There are a lot of questions I get both on and off the range such as “How do I become a sponsored shooter”? In order to answer this question, let’s walk through three main levels of sponsorship or recently referred to as ‘Brand Ambassadors’. Please note, there are varying levels within these three:
- Product Sponsorship
- Company Sponsored Shooter
- Company employee
The first level of sponsorship can vary greatly in the level of support. Some sponsors will offer a discount on their products to free products. From a monetary perspective, this could be $50 to $2500 in product. The thought going through your mind is how do I get free guns and ammunition? These are two of the most difficult sponsorships to get because everyone who is serious about shooting is looking to lower their out of pocket expense, and these two represent a lot of the annual money spent in the shooting sports.
The second level of sponsorship is a company sponsored shooter. This typically has several different levels of sponsorship within it as well. These are typically shooters who have a primary sponsor who has the majority of the real estate of their shooting jersey allocated to this company. They get free product from the company, match entry fees can be paid, travel can be paid, and supplemental items such as ammunition or guns to compete may be covered as well to different levels. Often times, companies have tiered sponsorship levels.
The third is a company employee. These are sponsorship levels where the shooter has a paid position with a company where they draw an income. In addition, the shooter shoots matches on behalf of the company where all travel and expenses are paid for. They may also receive free items from the company and may be incented on how they perform. This is often referred to the highest level of sponsorship.
Select companies who may be a good fit for you or your team. This has been my approach. Most of the sponsors I have are people who I reach out to because they have the best product in the industry. There are a few of the sponsors I have where I have been approached, and they fit my requirements to represent the best companies and the best people in our sport.
What is in it for them? It is important to keep this in mind. Companies spend quite a bit of money on sponsoring shooters as well as matches. Although these dollars are Marketing dollars, what do you have to offer? How is the company going to get a return on their investment? A lot of companies look at the number of matches you shoot, if they are major matches (State level or higher), what will you do for them with an online presence, etc. Sponsors are looking for a minimum of space on your shooting jersey as well.
Keep them informed on your progress. It can take time, but just like any relationship it comes down to communication. Sponsors always want to know how you are doing, what you did, and where you plan on shooting next.
The most important part about being considered for Marketing dollars is being a great ambassador to the shooting sports. Your reputation is one thing you cannot pay for. It can take years to grow and to develop and mere moments for it to be ruined so treat it with care. Great companies want to represent great people and those who give back. Are you one of these people? Just because you routinely finish in the top three in your division at your local match does not entitle you to a sponsorship with a company.
How do you go about being a sponsored shooter? Be a professional on and off the range. Develop a shooting resume. Provide a background of who you are as a person, who you are as a shooter, and what you are looking for. Be certain to share the major matches you have attended and which ones you plan to attend in the next twelve months. The majority of sponsorships run January through December. Most of the decisions are finalized in the fourth quarter of the year; IE October through December. Find the person at the respective company you need to reach out to and send them your shooting resume. If you can’t find the right person, most companies have a Facebook page or a ‘contact us’ and send them a note you are looking to get in touch with their Marketing Coordinator. If you get a return reply, send them your shooting resume and let them know what you have to offer. It is perfectly fine to follow-up, but there is a fine line between being persistent and stalking. So don’t be a stalker! Good luck!
Until next time, see you out on the range soon!