HS Precision: It Wasn't A Fluke

May 19, 2009 - 11:43 am
Irradiated by Stingray
25 Comments

Since a benefit of registering with the 2nd Amendment Blog Bash for the recently concluded NRA convention in Phoenix was that we received actual media credentials, I felt it seemed only reasonable that I should attempt some act of actual investigation or reporting. I’d planned on the basic “Ok, here’s the convention, here’s something interesting” that every other blogger was planning on, but when I was looking through the map of the convention floor, I noticed something rather surprising and came up with a better idea.

H-S Precision had a booth on the show floor.

For those who may have missed the kerfluffle the last time around, H-S Precision is a stock maker that has fallen out of favor with large portions of the shooting community. Why has that happened, you ask? Because on last year’s catalog, they included a product endorsement by Lon Horiuchi. The linked wikipedia article is naturally a tad dry, and of course subject to the inherent drawbacks of being a Wikipedia article. LawDog has a more succinct summation of the incident in question, which I strongly suggest you read if you haven’t already. In fact, I strongly suggest you find a longer version as well, because the events surrounding Vicki Weaver’s death at Ruby Ridge at the hands of Lon Horiuchi can only be described, and this is the polite version, as “clusterfuck.” The short-short version is that Lon Horiuchi unlawfully shot and killed an unarmed woman during a standoff. When brought up on manslaughter charges, the FBI basically said “Nuh-uh. You can’t prosecute him.” and whisked him away to let him help foul up the Waco standoff, but that’s a separate fuckup.

After the shooting community noticed this rather galling endorsement, H-S Precision sat on their corporate hands for about a week and a half. Contrast this with Remington, who began responding to emails (as their products used some of HSP’s products) the very Saturday this all hit the fan, and have responded to other controversies with similar speed. After eventually deciding that using a product endorsement from a known and rather despised individual who could fairly be described as a murderer, they removed the endorsement and technically issued an apology. In reality, the apology was a very small graphical link on their website, and nothing else, to a statement essentially asserting “Fine, no endorsements from anyone will appear.” In other words, not actually an apology.

Backstory out of the way, let’s skip back to today. On noticing the H-S Precision booth on the NRA Convention floor map, I was genuinely curious about a few things. How on earth could Horiuchi have passed any company’s vetting process? ANY entry into google alone will bring up countless flags screaming “Not an ideal celebrity endorsement,” let alone the notion that any company would want to actively associate with the government actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Why wasn’t there any sort of actual apology? Is Horiuchi still affiliated in any way with the company, just not published as such? Media pass in hand, I felt it appropriate to try to get some answers.

Now before I press on, I have an unfortunate confession. I went into the interview at their booth with a voice recorder going. As it turns out, the recorder was malfunctioning, and while it indicated it was saving the interview for posterity, all it was really doing was creating a zero byte length file and wandering off to have a smoke and coffee. For once having an inkling of common sense spring to my head, I jotted down notes on everything once the interview (all sixty seconds of it) was concluded, but I would very much have liked to have H-S Precision’s own personnel offer their opinions in their own words here.

When I approached the booth, the first person I spoke to was a product specialist, and I was routed to the company PR man standing next to him. Damnably trusting my recorder, I didn’t get names on anybody. I asked if I could ask him a few questions, recorder in plain view, about the company and its policies, and he agreed.

“Sir, I have a few questions about your company’s vetting process. A few months ago there was an incident in which your spokesman was rather inadvisably selected, given the response from the shooting community. How does someone like that make it through your internals and onto the catalog?”

The convention floor was noisy and this took a second to sink in, but once it did his expression shifted instantly from friendly and eager to discuss to angry and downright furtive as he glanced around to see if anyone else was looking or recording.

“No comment. That never happened. He was never affiliated with us. No comment. Move along. We do not include product testimonials.” Added emphasis mine. He continued to chant the “no comment” talisman while making sure the other two H-S Precision employees got the notion that they should keep quiet too.

“What about the apology? Your company didn’t even — ” At this point, a white haired gentleman male stepped forward, visibly angry.

“What about an apology? Did they apologize for killing a US Marshall?”
“Did Vickie Weaver shoot him? Did the baby do it?”
“Well she was there! She knew damn well — ” at this point he was very animated and going red in the face. The original company spokesman tossed a few more “No comment!”s at me and physically removed the other individual to the back of the booth. The product rep I originally spoke to informed me that the interview was over and told me to leave the booth.

“You don’t have any answers for any of this?”
“No comment. You need to leave.”

As the white-haired defender of Horiuchi, who for reference I specifically never mentioned by name, had looked entirely willing and gearing up to physically hit me when the other rep moved him to the back of the booth, we did so. I later stopped by the McMillan booth to ask them about the incident. After waiting about five minutes just to speak to any rep at all, I was introduced to the daughter of the company owner. She very politely declined comment, although the gentleman who introduced me had responded to my questions as we walked around the booth that “Yeah, a lot of people had, um, ‘opinions’ on that incident…” I will point out that he technically said nothing either for or against H-S Precision.

Finally, since I’m not actually a professional journalist and thus not expected to even pretend to be fair and even handed, it’s time for your moment of schadenfreude. Below is a map of the NRA Convention showroom floor. I’ve circled the location of the H-S Precision booth in red, and the McMillan booth in green. Yes, the size disparity was even more striking in person. Click for big, it’ll help.
confloor

It’s also worth noting that at the H-S Precision booth all I had to do to speak to a representative was interrupt his coffee and conversation with the other reps. At the McMillan booth, they were popular enough that even though they had roughly four times the staff, I still had to wait about five minutes before it was my turn to get anybody’s ear. I had a good view of H-S Precision’s booth for a solid 20 minutes while standing in a line for something unrelated to this post, and during that entire time I still didn’t see anybody approach them.

And just in case there was any doubt that they missed the point worse than Horiuchi missed hitting any dangerous target, here’s their current slogan:
dscn0702

25 Responses to “HS Precision: It Wasn't A Fluke”

  1. farm.dad Says:

    great post , thanks for putting them on the spot . IMHO this will never go away , it wont for me anyway .

  2. pdb Says:

    “I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”

  3. Linoge Says:

    Wow. Full-blown denial, and violent denial at that… One thing is for certain – they seem to have gotten the message that the shooting community was upset about the situation. Unfortunately, it would also appear certain that they lack both the backbone and the integrity to apologize for their rather substantial mistake.

    Of course, the good news is that shooting community seems to have gotten the message as well.

    (As an aside, the larger version of the map appears to be broken, at least for me.)

  4. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    Going back tomorrow with a working recorder?

  5. Eric R. Shelton Says:

    You know, I was tempted to do the very same thing, but I didn’t want to endanger my standing as a first-time blog bash attendee. I’m glad you had the cajones to confront them. Thank you for that, and for reporting on it.

  6. Tam Says:

    I hope the folks at H-S Precision freeze in the dark.

    Nothin’ personal, of course.

  7. top of the chain Says:

    Being late to this particular boondoggle, I guess my education is somewhat lacking. I have read lawdog’s take on this, and I gotta agree with Tam. I second what she said.

  8. bluntobject Says:

    “Well she was there! She knew damn well — ”

    …wow. Every time I think I’m jaded, the universe goes and invents a lower ilk of scumbag.

  9. Glenn Kelley Says:

    At the time the ad came out it was reported that Horiuchi is a friend of the owner of H-S.If that’s true it would explain the lack of vetting.It also makes me wonder who the white hair belonged to.

    Glenn

  10. Tomcatshanger Says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, but the whole “That never happened” response sure does seem to be repeated by those who don’t support the side of liberty.

  11. Gudis Says:

    I was really hoping they would change their slogan to “Mother Tested, FBI Approved”.

  12. ka Says:

    “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

  13. johnnyreb™ Says:

    Daaayum … a little touchy, aren’t they?

  14. Chris Byrne Says:

    Was this the guy:

    http://www.leica-sportoptics.it/images/images_ita/hunting/h_s_precision/presidente.jpg

    That’s Tom Houghton, founder and president; and also a good friend and staunch defender of Horiuchi.

  15. Assrot Says:

    Looks like HS-Precision has gone Liberal on us and taken the government’s side on freedom for the people.

    I’d say they got one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. Fuck’em. You get what you play for in my book.

    Let’s see if they can get enough business out of the government and the FBI to stay afloat.

    They’ll never see another penny of my business and I continue to spread the word about their event that never happened to all my gunny friends at every range I go to.

    I think HS-Precision might be looking for a bailout from the Messiah before long.

    Good riddance to them.

    Joe

  16. Stingray Says:

    Chris: No, our guy had a moustache and less jowl.

  17. J.R. Shirley Says:

    I’ll take “clueless” for $200, Bob.

    John

  18. Tam Says:

    That’s Tom Houghton, founder and president; and also a good friend and staunch defender of Horiuchi.

    Guess he’s not much on Rule Four, eh?

    Remind me never to shoot with the asshat.

  19. Earl Says:

    Very nice job, except for the recorder problem, but those things happen. One thing about the shooter – he is in a group of people that are taught that they are special, above the rest and all their targets are guilty of something. A certain feeling of power and responsibility come from working with the government on the hard jobs.

    In my humble opinion, the SNIPER, really never had a target in his sight, and could have cared less and is still telling everyone that he is a great shot. One wonders why I am looking forward to my first set of optics on my rifles – some forty-seven years of shooting for myself and my government and no un-armed women with babies killed by my marksmanship… good record.

  20. Bob Says:

    I wonder if someone could distract the HSP staff long enough to plaster up a photo of Vicki Weaver over one of those trophy animals. That would make a great photo, the HSP staff standing around in front of that sign.

  21. Cory Says:

    Two words for H-S Precision : Bell & Carlson

    Please take your dollars elsewhere. My last stock for a Savage Varmint rifle was a B & C for less cash and same quality as H-S.

    Yes it is a shame the Marshall was shot but he should not have been on private property un-announced while shooting the family pet and firing in the direction of civilians. That is just fucking stupid.

    And the story goes on with Hooch at Waco possibly shooting at the back of the burning building from a secluded out building not in view of the press…..

  22. Hyman Roth Says:

    Leave aside the whole murder/manslaughter issue.

    I just read Jess Walter’s “Ruby Ridge”. Dead-eye Lon shot at Randy Weaver under the shoot-on-sight R.O.E., and only wounded him.

    Then Lon shot at Kevin Harris, resulting in a wound instead of a kill.

    Later, he claims to have been firing at Kevin Harris when he shot Vicki Weaver in the head.

    That’s 0 for 3.

    From a shooting skills perspective, how does this performance justify an endorsement for a precision-marksmanship product?

  23. Chad Says:

    “She was there”. Nice.

  24. Svashtar Says:

    I feel totally clueless, as I somehow missed this whole H-S Precision controversy. Back in the ’90’s we all kept asking why Lon wasn’t in jail, or pushing up daisies for that matter.

    Murdering “just following orders” POS.

    Great write-up, thanks. McMillan or B&C, got it.

    Norm

  25. Sargee Says:

    Just one of the many reasons I cancelled my membership with the NRA and signed up with the GOA.