Hard Air Magazine Talks To Richard Turner, The New President of Umarex USA.
In this exclusive interview, Richard Turner, the new President of Umarex USA, talked to Hard Air Magazine Publisher Stephen Archer about the great things that are happening at Umarex.
Hard Air Magazine: Richard, congratulations on your latest promotion to President of Umarex USA! Please tell us a little about your new responsibilities in the company.
Richard Turner: Steve, first thanks for coming to visit us here at Umarex USA in Arkansas!
My new position gives me more encompassing responsibilities. In addition to sales, marketing and product development, I’m now responsible for operations, long-range planning and forward business growth. I’ve previously been part of the team for these aspects of the business, of course, but now they’re really my responsibility.
Hard Air Magazine: You’ve worked at Umarex USA for 10 years. That’s been a period of huge growth for the company. Can you describe some of the changes that have happened in that time?
Richard Turner: Well obviously the scale of the business has grown tremendously. Umarex USA started-out as small operation, now we have a sizable US team and large facility here in Fort Smith. And the market itself has also changed in this time. We’ve seen considerable growth in the US airgun market as technology has improved and user expectations have changed accordingly.
But there are some things that haven’t changed. Our aim has always been to serve the shooter. We have always provided great products that make the shooting experience better for the consumer.
Hard Air Magazine: Richard, I know that you are a lifelong shooter and outdoorsman. What’s your favorite outdoor pursuit?
Richard Turner: I LOVE hunting! I hunt with bows, firearms and, of course, airguns. In particular I love hunting with my kids. It’s been great to see their love of the outdoors grow to match mine. I started my kids out hunting squirrels and small game with airguns and they’ve grown to bigger game over time. And I also love catching fish. I’m not so keen on fishing itself, but catching them is just great!
Hard Air Magazine: When did you start shooting? And what was your first airgun?
Richard Turner: I started shooting with a Sheridan air rifle back home in Alabama. I was about 5 or 6 years old and in those days, it took all my strength to pump it up! A friend’s Dad put up a bounty on squirrels for us kids and paid for it with pellets. We were hell on the local squirrel population!
Below, the Umarex USA headquarters in Fort Smith, AR.
Hard Air Magazine: Richard, as a hunter, what’s your favorite quarry and what’s your preferred way to take it?
Richard Turner: For me, it has to be bow-hunting elk, even if that’s just because I do it less frequently. But I also love hunting duck, doves, turkey, deer, actually everything…
Hard Air Magazine: Some people don’t understand the link between Umarex and Walther. Can you explain for us?
Richard Turner: Umarex and Walther are two premium German companies that have the same owners. The employees work closely together and the brands are complimentary. This relationship works very well in both Germany and the USA.
Hard Air Magazine: Umarex USA has been very successful marketing airguns with firearms brands, like Ruger and Browning. But the new airguns launched at the 2017 SHOT Show were all Umarex-branded. Is this a change of direction for Umarex USA?
Richard Turner: No it’s not. We have several new branded products that were just not ready to show at the SHOT Show. You’ll see some exciting new offerings for our licensed brands later in the year.
Hard Air Magazine: At the 2017 SHOT Show, the Umarex booth was overwhelmed with exciting new products. Even more than usual, that is! Does this signal a new, aggressive direction for the company in the airgun business?
Richard Turner: Of course we have development goals to launch exciting new products every year, but we definitely had more ready to disclose for the 2017 SHOT Show. We’re always thinking about what advantages we can give to the shooter with new products, that’s the same every year.
Hard Air Magazine: In particular, there was lots of excitement at the SHOT Show about the new Umarex Gauntlet. Can you tell us more about this revolutionary new air rifle?
Richard Turner: PCP airguns have always offered great benefits, but the price has been too high for many airgunners. At Umarex, we feel that the Gauntlet offers an outstanding blend of features at an affordable price. As a fully-regulated 10-shot, bolt-action repeater with shrouded barrel and an MSRP less than $300, we think that Gauntlet will appeal to many, many shooters who currently do not have a PCP air rifle. I can tell you this: we’re getting lots of interest already!
Hard Air Magazine: The other big airgun announcement at the show – literally! – was the Umarex Hammer. Please tell us more about this new big bore air rifle and when we can expect it to be available.
Richard Turner: Yes, there was huge excitement at the booth about the Hammer, too. More and more shooters are getting into airgun hunting and more States are creating airgun hunting seasons. Like Gauntlet, the Hammer gives great performance for the price. It’s a value play that brings more new people into the category, and it offers some unique features, too. You should see it become available later this year.
Hard Air Magazine: I was also impressed with the huge new range of Axeon scopes at the 2017 SHOT Show. Axeon is a complete new brand for Umarex USA. Can you tell us how Axeon scopes are positioned in the market?
Richard Turner: Axeon is an optics brand – it’s not just scopes. Again, our aim is to offer great useable products at an affordable price. Axeon scopes offer clarity, resolution and overall quality. Actually, the first Axeon scopes are primarily intended for firearms use. You’ll see a hunting range with 1-inch tubes, 30mm tube tactical scopes and 34mm tube long range scopes with first focal plane reticles. Whatever the Axeon model, we’re encouraging shooters to touch, look through and evaluate our scopes and other optics.
Hard Air Magazine: Of course, Umarex USA has a long history selling ultra-realistic BB-firing firearms replicas. The newly-announced Legends MP was another huge hit at the 2017 SHOT and IWA Shows. What do you see as the future for the “airgun replica” market?
Richard Turner: Firearms replicas are great for collectors and they’re also fun to shoot! The Legends range is full of guns that are both cool to own and offer outstanding performance. And airgun replicas are also another entry point for people to discover airguns. At Umarex USA, we feel it is our responsibility to grow the entire airgun market. That’s good for everyone and the Legends MP expands the replica market in a big way…
Hard Air Magazine: And for full-power air rifles, do you see PCPs dominating the market in future, or do you think there remains a place for spring/piston and gas ram models in the future?
Richard Turner: One hundred percent, there will always be a place for break barrel air rifles!
There’s been great improvements in break barrel airguns over the last 10 years and I believe more will come in future. They are human-powered and easy to use. And break barrel air rifles are a tremendous training tool. I made my kids practice with break barrels – once they could shoot them well, they had learned consistency and gained confidence in their shooting. And, of course, break barrel air rifles will always hold a place as low cost “entry airguns” for many shooters.
Hard Air Magazine: In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the price of PCP air rifles fall dramatically – the Umarex Gauntlet is a prime example of this. But to me, the big problem is that the cost of filling with High Pressure Air remains so high. It can be more expensive to buy an HPA tank than the gun itself! How do you see this situation changing in future?
Richard Turner: As any market grows and shows further potential, then companies will invest more R&D to make more efficient ways to fill developing needs. I believe that this will happen as PCP air rifles continue to sell in ever-increasing numbers. Shooters are excited to use PCP air rifles and I’m confident we will see new developments in price/performance for the products that are used to fill them with High Pressure Air.
Hard Air Magazine: Richard, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I’m sure our readers will enjoy reading this interview as much as I have had talking to you!
Richard Turner: Steve, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for fighting your way out of the New York snow to visit us in beautiful, sunny Arkansas!
Photographs by Halea Wiley of Umarex USA.