Every so often we like to take a survey of our readers. Not only does it let us know if we’re doing a good job (and identify areas we can improve upon), but it also gives us a glimpse into who exactly our readers are. We’ve been poring over the numbers for the last few weeks, and now I’d love to give y’all a peek at the results . . .
Historically the TTAG audience has been dominated by males as opposed to females. This year is no exception.
Roughly 98% of readers responded that they are males. The last reader survey (which was taken in 2014) indicated that 97.7% of readers were male and 1.9% of readers were female. Based on the confidence interval for both surveys this indicates that the population has remained roughly the same in terms of composition in the two years between the surveys.
While most consumers of digital media tend to be younger, the population of TTAG readers seems to be remarkably evenly distributed among the various age categories. The biggest portion of TTAG readers are between the age of 18 and 40 years with a roughly even split between the two age groups. 45% of the TTAG readers are over the age of 40.
The last TTAG reader survey in 2014 indicated that roughly 29.4% of readers were between the ages of 18 and 30. This percentage has declined over the intervening years, dropping to 27.3%. This may indicate that our appeal to the younger audience has diminished with the newer mix of articles.
On average (according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2014 statistics), 34% of Americans have at least a bachelor’s degree from a four year university. According to the 2016 TTAG survey 50.8% of TTAG readers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In fact, TTAG’s readers have over three times the national average of doctorate degrees (5.6% compared to 1.77% for the national average). This indicates that TTAG attracts more than the average number of highly educated individuals.
Just like with education, TTAG’s readership seems to beat the national average when it comes to employment.
According to the latest figures just 38% of Americans are employed on a full-time basis. By comparison, 72.2% of TTAG readers have a full-time job. An additional 9.2% of TTAG readers consider themselves “self-employed,” which could be added to the “full time” statistic for a much more realistic picture of the proportion of readers with a steady income.
As for unemployment, the national rate for the month in question was 4.9%. TTAG’s traders reported a significantly lower unemployment rate of 3.1%.
Based on these graphs it appears that TTAG’s readership is better educated than the general public, and has a significantly better employment status.
The point of generating quality content is to develop a strong following of readers. With over two million readers per month TTAG is the largest single firearms related publication in the world, but the question is whether that audience will stick around in the long run.
The vast majority of survey responses (80.7%) indicate that they have been faithfully reading TTAG for over one year, with the bulk of that readership having been around over two years (52.4%). In fact, there’s only a very small percentage of readers who have just recently started following TTAG (7% less than six months).
When looking at the age groups who have been reading TTAG there seems to be a significant spike in the proportion of younger readers who have been reading for only a short period of time. This may indicate that either the content has shifted somewhat recently to appeal to these individuals more, or that they have a shorter attention span for the content and move on to something else quickly.
The majority of TTAG readers come read the site once per day, on average. The TTAG model of content generation has generally been geared towards producing fresh content on an hourly basis, but 73.2% of loyal readers claim that they only read the site once per day or less. This indicates that while there’s definitely a benefit from producing such prodigious amounts of content, the loyal readers might feel overwhelmed at the volume being produced and are unable to digest all of it.
While our target audience (for maximum advertising, at least) is the older generation with disposable income, the reality is that our posting schedule appeals more towards the younger audience. There is a significant trend in the results indicating that younger readers are more likely to be constantly checking the site for updates, but as the readers age they increasingly prefer to read the site only once per day.
The general consensus is that the best way to get someone hooked on the shooting sports is to teach them early in life and based on our reader’s responses it seems like that’s a well-founded statement.
Of the readers surveyed, the largest single chunk (42.5%) reported that they first fired a gun when they were six to ten years old. While only 9.5% of readers said they fired a gun earlier than five years old, the majority (79.9%) stated that they learned to shoot before their twentieth birthday. Only a mere 10.6% of readers learned to shoot after they were able to legally buy a pint of beer.
Examining this data a little more closely, one interesting thing to note is that people appear to be introduced to firearms at a much earlier age these days. There’s a rather significant spike among readers under the age of 18 who have learned to shoot in that “six to ten years old” time frame, and the percentage of responses from people who learned to shoot before they were five years old shows a steady increase with decreasing respondent age.
When asked how comfortable readers are around guns, the vast majority (85.7%) stated that they are extremely comfortable (less comfortable on the left, more comfortable on the right). Less than 1.6% of readers answered that they were only moderately comfortable or less, indicating that our readership is primarily composed of people who like guns and are extremely comfortable being around them.
Something significant is that there seems to be a strong correlation between how comfortable people feel around guns and when they were first introduced to firearms. There’s a clear pattern indicating that those who were introduced to firearms at an earlier age reported being more comfortable around guns than those who started later in life. For example 94.16% of people who reported shooting a gun for the first time at age five or younger felt “extremely comfortable” (5) around guns, compared to 65.97% of those who reported shooting a gun for the first time after age thirty.
While the general platform of the Democratic Party includes gun control as a main focus, the reality is that not every Democrat believes as strongly in that cause as the party leaders. The same goes for the Republicans, in that not every Republican is as rabidly pro-gun as the party leaders claim. Our readership, on the other hand, seems to be rather single-minded in their pro-gun focus.
NOTE: The above chart depicts “Conservative” on the left side and “Liberal” on the right.
In the general population of the United States there’s a general correlation between political affiliation (Democrat or Republican) and one’s views on gun rights. The results of the reader survey mirror that rough correlation, but there’s also a significant trend in the results indicating that the younger readers tend to consider themselves to be less rabidly conservative than their elders. Readers over 60 years of age overwhelmingly answered “Very Conservative” (1) whereas only 23% of those under 18 agreed.
The fact that there’s a smooth gradient from one end of the age range to the other indicates that this is most likely a reflection of the changing political views of the different generations, as outlined by the Pew Research Center.
Carrying a firearm in public is a hotly contested topic these days, with the gun control activists constantly promoting the idea of “concealed carry killers” and that people carrying a gun will suddenly “snap” and start murdering people. While the proclamations of “blood in the streets” have not come to pass following the implementation of concealed carry nationwide and the spread of open carry, opinions on these ideas is still vary from one population to another.
Just about everyone agrees that concealed carry should be legal and supported nationwide. The number of people reporting as being against concealed carry is so small (especially given the margin of error) that it can be safely ignored.
When it comes to the idea of open carry the readers overwhelmingly support it (98.6%), but a significant majority of the readership thinks that it should not be encouraged when concealed carry is available (59.1%). Additionally, only 5.1% of readers surveyed reported that they have attended an open carry rally — and that figure does not vary by age or political leanings.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest support for encouraging open carry comes from the readers who consider themselves to be furthest on the conservative side of the scale (1). But while the liberal end of the readership might not approve of encouraging open carry, the vast and overwhelming majority still thinks that it should be a legal option (66.23% of those who answered “Liberal” for political leanings). Only a small minority (<10% of any political category, 1.4% overall) believes that open carry should be illegal.
While the majority of readers might support concealed carry a significant number of readers (20.8%) do not have a concealed carry license or choose not to carry a handgun, 15.9% responding that they do not have such a license even though their state permits it and they would not (theoretically) be disqualified. 75.1% of readers responded that they have a concealed handgun license, and 3% live in “constitutional carry” states.
There’s a significant positive correlation between the percentage of people responding that they have a concealed carry license and their age group, with more people indicating that they have such a license as their age increases.
The idea of magazine capacity restrictions is pretty much a non-starter with the TTAG readership – 99.4% do not support any sort of magazine capacity restrictions for firearms, and the number of people responding that they support such restrictions is too small to do any meaningful analysis.
Similarly, the number of people who support an “assault weapons ban” is small enough to be statistically insignificant. Note that two fewer people reported as being in favor of an “assault weapons ban” than magazine capacity restrictions, indicating that even among gun control advocates there’s degrees of disagreement on which proposals to support.
The only gun control proposal that gained any support with the TTAG readership was the idea of “universal background checks.” 22.1% of readers reported that they would consider supporting a “universal background check” proposal. While this represents a minority of the surveyed readership, this highlights an area of opportunity for gun control advocates to exploit in order to gain a majority of voters in a plebiscite.
The phrase “once you pop you just can’t stop” seems to apply as equally to firearms as it does to Pringles. Only 4.3% of readers report owning a single firearm, with the majority owning between two and twenty. That bell curve narrows back down at the 20+ mark, with 17.1% of readers reporting that they own in excess of twenty guns.
While the largest percentage of respondents indicated that they own between two and five firearms, the difference between the “2- 5” category and the “6 – 10” category is well within the margin of error.
When broken down by age, it seems that there is a distinct correlation between the age of the reader and how many guns they own. There’s a large spike for younger readers reporting that they own only a few firearms, and a smooth gradient for the remainder of the age ranges indicating that fewer and fewer people reported owning between one and five guns as the age of the reader increased. The same trend is evident on the other side of the scale as well, with very few people under 30 years old reporting owning over 20 guns and a slow gradient over the age ranges to the 60+ group who reported the highest percentage of responses in that category.
There are some significant differences in the rationale for ownership among the different age groups. For the younger crowd the aesthetic argument is significantly more popular, with hunting coming in a close second. Self-defense and home defense is not a consideration for the “under 18” crowd.
On the other end of the spectrum there’s a significant spike in the percentage of people over the age of 60 who reported owning an AR-15 for target shooting purposes. This may indicate a higher likelihood for older shooters to be interested in precision barrels and accessories for their rifle as opposed to the more “tacticool” accessories and kit that a younger person may be interested in purchasing.