May 22, 2019
Community Commitment comes First at Sim Trainer
“We’re a family-owned and -operated range, and we work really hard to develop a good relationship with our local community,” says Marc Pedro, Manager and Firearms Instructor at Sim Trainer Indoor Range and Firearms Training Center in Dayton, Ohio. “The community comes to us for information, and First Shots® is a great conversation-starter. I love to talk with people who say they don’t want anything to do with firearms, and I invite them to try First Shots just to be informed. It’s a low-stress, high-education opportunity.”
Sim Trainer has been a First Shots host range since 2008.
“First Shots is a strong business-development tool for us,” says Pedro. He considers it the range’s “bread and butter” offering for attracting new customers. Over the years, he has found that First Shots is a great way to build community and start a conversation about firearm safety at home.
Youth recreational shooting is a big focus for Sim Trainer, and Pedro uses First Shots to help parents feel comfortable about their kids pursuing firearms handling and target sports. “We stress that shooting can be a great recreational option for kids, just like baseball, tennis or golf,” he explained. In addition to taking parents through a First Shots class, Pedro uses the fundamentals from the First Shots course in Sim Trainer’s many youth workshops.
“I love to educate kids,” says Pedro. “This is a conversation we need to have with the youth in our communities, and First Shots is a great opportunity to talk about firearms safety and safe storage, and yet have a great time.”
Every class has some family element, from a parent taking the class with their son or daughter (very often a mother and daughter) to time with siblings, husbands and wives.
By its very name, Pedro believes First Shots is more attractive to women than men. It’s not intimidating, and it allows the instructor to be reassuring while making it a “cool, fun and educational experience,” he says.
Pedro’s been most surprised by a different segment of attendees: people who haven’t shot in years. They were either exposed to firearms as kids or in the military, but they haven’t shot in 25 years or more. He’s encouraged by the number of people who come back for a refresher to make sure they are safe, smart and able to shoot accurately.
Sim Trainer hosts two First Shots events each month, and while the range used to offer the class on a weeknight, it discovered the best day for their community is Saturday. The first Saturday of the month Sim Trainer offers a 9:00 a.m. class, while the third Saturday class is held at 4:00 p.m. That allows attendees to work around other commitments and find a time that works well for them. The set schedule also keeps disruption at a minimum for the range’s loyal frequent shooter/members.
Sim Trainer has discovered the most effective method of promoting the class is through its social media channels. The range posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and it often sends an email announcing upcoming classes to people on their opt-in list. It also hosts a radio show on a local station and frequently talk about the benefits of taking a First Shots class on the air.
“First Shots has helped us build a reputation as a training range as well as a shooting range,” says Pedro. New shooters come because of Sim Trainer’s reputation, and then come back because of the great experience.