Keith Higginbotham, The President of Gamo Outdoor USA, Talks To HAM – Part One.
Keith Higginbotham is the President of Gamo Outdoor USA. That includes Daisy, BSA and NAP (New Archery Products) in the US.
He took some time to talk to Hard Air Magazine Publisher, Stephen Archer, about the company, its products and direction. Keith also shared some background about himself and his interest in shooting airguns in this exclusive interview.
It’s such an interesting story that we’ll be running it in two parts. Let’s take it away…
Hard Air Magazine: Keith, as President of Gamo Outdoor USA, can you please tell us a little about your time in the company?
Keith Higginbotham: I was hired as President of Gamo Outdoor USA in October of 2014 and we’ve seen such change since then. Our product line has streamlined and strengthened. We put an emphasis on innovation and the results have been stunning – including producing the world’s first 10-shot break barrel with the Swarm Maxxim.
We’ve continued to improve the traditional designs, always pushing for faster and more accurate and effective. But we want to take adult air rifles to the next level, and maybe single shot break barrels is not where that is. Maybe it’s pneumatic, or multi-shot break barrels, or larger caliber guns that can be utilized to take bigger game…
(Note that this giant replica of the Gamo Swarm Maxxim is not what Keith means by “larger caliber airguns”! This was seen at the 2017 IWA Show.)
But Steve, I’ll tell you one thing – our Whisper technology, CAT trigger system and other features are second to none and prove our dedication to making a better air rifle.
Hard Air Magazine: Are you a shooter? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of the sport?
Keith Higginbotham: I’m like most of us in the industry – I love to shoot and feel we must participate to grow the business.
Shooting teaches us so much – discipline, focus, concentration, physical control – but it’s the mental side that I think is the most beneficial.
When shooting I can let my troubles go to the backburner and focus solely on the task at hand. It forces you to let go of everything else. The satisfaction of hitting the target improves your mental state, and it gives you the motivation for improvement, to make each shot better than the last.
Hard Air Magazine: When did you start shooting? And (of course), did you start with a Dairy Red Ryder?
Keith Higginbotham: Research has proven that more shooters take their first shots with a Daisy Red Ryder and I’m no different. The number of BBs I put downrange as a boy is unreal!
I think about that a lot now that Daisy is one of our brands. You never think about it when you’re young, but those lessons we learn while plinking around with our Red Ryders shape our lives.
Gun safety goes without saying – you can’t spend as much time with your BB gun as we did as a youth and not learn gun safety – but it’s so much more than that. It taught me responsibility – I messed up and that gun was taken away from me and I really had to work to get it back.
It taught me respect for guns and an understanding of cause-and-effect. I knew that if I shot that window it would break, and I’d lose my gun, and beyond that, that it was the wrong thing to do. So there’s a whole series of life lessons to be learned with a BB gun. I’m humbled by the responsibilities that I now have of making sure generations continue to learn those lessons.
Hard Air Magazine: What’s your favorite model in the current range of airguns sold by Gamo Outdoor USA? And why?
Keith Higginbotham: In the Gamo line? As you can see from the photo below, as there’s so many Gamo models, that’s a hard question to answer. But the Swarm Maxxim is a great choice. Once you use it for a while, the 10-shot magazine is so handy.
That system was adapted from the design of the Urban PCP, and that gun is even easier to shoot because you don’t even have to break the barrel – just work the bolt. But I do like the independence that a break barrel gives you, where you’re can get away from the air tank and go out in the woods all day if you want.
Of course, if you let me expand my choices, my truly favorite air rifle is the Daisy Red Ryder. Like your first love, you never quite get over that first Red Ryder.
Hard Air Magazine: Of course, the Gamo Storm Maxxim was a great hit at the 2017 SHOT Show. Can you tell us something about the thinking behind that new model and the development work behind it?
Keith Higginbotham: We wanted to incorporate multi-shot abilities into a break barrel, but that was not all there was to that goal. We didn’t want the 10-shot capability to be the whole story. Ten shots from a poor quality or cheap gun isn’t what we wanted.
We wanted a quality break barrel with 10 shot capability, which is what we got with Whisper Maxxim noise reduction, Inert Gas Technology instead of spring action, the Custom Action Trigger (CAT), an SWA Recoil Pad, Recoil Reducing Rail and a good scope.
To put all that plus 10-shot capability into a single gun and present it to the public for less than $200 – that’s something to be proud of.
Hard Air Magazine: In the last 18 (?) months, Gamo was purchased by a US Venture Capital company which, more recently, also purchased Daisy. Can you tell us how these acquisitions are benefitting Gamo and Daisy customers?
Keith Higginbotham: Teaming these two brands together is producing benefits the consumer has yet to see.
Information and technology sharing is one – we have several innovative new products in the works that are only possible because the two brands are working together. I think fans of both brands will be happy with the future product introductions!
Another advantage will be the simplification of getting products to the consumer. We doubled the size of the Daisy facility and moved Gamo into the same building, which simplifies everything from shipping to invoicing.
Hard Air Magazine: Gamo Outdoor USA is now headquartered in Arkansas, with the former Daisy operation. Can you give us a sense for the advantages in moving the Gamo US operation from Florida to Arkansas?
Keith Higginbotham: People often overlook one of the main advantages of the Gamo/Daisy location – it’s the reason Daisy moved here in 1958 – we’re very near the population center of the US. From Rogers it’s easy to ship east, west, north and south.
And it’s not just moving Gamo USA to join Daisy in Arkansas, but our Rogers facility is now the main operating facility for Gamo International.
I was named CEO for Gamo International in August, 2017. This adds responsibility and ability to the US facility to direct manufacturing facilities world-wide, including our plant in Barcelona, Spain, and those in other countries.
We’ll be continuing this interview in a second part very shortly. Check back to read more about HAM Publisher Stephen Archer’s exclusive interview with Gamo Outdoor USA President Keith Higginbotham.