Creedmoor Sports Turns 40!
The year was 1979, and one recently retired Marine and one almost retired Marine came up with an idea to start a shooting sports supply company. With their military contacts and reputation as competitors, how could they miss? If you've competed in High Power rifle competitions at Camp Perry, and perhaps a few other places, you might recall the names of these two Marines. Their names? Jim Hill and Mike Pietroforte. Jim Hill was triple Distinguished, Olympic Silver Medalist, multiple National Championships and National Highpower Matches Director. If Mike Pietroforte's name is familiar, perhaps it's because the trophy presented to the competitor with the highest aggregate score at the National Highpower Matches is named for him. As one of the finest marksmen in USMC history, one of his greatest accomplishments was the first ever perfect score fired in the NTI (National Trophy Individual) match at Camp Perry.
So it was with their backgrounds and connections in hand, that Jim and Mike came together to form a new shooting sports business, working out of Jim Hill's garage. I recently spoke with Mike, who is now 91. He shared that, at first they considered using their own names for the business, something like "Jim and Mike's," "J&M," "M&J," etc.. Then, Mike suggested "Creedmoor Armory," Creedmoor from the term "being Creedmoored" during a rifle match (you can look that one up). Having grown up on Long Island, it was not lost on Mike that the name Creedmoor came from the Creedmoor Rifle Range in Queens, NY where the first National Matches were held in the late 1800's, before moving to New Jersey and eventually Camp Perry. With the name decided, Creedmoor Armory was born!
In the early years of Creedmoor Armory, moving from the garage, to a trailer, to what was essentially a large storage area as they grew, Jim and Mike focused on procuring and selling gear and supplies for both military teams and civilians. Eventually, they started manufacturing their own items, such as shooting stools and gloves, and the company grew. You all know Creedmoor Sports for the Hardback coats, but that came later, with early coats just being basic canvas-type shooting coats. It was after a few years that some competitors started pressing the guys to develop a better shooting coat, and after some design and development, the Creedmoor Armory Hardback Coat was born. By 1986 Creedmoor's reputation had grown and they were now an important resource for Highpower competitors. It was around this time that Mike stepped away from the company, and Danny Cook came on as Jim's new partner.
During the late 1980's, Creedmoor Armory's growth continued, and the company started to become a major resource for high power competitors at all levels. For new competitors entering the sport, it was Jim Hill's "Service Rifle Competition Basics" video that became a mandatory viewing. What helped with this growth and set Creedmoor Armory apart for many competitors was its focus on High Power and the continued leadership of the company by a top competitor in the sport. Building on this growth, the company increased the line of products offered and began slowly venturing into other areas like smallbore rifle and pistol. In support of this growth and the company's expanding brand, in the early 1990's, Creedmoor Armory was rebranded as Creedmoor Sports.
In 1992, Creedmoor Sports was sold to the Kantorovich family. Since they were not competitive shooters, I asked Greg Kantorovich what attracted them to the company. "When we started looking for a company to purchase, one critical aspect was the ability to manufacture items. Coming from a mercantile background, the process of taking material from raw goods to a finished item was front and center. We were intrigued by the hands-on approach that Jim Hill took with Creedmoor and the niche market that came with it. After various meetings, we agreed Creedmoor would be a good fit for our passion to manufacture and the customer base it was serving. Once purchased, Jim stayed on board for a couple months to help with the transition. Jim's partner, Danny Cook, decided to stay on with Creedmoor as the head of manufacturing which was fantastic. His vision for new products helped create the "Ventilation" and "All-Position" Upgrades which are synonymous with the famous Creedmoor Hardback Shooting Coats of today. Danny stayed on board for 12 years before deciding to retire. Many of the Creedmoor Sports soft goods you use today are based off Danny's inspiration and passion for the customer." -Greg Kantorovich, Owner
With the new ownership, came new ideas, continued product development, and overall expansion and growth of the company. If you were a customer of Creedmoor Sports in the mid-1990's, you likely remember the introduction of larger and glossier product catalogs. By December, 1998, Creedmoor created their first online presence, publishing the catalog in an online format, with available online ordering. Since that time the website has seen some six or seven major design updates, and now offers thousands of products.
Very important to Creedmoor Sports has been the company's connection to the competitive roots of the founders. Building upon this, in 2003 Creedmoor hired Dennis DeMille as General Manager upon his retirement from the USMC. Dennis brought to the company his reputation as a National Champion, top Marine shooting team member, and a penchant for developing new products for competitive shooters. With Dennis on board, not only was there product development, but we saw the introduction of the Creedmoor Cup. This event eventually became a partnership with the Civilian Marksmanship Program Games and expanded to include a Western and Eastern Games. With door prizes and a final day BBQ, they were two of the best attended high power events each year. The events have since been taken over by the CMP and renamed the CMP Cup events, but the legacy of them lives on.
In recent years, while dramatically growing their presence online, Creedmoor Sports made a significant move out of California to the more shooting sports friendly state of Alabama. They even have their own street in Anniston, Creedmoor Way. This move allowed Creedmoor to introduce their own line of match rifle and pistol ammunition, expand smallbore offerings, and most recently adding a complete line of reloading products and supplies. Many new and innovative products have been added to the catalog, with one of the most dramatic being the introduction of deluxe versions the famous Creedmoor Hardback Shooting Coat that users can configure and view before ordering online.
Dennis DeMille left the company in 2018 to move north with his family. Continuing with the legacy of leaders with a competitive pedigree, Creedmoor Sports promoted Brent Books to General Manager. Brent was brought on as a part-time intern while completing his MBA at Jacksonville State University. During his undergrad at JSU, he competed as an NCAA Rifle team All-American and was hired as the assistant coach for the team during his graduate program. Upon graduation, Brent was promoted to Sales and Marketing Manager. During this time, since Brent was primarily a rimfire and air rifle competitor, he strived to learn everything he possibly could from DeMille about Highpower and reloading.
Today, Brent's focus is on making Creedmoor Sports the go-to place for anything precision rifle related. From air rifles to brass annealing machines, Creedmoor Sports has found a way to include all rifle shooters, without losing focus on their core customers who have helped get them to this point.
"We've really evolved a lot over the last few years. We're so much more than just a Highpower company now and it's great that we can reach a larger audience with the same kind of passion for shooting. Our team is filled with competitors from across many precision rifle disciplines and we all enjoy helping our customers and friends get better at shooting. From Olympians to 4-Hers and wildcatters to someone who just bought their first reloading press, we're here to help. It's what makes us excited to go to work in the morning." -Brent Books GM
After 40 years, Jim Hill's original vision remains strong, and Creedmoor Sports continues to grow as a leader in the competitive shooting sports industry.