the attendee list into, or I hand out a raffle ticket to each person as they check in.
For the spring demo that I host, I will provide bottled water and maybe Gatorade if it’s warmer. For the fall one, I might add in coffee. I’ve also put out a platter of cheese and crackers or little desserts. Most of that I put together myself at home. It’s nothing fancy, but just a nice touch. Again, this is just extra as the shining stars are the guns themselves.
Since these events are hosted rain or shine, a pop-up tent can be very useful. If it’s going to be more than a light rain though, I will cancel. No one has fun in a downpour.
Social media. Social media. Social media.
I mean share it far and wide and share it often. Make it into an event listing on Facebook. If you submit your event to Syren, they’ll be sure to post it and share it as well.
Canva also is your friend. It’s an easy and free app to create beautiful flyers and posters. Usually, you can produce a great flyer in under an hour. Don’t forget the QR code on the flyer to your listing on Facebook. This makes it even easier for people to mark it down on their calendars and have the pertinent details in a more permanent location. Be sure there is a good email/phone for the contact info. Some people will call to make a special request for a specific gun. Post a couple copies of your flyer at local clubs and sporting goods stores.
Ready to host your own demo day?! You’ve got this and it is so much fun. Feel free to reach out to me via email and ask me any questions about how to make your event a tremendous success.
Visit the Syren Event Calendar here for a list of demo days and events already scheduled.
Visit Syren online to see the fine line of shotguns designed especially for women.