August 11, 2021
Celebrate National Shooting Sports Month at Your Range or Retail Store
August is here. That means it’s time to celebrate National Shooting Sports Month®. This is the time to promote your range or retail store, reach out to new and lapsed shooters, and tell everyone that you’re a shooter and proud of it. The theme of the month is “Let’s Go Shooting,” and NSSF has created a hashtag to promote the shooting sports on social media: #LetsGoShooting.
Paul Bastean is Managing Director of the Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center in St. Louis, MO. Paul recently spoke at the 2021 NSSF Range-Retailer Expo in West Palm Beach, FL., on how ranges and retailers can increase participation in the shooting sports and in their facilities. He said that with the number of new shooters we’ve had during the past year, it’s important to keep them engaged. Ranges and retailers can use National Shooting Sports Month to help do that.
“A lot of what we do here at Ultimate Defense is give people a reason to come into the range,” Bastean said. “For us, National Shooting Sports Month is that reason. It’s a way to get people back to the range, to get them involved in the training side, or in memberships.”
Because they are heavily involved in self-defense, Bastean said, his staff doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on the sporting aspects of firearm ownership. Rather, they focus on training.
“We want people to have the ability to protect themselves if they need to,” Bastean said. “National Shooting Sports Month is one of the reasons we get them back to the range or get them to the range for the first time.”
All of this speaks directly to profitability for ranges and retailers.
“For us, it’s about knowledge, tools and experience,” Bastean said. “We make margins on training, which is knowledge. The tools, obviously, are the guns and ammunition, and the experience is actual range usage. All three of those factors directly translate into the whole purpose and point of being in business, which is profitability.” No matter how much you love the shooting sports, you have to make money at what you’re doing, or you can’t keep doing it.
One of the ways in which you can bring new shooters into your establishment is through the +ONE® Movement. The premise of this is that experienced shooters mentor newcomers and novices on how to safely handle firearms and help them develop skills to hit their targets.
Ultimate Defense has found creative ways to encourage experienced shooters to bring in newcomers.
“We’ve had a phenomenal response to our +ONE program,” Bastean said. “We’re doing an incentive +ONE gun giveaway. When an experienced shooter brings in a non-shooting guest, or a shooter who has been away from Ultimate Defense for more than a year, both of them can enter their names in our drawing. We’re going to give away two consecutively-numbered Glock 43 9mm handguns.” Ultimate Defense is spending about $1,000 on the two guns; so far, the promotion has brought in thousands of dollars in profit to the range.
“The number of people who have brought in other people to put their names in for these guns is phenomenal,” Bastean said. “We have people who are actively recruiting other people to bring into Ultimate Defense. Some people come in and throw their name in the pot and leave. Others come in and say, ‘I didn’t know this place was here!’” Some of those people buy guns, stay, shoot and train.
“Our emphasis has always been on higher-margin sales, and for us that’s training,” Bastean said. “We have been able to convert the +ONE gun giveaway into massive enrollment into our First Shots program and getting people into concealed carry and firearms safety classes.”
This also has meant a lot of sales in the retail side of the house.
“New shooters don’t have anything,” Bastean said. “When a new shooter walks in the door, they’re a blank slate. We get to set them up from start to finish. Getting a new shooter in the door is a much more profitable venture than converting a shooter from someone else’s range to yours.”
Bastean assisted the NSSF with revamping the First Shots program a few years ago to keep it fresh and up to date. National Shooting Sports Month is leading many new shooters into First Shots at Ultimate Defense.
“A lot of new shooters think the tool is the only thing they need to protect themselves,” Bastean said. “Our staff is really good at letting them know that the tool alone doesn’t get them the desired result, that it also takes training and experience.” Ultimate Defense has been running between 180 and 250 people a month through their First Shots program; National Shooting Sports Month is increasing that number.
Getting started with First Shots is easy, Bastean said. All you need is an entertaining and qualified instructor, a classroom and the pre-created lesson plan from NSSF.
The +ONE program requires a little more creativity.
“You have to develop a reason for people to recruit for you,” Bastean said. “You have to incentivize your existing customers to go out and promote the sport in addition to promoting your brand. The +ONE gun giveaway that we’re doing is one of the top five promotions that we’ve done in the past several years.”
Once you put together a promotion, you need to let potential customers and shooters know where you are. It’s not too late to do something for National Shooting Sports Month; recreate your most successful promotion from the past that has brought in lots of new customers and sign up on the NSSF website to be a shooting sports host. Go to https://www.shootingsportsmonth.org/ and list your range or retail store as a host, become a partner, or ask the NSSF for help.
Then promote your facility on social media channels. The NSSF has a Promotional Toolkit, where businesses can download a social media helper, logos and guidance on how to promote National Shooting Sports Month in order to celebrate recreational shooting and spread the word about mentoring through the +ONE Movement and spending an enjoyable at the range.
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