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February 20, 2019

First Shots — Target Shooting Solutions Can Relax and Just Teach

By Warren Berg

At Target Shooting Solutions in Avondale, Pennsylvania, Director of Training Kris Stover says his sole goal is to consistently bring new shooters and people from the local community into the world of shooting. NSSF’s First Shots is one of the tools Stover uses to help achieve that goal, and he says the payoff is that the range sees a steady flow of new shooters and incremental sales each month.

“Each month, each week I’d say that we hold a class, we see a new customer base come through,” Stover says, adding that while his range is consistently busy, it’s consistently more busy each and every time it holds an NSSF class. “I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the new people coming into our range are beginning shooters, so all of them take their First Shots class, and then all of a sudden we have an increase in .22 sales, increase in ammo sales, increase in range sales, so a lot of that revenue is directly derived from people taking that First Shot.”

Target Shooting Solutions - Store Front
Target Shooting Solutions in Avondale, Pennsylvania, uses First Shots as a tool to recruit and retain new shooters.

Some of the things Stover likes about First Shots include the constant contact he gets from NSSF and how easy it is to implement. “I would have to say that the reason First Shots is so successful at our range is due to mainly the cooperation with NSSF,” he says, explaining that his NSSF rep is always in contact with him and is right there if he is getting low on classroom or range materials or if he needs some advice.

“They’re right there to help me,” he says. “My day-to-day is so hectic, and I’m dealing with so many different people and so many different companies, that to have a specific company dedicated to our range is my ‘wow’ factor.”

As far as implementing First Shots, Stover says the only obstacles a range will encounter might be internal ones as it gets all of its instructors on board with the curriculum. “Everyone has to be teaching the same thing,” he emphasizes.

Target Shooting Solutions - First Shots - Range Time
Director of Training Kris Stover says that with First Shots, all students have to show up with are a healthy mind and a pad, pen and their driver’s license.

When it comes to who Target Shooting Solutions reaches out to for First Shots, Stover doesn’t think there is really any one specific type of person.

“I would say really anyone who is looking to gain a good, first-hand, overall knowledge of firearms safety and range etiquette,” he says. To Stover, that person could be anyone from a 12-year-old kid wanting to shoot grandpa’s .22 to a senior who served in the military decades ago and hasn’t shot a firearm since.

While Stover purposefully reaches out to new shooters using Facebook and his webpage and depends on word of mouth, he says a lot of First Shots students gravitate toward them organically.

“I started the whole training program about two years ago, and at the time it was a lot of me reaching out,” he says. “It was a lot of having my instructors do promotions and things like that.”

Target Shooting Solutions - First Shots - Range time
TSS holds First Shots two to three times a month, and with each class comes an increase in firearms, ammunition and range time sales.

Today, Stover says enough students come to them that they don’t have to do so much to promote classes, which he holds two to three times a month.

“As this company has grown, it has become more about us getting so many emails or us getting so many questions or calls about classes that it has become easier on us to fulfill those needs as they come to us,” explains Stover. To him, it’s that ability to instantaneously respond to an inquiry with “Yes, we have that,” that creates customer satisfaction, rather than trying to compete with other ranges by relying on flyers or Facebook promotions. “We try to do just a little bit more for the people who are constantly coming to our range, people who are constantly emailing us and leaving us voicemails and stuff like that. It’s really kind of caught fire.”

Target Shooting Solutions - First Shots Class
Stover credits the cooperation he gets from NSSF as a leading reason why First Shots classes are so productive and easy to run.

To help convert First Shots students into customers, Stover captures their email addresses and relies on feedback from class reviews.

“First Shots Second Round is really what our follow-up is, so we go through emails and reviews and stuff like that,” says Stover. “But when we are in the class, a lot of times we’ll promote Second Round because we have a Second Round class being held right after.”

In his experience, once someone has taken First Shots and has been on the range and performed above and beyond their expectations as far as accuracy or proficiency with a firearm goes, it’s not so much a scenario of reaching out to them constantly reminding them to try new things as much as it’s more them coming back and asking what can they do next. Stover credits a lot of that follow-up enthusiasm to how NSSF has structured First Shots and the support it provides ranges and students.

Target Shooting Solutions
Response to and demand for First Shots has been so good that TSS can mostly rely on customers coming to them.

“When my students show up for a class, all they need to bring are a healthy mind and a pad, pen and their driver’s license to get onto the range,” he says. NSSF provides a small gift bag with literature on firearms safety and etiquette and eye and ear protection so students don’t have to worry about if they brought the right gear. “All that stuff included from NSSF really gives us the ability to fully package a beginner class so that the student is able to relax and focus on the fundamentals of what we’re teaching them,” explains Stover. Similarly, he says, “NSSF is taking that extra step to make sure our range is fully stocked, fully prepared and briefed on all the knowledge it wants us to convey,” so, like the students, Stover and his instructors can relax and focus on what they’re teaching.

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