April 20, 2023
Behind the Firing Line: CMP Talladega
Welcome to NSSF’s column for shooting range owners, managers and staff, “Behind the Firing Line.” Our intent is to show how companies demonstrate best industry practices while growing the shooting sports. For more information on NSSF’s Star Rating Range program, visit NSSF.org or contact Zach Snow, NSSF Director of Member Development.
Gaining the NSSF Five-Star Advantage
In April 2021, CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park was the first outdoor range to capture the full NSSF 5-Star rating under its revised rating system. This facility is recognized as one of the premier outdoor shooting parks in the US.
It features extensive shotgun fields from five-stand, wobble trap, skeet, trap and sporting clays to 52 covered rifle firing points on the main John C. Garand range with electronic targets up to 600 yards and 34 covered rifle firing points on range 2 the 100 yard rifle range. In addition, the range offers 24 covered pistol firing points on range 4 and 20 action pistol bays on Range 5. As authorized by Congress, it’s also the exclusive national M1-Garand rifle restorer and retailer.
The NSSF recently updated its criteria for outdoor ranges and looks forward to bringing several existing outdoor shooting ranges into the NSSF Star Rating Range Program.
“CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is a dreamland for all target shooting enthusiasts and those looking to get started. It’s an extraordinary facility that speaks to family and shooting sports excellence,” said Zach Snow, NSSF Director of Member Development.
“While CMP sets a high standard on the shooting scale, the new Star Rating System for outdoor ranges NSSF has a place and a rating for outdoor ranges of all types and sizes,” said Snow.
Achieving a Star-Rating comes with multiple benefits, including increased visibility on websites and the wheretoshoot.org app, feature articles like this one and even potential discounts through an insurance company that’s an NSSF Member Benefits preferred provider.
Connecting with Customers via Innovative Mobile Marketing Strategies
The largest ongoing media disruption to marketing your range in this decade is connecting with your prospects and stakeholders in real-time.
While radio, TV, billboard and print advertising may be part of your marketing mix; this trend is on the decline. Targeted social media presence has proven effective. However, for many businesses, the customer’s cell phone may offer the most instant connection and measurable response available per media dollar.
Moving Beyond Social for Scale & Accuracy
“Last year as we were meeting with our local radio rep, we started to discuss changes in marketing trends. In our case, scale and accuracy is critical. It needed to move beyond our presence in social media. It needs to give us an accurate snapshot of where our customers are coming from and what they want to engage in,” said Greg Raines, Assistant Chief Operating Officer of CMP Talladega.
Game Changer: Targeting Customers through Geo-Fencing
That’s when Raines learned the term Geo-Fencing. This location-based mobile marketing technique sets a viral fence around a desired location. The goal is to target consumers who enter it. The fence can be specific to a parking lot, a stadium, or even a smaller, specific walking corridor.
“Our local radio-media company has expanded its reach by offering cell phone marketing. We’re planning to test a wide range of cell-based messaging and billboards. We’ll roll out Geo-Fencing at local events like racing at the Talladega Superspeedway,” said Raines.
CMP will market to specific demographics located regionally within the Geo-Fence during the race. It will offer discounts and a wide variety of special offers. Raines pointed out that the time-sensitive offers will promote specific programs from family outings to rifle, pistol, shotgun and archery events. This targeting will enable CMP to accurately track a response, allow extensive fine-tuning and track and monitor the program’s success.
Dialing It In
“It really will be a game changer. We will know if a new customer comes from these text messages, what they bought and even the amount of time they spent on our website,” said Raines.
Although Raines wouldn’t elaborate on the cost, he did comment that this media shift should be comparable to their radio budget.
Continued testing is planned for regions in other parts of the Midwest, South and the Rustbelt. “Once dialed in, this program can be moved to any part of the country, including large-scale shooting events. We attract a significant number of event-specific shooters that are willing to travel to our facility as a vacation destination,” he said.
Geo-Fencing is one example of the extensive palette of options cell phone marketing can offer in the shooting sports.
As part of the Firearm Industry Compliance Education series, the NSSF hosted a seminar on “Text Marketing & Compliance: What is S.H.A.F.T.” on March 20, 2023.
You can view the webinar recording by logging into SHOT UniversityTM Online to learn more about the parameters required to use text marketing for ranges or firearm retailers.
Retailers and ranges must follow a long list of federal requirements with numerous response and age-sensitive rules. This NSSF webinar is an excellent primer on the basics of any text marketing program.
Welcoming Droves of New Shooters
Like many shooting-service-based companies, in the last 24 months, CMP has seen the largest number of new shooters at their range in its history. In response, Raines said CMP has made a firm commitment to growing the sport for new shooters.
“The Pandemic changed every aspect of our operation. It’s exciting to see these new shooters, that would have never considered owning a firearm, now joining the ranks of our field. During Covid, we continued to operate. As new shooters entered our doors, we welcomed them. The experience affirmed and reinforced our dedication to train, engage and embrace shooters from new demographics and cultural backgrounds,” said Raines.
Moving Beyond Fear to a Love of the Sport—First Shooter Training
“When a new shooter comes to the Park for training out of fear, it’s rewarding to engage them. We foster their curiosity in a way that moves them beyond the fear and into the sport,” he said.
The Talladega Marksmanship Park features extensive first shooter training in Basic Rifle, Basic Pistol and Introduction to Shotgun. Each three-hour class is offered daily with a combination of classroom and live fire.
“Our daily training programs expanded when we saw the need and traffic from new shooters during Covid. It continues with programs like the First Shots® program and the Plus One® Initiative programs,” Raines said.
The programs help streamline best practices to communicate with new firearm owners. It helps by providing free POP gear and targets. Single moms, kids and entire families often upload photos on Instagram and Facebook. Historically, this program has been a huge success,” he said.
Raines commented that adding a fun factor to training through Social Media participation continues to spread awareness that benefits the organization.
Creating the First US Marksman Course
One of the unique features of the Talladega property is the KTS (Kongsberg Targeting System) electronic targeting system—the first and only in the country.
The system was originally designed and developed by the Norwegian Army. It has proven to be a game-changer for the range and the target shooting experience. Sitting from a single station, the guest receives complete placement information from their shot at any of the three distances.
Each station has a 200-, 300- and 600-yard live-fire target. A shooter can fire downrange at a target in the lane. Without leaving their seat, they receive instant placement feedback on a computer screen.
Elevating Safety & the Shooter Experience
Creating a greater sense of safety, the range doesn’t need to shut down constantly for target retrieval and placement. In turn, it elevates the shooter’s experience and greatly improves their performance, without disturbing their concentration or rhythm.
“Once a distance shooter experiences the range, it’s challenging for them to go back to a system where they are walking out into the field,” Raines said.
The Talladega Marksmanship Park was the first NSSF Outdoor Five-Star Range in the US.
CMP employs a staff of 30 full and part-time employees. It operates five days a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm and Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am – 5 pm. They are closed Monday and Tuesday.
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