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July 5, 2019

You’ve Filled Your First Shots Class — Now Bring Those Shooters Back!

By Gayle Teskey

“First Shots is our most productive tool to bring people into our facility,” says Jessica Keffer of The Sportsman’s Shop, located in East Earl, Pennsylvania.

More than 1,800 students have gone through NSSF’s First Shots® class at the Sportsman’s Shop over the last four years. Jessica reports that 50 percent of those students have returned within 90 days to make a retail purchase, take additional training or spend time in the range.

“We know not everyone is going to come back,” says Jessica. “But we try to make it clear what their path forward can be — we give them directions for the journey they can take.”

Students are told when they enroll that the First Shots course is both group and individual training, the “group” portion existing as the classroom portion. After that, The Sportsman’s Shop puts the students on the range in a one-on-one setting with a range safety officer. That officer is well versed in what options are available to the student after the class and can explain how private training works, how to explore other firearms options in future classes and get the student comfortable with range procedures.

Sportsman's Shop - First Shots Targets

The Sportsman’s Shop dedicates five lanes to each First Shots event and limits the class size to 15. That way, five participants can be shooting while the others observe until it’s their turn. “We try to break groups of friends and families into different groups so they can watch and support each other while they take turns shooting. It makes for a more fun experience, and people say they learn almost as much from watching as by actually shooting,” says Jessica.

When everyone has had their turn shooting, the staff bring the entire group back into the classroom for a thorough wrap-up. “People want to know what to do next,” says Jessica “and we take the time to explain it. You could say we wrap it up with a bow! We talk through all their options, like private classes or coming back to the range,” explains Jessica. “As a part of the conversation, I always open the handbook, point out the survey information and call out the $25 certificate. I refer to it as the ‘no-brainer’ part of the event — who doesn’t want $25!”

Sportsman's Shop - Range Safety Officer

In addition to the $25 certificate provided by NSSF, The Sportsman’s Shop gives each First Shots class participant a range discount certificate worth 50 percent off and a handout with six different discount coupons for items in their retail shop or future classes. The certificate and coupons expire 30 days after the First Shots class, which helps Jessica and her instructors stress the goal of returning soon, while the instructions are all still fresh. A thank-you email is sent to each student within three days of the class, and it includes a link to take the survey and claim their First Shots certificate.

The Sportsman’s Shop enjoys some of the highest survey results of any First Shots host range. Ratings of “Very Enthusiastic” are companied by comments like “Good people,” “Step-by-step instruction,” “Job well done,” “Attentive,” “Helped me learn,” and “Thank you!” To learn more about how you can grow your customer base and experience results like these by incorporating First Shots and NSSF support into your course offerings, email Ann Gamauf at

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