By Ned Barnett (c) 2012
Feel Free to Reprint with Credit
Here's the story: I went in to a Big Five store (4275 corner of E. Charleston and S. Lamb in Las Vegas) tonight - in the past, I've found them a good source for quality reconditioned military surplus bolt-action long rifles, which area far less expensive than your brand-new "deer rifles," but which maintain a decent ability to shoot out to about 500 yards (which is far as I can see). As a target practice aficionado, I find this kind of firearm a low-cost way to keep my hand (and my eye) in out at the range.
Within two minutes of arrival, I saw the kind of rifle I was looking for - a Mosin-Nagant, a WW-II Soviet bolt action rifle, in good reconditioned shape. With it was a kit that included a butt-plate shock absorber pad, a woven canvas sling and a totally non-standard telescopic sight. While I'd never considered a scope for a WW-II bolt-action rifle, as my eyes match the rest of my age (60), I got to thinking that maybe this would enhance my shooting experience (the M-Ns I used to have had a kick that would put a Missouri Mule to shame, so the butt plate shock absorber was definitely interesting).
So I stood around the gun counter and waited to be served. And waited. And waited. I saw clerks helping other customers; at one point, one of the clerks (from the way he carried himself, he might have been the shift manager) was no more than three feet from me, showing another customer a paintball gun which didn't suit the customer - who left. So I wasn't exactly invisible.
Still, I waited. Finally, after 20-plus minutes, I'd exhausted looking at everything remotely interesting in the gun section and decided, "enough!" I suppose I could have gone looking for a clerk, but after the day I'd had (fixing a flat, having a jack collapse on me - which damaged the front quarter-panel of the Honda) I was in no mood to have to beg to be waited on. I'd arrived at 7:32, and left about 7:55, never having been waited on, in a store that seemed to have more clerks than customers.
As I left, I informed two clerks (one of whom was almost certainly the shift manager) that I'd been waiting 20 minutes. I got a lame 'sorry' from one of them, and at that point, decided I really didn't need a World War II rifle tonight - and with a gun show coming up this weekend, I sure didn't need to give Big Five my business.
Conclusion: Big Five has good prices on sporting goods, especially when they're on sale. But they're not working for your business (or mine), and there are lots of other sporting goods stores eager for your business (in this economy, most of them are very competitive). Before you jump on one of their sales, check around for a friendlier, more consumer-friendly outlet. And when it comes to surplus firearms, check out a gun show. They seem to be everywhere, and you'll find folks who are friendly and eager to serve you.