June 19, 2019
How 3 Businesses Achieved Success with National Shooting Sports Month
NSSF®’s National Shooting Sports Month® is a great opportunity to recruit new and reactivate dormant shooters. For existing shooters, it’s a perfect excuse to get together with friends and try a new type of shooting sport. Three shooting entities recently explained to me how each of them, despite their very different business types, were able to use last year’s month-long celebration to move the needle and why all are looking forward to repeating those successes this year.
Tallahassee Rifle & Pistol Club
Steve Chaires, Vice President of the Tallahassee Rifle & Pistol Club, used National Shooting Sports Month last year to encourage existing club members to bring new or former shooters to the range. “We did whatever we could to get more people to come,” he says of the effort. Chaires put an announcement into the club’s printed quarterly newsletter to get the word out. “Some of these guys don’t even have email addresses. That’s why you have to have it in the mailbox in front of their house,” he explains of his club’s older demographics and delivery method.
This year, the club is expanding its efforts to get new shooters to the range by doing considerably more promotion before August and incentivizing members to bring new shooters.
“We’ve registered 14 events this year,” Chaires says of using the NSSF events and promotions form at ShootingSportsMonth.org to further promote what the club is doing.
To incentivize members to bring new shooters, Chaires takes advantage of the many promotional items provided by NSSF to retailers and ranges adding events to the ShootingSportsMonth.org calendar.
“You know how people love free stuff. ‘Bring a guest to the range, get a T-shirt or a hat while supplies last,’” he says as one example. For 2019, Chaires is taking that idea it one step farther. “The person who brings the most guests will win half a dozen free guests passes,” he says, adding that this prize is intended to encourage club members to bring people out throughout the year, not just during August.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Up in Ohio, Peter Novotny, Assistant Chief of the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife, offered a free range day last year for National Shooting Sports Month in conjunction with an NSSF First Shots® event.
“We took NSSF’s program and embraced it by opening up our ranges. We increased staff on the range for education throughout the state, and the five ranges we opened up had about 200 participants on a free range day — and out of those 200, 53 had never shot a gun before in their lives,” he says of the results.
Novotny explained how, as it is with hunting and fishing, shooting has generally “institutional family knowledge” that gets passed along. But that’s changed for many today. “We have people who are taking advantage of gun owners who don’t have that family support system and they’re looking to state agencies to guide them through that next step,” he observes.
Novotny found it “very easy” to list his events with NSSF’s ShootingSportsMonth.org and is currently compiling the list of events to post.
“In Ohio, we are doing $20.5 million in range renovations over the next three years, and our big range renovation celebration coming up is the range at Spring Valley,” he notes as an example of what the Department will do for National Shooting Sports Month this year. The DNR surveyed customers who utilize its ranges and found that customer demand is for good quality facilities, hence the upgrades that will include things such as Wi-Fi. “We’re going to use that opportunity, the dedication of the updated range, to kick off the National Shooting Sports Month for us, and we’ll do the free range day for this.”
According to Novotny, Ohio’s new Governor, Mike DeWine, has expressed interest in being at the dedication, which is sure to be a promotional opportunity in itself. It will also be a good test run for National Shooting Sports Month 2020 when the DNR’s Delaware Range gets a $9 million renovation. “It is just outside of Columbus, where we will reach urbanized hunters, and we’re looking forward to getting that completed,” says Novotny.
To promote National Shooting Sports Month last year, Novotny recalls that the Department does it in conjunction with NSSF. “We did some social media together and NSSF gave us some promotional items to hand out to participants,” he says, adding that his next step with NSSF is to incorporate the +ONESM Movement, NSSF’s mentoring initiative into the Department’s efforts.
USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports
In Washington State, USAYESS combined National Shooting Sports Month with its Break-A-Clay Day last year to help local youth shooting teams achieve various goals. “We had 196 kids participate, and that does not include the parents,” says USAYESS President Mike Borg. “The gun club actually gained 10 new club members. The shooting team for the area picked up, I think, 20 kids, and out of that 20, 15 were girls.”
This year, Borg, says the organization is adding a Family Outdoor Experience to National Shooting Sports Month. “We’re in 25 states. Eighteen are going to do it this year and the rest are coming on board next year.”
The Family Outdoor Experience was formerly a youth-only program, but Borg found that many parents wanted to participate, too, and, so, made it a family event. “The gun club and USAYESS host an open house at the gun club,” Borg explains of the festival-like event. “We have clay targets, we have archery, we have BB guns, we have pellet guns, we have slingshots, we have how to set up a tent, how to fly fish, how to cook on a campfire, and firearms safety and hunter education programs. We partner up with the NSSF’s LetsGoShooting.org, and the kids can come in and experience the games.”
Borg says it’s “super easy” to list a National Shooting Sports Month even at ShootingSportsMonth.org. In his experience, NSSF is “right there” to help and that it “takes all of 20 seconds.” He also notes that NSSF “provides the toolkit to establish, promote and market the program” with things such as branded “selfie frames” that kids and families love to pose behind, as well as T-shirts, flyers and more.
USAYESS will also be taking advantage of the encouragement NSSF’s +ONE Movement provides to mentors in the shooting sports. Borg says this year USAYESS will have gun club members, shooting team coaches and women’s program leaders on site to help educate those who are only “gun curious” or just there to attend the festival with a friend or family member and work with them to become active target shooting participants.
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