1. YSSA: How were you introduced to the shooting sports?
Imperato: My family has been in the gun business since 1911.
2. YSSA: What is your most memorable shooting or hunting experience?
Imperato: We regularly take a group of young kids from the New York City chapter of the Ronald McDonald House to a local range. Most never would have had the opportunity and they really enjoy the day.
3. YSSA: Are you concerned about reported declines in participation by youth in the shooting sports?
Imperato: My concern started several years ago and that is why I designed the Henry Mini Bolt, a single shot all stainless steel youth rifle with synthetic stock and Williams fiber optic sights. In addition we donate a significant number of Henry Mini Bolts a year to organizations that promote the youth shooting sports.
4. YSSA: What do you think are our greatest challenges in recruiting and retaining new shooters and hunters?
Imperato: Parents need to have the time, the desire, the place, and the disposable income needed to introduce their children to shooting and hunting. It’s a multifaceted challenge.
5. YSSA: What role does youth shooting sports programs play in your company or organization’s customer/member development process?
Imperato: A significant role. We have special programs for Instructors and ranges. We provide safety literature for handouts in the classroom. We support the IHEA, NRA Youth Programs, Boy Scouts of America, several others and the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance of course.
6. YSSA: How do you encourage your employees to contribute their time and talent to encourage youth to shoot and hunt?
Imperato: Even though our primary manufacturing facility is based in an urban area, we have several employees that enjoy taking their families to the local range, as well as hunting. We will assist them in taking families that generally would not have had the opportunity. Several employees participate in our Ronald McDonald House shoots. We also have a manufacturing plant in rural Wisconsin and those folks don’t need any encouragement. It’s a way of life out there.
7. YSSA: What would you encourage individual shooters and hunters to do to ensure our traditions remain viable in the future?
Imperato: Get youngsters involved in the youth shooting sports, whether its their children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews – or their friends. And most importantly don’t ever let your guard down – meaning we must continue our fight against those who want to take our rights and traditions away.
8. YSSA: What must clubs and shooting range facilities do to develop a “family-friendly” shooting atmosphere?
Imperato: The goal should be to make family time at the range the norm not the exception. Any business that wants families to visit frequently needs to concentrate on the basics: provide a safe, fun, affordable venue where families feel welcomed.
What people and/or organizations do you admire most for their
contributions in providing pathways for new shooters and hunters?
Imperato: I think that the real unsung heroes of our industry are the tens of thousands of Instructors who donate their time and spend their own money to teach firearms safety and hunter education. I salute them and thank them.
10. YSSA: Closing thoughts?
I have been in the business for 30 years and I think we are at our best at the moment for promoting the youth shooting sports. There was a period where we were outright ignoring it. There are many organizations now doing a wonderful job. However there is always room for improvement. Lets never give up.
For those who would like a free copy of the Henry Repeating Arms catalog, a list of dealers in their area as well as a free “Load On Sunday, Shoot All Week Long” Henry decal, call toll free 866-200-2354.