The Outdoor Sportsmen's Group is headquartered at #2 News Plaza in Peoria, IL.  While you may not have heard of the company, you surely recognize and probably grew up with their dead-tree publications:  Guns & Ammo, Firearms News (formerly Shotgun News), Handguns, Shooting Times, and many more.  Employing scores of staff, you would think these people would live and breath die-hard gun culture, would you not?

We thought so in Central Illinois.  Which is why we invited them to attend any Guns Save Life monthly meeting right smack in their backyard in Peoria, IL.  We even invited them to come and promote their publications and company. 


That was years ago.  In the meantime, what have we gotten back? 


Crickets chirping.

With nearly one hundred people showing up each month at the Peoria location, it's a happening meeting in the heartland of America.  The old expression "If it plays in Peoria" carries more than a bit of truth about the river town and its cross section of peoples.  And Guns Save Life plays well in Peoria.  Our past speakers – just at the Peoria site these past five years – have included industry professionals, training experts, war veterans, lawyers, cops, judges and even a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

GSL has thousands of members in a total of 39 states.  We work as an influential gun rights group in the Land of Lincoln and beyond.  Our highway sign program is seen by a half-million people a day.  We meet in six cities across Illinois each month and our monthly journal GunNews has a circulation of nearly 20,000 per month.  No, it's not Guns & Ammo's 400,000, but then again, GSL does not hire any big (or little) companies to create our publication.

So we found it surprising that none of OSG's dozens of staff members have once bothered to come out.  Or if they have, they've kept a pretty darn low profile.

Here's the list of publications – all with their headquarters at #2 News Plaza in Peoria.

  • Bowhunter
  • Florida Sportsman
  • Fly Fisherman
  • Game & Fish
  • Guns & Ammo
  • Gun Dog
  • Handguns
  • In-Fisherman
  • North American Whitetail
  • Petersen's Bowhunting
  • Petersen's Hunting
  • Rifle Shooter
  • Shallow Water Angler
  • Shooting Times
  • Shotgun News (Now Firearms News)
  • Walleye In-Sider
  • Wildfowl

In the interests of fair disclosure.  late 2014, when we called out Guns & Ammo for their glowing review of the problematic Taurus Curve, they threatened to sue.  Ironically, when we published their threat to sue, that story effectively tripled the reach of the original story to nearly a million reads – almost two and a half times more than the circulation of the original Taurus Curve story in Guns & Ammo

Once more, after calmer heads prevailed at Guns & Ammo's then publisher, we had no hard feelings.  We had merely called them out on what we saw as a blatant, advertiser-driven "promotion piece" and life goes on for everyone involved.  Once more we invited them to come out and introduce themselves.  That was at the end of the year 2014.

Guess what we've heard since:


Now, we realize that the economy and trends in dead-tree publishing have not been kind to the Guns & Ammo family of mags, judging by the declining number of pages found in the magazines.  However, we have to think that at least someone at the Outdoor Sportsman's Group would want to join us to advocate for defending gun owners' rights to defend themselves, right?  And for their writers' right to receive and test those guns provided by manufacturers, correct?

Nope.  Apparently not.

Or if they have, they kept a low, low profile and didn't reveal themselves to us.

Which leads many to question whether or not these people really are truly part of the gun culture.  We can't help but wonder if they look at their jobs at these publications as nothing more than a paycheck.  And maybe a stepping stone to something bigger.

It would not be without precedent that G&A staff aren't all dead-set opposed to gun control.  We know how even Dick Metcalf penned a piece supporting gun control at Guns & Ammo in late 2013.  In that piece, the then long-time contributor to G&A wrote:

I wondered whether those same people believed that just anybody should be able to buy a vehicle and take it out on public roadways without any kind of driver’s training, test or license.

I understand that driving a car is not a right protected by the Constitution, but to me the basic principle is the same. I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have the right to bear arms, but . . .

and then he closed with this:

I don't think that requiring 16 hours of training to qualify for a concealed carry license is infringement in and of itself.

But that's just me.

Ol' Dick might be a nice guy, but if he doesn't view a 16-hour training requirement to exercise a Constitutionally protected right as an infringement, then he is just plain wrong.  And gun owners nationwide agreed.  Only after an angry reaction from every corner of the gun world did the then-publisher finally fire Mr. Metcalf.  His termination effectively ended Metcalf's career writing about firearms.

Last year, when I originally penned this story (but later held it on the hopes that the OSG would come visit us), there were a number of employment positions available at the Outdoor Sportsmen's Group publishing headquarters in Peoria.  Interestingly, only the Associate Editor position mentioned any requirement for the applicant to have and maintain eligibility to possess firearms in Illinois.

Supplemental duties will include:

  • Contribute to OSG media outlets including online and television broadcast video.
  • Must be legally qualified and possess a current Illinois Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card. A copy will be kept on file with OSG’s Peoria office.
  • The Associate Editor will need a gun club membership or other access to areas for testing and photography.
  • Must be willing and able to travel on OSG business.

The other two positions – a managing editor and editor position – made zero mention of any requirement to maintain firearms ownership eligibility under state or federal law.  Imagine that.

Maybe these people really do just see their work as a job, not a calling.

That's probably one of many reasons why I let my subscription to Shotgun News lapse many years ago and my grandfather's subscription to G&A lapsed following his death many years before that.  I grew up pawing through G&A and the American Riflemen in my elementary school years and beyond.  Both nurtured my interest in the shooting sports, along with my grandfather.  I have no doubt I was not alone in poring over those magazines as a young person.

But today, other alternatives exist to nurture interest in guns, both online and in print.  From people who really do look at gun culture as a calling and not so much a paycheck.

8 thoughts on “Outdoor Sportsmen’s Group: Is the gun culture just a paycheck for firearm mag employees?”
  1. The lack of requirements of gun knowledge and ownership is amazing.  The two ranges I shoot at in Indiana require a NRA membership and a concealed carry license to be considered for membership.  Jim.

  2. I cannot speak to how this publication group is today, but it once was (the Shooting Times group) pretty much nothing but gun enthusiasts. PJS publications. The articles have always been biased to some degree which is understandable given their need for advertisers, but nothing like it is today. My biggest gripe is the lack of any real useable information in many of the feature articles which may be a reflection of the writer's own lack of knowledge. I still subscribe to a number of their publications mostly as monitary support for gun publications but rarely do more than glance at them and pass them on to a gun club library.

    Your article made me curious so I am going to spend some time getting to know their ownership.

  3. After a long hiatus I decided to re-subscribe to two of their publications about two years ago. They were deeply discounted prices, so I thought I'd give them another try. The magazines were much thinner than I was used to, authors were rehashing old topics, and the content was just not compelling-and there was always that suspicion "they never met a gun they did not like".  Even at something like $10 a year I just let it run out-wasn't worth the time or money. 

    The business office is in Peoria-but it is publishing and business going on there-not gunning or advocacy.

    BTW-in my less than humble opinion, American Handgunner remains tops in pistol related magazines.


    1. The business office is in Peoria-but it is publishing and business going on there-not gunning or advocacy.


      But how hard would it be to throw in some Advocacy?  Not too hard.

      That might scare off the Fudds though. 

  4. I'll bite.

    Dick Metcalf personified many of the Fudds I remember reading when younger.  Fat old white guys with their snub-nosed S&W of the week (or autopistols starting in the 80s).  Every one was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  More recently, they are whores to the advertisers.  GunTests is the only print magazine who I trust the reviews.  Even the NRA mags are highly suspect.  Any mag that doesn't pan a gun review now and then either are liars or they don't get their guns from any gun store I shop at.

    I am shocked that they've never come to a Guns Save Lives meeting.  Yeah, it sure doesn't sound very impressive.  They can't take an evening a month to come out and break bread with real gun owners – if for no other reason than to ask real people what they like or want in the marketplace!

    And seeing that you don't even have to be a gun owner, much less have a CCW license, to hold editorial positions?  Jesus H.  That's like inviting Shannon Watts to work at a gun store.  Or worse yet, Gabby Giffords' husband.  

    I subscribe to one gun magazine:  Recoil.  Because they have stuff useful for self-defense and some cool new stuff.  And it feels like a real magazine, too.  When the weather is nice, I enjoy it along with an adult beverage and sometimes even a cigar.  It takes me at least an hour or two to browse through it.

    Guns & Ammo?  Hell, I don't even pick that up when I'm getting my oil changed.

    Shotgun News?  Nobody advertises in it anymore.  What's the point?  Fewer, smaller pages and fewer bargains.  Again, why?

    The rest of those FUDD publications?  Piss on them.  In ten years most of them will be gone, about twenty years after they should have folded.

    And OSG can fold too.  Not like it'll negatively impact GSL!

    1. I am sad to say I remember those issues too.  Every issue had a new S&W.  Shorten the barrel half an inch and presto! a new model was born!  And it would become the most bestest awesomest thing to come down the mountain from God since the Ten Commandments.  Until next issue.  And the endless 9mm vs. .38 stories.  Then 9 vs .45.  Then 9 vs. .40. 

      You know what I never saw, and don’t to this day?  Stories on how we could get the right to carry those guns without a piece of tin in our wallets.  Or how we could fight to keep the right to keep those rifles and magazines.  It was like a fanboy club c lebrating something the rest of us could (maybe) only have at home.

      Gun rights Advocacy has never been their thing.  So, am I surprised they don’t come out to GunsSaveLife (not lives) meetings?  No.

      Hence why I do.  And why I support GSL.  And why I haven’t bought a subscription to any of those mags ever.  Sadly for them my dad died in 87 and along with him his subscriptions to G&A and others.

      Besides, GunNews just keeps getting better.

      The last time I picked up a Guns & Crap magazine it was just the same crap.

  5. I wish it wasn't, but what is – is. While even many years ago the gun writers were genuflecting to the gun manufacturers out of necessity, the writers were knowledgeable people with considerable real world experience about what they wrote and while they had to be careful about panning a gun, they certainly could and normally did tell you a lot about the gun and/or ammo they were reviewing. If you read between the lines you could even figure out their disguised criticisms: e.g. Ruger builds a very strong gun that is well worth the money and the money you save over the more premium brands will more and pay for some gunsmithing to improve the trigger pull.

    Many of the writers had a LEO background and a few were still so engaged at the time of writing. Others, like then Editor of Shooting Times, (George Nonte) had contracts with federal agencies and none of them were inclined to publicly stand out against gun control. (At the time, neither was the NRA who was heavily invested in the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.) That did not mean that privately they didn't have different thoughts.

    Despite laws regarding the illegality of concealed carry in most places, most of those writers knew that other than NYC those laws didn't apply to them, because of who they were. Any existing laws would just be overlooked for them and many others. Long before LEOSA many ex LEOs or retired LEOs carried without fear because of professional courtesy. In many areas, business owners carried because the local police told them they could and once in a while shot some nimrod crook without being arrested. Times were different.

    In full disclosure, I do subscribe to a couple of these magazines and get other gun magazines with memberships. None of them are really of much value. In fact, I only subscribe in the hope they will get better and survive. I actually take them somewhere and put them out for others to read.

    Could part of the problem be that none of editors or writers actually live in Peoria? From what I can tell they don't even live in Illinois.

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