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February 9, 2016

Multi-Cultural Interests in Target Shooting


A primary mission of the National Shooting Sports Foundation is to increase participation in the shooting sports. NSSF has initiated a number of programs in recent years that are successfully doing just this, but statistics show our core base of customers is still overwhelmingly comprised of older Caucasian males, while the face of America is increasingly heading in different directions. To help the industry adapt to changing times, NSSF is testing how to effectively engage new  and diverse audiences through hands-on pilot initiatives.

Diversified customers can refer to many things: different races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and more. Therefore, identifying which customer segments offer the best growth opportunities, and how to successfully engage them, is the first task. Developing and testing tactics that retailers, ranges and others in the industry can effectively implement locally is the next step. In 2014 and 2015, NSSF has been engaged in these research and pilot testing efforts, and will continue to improve and expand in 2016 and beyond.

What Have We Learned?

Southwick Associates assisted in examining interest levels in the shooting sports and needs across a wide range of potential new audiences. The results complemented previous NSSF research showing that people with significant interest in the shooting sports tend to skew younger and female.

Interest in the shooting sports across the key Hispanic, African- American and Asian-American markets, was also found to be very high, even greater than that seen in the Caucasian market (Chart 1).

chart 1.1
Chart 1

Southwick Associates also evaluated how these audiences consume different media to help boost advertising and communication efforts. Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans as well as younger audiences are more likely to be reached online compared to our traditional older and Caucasian customers, and will respond better when they see positive reviews of a range or retailer from people like them. An online presence will be a critical component of marketing strategies to engage with these potential new target shooters. These new customers expect different services than our typical customers, too. Chart 2 highlights some of the most soughtafter services these diverse audiences want from a range. Note the importance of emphasizing safety: These customers want to see safety officers on the range and someone to personally instruct them in the safe use of firearms.

chart 2.2
Chart 2

They are also seeking products and services for first-time shooters, such as basic equipment displayed in your store or a dedicated beginner’s lane on your range for them to learn to shoot. They want to see faces like theirs in the ads and, if possible, as part of your staff. They are unfamiliar with ranges and stores, so it’s important to portray facilities as welcoming. Be sure your ads and imagery help to convey this with bright and professional-looking photos. Read the full survey reports here.

Recommended Approaches

Every member of the industry, from retailer to state agency to manufacturer, needs to determine their best local growth opportunities, whether it’s the Hispanic market, millennials, African-Americans, women or other relevant groups. Once you select your targeted market, online promotions using websites favored by these audiences can be the most cost-effective approach to getting your store and brand messaging to those audiences. Again, be sure your imagery and text reflect the markets you want to engage. See Figure 1 for an example of an ad NSSF recently used in one of its campaigns that was aimed at informing a Hispanic population about their area’s shooting and retail firearms facilities. It’s also smart to utilize online review services such as Yelp and Trip Advisor, as well as any local online blog that promotes things to do around town.


The good news that’s come from NSSF’s recent research effort with Southwick Associates is that people of diverse backgrounds want to go target shooting. Engaging them will take different approaches to marketing and service than our industry has previously used. Embrace those new ways and when you see fresh faces coming through the door, make sure these new customers’ first experiences at the range or in your store are good ones. Greet them warmly. Listen to what their needs are, emphasize safety and provide them one-on-one time to help them learn the ropes. If possible, have someone on staff from the community you are working with to become a part of your customer base. With these efforts and NSSF’s continued research, our industry is sure to grow.

*Want to discover the untapped markets in your area? NSSF’s Customized Market Reports reveal your region’s demographics, including competing and complimentary businesses in your area, and help you to better understand and reach your potential new customers. For more information, log on to and click on the “Research” tab or email Dianne Vrablic, NSSF Research Coordinator, at

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