Vol. 15 No. 3 Summer 2012
NSSF’s Magazine for Shooting Facilities
Special Deals for Range Purchases & Ads Tie Into Local Tourism Classes = Trafﬁc + $
The Range Report Summer 2012
The Range Report Summer 2012
Vol. 15 No. 3 Summer 2012
Untapped Opportunities Co-op advertising can help generate traffic and boost bottom lines. By William F. Kendy
Tie in to Tourist Traffic
It works in New York, and it could work anywhere.
Show Some Class Instructional sessions benefit your customers, your revenue and your future.
Special Deals for Range Purchases
Many companies offer special buying programs for shooting facilities. By Carolee Anita Boyles
Sighting In Scoping out news for the shooting range community By Glenn Sapir
Surviving in an Industrial Complex
Q&A What you do when the lights go out? By Robin Ball, Barry Laws and Bill Kempffer
By Tom Carpenter
Welcome to the digital Range Report By Glenn Sapir
By Bill Hilts, Jr.
Letter from the Editor
The Undercover Shooter
Home on the Range
Two for trap
New customers, new members By Tisma Juett
A shooting club survives—and thrives—among corporate neighbors. By Mike Zlotnicki
Vol. 15 No. 3 Summer 2012
On the cover cover:
© 2012 National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Range Report , SHOT Show® and all other trade names, trademarks and service marks of the National Shooting Sports Foundation appearing in this publication are the sole property of the Foundation and may not be used without the Foundation’s prior express written permission. All other company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. SM
Ranges will discover in “Special Deals for Range Purchases,” page 33, that manufacturers and distributors offer special programs to help put firearms into the hands of customers and members.
NSSF’s Magazine for Shooting Facilities
Special Deals for Range Purchases & Ads Tie Into Local Tourism Classes = Traffic + $
Photo by Carolee Anita Boyles The Range Report Summer 2012
The Range Report Summer 2012
Letter from the Editor By Glenn Sapir
Welcome to the Digital Range Report
ere it is: the first exclusively digital edition of The Range Report. Though appearing in a different format than the paper publication readers are used to seeing, the magazine’s mission remains the same: To provide information in an entertaining manner to help shooting facilities run their operations more financially, legally and environmentally sound and, ultimately, to provide their customers and club members the most enjoyable experience possible. And, now, we hope we can fulfill that mission better than ever. Readers will continue to learn from experts in the field. Real-world situations will serve as examples from which to gain knowledge. That hasn’t changed from the paper edition of The Range Report. Of course, in the previous “generation” of the magazine, what you saw is what you got. In other words, if the magazine were 24 pages, you could hold in your hands those two-dozen pages of text and images, and know that if you read it from cover to cover, as so many of our readers say they do, you viewed it all. With this digital edition, however, The Range Report not only provides a finite number of pages, but it also serves as a springboard to links full of more information—and those links may lead
to yet more tips, advice and help. The magazine before you is both an end unto itself, as well as a portal to evermore information and entertainment. Furthermore, the digital Range Report serves as the centerpiece of a new website designed for the shooting range community. Here you cannot only find the most current edition of the magazine, but you can also find archived back issues. “Sighting In,” the popular page in the magazine that “scopes out news for the shooting range community,” will be refreshed continually on the website, so that you won’t have to wait for the next seasonal edition to get your next dose of range-industry developments. Check the website regularly for updates to “Sighting In.” Also at the website will be the opportunity for you to ask questions. Those questions will be forwarded to our Range Advisory Committee and other experts, and the answers may appear on the website or in future issues of The Range Report. The website, too, provides the chance for you to ask questions of me, the editor of this magazine, regarding articles that have appeared and topics you would like to see covered in future editions. Though the lines of communication between editor and reader have always been open, perhaps the website will make it The Range Report Summer 2012
even more convenient for you to touch base. As you look at the table of contents of this first exclusively digital edition of the magazine, the BILL DUNN authors of the articles become obvious. However, Managing Director, other important contributors are not as apparent. Marketing Communications Of course, every issue’s design, when the email@example.com magazine was in print and now that it is digital, has been guided by the artistic eye and skills of Deb Moran, NSSF director of creative services, who serves as the art director of The Range Report. Another unseen, but regular contributor to the ANN SILADI publication is Ann Siladi, a key member of NSSF’s Administrative Assistant (Advertising inquiries) marketing communications team, who fields the firstname.lastname@example.org magazine’s advertising inquiries. She has taken on that responsibility with zeal, trying to attract members of the industry whom Ann knows would profit by promoting their products and services to our readership. NSSF’s staff is manned—and “womanned”—by DEB MORAN Director, Creative Services true leaders in emerging media, such as Bill Dunn, email@example.com who heads the marketing communications team as its managing director. Besides Bill are colleagues Laura Springer, NSSF manager, emerging media, and Erik Scarpati, NSSF’s emerging media specialist. These folks rolled up their sleeves when challenged with creating a platform for this digital edition— LAURA SPRINGER Manager, and the new Range Report website—and the Emerging Media results are on your screen. firstname.lastname@example.org I can assure you, however, that we will never be content with status quo. You are looking at the first exclusively digital edition of The Range Report, but you can bet that as technology improves and you—the reader—and we—the ERIC SCARPATI “publisher”—keep looking for ways to make this Emerging Media magazine even better, The Range Report will Specialist email@example.com continue to evolve, never forgetting its mission to serve the shooting facilities that are its intended beneficiary.
The Range Report Summer 2012
The Range Report, published four times per year by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is dedicated to serving the needs and to helping meet the challenges of today’s shooting facilities. The Range Report encourages letters, comments, suggestions, questions and tips. Material to be returned should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The Range Report does not assume responsibility for the loss of unsolicited graphic or written material.
Correspondence should be sent to: The Range Report c/o NSSF 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470-2359 Fax: 203-426-1245 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org We reserve the right to edit for clarity and space. Managing Director, . . . . . . . . Bill Dunn Marketing Communications Director, Editoral Services . . . . Glenn Sapir Administrative Assistant . . . . Ann Siladi (advertising inquiries) Director, Creative Services . . . Deb Moran
NSSF RANGE ADVISORY COMMITTEE Bill Kempffer, chairman of NSSF Range Advisory Committee Deep River Sporting Clays, Inc. Sanford, N.C. email@example.com Don Turner, president Don Turner Consultant, LLC North Las Vegas, Nev. firstname.lastname@example.org Robin Ball, owner Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop Spokane, Wash. Robin@sharpshooting.net Glenn Duncan, owner Duncan’s Outdoor Shop, Inc. Bay City, Mich. email@example.com
Jon Green, director of education and training Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) Northborough, Mass. firstname.lastname@example.org Holden Kriss, director Indian River County Public Shooting Range Sebastian, Fla. email@example.com John Monson, president Bill’s Gun Shop & Range Robbinsdale & Circle Pines, Minn. firstname.lastname@example.org Phil Murray, national sales manager White Flyer Houston, Texas Murray826@aol.com
David O’Meara, vice president Meggitt Training Systems Suwanee, Ga. email@example.com
Stan Pate, president Oregon State Shooting Association Albany, Ore. firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug VanderWoude, range program manager AcuSport Corporation Bellefontaine, Ohio dvanderwoude@AcuSport.com
The Range Report Summer 2012
If you’re not using KMA as your target retrieval system, you’ll need a backup. How about Rex?
KMA Overhead Target Retrieval System. Nothing is more reliable! From the moment Savage introduced the KMA Overhead Target Retrieval System, shooting ranges have been converting to the most advanced and reliable retrieval system available. No more down time, no more lost revenue! The future of target retrieval... now! With programmable controls, target turning of 90˚ (with an option of 360˚), a bright LED adjustable-intensity target light that travels with the target and illuminates when the target faces the shooter, and a modular track that can accommodate any length of range, the KMA is the perfect choice for ranges with aging target retrieval systems. It’s faster, smarter, more flexible and programmable than any other system ever made, and its ease of installation and low maintenance is unmatched. So when you are ready to replace or upgrade your current target retrieval system, there’s only one choice,Savage Range Systems’ KMA Overhead Target Retrieval System. No bones about it!
Booth Control Unit deploys and retrieves target, turns target and allows the shooter to set the distance with GO and HOME buttons.
The KMA Overhead Target Retrieval System’s carrier rides a modular rail system to fit any length of range. Target lights and the turning motor are protected by 1/4” armor steel.
The carrier-mounted adjustable intensity LED light travels with the target. Red and blue flashing lights can be added to simulate ‘in the field’ lighting.
Optional Booth Light LED bright white lights are low wattage, plug into the Drive Unit and can be controlled from either the Booth Control Unit or central control.
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7 ISO 9001:2008 Certified 7
Sighting In Scoping out news for the shooting range community
Inaugural Take Your Daughter to the Range Day June 9, 2012, marked the first of what is planned as an annual day to promote shooting facilities to young females and their parents. National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day was established to create the opportunity for girls that boys often get through Scouts and other programs. It was meant to promote firearms safety and education, as well as family participation in an exciting fun sport. Visit the National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day official website to learn about plans for a similar celebration in 2013.
Ravenwood Lodge Gains Elite Five Star Status After careful review of Ravenwood Lodge’s application for rating and a site inspection by NSSF Manager, Shooting Promotions Zach Snow, the family-owned business was awarded Five Star status. The NSSF member facility, established in 1985, offers a sporting clays course and a variety of hunting opportunities. “The hospitality and laid-back atmosphere makes you feel like part of the family,” Snow said. Learn more about Ravenwood Lodge and about the Five Star rating system.
Washington State Bill Offering NoiseComplaint Protection Dies in the Senate Sponsored by Washington State Rep. Dean Takko (D-Longview), a proposed law would have sought to place the burden of recognizing the inherent volume of firearm usage onto those who purchase land and homes near existing ranges. State Rep. Ed Orcutt, a supporter of the bill, was quoted in The Columbian as saying, “Do I have the right to sue because I can hear the train go by at 3 o’clock in the morning? I made a conscious choice to purchase property there. So it’s up to me to accept the conditions I bought into.” Despite passing out of committees, Rep. Takko’s office reported that the bill died in the state Senate. The Range Report Summer 2012
NSSF Sponsors Indoor Range & Retail Development Workshop Entrepreneurs who are exploring the idea, or are currently in the planning stages, of opening an indoor range/retail business greatly benefitted from the Indoor Range & Retail Development Workshop presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation June 18-21 in St. Louis, Mo. A press release announced the event and outlined the topics to be covered and other details of the workshop. Said Zach Snow, NSSF shooting promotions manager, “We had a sell-out crowd, and they got what they came for—expert advice from experienced pros, an opportunity to network, a chance to tour a few nearby shooting and retailer facilities, and extremely valuable handout information that can long serve as dependable reference.” A video of the workshop is being developed, and details of its availability will be announced. The Range Report Summer 2012
Be Part of New Where2Shoot iPhone App NSSF has launched “Where2Shoot,” a mobile app available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The app— available for free in the iTunes App store—puts North America’s most comprehensive directory of shooting ranges in the palm of a prospective shooter’s hand. It also includes video tips for shooters, news and firearm safety information. Where2Shoot gives users the ability to search for ranges near their current location as well as by zip code and state. It also provides specifics about each range, including shooting activities offered, accessibility and contact information. The app is modeled after NSSF’s popular WhereToShoot.org® website and is updated frequently with range information in every U.S. state and Canadian province. Click here or scan the QR code below with your device to learn more and to download the app. More importantly, if you own or operate a shooting facility that is not listed in the WhereToShoot database, enter it now, so you can be included on the website and in RR app updates. 9
Q&A Your questions answered
When the Lights Go Out Q. How do you deal with a power failure? A. Robin Ball, president, Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop Fortunately, the lights don’t go out often. What that means, however, is we have little practice in implementing our process, so employees may not remember the process and new employees may not have witnessed our procedure—or even been briefed on it. The actual contingency process is simple. For the point of sale [POS] system, we go back to the dark ages with the “knuckle buster” for credit cards, call in for approvals and handwrite receipts. The process is slow but doable. If we know the customer, we will write the receipt and then run the transaction when the system comes up, without the card (yes we pay a higher fee), but then, again, we aren’t taking the time to call in. Customers are typically patient and even see the humor in power outages. On the sales floor, we are more cautious. We have staff on the floor. Our emergency lighting is not as bright as the normal lighting, so the risk of theft increases. We hope that a 10
stronger presence of staff on the floor reduces the temptation. On the range, we shut down. The emergency lighting system is great to get people packed up and off the range, but without ventilation we don’t allow shooting. Since our outages are usually short amounts of time, sometimes customers hang out and shop. A. Barry Laws, CEO, Openrange No electricity = no computer = no POS = no payment processing. Plus no indoor lights and no working range. Worse yet: no security, no exterior security lighting, no security cameras and no security recorder. Alarm monitoring systems rely on a small backup battery. When it dies, no alarm system = no security = NO Sleep. Dream solution: Generator to power everything. Reality: Can’t afford $75,000+. My solution: Three UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) units energize, No. 1, in our backroom, the server and modem; No. 2, also in our backroom, our security camera, monitor, printer and telephone system; and, No. 3, at the front counter, our main sales computer, monitor, card scanner and printer. I also keep a deep-cycle battery on a trickle charger and a 120-volt The Range Report Summer 2012
Robin Ball President Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop Spokane, Wash. www.sharpshooting.net
Barry Laws CEO Openrange Crestwood, Ky. www.openrangesports.com
inverter for any emergency I didn’t think of. Our security system has small 12-volt batteries, which die after about two days. I rotate spare batteries into the system each month to keep backups charged. Finally we have a portable solar panel and two battery pods, which recharge “solarly” in 10 hours anywhere there is sun. One pod can then be used to power the security system while the other recharges. Enough power to close tabs, leave a phone message and keep our security alive = Sleep. A. Bill Kempffer, President, Deep River Sporting Clays & Shooting School Although we do not need to worry about artificial lights to shoot because we rely on the sun and because all of our trap equipment is operated by 12-volt batteries, a blackout is not the challenge it is to indoor ranges. Nevertheless, we do have to take steps to continue to operate our business of processing shooters on and off the range and conducting affairs in our pro shop. Our operations manual covers this in providing instructions on how to journal sales by hand and how to process credit cards using manual The Range Report Summer 2012
Bill Kempffer President Deep River Sporting Clays & Shooting School Sanford, N.C. www.deepriver.net
In Q & A, The Range Report invites NSSF’s Range Advisory Committee members past and present, and others with special expertise, to provide their answers to questions of interest to our readers. If you have a question you’d like to see addressed, submit it to email@example.com. If you would like to comment on the answers given in this edition’s Q&A, or if you have related follow-up questions for this expert, please share your thoughts at the same e-mail address. imprinting and calling in each sale for approval. When power is restored, we batch in these sales, and we enter the journal sales into the computer. Our telephone system does not work when the power is off. So, for such an emergency, we keep an old telephone for our backup, with which we can answer calls and check messages. Fortunately, our local electric cooperative is very good at preventing outages and quick to get the power back on when one RR does occur. 11
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The Range Report Summer 2012
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The Range Report Summer 2012
The Range Report Summer 2012
Untapped Opportunities Co-op advertising can help generate trafﬁc and boost bottom lines By William F. Kendy
hooting range owners and firearm retailers need every break they can get. Margins are margins, and a couple of extra points here and there can make a difference on your bottom line. One way to get more return on investment is co-op advertising. Co-op advertising is a program in which the manufacturer/distributor pays a portion of a range and/ or retailer’s local advertising cost, be it in television, cable, radio, a billboard, a newspaper or magazine ad or a flyer. In exchange the range/retailer must feature the manufacturer’s name and products in the advertisement and adhere to certain requirements. Co-op advertising isn’t new. It is a child born of the past misuse of “promotional allowances” for larger customers, and it is a tool that allows re-sellers of products to compete on an equal and proportionate level with their competitors. Co-op allows you to advertise and promote your facility and have a partner pay for part of the cost. Because the manufacturer is footing part of the advertising bill, it wants its brands and products to receive top billing and it wants the range/retailer to adhere to its prescribed rules to get paid. The manufacturer’s goal is to get customers to buy its products. Similarly, the main goal of a range/retailer is to get customers to buy merchandise. Secondarily, it is important to establish credibility as being an outlet associated with a well-known national brand. Co-op advertising is a win-win situation. It can save ranges money, extend the scope of their advertising and help create an effective and professional image for the business. The manufacturers can increase their brand awareThe Range Report Summer 2012
ness and increase their local market share. Co-op advertising is estimated to be a $50 billion dollar pot of which almost 25 percent falls off the table and is never used or claimed by retailers. Manufacturers build the co-op allowances into the price of their products, and every unspent co-op dollar goes right back to their bottom line. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, why don’t all ranges and retailers jump on the co-op bandwagon? “When I oversaw advertising and promotions at Smith & Wesson and Colt I was shocked at the low redemption rate on co-advertising funds,” said NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Dolnack. “I think that retailers perceive co-op being very time consuming and complicated when in reality if they just sat down with their rep they could easily figure out the program and recognize that not only is it not that difficult but it also can be very profitable.” Robin Ball, CEO of Sharpshooter Range in Spokane, Wash., utilizes the co-op advertising opportunity. “Co-op is free money. Yes, it can be a little bit cumbersome to work with, but it is worth the effort,” Ball said. “If a customer walked into your store and put $10,000 in a trash can, wouldn’t you take the time and effort to take it out?” How co-op advertising works In order to take advantage of co-op advertising ranges and/or retailers need to know it works. Here are the steps: 1. A range/retailer buys product, either from a wholesaler, distributor or directly from a manufacturer. 2. The net purchased products accrue 16
co-op dollars. 3. Once sufficient co-op dollars accrue (or based on projected purchases) a range/retailer places approved advertising locally. 4. Increased range/store traffic results in additional sales. 5. The range/retailer pays the advertising invoice and submits a co-op claim and documentation to the manufacturer for its share of the cost. 6. The manufacturer sends a range/ retailer a check for its portion of the cost. Some programs allow range/ retailers to take their co-op money in promotional items such as hats, shirts, mugs, signage, etc. The more products you sell, the more co-op funds you accrue. The more funds you have, the more you can advertise. The more you advertise, the more you sell. It’s a big circle. Terminology Co-op programs are all the same only different. Each has its own nuances. Still, there are some terms and components that are common to all programs. Accrual: Accrual is the percentage of net sales that the manufacturer will pay. Programs differ. For example, Browning, Ruger and Remington offer participating dealers a 2 percent of net purchases accrual. ATK has a Premium and a Gold dealer level. The Premium level has a $100,000 qualifier and accrual rates of 3 percent on ammunition and 5 percent on accessories. The Gold Level has a $50,000 qualifier and a 2 percent accrual rate on all ATK products. It is important to remember that to be legal co-op programs have to be The Range Report Summer 2012
offered to all participating dealers on an equal and proportionate basis, but the terms can differ based on the level of a dealer. A million-dollar dealer is eligible for the same co-op program as another million-dollar dealer. The same holds true for all in the five-million-dollar range, but the deal may be different than what is offered to the milliondollar facility. Accrual Period: Most co-op programs run on a calendar year basis, but there are exceptions. ATK, Remington and Ruger are on a calendar year, but the accrual period for Browning and Winchester is Nov. 1 through Oct. 31. Reimbursement: This is how much of any advertisement a manufacturer will pay. That can be dependent on products and/or media. Winchester pays 100 percent of the cost of an ad featuring its rifles or shotguns. Browning will pay between 50 and 100 percent of the advertisement cost depending on the media in which you advertise. Remington pays 50 percent of ads featuring firearms and 100 percent to support ammunition and accessories. ATK pays at the 100 percent level, and Ruger picks up 50 percent of the cost. Eligible Media: If you want to get reimbursed, you need to run your advertising in approved media. They include radio, television, cable, newspapers, billboards and, in some programs, Internet. ATK now allows dealers to The Range Report Summer 2012
utilize a portion of their accrual on Internet advertising, and Browning also allows dealers to advertise on the Internet. In the case of Browning, the reimbursement is based on a $.50 per unique click. Special Requirements: ATK wonâ€™t pay for advertising with a competing brand in it. Browning requires that their name be mentioned a minimum of three times in a radio or TV commercial. Many manufacturers will have radio scripts/ spots, television commercials and print ads for you to use. Backend: In order to get paid, dealers need to fill out the appropriate forms and send them, along with
media advertising representatives are normally ready and willing to help you develop your co-op programâ€”as long as they get their piece of the pie. so, utilize the advertising sales staffs of the media companies with whom you are considering advertising.
paid invoices, copies of ads (or affidavits if they are broadcast commercials) and other required documentation, to the manufacturer or its co-op servicing 17
vendor by a certain date. All the details are outlined in the individual co-op programs. Getting Started � Identify your top-selling 10 to 20 brands and find out which offer a co-op program. Get their rules and guidelines and go over them with your representative. Get with the companies that monitor co-op to find out how much you have accrued (and what you accrued last year, which will help you in your planning). For those companies that don’t keep track, get with your distributors and vendors for copies of invoices by manufacturer and products to serve as guidance. Determine how you want to spend the co-op (supplementing your exiting advertising, extending reach, increasing frequency, targeting new markets, etc.)
and develop creative that complies with the program rules. Make sure you have adequate inventory on hand. Set up a record-keeping procedure (and designated person) to keep track of what was advertised, where and when it ran and when you paid the bill. Stay current and within deadlines for filing claims. So, is co-op advertising worth the trouble? “We use up just about all the co-op we receive from our main manufacturers, and I try to incorporate less reimbursable products in our newspaper fliers,” said Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan’s outdoor shop, an indoor range and retail facility in Bay City, Mich. “We find that co-op funds stretch our advertising program almost 10 percent, and it is worth all of the RR effort.”
The Range Report Summer 2012
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The Range Report Summer 2012
ourism is big business in the United NTCC is the place to channel your efforts States. It is one of the largest if you are interested in promotion and industries overall in this country marketing. Take a look at nTCC’s web and an important tool for the economy page detailing shooting opportunities in no matter where you are located. the area. You should have a similar On the grassroots listing on your local level, it all starts tourism promotion with the basic agency’s website. “The shooting sports tourism attractions NTCC is a industry needs to realize – be it natural or not-for-profit that they, too, are an manmade – that tourism marketing attraction in and of itself” work as magnets to agency. Around draw people to a the country, similar John Percy, president particular area. For groups, such as a and CEO of NTCC. example, Niagara Convention and Falls, N.Y., is Visitors Bureau, recognized around a Chamber of the world as one of Commerce or a county/ the premier natural wonders. Located regional tourism office can be your in both Canada and Niagara County, go-to entity for marketing your one of 62 counties in the Empire State, offerings. Niagara Falls is the epitome of a tourist “The shooting sports industry attraction. Millions of people every year needs to realize that they, too, are an flock to the mighty Cataracts of Niagara. attraction in and of itself,” said John Getting the word out about the area is Percy, president and CEO of NTCC. spearheaded by niagara Tourism and “Not only do they offer something that Convention Corporation (nTCC). visitors may want to become involved Niagara USA becomes the with, but they also offer a service that destination, with Niagara Falls the can keep people here longer. Bottom primary tool to attract the masses. The line is the longer people stay in our area, job of NTCC is to market Niagara County the greater their economic impact.” as a whole, in addition to the western New York region. The story it tells has Two-way street to be all-encompassing, documenting When it comes to marketing and all the attractions, accommodations, promotion, it’s definitely a two-way restaurants and outdoor resources that street. Clubs and ranges can not only are available to tourists when they visit promote their facilities, but they can the area. If you are a club that offers also promote special events such as registered shoots through a tourism shooting, a commercial shooting range agency, CVB or Chamber office. If it’s or you have a special event to share a membership organization, like a with the general public, an agency like
The Range Report Summer 2012
Chamber, join it. “Don’t be afraid to use us as a resource,” says Melissa Morinello, director of marketing and communications with NTCC. “We can market your special events in the area, provide listings of area shooting clubs on our website and help to create a better awareness of the shooting sports in general. We can even help provide some local media coverage and assist with press releases when bigger state and regional events are taking place on our doorstep. It’s our job to promote the area, and shooting is part of that. The best part is that it’s all free for the most part.” Perhaps, however, you may have to educate your local tourism office or Chamber as to what you bring to the table. If that’s the case, invite some
Use Local Media
key people out for a shooting session to break the ice and include them on the planning committee when you are scheduling special events at your shooting facility. The sportfishing industry in Niagara USA is quite large. The annual economic impact is estimated at $30 million. Some local charter captains will work with outdoor shooting attractions by offering possible sporting clays challenges or shooting instruction when the weather turns poor and fishing isn’t a viable option, but shooting is. It keeps customers interested when a morning delay is required before they can get back on the water. At the same time, those clubs and shooting operations can utilize the area’s attractions to entice more people to come and participate in a sanctioned
Local media should be an important component of the tourism package, too. Shooting venues should already be in tune with the local outdoor writer or other staff member who covers the shooting sports. Educate them on possible story opportunities, from youth and women shooting events to competition shoots that will be of interest to their readers. This is expected. One of the big keys is to break the barrier and get a shooting venue into the general interest news. Utilize the media contacts that the local tourism office or Chamber of Commerce has available to develop a rapport with reporters. It is your job to create the story topics that demonstrate that your shooting facility is one of the recreational venues of interest to tourists to your area. You should have your homework complete before you reach out to the media. Have a The Range Report Summer 2012
shoot or shooting-related event such as a gun show or consumer trade show. “We’ve been encouraging shooters to bring their wives along for years,” said Rich Falcone of Lewiston, N.Y. Falcone runs registered shoots through the Fin-Feather-Fur Conservation Society (Three-F Club), attracting shooters from all over New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and Ontario, Canada. They’ll even occasionally get shooters in from the Carolinas and other states, too. “In our area, Niagara Falls has always been at the top of the list of attractions, of course,” reflected Falcone. “But we have many, many other attractions that are extremely appealing. Shopping is always a big attraction. More and more we’re seeing people take advantage of our rich
brainstorming session to come up with a list of possible story opportunities. Youth or women events are always good starting points. Organize a celebrity shoot for media and local political leaders. Not only are you creating a newsworthy event, but it can go a long way in building contacts. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Tell people what you’ve accomplished, especially among your peers. Submit nominations for local sportsman/conservation awards. Rich Falcone and his Fin-FeatherFur Conservation Society, a.k.a., Three F Club, is a great example. Falcone was recognized as Sportsman of the Year in 2011 with the Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs. The Three F Club has been recipient of the Club of the Year award many times. All of this helps The Range Report Summer 2012
historical heritage with Fort Niagara just around the corner. And with the Niagara Wine Trail being one of the fastest-growing trails in the country, we can keep people entertained for days. Throw in the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, and you can start to see what I mean. The casino recently built a superb golf course – rated 6th in the country – in Hickory Stick, located in Lewiston near our club. We also have world-class fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Some people end up coming back just to vacation with the whole family!” Reaching out to the local tourist attractions earns big dividends for the club in that it brings people back year after year. At the same time, it attracts new shooters to their events. “We are fortunate to have so
to create a better awareness for the club itself and creates fodder for the local media outlets and tourism association promotional material. It’s not a bad idea to create a public relations position with the club to be the contact to and for the media. Finally, get involved. Do things that can be respected within the community. Last year, Falcone spearheaded a “Shoot for the Cure,” a 100-target skeet shoot for the Relay for Life – a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. The Three F Club raised more than $2,600 in 2011. This year the club has five shooters on the field, all raising money and cancer awareness. It’s another reason to tie into a tourism agency, Chamber, CVB or media outlet. And it’s for a good cause. 23
many attractions on our door step, “We can run as many as 550 be it natural or manmade,” Falcone shooters in a day,” says Wright. “Every said. “You have to take advantage of year for the Empire Grand we will what you have to offer. For example, line up a bus to take the nonshooters, our September shoot focuses on fall mainly spouses, to Turning Stone foliage, local festivals and the Casino. That’s only one example fall salmon run of our catering in addition to to the attendees some of the through tourism. things I already Since the Home Reaching out to the mentioned, like Grounds is local tourist attractions the wineries. They adjacent to earns big dividends are becoming Oneida Lake, for the club in that it very popular we’re seeing more brings people back and people look and more of our year after year. forward to their shooters bring visit here.” along a boat with them to spend some time on the Central New York tourist trap water. People will ask me questions Yes, you could call it a tourist on what’s to see and do in the area, “trap,” of sorts. The New York State and I’ll talk as long as they are willing Trapshooting Association (NYSATA), to listen. We have a wealth of tourism operating out of the Home Grounds in information available, and I have Cicero (10 miles north of Syracuse), is access to it all.” high on using the regional attractions Wright is used to talking to people. to entice shooters, and their families, One of his tasks with the tourism office to central New York. One of the is to attend sport, travel and outdoor main reasons for it is because one of consumer shows around the Northeast. the prime movers and shakers in the He has a good handle on not only organization is affiliated with the what’s available in Oswego County, Oswego County Tourism offices. but in the entire state. It makes him a Jim Wright of Fulton, N.Y., who is valuable asset to NYSATA. central vice president of NYSATA, is the Wright also uses the tourism offices to main contact when shooters are coming list shooting clubs and promote special into the area for one of the group’s events in which the state association, as big events. In a good year, NYSATA well as the local clubs, are involved. will host the Empire Grand American in “We try to do our part to promote May, the New York State Shoot in July, central New York, and our friends the Eastern Zone Championship in July in the tourism industry pay back the and the Northeastern Grand American favor. We work hand-in-hand,” in September. Wright added. RR 24
The Range Report Summer 2012
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Show Some Class Instructional sessions benefit your customers, your revenue and your future.
By Tom Carpenter
ÂŠiStockphoto.com/franny-anne The Range Report Summer 2012
here’s a simple equation in the shooting range business: Knowledge + education + training = a more informed, active and profitable customer (and more of them) for your range. Smart range managers offer a variety of classes to take advantage of this trend. Classes build traffic, increase retail sales, develop new customers, and create a vibrant and active shooting community. Two ranges serve as prime examples for offering classes efficiently and profitably. Paul Bastean is director and lead instructor at Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center in St, Louis, Mo. John Monson owns and operates Bill’s Gun Shop and Range in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Listen and learn from their experience. What classes to offer? “Our mainstay is our conceal-carry course,” said Bastean. “Our program is both entertaining and educational.” He emphasizes that entertainment is critical to any class’s success. That brings attendees back for more classes, more shooting and more buying. “First Shots is important too,” he added. “It gets people in the door and shooting, which is what every range needs.” First Shots is the popular and proven introductory shooting program administered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “These days, 40 percent of our first-time customers never touched a gun before,” explained Bastean. “They don’t have any background with firearms. First Shots gets them interested in shooting and hungry for more. Before we sell anybody The Range Report Summer 2012
anything, we try to get them in a First Shots course.” Then they can make educated decisions about what kind of shooting they like, and what to buy. “We also offer self-defense courses, starting with unarmed self-defense,” said Bastean. “If you can’t fend off an attacker and get at your firearm, what good does it do you? “We start with these fundamentals,” he said, “and then move on to shooting and marksmanship.” It all comes down to creating comfort and confidence in new shooters. “We also have Advanced Handgun Proficiency Training Courses,” Bastean added. “There are Levels I and II, but then you need an invitation to move on to Level III.” Monson offers a similar array of classes at his ranges. “We offer classes of all kinds – basic, advanced, tactical, youth, defense, conceal and carry, women only, one-on-one and more,” said Monson. “We conduct First Shots courses to bring in people who have never shot before. “Our basic course is key for getting people off the website and walking into the store,” explained Monson. “Also, many people are looking for conceal and carry instruction.” Bastean likes to offer classes on how to maintain and clean guns, as well. Don’t forget about youth firearms and hunter education courses. Host them and create a whole new clientele of parents and kids who need to purchase firearms and gear. “Basically, we’re doing classes all the 27
Don’t Forget Females
Why offer classes? Both Paul Bastean of Ultimate Classes are smart marketing tools for your Range & Firing Center in St. shooting range. Here’s what Louis and John Monson of Bill’s they can do: Gun Shop and Range facilities • Get people involved and comfortable with in the Twin Cities make special shooting mention of using classes to • Create a demand for cater to women -- a clientele firearms, ammunition and gear that might not otherwise be • Get customers (including coming to your range. Many of new shooters) coming Ultimate Defense’s classes are back to shoot associated with “Ladies’ Nights.” • Create the desire for further education and Monson mentions his Girls instruction with Guns Gala and Expo “Offering classes at programs. your range is an anchor,” said Monson. “A person “We shorten our basic class, is only going to continue and cycle people out to participating in the shooting the range so they get some sports – and being your customer – if he or she is hands-on shooting, then to a successful. restaurant across the street “The only way to advance for a meal and socializing. skills and be successful is to take a course, learn, go to It’s a real event: Our version the next level and broaden of ladies night out, and it your horizons. really gets people shooting who “Here’s an example,” he continued. “After a otherwise might not become regular course, you might your customer.” be shooting on-target 70 percent of the time. After a one-on-one course, that might rise to 85 percent. Then that person gets more excited about shooting, so they shoot more and get involved in other kinds of shooting. And they talk to their friends about it.” 28
The Range Report Summer 2012
time,” said Monson. It’s a key part of the business plan. Here’s why.
Among the popular classes available that will bring traffic to your facility is the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s First Shot seminar, which features valuable “classroom” instruction... Bastean echoes those thoughts. “There are two goals to offering classes” he said. “You want the customer to be, first, comfortable and, second, confident, with firearms and shooting.” Those are the keys that bring them back. “Classes are positive and fun, and the energy grows,” Monson said “People have a good time and talk to others. Word-of-mouth advertising is hard to beat for your range and the shooting sports.” Bastean added his thoughts on the subject. “First-timers get a better understanding of firearms and shooting,” he said, “and they want more. They want a firearm, so you sell them that. There’s less anxiety about using guns. People are more comfortable.” You become a trusted provider by providing them with trustworthy The Range Report Summer 2012
shooting instruction. “Creating more shooters also helps fill out our leagues,” Bastean added. “Due to all of our new shooters, we now have to do a lottery for entrance into our shooting leagues!” That’s some of the best business that classes can help ensure, that is, consistent, weekly traffic. Challenges to overcome These experienced range managers agree on the key challenge regarding offering courses at the shooting range: Finding qualified, engaging instructors that can make the material memorable and exciting. The second main challenge is logistical: Finding time and space for classes. Instructors “You need to get quality instructors that really know the information and can really engage the attendees so they want to come back,” Bastean 29
emphasized. “A superior grade of instructor makes all the difference.” “This is a huge hurdle,” he explained. “There are many people with the knowledge to teach a class, but you also need make it fun. It cannot be boring. The students should feel good and be excited. The instructor must engage and entertain.” Work with your instructors to help make the material fun while being informative. Stay away from boring lectures and chalkboards. Add multimedia, discussion and hands-on instruction to the Hold a First Shots curriculum. “Law enforcement If you’re serious about offering and military folks tend to classes at your range, the make particularly good instructors,” Monson said. NSSF’s First Shots program is a “They already have formal great place to start. Click here, training of their own, as well as a comfort level with for details on this program, as firearms. We start them out well as tools and resources. in the retail store, to see how they handle customers. Also, at the First Shots website Then we get them into you can find a report on how training, so they absolutely know firearms better than First Shots has benefited other our customers. You really ranges and can help yours. have to build those skills and that expertise to make Besides the prospect of bringing a confident, effective new people to your facility, instructor.”
many of whom will become
regulars, members and welcome customers, you can also add five youth .22 rifles to your
inventory of firearms. Visit the website to learn more.
Time and space “You have to make the class available when the customers are available to take it,” said Monson. That is typically evenings and Saturdays. Bastean agrees that finding time to offer courses is key. The Range Report Summer 2012
...and a closely supervised live-firing session. “Our lanes are filled with customers on Saturdays. Do you take lanes away from potential paying customers, or do you try to do classes at slower times?” You must do both, he says, and offers this compromise: “We have 18 lanes over three bays. I will leave two bays open on a Saturday, then reserve the third bay for classes.” Having a comfortable place for any required classroom time can be a challenge. Think about your setup, and do what you can do to create a comfortable learning environment. Tips and insights Monson offers two important tips for range managers who are serious about offering classes. “First, don’t outsource your instructors,” he advised. “Build your own panel of employee instructors who are locked into teaching only for you. I’ll include noncompete clauses The Range Report Summer 2012
in employment agreements. This way, those customers you brought in through your marketing dollars stay there with you and don’t walk off when an instructor leaves. “And ask customers what they are looking for, then offer that kind of class,” he added. “Remember, the three classes you can’t go wrong with are basic courses, women-only courses and one-on-ones.” A ﬁnal thought Adding classes to your shooting range’s array of offerings makes good business sense. The courses themselves can be profitable, but, more importantly, you are building a base of engaged, educated, loyal customers who will buy firearms and gear, and come back to your range to shoot R R more often. 31
Preventative Medicine The benefits of Being an NSSF Retail Member National Shooting Sports Foundation®
irearms and ammunition retailers have it tougher than ever and their issues vary. Unfriendly laws. Aggressive competition. But retailers have a partner in the business. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the voice of the firearms industry and a trusted resource for outdoor sporting goods retailers. By becoming a NSSF member, you are never alone. Some key benefits designed specifically for retailers include: • Comprehensive materials and guidance to maintain ATF/legal compliance with everything from a 4473 overlay to a new legal hotline just for retailers. • Discounts to help retailers grow from national brands such as Federal Express® and Staples® to cost savings for services such as credit card processing, employee background checks and telecommunications offerings. • Customized services and amenities at the industry’s leading trade event, the SHOT Show®. • Programs and partnerships to help recruit new customers such as First Shots®, Hunting Heritage Partnership® and the NSSF Range Grant Program. • Discounts on the industry’s benchmark research that gives retailers a competitive edge During this year when our industry will be challenged more than ever, your NSSF membership helps you grow your business and adds one more strong voice to our chorus. Contact Bettyjane Swann at 203-4261320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Range Report Summer 2012
OPTIONS & INNOVATIONS
Photos by author
Special Deals for Range Purchases Many companies offer special buying programs for shooting facilities By Carolee Anita Boyles
argets, ammunition, ear and eye protection and rental guns all are assets you need to run your business effectively. When you start buying all these items, however, you can run up a big bill in a hurry. Fortunately, many suppliers see the value in working cooperatively with ranges to provide the equipment and supplies they need to attract and hold customers, so they have put in place buying programs to support ranges. “Our range program allows us to The Range Report Summer 2012
sell the range our best-selling firearms at a substantial discount so they can offer their customers a chance to shoot and try the product before making the purchase,” said Dawn Oleson, range program coordinator for Springfield Armory. Jeff Croze, the range programs coordinator for Smith & Wesson, said good range programs promote sales. “When a customer has the opportunity to try a particular model, he’s much more likely to buy it,” 33
manufacturers’ and distributors’ programs for ranges include great opportunities to put firearms into the hands of customers and members so that they can “try” before they “buy.”
Croze said. “Having a range program benefits both us and the ranges that participate in it.” Miles Hall, president of H&H Gun Range and Shooting Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., agreed. “Range programs absolutely sell guns,” he said. “When people try guns, they decide what they like and turn right around and buy one on our retail side.” Both manufacturers and distributors have developed buying programs for ranges. Some distributors’ programs are separate from those of the manufacturers they represent, and others run parallel to those of manufacturers. Not every buying program operates with a set of formal guidelines; many are simply informal arrangements that suppliers make with individual ranges. The bottom line is this: If you plan to purchase range guns, make a big 34
ammo buy or invest in a large number of targets, ask your supplier if he or she has a range program or discounts for ranges. Even if they don’t have anything on paper, they still may provide quantity or discount pricing. Firearms Browning and Winchester have an informal program that’s based on recommendations from their sales reps. “We would love to help every range out there,” said Scott Grange, public relations manager at Browning/ Winchester Repeating Arms. “With the way our program is structured, though, we have to be very selective. When we get a recommendation from one of our sales reps, we sell guns to that range at a very attractive discount with one-year dating. The range can use the guns in the facility for a year. At the end of the year the range can sell the guns for The Range Report Summer 2012
what they have in them, pay off the invoice and then get new guns for the next year.” The way the program is structured, a range should never be “out of pocket” for the cost of the Browning and Winchester guns it’s using. Ranges may purchase between five and 50 Smith & Wesson and Walther firearms at special range pricing, but may purchase only one of any specific firearm. The program is handled through the range’s distributor of choice. Springfield Armory’s program, the X-treme Test Drive, is a cooperative program between Springfield and AcuSport. Participating ranges get special pricing on XD and XDM pistols, as well as T-shirts to hand out to customers who shoot them. Ranges who don’t want to participate through AcuSport still may purchase rental guns through Springfield’s regular range program. Dealers may purchase between three and seven firearms under this program. PRT-91 Sales Manager John McNamara said that the company has had a stand-alone range program in the past. This year, however, PRT-91 is revamping its range program and has elected to work through AcuSport’s program going forward. If you want to include Glock firearms on your range, you have a choice: deal directly with Glock or go through AcuSport. If you go directly to Glock, you may have higher minimums than if you go through AcuSport, but you can access Glock’s range program either way. Going through AcuSport also affords you the advantage of a dating program that Glock doesn’t offer. Company President and CEO Mark The Range Report Summer 2012
Kresser said Taurus has been considering instituting a range program for some time, but couldn’t quite decide exactly how they wanted to tackle it. When they learned that AcuSport has a strong buying program for ranges, he said, the company decided to work with AcuSport to fully develop their program for offering firearms to ranges for rental guns. Ammunition In the past ATK dealt directly with ranges; recently it has moved its sales to ranges under the umbrella of its distributors’ buying programs. “If a range wants ATK ammunition through a buying program, they need to talk to their distributors now,” said Tim Brandt, public relations and events manager at ATK. “We have several distributors that we work with who are set up to be specific target-load distributors. The only ammunition that’s included in these programs is shotgun ammunition.” Wolf Performance Ammunition allows ranges to purchase a pallet of ammunition, mix and match, at a “club price.” “This program includes all kinds of ammunition,” said company spokesman Steve Wilson, “particularly rifle and handgun ammunition.” Everything Else Radians has had a program of imprinting ear muffs with a range’s name and logo. It also has safety eyewear specifically for ranges that has been offered through its range buying program. These programs are undergoing some change at this time, said Director of Sporting Goods Joseph Smith, but still will be available to indi35
vidual ranges. “Ranges still can have logoed or branded ear muffs and eye protection made as they have in the past,” he said. “We also are going to start offering ‘Made in the USA’ foam ear plugs in bulk, rather than just in packages of 50, 100, or 200 pairs as we have before. This will include countertop dispensers for ear plugs for the ranges that purchase them in bulk.” White Flyer Targets works entirely through its distributor network. “We have distributors all over the United States, and there’s a list on our website,” said National Sales Manager Phil Murray. Howard Leight is developing a range program for its eye and hearing protection, but doesn’t have it fully operational yet. “We do have some safety glasses that we’re selling to ranges at a discount,” said Category Manager Jennifer Strizinger. “We also have a muff with an NRR of 30 that we offer to ranges at a discount.” Distributors Some distributors have informal range programs that operate on a case by case basis. One distributor with a broad formal buying program for ranges is AcuSport. “Range guns can be a hassle for ranges,” said Doug VanderWoude, range program manager for AcuSport. “Almost every manufacturer has its own program where they sell the guns to the range at a discount, and the range keeps them for a year and then sells them. But you have to fill out paperwork for each manufacturer and jump through a lot of hoops, and you 36
have to buy certain firearms.” AcuSport set out to make that process easier. “We decided that if we became a one-stop shop for ranges, it would make everything easier for those ranges,” VanderWoude said. “Now we have 18 manufacturers whose range programs we offer. Many of them still offer a range program separately. AcuSport adds nothing to the prices for those programs.” The big advantages to using AcuSport’s program are reduced paperwork and dating. “For everyone but Glock, the range signs a one-page AcuSport form, and it’s in for all the different brands,” VanderWoude said. “If you want Glock guns, you still must fill out the Glock form as well. We ship the guns from our warehouse. In the direct programs you would have to pay for the guns when you get them, but under our program, we offer ranges six equal monthly payments. That reduces the paperwork, makes everything really simple and provides terms.” AcuSport also sells other products that ranges need. “We offer special prices on targets from Birchwood Casey,” VanderWoude said. “There’s a $250 minimum order, and the targets are drop-shipped right from Birchwood Casey.” AcuSport also handles Champion Targets, Hoppe’s Targets and a number of competition targets, as well as sound suppressors and other accessories for use on range guns. “We also have eye and ear protection from Pro Ears and Champion, and in June we’re going to add Howard Leight,” VanderWoude said. The Range Report Summer 2012
A key part of AcuSport’s program, VanderWoude said, is ammunition. “We have Federal ammunition that’s in a Federal box with a Federal logo but is exclusive to us,” he said. “Ranges still get their Federal co-op, but the only place they can get this particular ammunition is from AcuSport. In January, the ranges book out what they
think they’re going to need by month for the whole year. That way they lock in the pallet price but buy it by the case.” Other brands of ammo that AcuSport handles under their range program are MagTech, Winchester and Remington.
Learn More about Their Products and Buying Programs for Ranges AcuSport One Hunter Place Bellefontaine, OH 43311 800-543-3150 www.acusport.com ATK 900 Ehlen Drive Anoka, MN 55303 763-323-3819 www.atk.com Browning 1 Browning Place Morgan, UT 84050 801-876-2711 www.browning.com Glock 6000 Highlands Parkway Smyrna, GA 30082 770-432-1202 www.glock.com The Range Report Summer 2012
Howard Leight 900 Douglas Pike Smithﬁeld, RI 02917 866-786-2353 www.howardleightshootingsports.com PTR-91 1451 New Britain Avenue Farmington, CT 06032 860-676-1776 www.ptr91.com Radians 5305 Distriplex Farms Drive Memphis, TN 38141 901-388-7776 www.radians.com Smith & Wesson 2100 Roosevelt Avenue Springﬁeld, MA 01104 413-781-8300 www.smith-wesson.com
Springﬁeld Armory 420 W. Main Street Genesco, IL 61254 309-944-8994 www.springﬁeld-armory.com White Flyer Targets 1300 Post Oak Boulevard Suite 680 Houston, TX 77056 713-626-1843 www.whiteﬂyer.com Winchester Repeating Arms 275 Winchester Avenue Morgan, UT 84050 801-876-3440 www.winchesterguns.com Wolf Performance Ammunition P. O. Box 757 Placentia, CA 92871 714-632-9663 www.wolfammo.com
One Industry. One Voice. National Shooting Sports FoundationÂŽ
or over 50 years, our mission has never wavered. Promote, protect and preserve our hunting and shooting sports. We are the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association of the firearms, ammunition and shooting industry. Whether it is in the field, on the range, in Washington, D.C. or 50 state capitals, we stand proudly as your voice.
elp us make your voice louder and stronger where it counts. Now more than ever, itâ€™s time to become a NSSF member. To join contact Bettyjane Swann at (203) 426-1320 or email@example.com.
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38 The Range Report Summer 2012
Surviving in an Industrial Complex A shooting club among industrial development has worked to be a good and accepted neighbor By Mike Zlotnicki
nce upon a time there was a gun club in the country. A computer company wanted their land. So, the gun club sold and moved farther out in the country. Even there, a vibrant business community grew around them. And they all lived happily ever after. It may sound like a fairy tale, but it’s actually the story of the Durham County Wildlife Club, a 501-C-7 organization of about 900 members at any given time. The club was founded in 1946 and moved to its present location in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina in 1965 after computer giant IBM made a deal with the club to buy their land and move them. The club moved to the “hinterlands,” as Elizabeth “Liz” Rooks, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) chief operating officer, called it. (RTI is the developer of Research Triangle Park). Today, research Triangle park (rTp) park is home to more than 170 global companies, and the 95-acre club is now neighbors with the Environmental Protection Agency to the north, Eisa in the east (a pharmaceutical company) and Nortel and Cisco to the south. How does a gun club with trap, skeet, sporting clays, pistol and archery ranges thrive in such an environment? By being a
The Range Report Summer 2012
The Durham County Wildlife Club in north Carolina has exercised an extreme sense of safety and being a good neighbor to survive — and grow — among several corporate neighbors in research Triangle park, the largest research park in north america. Photos by the author
good neighbor in the community and by employing extreme safety principles. It also doesn’t hurt to have dedicated and talented members willing to volunteer their services for the greater good. Robert King is the current club president and has served in that position three times prior. “We have no choice but to be good neighbors,” he said. “We have no choice. We keep Liz informed.” Communication obviously plays a role in the club’s survival, but King also talked about being a good neighbor in the community. The club is very receptive to sharing its facilities with nonshooters. It lets Triangle Fly Fishers, the local Trout Unlimited chapter, use its spacious clubhouse for meetings. The club doesn’t charge a fee, and several of the local companies have also hosted events in its clubhouse. All the club asks is for a refundable deposit. The club asks itself how it can minimize potential problems, and one answer is taking protective measures in the structure of its pistol range.
Hardly a weekend goes by that there isn’t a Boy Scout troop camping out around the club’s 11-acre pond. The club also hosts shooting events like the NRA’s Women on Target in hopes of reaching out to shooters and nonshooters. The club opens its gates to the public on weekends for skeet, trap and sporting clays. Only members and guests can shoot at the pistol range, and the member has to be within arms length of his or her guest and cannot be shooting when the guest is shooting. Safety on the outdoor pistol range is paramount with the club, and only “traditional” pistol calibers are permitted, along with .22 rifles. Jim Vetter, a 17-year veteran of the club, is the Pistol Range Committee chairman. He thinks being a good neighbor starts with being a safe neighbor. “For example, you have to take the pistol safety class before you can shoot,” he said one Sunday morning as he prepped the range for use. “There’s also a live-fire part, and if you don’t pass that, you can’t use the range.” Vetter also talked about a recent project the club funded called, ironically, Project Blue Sky — ironic because its purpose was to eliminate the sky downrange so that no bullet could leave the pistol lanes and land off club grounds. “The development of the area made us change in order to assure continued operation,” he said. “We’re always asking ourselves, ‘How do we minimize potential problems?’” In this case the club spent more than $20,000 erecting “tunnels” of railroad ties and used-inventory shelving to stop any potentially errant rounds and The Range Report Summer 2012
although members have a liberal shooting schedule available to them, activity is typically light during neighbors’ work hours. most shooting occurs during after-work hours and weekends.
installing thick metal plates at angles on the ground to catch any ricochets. More is planned. “The pistol range is going to be a metal box when I’m done,” said King, who works for AT&T in Raleigh. The club is an all-volunteer organization that leans heavily on its members’ various talents and knowledge to keep things moving forward. Much of Project Blue Sky was done by members. “Part of the reason we can survive is volunteerism,” said Vetter, who works at software giant SAS in Cary. “About 95 percent of our members volunteer their time. When you have 800 to 1,000 members, that’s a pretty big pool of talent and availability.” One example of a club member’s knowledge paying off has nothing to do with safety, but with liquidity. In the early ‘90s property taxes were a huge issue with the club, and club member Fred Burke, a now-retired real estate and business attorney, decided to do some investigating. He went The Range Report Summer 2012
to the tax office in Durham, but was rebuffed. He then met with Rooks, who told him the club’s land was originally zoned “Agriculture” and that the current zoning was incorrect. Burke not only got the zoning corrected at the tax office, which saved the club about $25,000 in taxes annually, but orchestrated a refund for the club of more than $80,000 from improperly collected taxes. The upshot of that lesson is that things aren’t always what they seem or what someone says they are. In this case it was zoning, but it could be any number of things like waste collection, utilities or other expenses. Tap club members who have experience or talent in certain areas to make sure that things are as they should be. Burke said the club now has a certified public accountant to prepare taxes, and the club is in a very healthy financial situation. “We’re very judicious on how we spend our money,” he said. Rooks sees the club as a full-fledged 41
member of the RTP community and appreciates the efforts the club makes to continue being that good neighbor. “I understand a number of RTP employees are members,” she said. “We had one company looking at property adjacent to the club. The representatives were shooters. In the end, they didn’t move in, but they were not adverse to the club being there.” As far as public complaints go, Burke said that the club gets a few calls about noise each year, and the club invites the callers to visit the club. Rooks said that in the 22 years she’s been with the Research Triangle Institute, she’s fielded only one complaint. It came from a woman walking on the local greenway who thought that a bullet landed near them. The individual called King and then Rooks. King showed Rooks a picture of the pistol range to demonstrate that, ballistically, it could not have happened and further confirmed this by checking the roster of
who was shooting and when they were shooting that day. “Too many people trust luck or hope,” King said. “We trust rules and procedures.” The club also follows common sense. Most of the noise created by shooting occurs when the club’s corporate neighbors are not listening, as in afterwork hours and weekends. Although club members are free to shoot whenever they want, the leadership knows that discretion can be the better part of opportunity. Mix that with solid community relations and maniacal devotion to safety, and you have a winning formula. The Durham County Wildlife Club may be a unique case, but it proves that an outdoor shooting club can coexist with corporate neighbors. You just have to be smart about it. Reach out to the community, be proactive in safety issues and stand up for your RR organization.
The Range Report Summer 2012
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Two for Trap
A married couple searches out trapshooting opportunities
n our marriage, outdoor pursuits— especially shooting sports—play an important part in our wedded partnership. Our favorites include clay-bird games, with trap at the top of the list. We have identified two reasons for this: first, as avid upland bird hunters, we find that it’s good practice to improve eye and reflex skills when an orange clay “flushes’ like a pheasant or a quail; second, it’s fun to see clay targets shatter in midair after a direct hit. Over the years, we’ve frequented a range at an Oregon state wildlife area close to home. Knowing it is free for public use with a valid hunting license or $7 parking permit, we haul our shotguns, shells, clays and thrower out to this small area surrounded by thick blackberry bushes and oak trees. The one drawback is that with just two shooting stations, late afternoons and weekends are usually packed with people waiting to shoot. Mornings are the best time, but that means taking time off from work. This inconvenience prompted consideration to check out shooting facilities within an hour’s drive of our Corvallis, Ore., home. We sampled one public and one private facility. 44
The welcome mat is out to the public
This range is people and dog friendly. The sign by the parking lot says so. A warm welcome by owner Stephen and a jar of doggie treats on a table when we walked into the clubhouse confirm the sign’s veracity, making both our yellow Lab and us comfortable. We received the same amount of attention as first-timers as is given to “regulars” wanting to shoot. Stephen spent 20 minutes with us to describe the overall facility, assign a field and instruct us on the five shooting positions before being introduced to a staff member who would pull our targets. Prior to being escorted out of the clubhouse, we had to put on our eye and ear protection to be allowed onto the range. Every field has a bench for gear, a gun rack and a trash can. We weren’t rushed to get ready, and our puller re-explained the shooting positions. After loading our guns, we took our time, analyzing shots before and after the clay birds were pulled. In all, it took 30 minutes for us to each shoot The Range Report Summer 2012
a round of 25. During our shoot, we discovered our puller kept a close eye on our stances and how we held our guns. He offered minor adjustment advice, resulting in more busted targets. We didn’t expect this extra help, and it was appreciated. For us, other pluses are available at this range. Shells for our 28-gauge, which are hard to find where we live, are sold here at a good price. The range is opened Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to dusk for members and nonmembers alike. With ample trap fields, waiting is minimal. Our shooting experience was fun and better than anticipated compared to the state-run wildlife area. We would consider membership at this range due to discounts ($4.50 per 25 clays for members as opposed to $6.50 for nonmembers) and special members-only shooting packages and tournaments. We would have access to the RV facility, too. Range B
Private, but welcoming, too
Closer to home, this private club is only open to the public on Wednesday afternoons for trap shooting. We learned that it is advisable to call ahead in case a staff member forgets to unlock the entrance gate by noon. Once inside, we found the trap field to be next door to the office building. Inside the small house near the trap field, we met a long-time rifle, pistol and shotgun instructor who spent a The Range Report Summer 2012
half hour telling us the club’s history because we were new and asking if we had any shooting issues we felt needed correction. He wanted us to get “the most busts for our bucks.” Stressing eye and ear protection, then checking our guns to make sure they were unloaded, he took us out to the trap field. Because it’s the only trap field, the earlier you arrive, the more shooting you can do. Later in the afternoon, more shooters show up, and it becomes a bit crowded. Despite feeling rushed to complete our 25 targets, we had a good time talking with those waiting. One group of nonmembers who come every Wednesday even invited us to participate in a friendly competition where two shooters stood side by side for one target. If the first one misses, the second would try to hit the clay before it hit the ground. But if the first shooter hit the target, the second must hit a clay piece to stay in the game. It’s a great exercise to keep eye contact on a moving target while maintaining a smooth gun swing. Though impressed with the facility and staff – they refused to charge us for our clays as first-timers – we felt rifle and pistol had a greater emphasis than trap at this club. However, it would be advantageous to be a member as you can shoot everyday throughout the year with no limit of guests. Members have the opportunity to reduce membership fees with volunteer work at the club as well. (see page 46 and 47 for our Undercover Shooter Scorecard.) 45
undercover shooter scorecard Each category is rated on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest score. Editor’s note: The Undercover Shooter is an experienced recreational shooter but is not trained in technical aspects of range design and operation. Range A Customer Satisfaction Rating Signage and Visibility ................................ 5 • The facility is located alongside Interstate 5 north of Salem, and a large freeway sign gives exit directions onto State Highway 99E leading to this rural range. • Other well-posted signs are easy to spot and follow. Layout and Setting .................................... 5 • Well-maintained grounds are spacious. • Left of the entrance are several RV sites with electric hook-ups. To the right, a large parking area and clubhouse complete with covered patio. • Along with full sporting clays course and one covered 5-Stand, 10 skeet fields and 2 trap fields offer elbow room for shooters. Retail Product Availability ........................ 5 • A pro shop to outfit every shooter. From clothing and ammo to eye and ear protection. • Federally licensed to sell guns and a consignment room for decent deals on preowned firearms. Rental Availability..................................... 4 • Those new to shooting sports can rent shotguns for $15 with instruction on proper gun safety. • Two- and four-seat club-car rentals cost $25 and $45, respectively, along with push carts for $10. Staff Friendliness...................................... 5 • Owner was generous with his time and shooting knowledge. He maintained a calm
professionalism we liked, making sure we were well-equipped with ammo, had protective gear and knew what to expect on the trap range. • Our trapper was also friendly and helpful during our shoot. Safety ....................................................... 5 • The need for eye and ear protection is stressed orally, reinforced by numerous signs posted throughout the range. Programs and Membership........................ 5 • Though open to the public, members enjoy discounted prices for trapshooting and sporting clays as well as members-only shooting specials/events. Dues are $125 per year. Money from dues helps maintain grounds. Every Saturday, youth 17 years and under are invited for “Kids Day.” Cleanliness ............................................... 5 • Clean and tidy clubhouse. • Indoor restrooms are immaculate, and trash cans are plentiful throughout grounds Comments/Impressions: • Recognized in 2002 as ‘Gun Club of the Year’ by the National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association. Various tournaments are held throughout the year including Oregon State Sporting Clays Championship, the US Open Skeet Championship and 5-Stand Triple Crown Derby.
The Range Report Summer 2012
Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating Signage and Visibility ................................ 5 • This club’s location is next to Interstate 5 south of Salem. Exit onto State Highway 34 and travel east to where signs are easy to find and follow. Layout and Setting .................................... 5 • Fenced-in flat fields abut a tree-covered hillside to the east. • Club consists of small office complex, three classrooms for firearm and hunter education classes and several ranges: 200-yard rifle range, .22 caliber rimfire indoor range, north/ east range of individual covered shooting bays, 3-D archery range and shotgun range Retail Product Availability ........................ 2 • Only reloading supplies sold. Rental Availability..................................... 5 • Rental shotguns are available Staff Friendliness...................................... 5 • Office manager and trapshooting instructor are easy going and strive to bring personal enjoyment to gun sports. A lot of laughter takes place before the serious business of loading guns.
Safety ....................................................... 5 • Number one priority for both gun handling and range activities. • A small building near the shotgun range is for instruction aimed at new shooters and for storing shooting gear. Eye and ear protection must be worn before stepping outside to the range. Programs and Membership........................ 5 • The club is private and open 365 days for members and their guests. The trap range is available to the public every Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. at $3.50 per 25 clays. After a one-time initiation fee of $100, annual dues for individual members are $135, families $203 and Junior (under 18) $5. Cleanliness ............................................... 4 • The facility is well maintained and clean, though the trap building is cluttered with tables and chairs due to its small size. Portable restrooms and trash cans are available for pubic use. Comments/Impressions • In 1997, the club won the NRA President’s Award. Its main focus is rifle and pistol shooting, with most activities and events geared toward those firearms. Has a strong emphasis on gun safety and hunter education classes. Only one trap field.
Preferred Range The Undercover Shooters’ experiences and observations led to their endorsement of both ranges, but if a shooter wants to do only trap, the choice is: Range A: Mitchell’s Clay Target Sports Center, P.O. Box 9097, Brooks, Oregon 97305 503-792-3431 • www.salemclays.com • email: firstname.lastname@example.org All reports, comments, impressions, opinions or advice expressed in the Undercover Shooter column are solely those of independent, recreational shooting range consumers and do not necessarily represent those of the National Shooting Sports Foundation or its affiliates. Neither the NSSF nor its affiliates make any warranty or assume any liability with respect to the accuracy or reliability of any information provided by Undercover Shooter contributors. Readers are encouraged to and should perform their own investigation of the information provided herein.
The Range Report Summer 2012
Home on the Range Views from NSSFâ€ˆstaffers and guest contributors
New Customers, New Members
f you invite them, they will come. On March 3, First Shots facilitated first-time shooting events at six shooting facilities. Not all ranges were around the corner from one another. Actually, none of them were. Three were in the greater Miami area and three in the vicinity of Sacramento. The same radio ad was played in both cities. The same billboard was placed along the highways in both cities, with the exception of the city name, of course. Guess what? The results were also the same in both cities:- the classes filled up. First Shots has been a proven marketing tool for NSSF member ranges since itâ€™s inception in 2005. More than 40,000 people have taken their first shots through the First Shots program. According to our research: 43 percent of participants return to the host range an average of six times within six months of attending the First Shots seminar; 56 percent have met local requirements for handgun ownership; 53 percent have introduced another shooter to the sport; 49 percent have spent, on average, $635.47 for shooting-related equipment and supplies. According to my abacus, this represents nearly $5 million in retail sales. You can learn more from the First
Shots Industry Intelligence Report. We are seeing more and more people purchase firearms for sport and personal protection, and that number is continuing to rise steadily. In fact, the May 2012 NSSF-Adjusted NICS background checks marked the 24th straight month of increased background checks compared to the corresponding month in the previous year. As people consider exercising their right to own a firearm, many of them wonder what they should purchase and how they can get started in the shooting sports. Enter First Shots and your opportunity to get these potential
The Range Report Summer 2012
By Tisma Juett Manager, First Shots
new shooters into your range for the first time and hopefully make them longtime shooters and gun-rights advocates. By providing a three-hour hands-on informational session you will create loyalty and establish a bond with these potential new shooters. You will become their go-to place for education, information and camaraderie. The NSSF and First Shots will be with you every step of the way. Once you submit your schedule notification, you will be provided with print-ready graphics for you to print and/or have inserted into your local newspapers. Target ammunition is provided by our member manufacturers. We are very grateful to Remington for providing the .22 caliber ammunition for First Shots. ATK came on board during SHOT Show and committed to providing shotgun ammo. We cannot thank Birchwood-Casey enough for providing the Shoot-N-See paper targets and White Flyer for providing clays for the shotgun ranges. Safety literature will be provided by the NSSF for each participant as well as an informational USB flash drive that contains input from our partner manufacturers with information to help these new shooters stay engaged in the shooting sports and help drive retail sales. We have created PowerPoint presentations to help the instructors The Range Report Summer 2012
Tisma Juett is the manager of First Shots for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Her responsibilities include oversight of every aspect of this successful introductory shooting and firearm ownership program.
with the classroom portion, and these are available for all three disciplines: handgun, rifle and shotgun. Many participating ranges have already benefitted from our offer to provide them with five free youth model .22 rifles generously donated by Keystone Sporting Arms if they host two seminars, one of which would be specifically for parents and their children. Supplies are still available, but limited, and the five firearms are yours to keep. Last, but certainly not least, we provide 50 percent in cooperative advertising funds up to $3,000 to help get the word out about the First Shots event and promote your range. Will you add your range to the list of facilities that will welcome new shooters to our industry, to guarantee our Second Amendment freedoms and to continue our shooting sports heritage? For more information on the First Shots program and information on how to get started, please visit the First Shots website or contact me directly via email at email@example.com or by telephone at 203-426-1320. I am looking forward to helping you get people started in the shooting RR sports. 49
Your First Shot at New Shooters
An introduction shooting An introduction to to shooting
inding new customers is always a challenge. If there ever was a sure shot at new business, this is it. Best of all, ranges that held seminars found a significant increase in range activity, traffic and profits! Shooting range-hosted and -managed seminars are free to participants,, easy to run by even small ranges and, best of all, low cost to facilities.
Here’s what range owners have to say: “We started to do First Shots almost a year ago and continue to run one class a month. We do this for two reasons, one is to get more shooters involved in the shooting sport and the second being a great way for us to give back to the community. We have seen participants who have gone on to take almost every class we offer on personal protection and continue to want to learn more about shooting. We will continue to participate in the First Shots program and look forward to the new classes that they are working on.”
We have already done most of the work for you as an NSSF member and actually help fund advertising for your seminar, provide loaner equipment, ammunition, targets and safety literature. First Shots is a short, hands-on introduction to firearms covering safety, responsible ownership and shooting fundamentals. Why is the program so successful? First Shots provides a system for bringing target shooting to the general public in one complete package that makes it simple for non-shooters to: 1) Gain awareness of target shooting.
Harry Misener, Special Events Coordinator, Shooter’s World
2) Build interest in learning more about target shooting. 3) Evaluate and try target shooting before investment. 4) Access continued opportunities to participate. The program’s elements of cooperative funding for advertising, a simple agenda, short time frames, limited trials and safe environment all result in an increase of new shooters and new customers to your range.
Many have seen remarkable results. To learn more go to www.nssf.org/firstshots or contact Tisma Juett (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 203426-1320. Taking that first shot is always the toughest and the most memorable.
Scan this QR code with your Smartphone for more information on First Shots
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The Range Report Summer 2012