October 19, 2020
A Fresh Approach to NSSF’s First Shots Highlights Program’s Flexibility
“This was the year to do it,” said John Ord, President and head youth coach at the New Milford Rifle and Pistol Club of Hallstead, Pennsylvania. “I’d heard about NSSF’s First Shots® program for years but had never found a way to incorporate it into our programs.”
New Milford Rifle and Pistol Club typically hosted a youth field day each September, together with the Susquehanna County Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists and Pennsylvania’s Wilson F. Moore Memorial Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. With the numerous safety and social distancing requirements this year, the club decided to change the focus to a family day, working under the assumption that families would be willing to come together and shoot as a group.
“It worked out great!” said Ord. “Everyone loved it. And this was the first year I got immediate feedback from participants saying how great the event was. Over and over, we heard, ‘When can I shoot again?!’”
Ord had high praise for the support he received from NSSF®. “NSSF took the work out of putting on the First Shots course. It’s all there for you. You can put your own twist on it, but you don’t have to wonder how to put the program together.”
Ord and his fellow instructors structured the day in a five-station rotation: canoeing and kayaking, shotgun shooting, archery practice, pistol shooting and rifle shooting. They also invited the local sheriff’s department to give a presentation on gun safety in the home, and the Pennsylvania Trappers held a session on furbearer identification.
“It was a great day. The family format was definitely the way to go. We had fewer no-shows, and many of the parents were first-timers as well as the kids — that’s a win all around.”
Participants were pleased to be offered a $25 reward certificate as well for attending their First Shots family day. NSSF provides these reward certificates to participants after they complete a quick online survey at the end of the day, which can then be used by these new shooters to return to their host range for more instruction, target time on the range or other purchases. “The promise of $25 to come back and shoot again made it easy to ask people to give us survey feedback,” said Ord.
NSSF Made it Easy
“First Shots is set up to help new shooters succeed,” Ord said gratefully. “You put the right gun in their hands, take them through the course and they tell us, ‘Why didn’t I do this long ago?’”
Ord had a similar reaction to becoming a First Shots host range for the first time, adding, “I don’t know what took me so long!”
The New Milford Rifle and Pistol Club has already integrated First Shots events with its regular course lineup, with a focus on handguns that can be fired on the club’s indoor range. “The booklet and everything else NSSF sent made it so easy,” said John. “Plus, the advertising support — they make it simple for us to host.” NSSF supplies its host ranges classroom materials, eye and ear protection, targets and ammunition, greatly easing the cost burden for those facilities.
The club’s family-day approach was such a success, it proved how flexible the program is. Ord said, “We’re now seeing groups of people calling in and asking for group lessons, and we’re considering using First Shots as our solution for groups of people who might have different experience levels.”
“First Shots is great for me, personally,” he added. “If I could, I’d be at the club instructing shooters every day. I love it!”
About NSSF’s First Shots Program
First Shots is a nationally recognized new-shooter introduction course developed by NSSF, the firearm industry trade association. NSSF member ranges receive support materials, a $25 reward certificate for each participant and assistance in promoting the course to the community. To learn more about how your range can add First Shots to its course offerings, contact Ann Gamauf, NSSF Retail & Range Business Coordinator, at [email protected] or call 203-426-1320 ext. 247.
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