February 28, 2020
T&L Tactical: Bringing in New Shooters with NSSF’s +ONE Movement
Laurie Fettig had her first contact with a handgun in 2013, and while she enjoyed the experience, she realized that training should be at the core of her new pursuit, giving her the confidence to continue shooting.
“Frankly, the first time I fired a handgun, it really scared me, and I looked at my husband and said, ‘We need an expert to teach us,’” Fettig explained. This put her and her family on a path to learn the finer points of range safety and shooting together as a group. The family enjoyed the process so much that it wasn’t long before she and her husband were in the range business as T&L Tactical Firearms & Range in Manitowac, Wisconsin.
From One Month to Year-Round Success
Like most ranges, T&L Tactical relies on experienced shooters as its most regular clients. But Fettig is also keenly aware that the shooting sports industry must-have new participants to flourish, and that’s become her passion. “We simply love our first-time shooters. The excitement, the questions and the curiosity about every aspect of the firearms experience are new and so often deeply memorable. It gives us the motivation to see them succeed and join our sport,” she said.
With her introduction to shooting being so relatively recent, Fettig has a fresh perspective on what it takes, in terms of time and resources, to consistently bring new shooters into her building. When this range owner learned that August is National Shooting Sports Month, she got excited about incorporating the +ONESM Movement initiative with NSSF’s FirstShots® introductory classes for that month-long celebration. “It’s been a great way for our range to promote the shooting sports to a beginner or first-time shooter, and it sets a defined time period for staff to focus on the importance of just what it is new shooters need,” said Fettig.
In the months leading up to National Shooting Sports Month last year, all of T&L Tactical’s existing customers were invited to bring a friend during August and participate in the NSSF’s +ONE Challenge, adding an alluring price break of a $6 range fee—half price—to get people excited. The range also took advantage of NSSF’s promotional materials to help promote the month-long event, including T-shirts, safety equipment and guidance on the best ways to introduce people to the shooting sports.
One popular item, in particular, has been NSSF’s selfie frames that encourage participants to share their first-time range experiences on social media, which lets even more people know about the event. Fettig noted that especially with younger shooters, social media plays a constant and imperative role in all range communications and promotion. “It’s powerful for people to post, and we encourage them to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share their experiences during their shooting day.”
That dedication to the +ONE Challenge, combined with the ease of the First Shots classes, was so successful during 2019’s National Shooting Sports Month that Fettig told me, “Our First Shots classes have remained full year-round and we look forward to adding more slots. We also recently ordered +ONE signage and will continue the half-price range fee new shooter promotion year-round. We see family members of all ages coming in, including senior citizens, and people who have never held a gun or had a firearm in their home.”
Personalized Attention Key to New Shooter Retention
The staff at T&L makes it a point to remember the names of each new shooter and engage with each new shooter personally. This helps new shooters feel welcomed and helps the staff to customize suggestions to the needs and desires of each participant when questions come up. “Everyone has fun at our range, and while we try not to overwhelm our new shooters, we enjoy embracing them with personal attention and a sense of community. We love to make them feel a part of our sport, and we’ll help them in anyway we can,” Fettig emphasized.
Fettig noted that every step each new shooter experiences is carefully choreographed. All staff members are trained to always be on the lookout for anyone who appears lost or uncomfortable during their introductions to safety, firearms handling and first times firing a gun. One example she noted was talking and setting expectations about the noise level that comes with shooting on an indoor range.
“Indoor shooting is loud,” she said. “While our customers always use excellent hearing protection, we are diligent in teaching newcomers about the calibers that are shot on the range, and our stations have significant noise reduction designed to help improve the experience. Every step in how these new patrons are exposed to the noise, recoil and safe operation of firearms is planned out and practiced by our staff.”
Lots of Help from NSSF, All for the Asking
Through collaboration with the staff at the NSSF and the resources NSSF provides for promoting +ONE and National Shooting Sports Month, last year this range and retailer had one of the most successful Augusts in its history. Today, the number of new shooters is up and walk-ins are on the rise. Over 50 percent of their clients are women, and T&L Tactical has also seen steady increases in families and teens participating in the shooting sports since it took the idea behind National Shooting Sports Month and turned into something that lasts all year.
“Incorporating NSSF’s +ONE Movement, along with First Shots, is working to grow shooting sports, and the resources available can help you take your range to the next level. All the tools, support and expertise are there for the asking,” Fettig said of NSSF. “Implement the program that is the best fit for your range, ask for help when you need it and put it to use.”
About the +ONE Movement
NSSF’s +ONE Movement encourages current gun owners, hunters and target shooters to bring a friend along on a hunting or range excursion. NSSF provides a growing number of event materials, social media posts, logos, digital ads and media packets on its website for easy use by ranges and firearms retailers everywhere.
Get your business on board today by ordering a +ONE Promotional Kit. Need more information or ideas for a +ONE event? Contact Ann Gamauf, Retail & Range Business Development Coordinator, at [email protected] or 203-426-1320 ext. 247. You can also go to NSSF.org, LetsGoShooting.org and LetsGoHunting.org to learn more about NSSF’s resources for your firearms industry business and customers.