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From the History Books Historical

Daisy Red Ryder Still Introducing Youngsters to Shooting

by Jim Bequette   |  December 21st, 2012 5

Red-RyderShooters, hunters and gun owners in general are always searching for ways to attract youngsters to the shooting sports. It’s definitely a focal point for organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association and Youth Shooting Sports Alliance. And while the editorial staff at Guns & Ammo tries to cover all aspects of shooting and firearms, it’s sometimes difficult to stress how important it is to convince parents to introduce their kids to the shooting sports.

Many companies have youth programs, but one company has taken that extra step. That extra step is one that many gun owners are very familiar with. Does the name “Red Ryder” ring a bell? Daisy, located in Rogers, Ark., still makes the iconic Red Ryder BB gun. Millions of people can relate to it as the very first “firearm” they owned and used.

“We did a survey several years ago, and Daisy had an 83 percent brand awareness—that’s up there with Coca-Cola,” says Daisy President Ray Hobbs. “It really seems like everyone learns to shoot with a Daisy.”

How many Red Ryders do you think end up under the Christmas tree every year? I gave my granddaughter, Cali, a Red Ryder for Christmas when she was barely 4 months old (it’s never too early).

“The Red Ryder is the icon of Daisy,” Hobbs adds. “The Red Ryder is passed down from grandfather to father to son or daughter. We had a letter from a couple a [few] years ago stating that every Christmas they give their new grandchild a Red Ryder. They’d already bought a dozen of them and hoped they may have to get a dozen more.”

The multi-tiered youth shooting educational curriculum Daisy has developed is part of its “Taking Shooting Education on the Road” program. It’s already up and running in major outlets such as Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Walmart, Tractor Supply and in “‘mom and pop’ dealer stores” (to use Hobbs’ description).

“We’ve developed an entirely new program to teach kids how to shoot,” says Hobbs. “We’ve partnered with programs like the ‘Take Aim’ Jakes program [instituted by the National Wild Turkey Federation] to expand our reach.”

A brief overview of the program starts with what Hobbs calls “an inflatable shooting range.” Thanks to the Potterfield Foundation (started by Midway owners Larry and Brenda Potterfield), which supplied trailers to haul equipment around the country, the mobile airgun range program now has hundreds of inflatable ranges being circulated to every type of shooting venue imaginable.

How successful has the program been? A conservative figure Hobbs offers up is that 100,000-plus kids a year are exposed to shooting via the inflatable range program. And ultimately, Hobbs notes, it can lead them to competing in the Annual BB Gun Championship for 8- to 15-year-olds. Last year, 53 teams from 28 states competed in the event.

“We’ve also initiated a pilot program or project with state game and fish organizations where we’ve developed a template in which shooting ranges are in place in, for example, nature centers,” Hobbs says. “We’re hoping to create enough interest to expand the program to as many states as possible.”

Daisy’s motto, “Teaching America to Shoot One Shot at a Time,” has never seemed more appropriate. “We’re set on teaching the enjoyment of the shooting sports,” Hobbs says. “There’s a business side to it, of course, but it’s a lot bigger than that. It’s about making certain the shooting sports are preserved for future generations.”

A tip of the G&A cap to Daisy and Ray Hobbs for having the vision to establish such a wonderful program.

  • Joe Sobotka

    I had one when I was a kid. I really missed it, so I bought one about 5 years ago. Its great fun for plinking out in the yard! (I live in the midde of nowhere).

  • Richard

    Thank God for traditions !

    Thank you Red !

  • John Grychak

    I remember my first "Red Ryder" BB gun. It was Christmas of 1948. I couldn't wait until next day to get out and shoot it. I didn't sleep soundly that night, because I was so excited. I have since, progressed responsibly up the line with different guns, to me of pleasure, I don't believe in hunting/killing of any animal, I like to target shoot, as that's what I've always done for my pleasure. I would not change anything of my past, as far as owning/enjoying guns. The only difference over the years that has changed, is now I have guns to protect my family against any crazies, and crazies is the majic word. I do believe that any parent who owns guns should have them locked, especially with kids around, of any age, I might add. If anything were to happen with one of your guns, you should be held responsible for the actions. These gun nuts that seem to come out of the woodwork, whenever some violent crime is committed, are wrong to penalize all of us, for what one crazy has done. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, this is mine.

  • Lopaka Kanaka

    I purchased a Daisy Red Ryder rifle when I was 10 years old for $4.95 and used to shoot at targets in the river floating by us boys. Several of my friends had Daisy Red Rider rifle and we would go down the river as offen as we could. That is how i got started learning how to shoot a rifle B4 I joined the Army to shoot a real rifle and 1911 A-1. I purchased my Grandson a Daisy Red Ryder B-B rifle and he Loved his rifle. The next step is a 22 rifle and then a 30 caliber rifle to go hunting.

  • Dwight Hill

    I remember my first gun , a " Red Ryder ". I kinda hoping that my cousin likes me buy one for her boys . It's a lot of fun !

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