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April 23, 2020

Health Safety Guidance for FFL Retailers and Firearm Ranges


By John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retail & Range Services

The pandemic has brought with it an intense stream of communication, especially those messages aimed at personal safety. But handwashing and social distancing are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to keeping you, your staff and your customers safe. To enhance your safety processes as we continue to work through these coming months, NSSF® has created this list of suggested best practices aimed at the unique business environments of FFL retailers and firearm ranges.

Social Distancing for Firearm Retail Businesses

  • Create policies and signage directing customers or staff who display any COVID-19-related symptoms to please not visit your shop. Display this messaging in your store, on your website and via social media.
  • Avoid encouraging large crowds by staging visitors in the parking lot or some type of virtual “waiting room” in which an appointment can be assigned to individuals to limit and manage foot traffic.
  • Create “lanes” within your store that create a foot traffic flow that keeps folks six feet apart and all heading in the same direction up and down each isle, eventually leading them to the checkout area and then out of the store (the current grocery store model)
  • Provide personal protection equipment (gloves, face masks, face shields, etc.) to all staff, as well as to customers when possible.
  • Offer curbside pickup or delivery when possible. (You can put a sign that says “Ring doorbell” or “Call this number for pickup” on a stand in your parking lot for drive-up/curbside retail service.)
  • Install plexiglass barriers at checkout counters and workstations.
  • Greet folks at the door instead of inside when possible.

Social Distancing for Indoor Ranges

  • Close every-other lane on your range to provide ample space between shooters and those in training
  • Set capacity limitations for your range based on people per square foot
  • Ask customers to wait in their cars for lane availability and advise that the range will text them when it’s their turn.
  • Greet folks at the door instead of inside when possible

Hygiene for Firearm Retail Businesses

  • Clean commonly touched surfaces and each product after it is handled by your customers and staff.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations for customers and staff.
  • Offer special shopping hours for senior citizens or those at higher risk for infection.
  • Increase hand-washing awareness with small posters like this one.
  • Ask customers to wash their hands before they handle any firearm.

Hygiene for Indoor Ranges

  • Temporarily suspend firearm, accessory, and other equipment rentals such as eye and ear protection.
  • Remove any iPads or tablets that collect “waiver” information and that are shared among customers and transition to paper waivers or waivers on customer devices. If paper waivers are used, have your staff handle those waivers with latex or other safety gloves.
  • Sanitize shooting rests, benches, stations and lane dividers, target holders, target retrieval system controls and all other areas commonly used by your staff and customers.
  • Increase hand-washing awareness with small posters like this one.

These guidelines can be added to or integrated with your current safety plans, as well as printed out for employee distribution and posting in breakrooms, warehouses and other staff gathering places.

In addition to implementing the above best practices, NSSF invites you to take part in a new SHOT UniversityTM live webinar, “Retail & Indoor Range Operating Tactics in the COVID-19 Era.” The webinar takes place Monday, April 27, at 11:00 a.m. EST. Paul R. Bastean, Managing Director of Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center, L.L.C.,  will walk those attending through a number of health-safety best practices FFLs are employing during the COVID-19 crisis. This webinar is free to industry members, but space is limited. To participate, RSVP here.

Retail & Indoor Range Operating Tactics in the COVID-19 Era  | SHOT UniversityTM Online
Monday, April 27 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. EST

 RSVP TODAY

To date, NSSF has been successful in having firearms businesses listed as essential and/or operating in nearly every U.S. state. However, poor social-distancing practices at retail and range establishments could reverse that trend and result in many of our industry’s businesses closing. Carefully evaluate all local, state and federal guidelines for personal and public safety in addition to the above list of best practices, craft a health safety policy for your business that meets those criteria and ensure your staff and customers follow the procedures you implement.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need help addressing a particular safety concern with your business. Also, if you’ve created a practice or policy that improves the health safety standards of your business that others would find valuable, we’d like to hear from you. Contact me at jmcnamara@nssf.org, or Zach Snow, Director, Retail & Range Business Development at zsnow@nssf.org. We’re here to help.

*Photo courtesy of American Shooting Center

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