Category: Commercial Shooting Ranges

RANGE DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN SEMINAR

Step by Step Process to Develop and Build Your Shooting Range

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to receive the best tools and information you will need to successfully complete your shooting range project. Attendance at the Range Development and Design Seminar allows you to meet with range consultants and other subject matter experts, visit local shooting ranges, and get answers to your questions about running a successful shooting range.

Topics Include

  • Experiences from Successful Range Owners
  • Range Design and Equipment
  • Identifying your Range Location
  • Navigating City Planning, Zoning, and Permitting
  • Lead Management Solutions
  • HVAC and Range Ventilation
  • Managing your Range and Retail Space
  • Public and Community Relations

HIRING AND TRAINING YOUR SHOOTING RANGE STAFF

One of the most essential elements for a profitable shooting range business is recruiting, on-boarding, and training your shooting range staff. American customer service expert Shep Hyken observed, “A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.” Your employees can make or break your long-term success. Even if you have 19 all-star employees and only 1 employee who underperforms, your shooting range business is likely to suffer as a result. A single negative customer service experience can hurt your reputation. Conversely, having a reputation as the shooting range with the most engaging and supportive customer service will ensure shooting enthusiasts choose your business time and time again.

THE FACES OF YOUR SHOOTING RANGE

Who You Should Hire

Bruce Nordstrom, the former chairman of one of the most successful department store chains in America, perpetuated the philosophy that you can teach people to sell, but you can’t teach them to be nice. While it is important that employees have a sound understanding of firearms and shooting experience, this should not take precedence over hiring individuals with the right attitude. When building a team, your primary priority should be finding employees who are eager to learn, connect well with others, listen carefully, and ask questions. Supplementary training can ensue as needed.

How to Find the Right People

Where do you find the perfect team member? The answer is more obvious than you might think: Anywhere and everywhere. Pay attention to other service-oriented businesses. Have you recently encountered an impressive server at a local restaurant? Has a sales clerk at a sporting goods store brightened your day with their helpful and positive attitude? Consider appealing to former military or law enforcement personnel. Provided their personality is a match, they will bring experience and credibility to your shooting range business.

Avoid the common pitfall of hiring relatives or friends. Hiring those from your family or social circles may be disadvantageous both professionally and personally. It can be challenging to hold them to your business standards. It is also very difficult to terminate their employment, should the need arise.

Hiring Checklist

In addition to hiring gun range staff who expertly represent your brand, don’t forget these following crucial checks and tests:

  1. Background and Criminal Record Checks

It is your responsibility to check that members of your gun range staff do not have a record of behavior that could jeopardize your business and the safety of your patrons and other employees. Most shooting range owners require employees to participate in a CCW permit course as part of their training. During the interview, inform candidates that through the process of obtaining a CCW permit, a background check will be performed to verify their eligibility to handle, carry, and own firearms.

  • Drug Testing

During the interview, make sure you inform candidates that a drug test will be performed prior the employee’s first day on the job. Additionally, let them know that random drug tests will be performed throughout their employment.

  • Lead Safety and Blood Lead Testing

Exposure to lead is one of the risks that accompanies working in a shooting range. It is imperative that you inform new hires about this risk and that you educate them on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves. Furthermore, make sure you teach your employees how to avoid spreading lead to other parts of the range, their vehicles, and their homes.

While you should take all appropriate precautions to minimize lead exposure, it is still important that you monitor your employees closely and regularly test their blood lead levels. Test all new hires to obtain a baseline blood lead level. From there, require bi-annual tests for employees who perform range maintenance and annual tests for other employees.

  • Work expectations
    During the interview, make sure you explain any work expectations such as unusual schedules. For example, do you expect employees to work during nights, weekends, or any holidays? Do you require employees to lift and unload pallets of ammunition or perform any other physically demanding tasks? If so, make sure you discuss these expectations and minimum lifting requirements.

TRAINING AND ONGOING EDUCATION

Effective Training Methods

When it comes to training your shooting range staff, make sure you are adaptable in your approach. For example:

  • Provide opportunities for hands-on learners to shadow a supervisor or cross-train with another employee.
  • Recommend helpful websites, videos, and literature to employees who learn better by studying data.
  • Act out potential customer scenarios for employees who can benefit from practicing interpersonal skills.

No matter which training techniques you employ, create opportunities for trainees to teach what they learn. This is a tried and true method for helping individuals retain information.

Ongoing Safety and Emergency Training

Not only should safety and emergency training be at the top of your training agenda, but it is also imperative that this training is ongoing. It is your responsibility to provide regular instruction on handling firearms and how to respond in the event of injuries, theft, and other emergency situations. Role play with range staff how to manage emergency situations in the range. Scenarios can include contacting emergency personnel, calling a cease fire, securing firearms, and administering life-saving first aid.

Furthermore, develop standard operating procedure (SOP) documents for all areas of your shooting range business, such as retail, range check-in, and range operations. Make sure all employees receive these SOP documents and test them routinely to ensure they properly understand and retain the information.

ATF Form 4473

All Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) businesses are required to properly complete an ATF Form 4473 for each firearm transaction. Given the detailed requirements as well as the potential penalties for errors, it’s important that your employees are trained to fill out the form accurately and are prepared to answer customers’ questions about the form. Employees should also verify that forms are fully completed, legible, and accurate while the customer is present.

According to the NSSF website: “Uncorrected errors on Form 4473s account for six of the top 10 most common violations cited by ATF every year, and three other top 10 violations are related to information found on Form 4473s.” To help combat errors, the NSSF has developed the form 4437 overlay. This is a clear template that may be laid on top of the form 4473 to help your staff check that all form questions have been answered and answered accurately.

You want to provide your patrons with the best possible experience with purchasing a firearm. It is imperative that your staff members are well-trained and confident with this process.

Scheduled Meetings

Holding weekly meetings is important in the busy shooting range business. You need an hour each week where you can reiterate important information, motivate your employees, answer questions, and discuss any changes. Agenda items may include:

  • Safety protocols
  • Recent safety concerns, near misses, and other items the entire staff should be made aware of
  • Store sales performance
  • New products
  • Upcoming events
  • Community involvement opportunities

If it is necessary to hold your meeting outside of business hours, we suggest you disclose this to potential employees during the interview process.

Try to make these meetings enjoyable and consider providing breakfast or dinner for meetings held before or after shooting range operation.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

Staff Incentives

Incentives are an effective method for keeping your staff motivated. From gift cards and baskets to discounts and product giveaways, incentives can help encourage your employees to meet their goals as well as create friendly competition between co-workers. Furthermore, take advantage of training and product advocacy platforms that reward members for being brand ambassadors. An example is ExpertVoice.com, which provides brand education and offers product discounts upon course completion.

Team-Building Activities

Provide team-building exercises once a month to help build loyalty and positive rapport between employees. As a shooting range owner, you have the opportunity to combine activities with opportunities to educate your staff on your range operations and products. Why not host an interdepartmental shooting contest in your range? Make sure you create hype in the run-up by designating team names, making T-shirts for the competitors, and disclosing the prizes in advance.

Consider activities outside your facility. For example, invite and pay for staff to attend upcoming firearms shows and shooting contests. Furthermore, take the time to learn about your employees’ hobbies and look for opportunities to incorporate their interests into your group excursions. 

SOFT OPENING

A soft launch is essential for your shooting range business. Opening your doors quietly or serving a limited audience before your grand opening will allow you and your team to iron out the kinks, such as identifying which processes need improvement and where more training is required. By ensuring your employees, shooting range operation, and retail are performing at optimum capacity, you will make an exceptional and long-lasting impression on your customers when you officially open for business.

Authors:

Diana Rotolo

Diana joined Action Target in 2012 as an associate shooting range consultant. She is currently the sales manager for range retail programs. From selling and designing shooting facilities to helping range owners find the most efficient and profitable approaches for operating their business, Diana has an invaluable understanding of the shooting range industry from the customer’s point of view.

Mikaela Hansen

As a technical and marketing writer, Mikaela collaborates with multiple Action Target personnel to develop installation manuals, user guides, bid specifications, press releases, and newsletters. Communicating to a variety of audiences about Action Target’s products and services has given Mikaela the opportunity to examine multiple dimensions of the shooting range industry.

ACTION TARGET’S RANGE SERVICES BUSINESS UNIT ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT GROWTH, NEW HIRES AND ENHANCED AFTERMARKET SUPPORT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACTION TARGET’S RANGE SERVICES BUSINESS UNIT ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT GROWTH, NEW HIRES AND ENHANCED AFTERMARKET SUPPORT

PROVO, Utah – April 16, 2019 – Action Target Inc., the leading manufacturer of modern shooting ranges, steel targets and shooting supplies, is excited to report significant developments within the recently restructured Range Services Business Unit.

Action Target’s Range Services Business Unit encompasses Action Target’s aftermarket sales and services (such as recycling metals and filters), the online store, AutoTargets™ and range maintenance.

“Action Target takes pride in providing the most comprehensive aftermarket services in the industry. By combining customer support, range retail programs and the Action Target Store under the same umbrella, we have enhanced our relationships with our customers and are better able to anticipate and respond to their needs,” said Mike Birch, CEO at Action Target.

Recent enhancements to Range Services include a new Rubber Berm Trap Cleaning Program. Subsequently, Action Target has hired a dedicated program manager and established a team of Rubber Berm Trap cleaning specialists. These specialists have been provided with custom-designed vehicles to perform professional on-site trap cleaning services that are compliant with state and federal standards. Additionally, the metals retrieved through the cleaning process may be recycled through Action Target’s Metals Recycling Program. Through this program, range owners opt to receive either the cash value of their recycled metals or Action Target Store credit to purchase range products and equipment.

Furthermore, Range Services has employed another account manager to maintain a superior level of customer service for Action Target’s expanded customer base. The territory assignments for all account managers have been modified to integrate this addition to the team, streamline support efforts and maximize customer success.

“As we continue to focus on our turn-key solution strategy and examine how to meet and exceed the expectations of range owners, we have welcomed the opportunity to create new positions and redefine the responsibilities of various members of our Range Services teams. With these developments we are well-positioned to further optimize our services and grow the success of our customers,” said Tyler Webster, Vice President and General Manager at Action Target.

About Action Target Inc.

Headquartered in Provo, Utah, Action Target is a world leader in modern shooting range technology. Action Target has designed and manufactured over 4,000 products and has installed thousands of shooting ranges throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. Action Target also designs systems and conducts firearms training for law enforcement and various military divisions. For more information about Action Target, visit www.ActionTarget.com. To learn more about Action Target products or to purchase items online, visit www.ActionTarget.com/Store.

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Memberships and Marketing – Building a Foundation for Success


THE POWER OF BRANDING

Once you’ve built your range, you have the task of attracting and forging relationships with customers. To achieve this, your business requires a distinctive and memorable persona. The marketing world refers to this persona as a “brand.” Having a strongly-defined and reliable brand builds recognition and familiarity, which breeds credibility and trust. Your brand goes hand in hand with your reputation, so it’s imperative you pay ample attention to this aspect of your business.

 


CUSTOMIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT

A consistent look and feel throughout your facility creates an impression of polished professionalism and reinforces your range’s brand. Action Target offers extensive customization options to make it easy to achieve this consistency. For example, we can manufacture shooting stalls decked with your company colors, apply your logo to your equipment, and design paper targets uniquely for your range.

There are additional ways you can brand your building, such as etching your range name and logo into doors, interior viewing windows, walls, floors, and tables. You can also draw attention to your building by making it highly visible with attractive lighting and signs. Consider placing company mascots or branded vehicles in strategic locations to catch the attention of passersby.

Furthermore, invest in merchandise customized with your name and logo. It’s more valuable than you might realize. Not only will your customers enjoy the swag, but they will also serve as ambassadors of your business when wearing and using your branded gear. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you can customize, be it apparel, patches, coasters, mugs, pens, flashlights, bumper stickers, and keychains. Remember, the experience your customer has with your brand impacts your reputation, so we recommend you purchase good quality items.

 


ALL-INCLUSIVE EXPERIENCE

While your facility may be a gun range primarily, it’s no secret that the success of your range is hinged on the quality of your customer’s experience. So why not make a name for yourself by offering more than a shooting space? For starters, ensure information about your products, services, and membership is readily accessible. Install markers to let customers know exactly where to go and with whom to speak if they have questions. Be aware that demonstrating expertise is critical when it comes to developing customer trust and loyalty, so take adequate time to educate yourself and your staff on range equipment, operation, and retail products.

It is also recommended that you invest in additional services, thereby creating a “destination location” for visitors. Such amenities may include:

  • Coffee shops/dining establishments/grab-and-go snacks
  • Locker rooms
  • Gun safe room
  • Firearm build services
  • Corporate event space
  • Member-only lounge

Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to make your space more inviting. If funds are limited, consider a comfortable conversation area and luxury coffee station.

 

MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMS AND PERKS

Gun range membership programs are one of the best revenue builders a business can employ. They provide a reliable income, grow your customer base, and motivate shooters to return again and again. It benefits both you and your customers to build a solid and rewarding membership program. There are many ways to enhance these programs, such as multi-member discounts, family packages and corporate bundles. You can also advertise gift memberships for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.

When it comes to making your gun range membership program enticing and accessible, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Consider combining memberships with discounted training classes. In addition to growing membership, this will also strengthen participation in your education platform. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to be creative in your approach to incentivizing membership and encouraging member participation. For example, nominate a “Member of the Month” and assign a prime parking space for this special member.

 


PROMOTIONS AND EVENTS

Product promotions and gun range events are a tried and true method for growing your business. While the options are countless, here are some suggestions to kickstart your creative ideas:

  • A special discounted item of the month. Educate range employees about the item and encourage them to discuss it with customers.
  • Member-only discounts on non-sale items. This shows loyalty to your members and promotes the perks of membership.
  • Offer discounted lane time during off-peak hours or during extremes in temperature when shooting outside is undesirable.
  • Host events such as special product release nights, date nights, zombie shoots, carnival night, costume parties, birthday parties, and bachelor/bachelorette functions.
  • Capitalize on local events such as rodeos, fairs, and elections. For example, recognize customers who participate in an election by offering them a free patch or T-shirt (adorned with your range logo, of course!).
  • Participate in charity fundraisers. Being active in your community has reciprocal benefits and raises awareness of your business.

Whatever your promotion or event may be, it is essential that you keep your members and followers in the loop via social media. Post well-timed, useful, and appealing information about product discounts, special rates, and upcoming events. Additionally, engage your followers by posting exciting images and stories during exciting and special occasions.

Beyond capitalizing on social media, invite a local news station to get the word out. It usually doesn’t require much effort to coordinate a media visit. Simply call the desired local radio or television station and provide event details. It’s a win-win situation: it provides content for the media and brings visibility to your business. Additionally, the presence of cameramen and broadcasting vans are an effective way to create hype and interest among those in the vicinity.

Remember to keep careful track of the performance of your promotions, gun range events, and advertising strategies so that you learn which efforts are most profitable. This will allow you to determine which activities you should repeat and evolve.

 

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Networking with other local businesses may not seem practical for the niche shooting range business. However, crossing industry borders and working with other businesses in the community provides you with the opportunity to appeal to patrons from other industries who may not have otherwise been aware of your business.

Exactly how do you work with your community and appeal to different demographics, thereby expanding your customer base? Consider sharing your facility, for starters. Make your classroom available to other groups that need a place to convene, such as self-defense clubs, scouting programs, charity organizations, and your local chamber of commerce. Furthermore, become acquainted with catering companies and event organizers. Let them know referrals are welcome and provide them with details regarding group discounts and other package deals.

We also recommend building a strong relationship with your local law enforcement agency. Consider offering special “closed-range” training sessions for officers. In addition, show your support of military members through exclusive product promotions, special membership rates, and discounted shooting range time. Having a reputation as a select training facility for law enforcement and military will have a significant influence on your brand and credibility. Moreover, your customers will be attracted to the prestige and bragging rights of training in a select range of police officers and military personnel.

You’ve Just Built A Shooting Range: Now What?


You’ve undertaken the multifaceted process of planning, designing, and building an indoor shooting range. You’ve discovered that creating a viable, ballistically-safe facility is no small feat. In fact, the process can challenge even the most stout-hearted, second-amendment-supporting, gun-crazed patriot. However, you persevered because the satisfaction and rewards of owning and operating a shooting range can be substantial.

It’s just important that you remember a “build it and they will come” philosophy does not apply to your gun range business. Persistent effort, strategic marketing, and awareness of industry trends is required to attract, engage, and maintain your customers.

ACTION TARGET’S BEST PRACTICES
Action Target has been the world leader in shooting range design, technology, supplies, and aftermarket services since 1986. With our time and standing in the industry, we have become experts in how to develop and manage a successful shooting range. Over the next few months, we will be collaborating with key individuals across our organization to share our best practices with you. Our expertise will help you excel in the business of running your range, while making you aware of potential pitfalls along the way.

So that you know what to expect, we have divided these best practices into the following 8 categories. Each category will be fully explored in a dedicated future post.


1. Memberships and Marketing
In this post, we will discuss the importance of branding your range and products. Other topics we will cover include growing your customer base and enhancing customer relationships through product promotions, giveaways, loyalty points, multi-member discounts, and corporate events. We will also delve into lesser used marketing strategies, such as cross-promotion with the assistance of other local business.


2. Training your Staff
We will demonstrate how to amplify your success through great customer service. We will show why it is important to find employees who not only have broad gun knowledge but are also experienced in retail sales. Learn how to build a loyal and happy sales staff through incentive programs, specialized training, and strategic staff meetings. Discover the importance of leading your grand opening with a soft opening and how neglecting to do so may have significant repercussions for your reputation.


3. Retail Sales
This post will be dedicated to helping you understand how much inventory you will need based on the size of your retail space. We will examine the importance of stocking retail items according to demand and local needs, as well as maximizing your gross profit through tracking retail turns. We will also walk you through analyzing data from your point of sale system.


4. Website and Social Media
Successful businesses are familiar with free advertising through social media platforms. We will provide pointers on how to think outside the box for marketing your shooting range via other businesses in the community. You will also have access to our experience on branding and creating a “personality” for your shooting range as well as pointers for your website and other range events.


5. Engaging Your Customers
Learn how to implement and structure memberships. We will dive into concepts for developing classes that reach all ages, genders, and lifestyles and will also provide ideas for home and personal defense training. Additionally, we will discuss how adding gun build options and services to your retail offerings drives revenue.


6. Security
It’s vital that you protect your range adequately from criminal activity. We will highlight security, closed circuit cameras, various types of alarm systems, locking cases, as well as offer suggestions about how to safely store excess inventory. You will learn how to implement emergency protocols in the event of injury or fatalities and how to deter tragedies of this nature from occurring in your range.


7. Other Revenue Streams
We will teach you how to capitalize on other revenue streams for your shooting range business, such as recycling your lead and brass and saving money through dealer pricing programs with Action Target and other vendors. We will also examine how you can share your knowledge and experience of planning and building a shooting range with other interested parties.


8. Range Maintenance
One of the most important aspects of your business is keeping your range clean and safe. We will show you how to do this through scheduled maintenance protocols along with a maintenance log sheet. We will discuss how to train employees on required maintenance procedures and performing minor range repairs. All methods we disclose are compliant with OSHA and EPA standards to ensure the protection of your employees, patrons, and range equipment.


How-to install, replace and transport the BCS Deluxe 20

Action Target’s Deluxe 20 Bullet Collection System is the latest innovation in collecting bullets for recycling. The system attaches to the bottom of the Total Containment Trap™ deceleration chamber to collect bullets into 20-gallon drums. The drums can then simply unlatch from the chamber and roll out of place quickly and easily.

Below you will find a video 4 step process of installation, replacement and how to transport the barrels.

 

Step 1: Remove the Drum of the BCS Deluxe 20

Step 2: Use a Gantry Crane to Transport a Drum to a Recycling Pallet

Step 3: Use a Barrel Hawk Lift to Transport the 20 Gallon Drum to a Recycling Pallet

Step 4: Replace the Drum of the BCS Deluxe 20