Attorney Jim Walker and oil-and-gas executive Allan McBee were at a Dallas-area gun range one recent weekend, firing off rounds with their Glock pistols. They were among nearly 40 participants in a regularly scheduled, competitive shooting match.
McBee, a vice president at McBee Operating Co., warned that he was a little rusty because he hadn’t shot much lately. Even so, he added, “This is a pretty enjoyable way to spend a Saturday.”
Among C-level executives in Dallas-Fort Worth, pistol and rifle shooting is increasingly popular these days, as well as enjoyable. According to sport shooters including Phil Reinkemeyer, business development manager at CyrusOne, a data-center provider, shooting is replacing golf as the preferred “networking” activity of more and more top local businesspeople.
Where a round of golf can take four to six hours, Reinkemeyer says, clients he takes to the gun range can “shoot two rounds of skeet in an hour.” Because the sport is new and exciting to many of them, Reinkemeyer says, it has “grown big-time” in popularity. Bonding at a shooting facility is “a real good way to build relationships,” he says. “I have closed major deals there.”
The sport’s popularity is reflected in activity at private, members-only shooting facilities. Lewisville’s Dallas Gun Club, where Reinkemeyer shoots, is a case in point. At the upscale club, which provides a “country club” atmosphere with the likes of skeet, sporting clays, and a rifle/pistol range, office manager Sherri Suggs says there are roughly 700 members, about 250 of whom “actively use” the facilities.
Companies such as Dr Pepper Snapple, Hunt Oil Co., and Quorum Hotels and Resorts maintain corporate memberships, Suggs says, and the club is doing more fundraising and business networking events. “That’s what a lot of people use this for,” she says. “They might bring four or five of the company’s customers, go shooting, then have lunch and visit.”Attorney Walker, a named partner at Walker Sewell LLP who has taken shooting lessons in the past from McBee and Steven Moses—a senior landman with Vernon E. Faulconer, an oil and gas company in Tyler—says he ratcheted up his game after McBee advised him to adjust his grip slightly. “It was like an epiphany,” Walker says.
He must have taken McBee’s advice to heart on that recent Saturday, because Walker shot well. In fact, he wound up outgunning his former teacher. “I came in 13th out of 37” shooters, Walker said with a smile a few days later, studying the match results posted on the Internet. “That means I placed ahead of Allan, who came in 18th.”