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.
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.
OF YOUR SHOOTING RANGE
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
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.
In addition to hiring gun range staff who expertly represent your
brand, don’t forget these following crucial checks and tests:
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.
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
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
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
When it comes to training your shooting range
staff, make sure you are adaptable in your approach. For example:
opportunities for hands-on learners to shadow a supervisor or cross-train with
websites, videos, and literature to employees who learn better by studying
Act out potential
customer scenarios for employees who can benefit from practicing interpersonal
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.
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
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.
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:
concerns, near misses, and other items the entire staff should be made aware of
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Action Target Elevates Shooting with New Retriever
PROVO, Utah – Action Target Inc., the leading manufacturer of shooting ranges, today announced its release of the All Wheel Drive (AWD) Pro: a new target retriever proven to take ranges to the next level.
The wireless AWD Pro retriever is the most engaging and robust retriever on the market. It features a modern, easy to use interface with 27 addicting games and training scenarios for all skill levels. These programs offer shooters an unparalleled experience, improving both novice and expert shooters and keeping them at the range longer.
“Shooting at a static target is no longer sufficient to engage this new generation of shooters. They expect more from their equipment and are looking for an entertaining experience. The AWD Pro engages shooters like never before, with its intuitive interface, self-guided shooting scenarios and easy-to-setup drills. Not only will shooters benefit from this new equipment, but the range will as well,” said Jesse Nelson an Action Target Product Marketing Manager.
The AWD Pro was recently installed at Nashville Armory in Nashville, Tennessee, where shooters were ecstatic with the update. After the installation, ammunition consumption increased over 23% and 89% of shooters said they enjoyed the new retriever over traditional range equipment. Another interesting statistic was that over 80% of shooters interviewed said they would drive farther and pay more to use the new equipment over traditional range equipment.
These numbers can be attributed to the addicting shooting scenarios the AWD Pro offers. These preloaded games and drills were developed by leading firearms trainers and challenge every shooter no matter their skill level. Whether shooters are trying to improve their previous score on a drill or are competing with their friends with one of the games, shooters will find themselves using more ammunition and feeling more satisfied when they leave the range. Plus, the fun environment of competing with friends on challenging drills adds an element that shooting ranges have lacked in the past and will keep shooters coming back for more.
The AWD Pro’s friendly touch screen user interface also plays a part in the new shooter experience. With its intuitive and engaging design, users are able to control more including: shooting distance, stall lighting, target lighting, target behavior, time drills and more. All of these features give the shooters more freedom, putting them in charge of their experience at the range.
“This product is just one of many future developments that testifies of Action Target’s long-term commitment to developing the shooter’s experience as well as breathing new technology and innovation into the shooting range industry. We are convinced the AWD Pro will meet the needs of today’s shooters by promoting skill building, competition and an overall higher engagement with the shooting sports,” said Kevin Tomaszewski, Action Target’s Vice President of Marketing and Engineering.
The AWD Pro gives shooters a whole new experience of improving their shooting skills while having a good time, making it the reason ranges with the AWD Pro will become the go to destination. To learn more about the AWD Pro visit link: www.actiontarget.com/products/awd_pro.