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Bonus: NSSF 50th Anniversary Poster Vol. 14 No. 3 Summer 2011

NSSF’s Magazine for Shooting Facilities

Attract Traffic the Old-Fashioned Way

Lowdown on Ear Protection Statewide Range Gathering

The Range Report

Summer 2011

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Together, Our Voice Is Strong National Shooting Sports Foundation®

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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.

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elp us make your voice louder and stronger where it counts. Now more than ever, it’s time to become a NSSF member. To join contact Bettyjane Swann at (203) 426-1320 or bswann@nssf.org.

The future of your business depends on it.

www.nssfmembership.com

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Spring 2011

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Summer 2011 2


www.nssf.org • www.wheretoshoot.org • www.rangeinfo.org Vol. 14 No. 1 Summer 2011

Features

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Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way Attract traditional shooters and re-enactment groups for traffic and revenue. By Tom Carpenter

Making the Most of Your Ad Dollars

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One range’s strategy for maximizing exposure on a limited budget By Scott Bestul

Now Hear This Learn of choices you have to protect your staff and customers’ hearing. By Carolee Ann Boyles

An Eye-Opening Workshop A statewide gathering sparked Wisconsin ranges to organize. Would it work for your state? By Brian McCombie

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Bonus

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Special Pull-out Poster 50 Years of NSSF Display our proud history. Let shooters know what we do for them!

Departments

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Letter from the Editor New video sends the NSSF message to ranges By Glenn Sapir

Sighting In Scoping out news for the shooting range community By Glenn Sapir

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Q&A Hire smart for winning results By Deb Kenney, SPHR

The Undercover Shooter Sighting in deep in the heart of Texas

Home on the Range Funding to increase traffic at your range By Melissa Schilling

On the cover:

Cowboy Action Shooters make up one of the many traditional groups you attract to your range. Photo courtesy of Paige Holst

The Range Report

Summer 2011

© 201 National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Range ReportSM, 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.

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Letter from theEditor G l e n n

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www.nssf.org 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.

New Video Sends the NSSF Message to Ranges

f a picture tells a thousand words, then the Angel Vision Impact Movie recently completed that sums up the benefits for ranges of belonging to the National Shooting Sports Foundation should be wordier than “War and Peace” or the Beijing white pages. However, the rapid-fire sequence of photos, instead, delivers its message succinctly, effectively and within three minutes. The purposes of this video, according to Zach Snow, NSSF manager, shooting promotions, are multiple. First, he says, it educates the shooting range community about range resources offered by NSSF. Second, it helps ranges recognize that by working together, we can accomplish more and meet current and future challenges. “It also encourages ranges to become more proactive through the support of NSSF and the shooting range community as a whole,” Snow said. Yet another benefit of this video is that it serves as a promotional tool for member organizations to better inform their member ranges of the value to them, too, of becoming an NSSF member. In other words, this is probably the best promotion that NSSF has ever designed to attract members of the shooting range community to the trade association for hunting and the shooting sports, firearms and ammunition industry. This narrated video, illustrated with still photos and call outs, makes it clearer than ever that the time to join NSSF is now, rather than later. With land development and subsequent encroachment from new neighbors, with the toughest economic conditions in recent memory and with more and more laws on the books with which ranges must be compliant, a range must depend on the same credo that has spirited our union of states—in unity there is strength. If you are a member of NSSF, then you are likely aware of the many benefits that your membership provides, including a series of valuable literature on range management, range-consultation oppor-

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tunities, representation in our nation’s capital, as well as a vigilant watch on the law makers in each state’s capital, videos to instruct range operators and promote range use, grants to increase participation at ranges and so much more. The price of NSSF membership, in view of the valuable benefits members can derive, is almost laughable. Yet, membership is no laughing matter. If your shooting facility is not a member, it is not only depriving itself of the many special privileges of membership, but it is also depriving all who are already members of yet another important ally—the one your facility represents. Each member of NSSF brings greater strength to the organization as it represents your interests. Whether it is a Congressional Fly-in in Washington, where NSSF officials and NSSF member representatives meet with key Senate and House leaders and their staff, or it is a hearing in a state capitol building to speak against proposed legislation that will hamper your ability to exist, the combination of words and numbers makes the difference. The “words” are spoken on your behalf. The “numbers” are each member of NSSF and the dollars they generate in taxes, in wages, in local economies and in wildlife management, as well as the votes they represent. The Angel Vision Impact Movie is available for viewing on the web at www. nssf.org/ranges/movie. Snow sees its appearance, however, beyond the NSSF website. “I encourage partner organizations to post it as a banner ad on their websites,” Snow said. “Inform members through their newsletters. We’ll show it at seminars and other special events. We’ll ask industry members to post it to their websites.” I’m not sure how Angel Vision got its name, but after viewing the production several times, I can tell you that the presentation is heavenly—and that the message—Become an NSSF member—is a godsend. RR

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: rangereport@nssf.org We reserve the right to edit for clarity and space.

Managing Director Editor Advertising Director Art Director

Mark Thomas Glenn Sapir Ann Siladi Deb Moran

Advisory Committee Advisory Committee Bill Kempffer, president - chairman of NSSF’s Range Division Don Turner - president of NSSF’s Deep River Sporting Clays, Inc. Association of Shooting Ranges Shooting N.C.  park manager Sanford, bkempffer@deepriver.net Clark County Shooting Park Don president NorthTurner, Las Vegas, Nev. dmturner@cox.net Don Turner Consultant, LLC Robin Las Ball,Vegas, ownerNev. North dmturner@cox.net Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop Spokane, Robin@sharpshooting.net Robin Ball,Wash. owner Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop Brian Danielson, sales manager Spokane, Wash. Robin@sharpshooting.net Meggitt Training Systems Suwanee, Ga. brian.danielson@meggitt.com Brian Danielson, sales manager Meggitt Trainingowner Systems Glenn Duncan, Suwanee, Ga. Duncan’s Outdoor Shop, Inc.

brian.danielson@meggitt.com

Bay City, Mich. gcduncan@concentric.net Glenn Duncan, owner Duncan’s Inc. Jon Green,Outdoor directorShop, of education and training    Bay Mich. Gun City, Owners Action League (GOAL)glenn.duncan@chartermi.net Northborough, Mass. jongreen@goal.org Jon Green, director of education and training    Bill Kempffer, president Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) Deep River Sporting Northborough, Mass. Clays, Inc. jongreen@goal.org Sanford, N.C.  bkempffer@deepriver.net Holden Kriss, director Holden Kriss,County director Indian River Public Shooting Range Indian RiverFla. County Public Shooting Range Sebastian, kriss3051@bellsouth.net  Sebastian, Fla. kriss3051@bellsouth.net  Barry Laws, CEO Barry Laws,Inc. CEO Openrange Openrange Crestwood, Inc. Ky.   barry@openrangesports.com Crestwood, Ky.   barry@openrangesports.com Phil Murray, national sales manager Phil Murray, White Flyer national sales manager White FlyerTexas Houston, Murray826@aol.com Houston, Texas Murray826@aol.com Stan Pate, president Tim Pitzer, Oregon Statepresident Shooting Association Oregon State Albany, Ore.    Shooting Association onekmeters@msn.com Albany, Ore.    timpitzer@comcast.net The Range Report

Summer 2011


Sighting In

Scoping out news for the shooting range community

New NSSF Video Emphasizes Safety, Etiquette at Indoor Ranges You are probably aware that coming to the range for the first time, especially if the person is alone, can be intimidating for new and inexperienced shooters, because no one wants to run afoul of range safety rules or be discourteous to fellow target shooters. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, advises those target shooters to relax and watch its new video, “Introduction to Range Safety and Etiquette.” All shooters will better understand what’s expected of them at indoor ranges after viewing the video and, as a result, will be more comfortable the next time they head to their favorite shooting facility. What’s more, range owners may request a free DVD of the video and make it available for viewing by customers before they go to the line.

“Introduction to Range Safety and Etiquette” also can be viewed on NSSF’s You Tube channel (http://www.youtube. com/thenssf#p/u/0/COvFyw-6Fqs). The 8½-minute video covers the following: rules of gun safety; eye and ear protection; range rules; role of the range officer; what to do when you get to the firing line; making your handgun safe; cease fire— who can call it, what it means and how you should respond; and range courtesy, common sense and etiquette. The video is hosted by Barry Laws, a member of NSSF’s Shooting Range Advisory Committee. He and his wife, Cynthia, own Open Range, the Crestwood, Ky., Five Star indoor shooting facility where the video was filmed. Shooting range managers can request a free DVD from NSSF by contacting Ann Siladi at asiladi@nssf.org.

NSSF Grants Help Spark Growth at Intercollegiate Clay Target Championships The Association of College Unions International’s (ACUI) 43rd Intercollegiate Clay Target Championships was held this spring, with increased participation sparked by NSSF’s Collegiate Shooting Sports Challenge Grant Program. NSSF is a longtime sponsor of the championships. Its Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative is helping to increase participation by providing grants to colleges seeking to implement new shooting clubs or teams as well as supporting existing college shooting programs that are looking to expand their recruitment and retention efforts. Grant recipients that attended the event for the first time include Harvard University, Clemson University, Jacksonville University, Hillsdale College, Mississippi College and University of Vermont. Proactive shooting facilities that have recognized the potential of attracting college students are serving as “home ranges.” “Consider the possible partnerships you might develop with nearby colleges and universities,” said Zach Snow, NSSF manager, shooting promotions. “You will be building traffic at your range as well as helping to increase the ranks of current and future shooters.” To learn more about NSSF’s Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative, visit the NSSF website, www.nssf.org/college. The Range Report

Summer 2011

By Glenn Sapir, Editor

Four Ranges Earn High Star Status Shooting facilities in Arizona, Illinois and Missouri have recently been awarded recognition for their excellence, based on the criteria established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Five Star rating system. To meet NSSF’s criteria of a Five Star facility, a range must demonstrate excellence in all aspects of management and operations. Ranges are rated on appearance, management, customer service, amenities, customer development and community relations. The newest additions to the NSSF Five Star Range list are two Missouri ranges—Top Gun Shooting Sports in Arnold and the Sound of Freedom USA in Ozark—“Both of which are indoor ranges and retail operations that are great business models demonstrating a forward-thinking approach to recruitment and retention,” said Zach Snow, NSSF manager, shooting promotions. Awarded Four Stars is the Illinois State Rifle Association Range, near Kankakee, Ill., which keeps shooters active through leagues and competitions. Earlier this spring, Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club, in Mesa, Ariz., was awarded Four Star status. Coincidentally, Rio Salado was one of the two shooting facilities visited by The Range Report’s Undercover Shooter for the Spring 2011 edition, and that author called it perhaps the most scenic range at which he’d ever shot. To learn more about NSSF’s Five Star rating system, visit the NSSF website, www.nssf.org, and click on “Shooting,” then “Resources for Ranges” and, finally, “Five Star Rating.” National Shooting Sports Foundation

✯✯✯✯✯ FIVE STAR RANGE RR

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Q&A

Deb Kenney, SPHR NSSF Managing Director Human Resources & Administration

Your questions answered

Newtown, Conn.

Hire Smart for Winning Results Q. What are some important tips when hiring a new employee? A. Deb Kenney, SPHR, managing director, human resources and administration, National Shooting Sports Foundation

In Q & A, The Range Report invites NSSF’s Association of Shooting Ranges 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 rangereport@nssf.org. 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. 6

©iStockphoto.com/alexsl

Interviewing isn’t a subjective process; it’s a technical skill that requires mastering. Because hiring is so important to your organization’s success, it’s the number one reason you should commit the necessary time and attention to the recruitment process. Trust me, if you jump into this process without the right preparation and focus, you’re asking for trouble. Most hiring managers spend less than five minutes in employee hiring preparation, though it is obvious that the less the planning, the greater the risks of not getting the right candidate for the job. The most common reasons why employees don’t work out have much more to do with their personality than their background, education or experience. The cost of a “bad hire” can take its toll. One bad hire, if allowed to continue, can cause excellent employees to seek other employment so they won’t have to deal with the problem employee. Following are some tips that will help you when hiring a new employee:

Know What you are Looking For: You wouldn’t set out on a trip without a plan on how to best arrive at your destination. Don’t start interviewing without a clear definition of what characteristics you want in an employee. A job description will help clearly establish and communicate job duties and expectations. It will be the basis for how you measure your employee’s success and failures. Following are some tips that are essential to hiring intelligently and looking professional and polished to your potential employees. • Prepare a job description. • Prepare your questions ahead of time. • Keep formal notes of the process. • Know how to explain the job requirements. • Have answers to all of the commonly asked questions. The Interview: All employee-hiring decisions are crucial to your bottom line and long-term success. So why leave the decision on one person’s shoulders? More than one interviewer may bring forward employee hiring aspects you would have never noticed on your own. Remember to… • Avoid asking questions unrelated to the job. • Avoid making quick decisions about an applicant. • Avoid stereotyping applicants. • Avoid giving too much weight to a few characteristics. • Be a good listener. Don’t do all the talking. • Try to put the applicant at ease during

the interview. • Communicate clearly with the applicant. • Maintain consistency in the questions asked. Focus on asking behavioral interview questions. Behavioral questions seek demonstrated examples of behavior from past experience and concentrate on job-related functions. They are more pointed, more probing and more specific. The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Behavioral questions are open-ended and require more than a “yes” or “no” response. They often begin with “Tell me about a time when...” or “Describe a situation when...” or “Give me an example of a time when…” Check references: If you agree with the fact that you are 100 percent accountable for your hiring decisions, checking references isn’t an option. Realizing there are some limitations to the process, talking to someone who has worked with the applicant will either strengthen your case that they will be a great fit or lead to additional questions that require asking. Either way, you’re solidifying your case with concrete information. Cultivate a positive experience for the new employee: Plan for a successful “Day One.” A smooth transition into the new job increases employee productivity and retention. Research shows most employees decide if they’re going to stay or go within the first six months, so be sure to make a positive first impression. Hire for attitude and train for skill. It’s easy to give someone more training; it’s very RR difficult to change a bad attitude.

The Range Report

Summer 2011


Real-Life Scenario

Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way Attract traditional shooters and re-enactment groups for traffic and revenue By Tom Carpenter

Photo courtesy of Paige Holst

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Summer 2011


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buckskin-clad shooter takes careful aim with his muzzleloader, squeezes the trigger and sends a minie ball flying downrange in

a cloud of smoke. A fellow dressed in chaps, leather vest and cowboy hat steps up to the line and empties his six-shooter faster than you thought possible. A gentleman in tweeds and shooting cap takes his shotgunning stance at a sporting clays station, calls for the target and powders it with the left barrel of his vintage side-by-side.

opportunities for your range. Regular Shoots: Most traditional shooting groups and organizations gather regularly, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis, Traditional and re-enactment for informal shoots. This a great way shooters can build traffic, generto generate consistent traffic you ate revenue and add excitement can count on. Once you’ve worked to your shooting range. In today’s challenging business environment, with a group and defined its ongoing needs, you’ll find that these shoots you must look beyond day-to-day are easy to host with little additional clientele and weekend warriors to find additional profitable customers. staff or facilities investment. Special Events: Many traditional Shooters harkening back to old shooting groups also hold larger contimes and specialized traditions tests, rendezvous, roundups, jambomake great adrees, conventions and re-enactments. ditions to your These events attract shooters from business base. a wider geographical area. A special event takes more individualized Finding and attracting tradi- planning, organizing and project managing, but the increased traftional shooters fic and influx of dollars makes it a Traditional “win.” shooters are pas It’s understandable that you may sionate and gregarious. They enjoy wonder how to find traditional and shooting with other reenactment shooting groups so you can offer up your range’s services? folks of like interHere are some suggestions: ests. This creates Explore National Organizations, two kinds of The Range Report

Summer 2011

Local Chapters: See “Traditional Shooting and Re-enactment Groups” sidebar for leads on national umbrella organizations that cater to traditional shooting and re-enactment interests. Local chapters may be active in your area. Get in contact and see how you might team up. Watch for Specialized Shooters: Observe who’s shooting at your range. Strike up a conversation. Does that flintlock shooter have some friends? Does that revolver aficionado belong to a group? Do the guys with beautiful little sideby-sides know similar shooters? These folks may be using your range individually, but not in an organized fashion. Offer your services. Check Chat Rooms and Forums: Log on to shooting chat rooms and forums, look for threads of interest and offer your range for the shooters’ next event. Build It and They Will Come: Plan events to attract shooters. Tuesday might be vintage shotgun evening on your trap range or sporting clays course. Wednesday becomes front-loader night at your outdoor rifle range. Host “Six Shooter Saturday” on your pistol lanes. Build your own traditional-shooting interest group and make your range its home base. Real -life examples Vintagers and Rocky Creek Sporting Clays “Vintagers are known as the Order of Edwardian Gunners,” explained Bill Curry of the Vintagers’ Carolina Chapter. “We shoot sideby-side shotguns, in the tradition of King Edward’s time in England, 1880-1914. We never discriminate, as long as it’s a side-by-side indicative of the era! Good guns, good shooting, good food and drink afterward – that’s what we’re about. Usually we wear a shooting coat and tie – attire from the period. “Vintagers were always at a disadvantage shooting competitive sporting clays,” Curry continued, “because of the low-pressure shells 9


Vintagers, that is, the Order of Edwardian Gunners, above and opposite page, belong to a national organization with local chapters. These side-by-side shooting members can be profitable and reoccurring customers if you court your region’s group. © Bill Curry Photography

and lighter loads required for our guns. So we do our own shoots. Some of us might shoot 80-90 out of 100, others 30 – 40. But everybody has the same amount of fun! Shooting is at our core, but it’s only half of what we do.” Management at host ranges in the know welcome these shooters. “The Vintagers shoot here every Saturday morning,” said Hall Rogers, manager at Rocky Creek Sporting Clays in Richburg, S.C. “Often they come in complete attire – knickers, sweaters, shooting hats – full costume you might call it. There’s a large group of Vintagers in the Charlotte area. They needed a place to shoot. They are very dedicated, and their group has a steady membership. It’s a great relationship.” “It’s nice, steady business,” Rogers continued, “and we’re all friends. They’ll circulate an email through the week and give us a head count so we can prepare. We also 10

host several bigger shoots throughout the year. Traffic increases for these. We usually have a 5-Stand competition and a 50-bird driven flurry in the morning, and then shoot the regular course in the afternoon.” The shooting groups appreciate the ranges that will accommodate them. “Hall Rogers has made things easy for us.” said Curry. “Rocky Creek is so friendly and accommodating. It’s a good family feel when you go there. We shoot other courses, too, but Rocky Creek is our real home.” Likewise, ranges should learn more about these potential customers. “Other ranges should absolutely get involved with a group like this,” Rogers suggested. “I joined the Vintagers myself to get more knowledge of their sport. It helps to know what they like and do. Because we are a sporting clays course, a shot-

gunning group makes sense. But there are all kinds of organizations like this out there. Just like the Vintagers, they have chapters all over. All you have to do is get in contact with them, explore their needs and cater to them.” Dulzura Desperadoes and South Bay Rod & Gun Club The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), otherwise known as the home of Cowboy Action Shooting, boasts more than 90,000 members across the United States. Members participate through local affiliate clubs, such as the Dulzura Desperadoes in southern California. “We use single-action revolvers, shotguns (hammer side-by-sides plus model 1887 levers and 1897 pumps) and mostly lever-action rifles, all based on what cowboys would have used in the late 1800s,” said Tom Hockenberry of the Desperadoes. “Our group shoots once a month at The South Bay Rod & Gun The Range Report

Summer 2011


Club. That’s our home.” The Desperadoes participate in other SASS events and shoots as well. “We have both classic Cowboy Shooting, where you have to wear five articles from a list of cowboy clothing, and B-Western shoots where you have hats, spurs and fancy vests just like characters in old B-Westerns,” Hockenberry added. “Everything is great fun, and always safe. Safety is our number one priority, and SASS rules and procedures are always followed.” South Bay loves the participation. “They’re a fun group to have around,” said Fred Nace, lead range officer at South Bay. “In fact, we have many organizations, such as muzzle loader groups, that use our facility. First, we make sure every group is legitimate. That’s important for ranges to check out. Then we sit down and compare their requirements with our facilities, see what we can do to accommodate and check schedules to try to find consistent open blocks of time. “South Bay is a great place to shoot,” Nace continued “and we’re

© Bill Curry Photography

busy all the time with groups like this, many of them traditionalists.” He says weekends are very busy at the range, so when possible he tries to steer traditional shooting groups looking for regular sessions to otherwise slow week nights. Reduced fees might motivate them to do so, keep-

ing your weekend lanes open for walk-in shooters. Every shooting range can use more revenue. Traditional shooting clubs, societies and associations need places to gather and shoot. Whether you offer them a home, host special events or both, partnering makes for RR a win-win situation.

Traditional Shooting and Re-enactment Groups

Start your search for traditional shooting and re-enactment groups here. Most national organizations have local chapters.

Vintagers – Order of Edwardian Gunners (Traditional side-by-side shotgunning) www.vintagers.org Single Action Shooting Society (Cowboy Action and Wild West shooting) www.sassnet.com Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (Cowboy Shooting while mounted) www.cowboymountedshooting.com/ CAS City (Cowboy Action Shooting) www.cascity.com

The Range Report

Summer 2011

National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (Muzzleloading rifles, shotguns, pistols and muskets) www.nmlra.org

Civil War Re-enactments (Events, schedules and complete list of units) www.reenactmenthq.com

Civil War Re-enactment Organizations and Links (links to local Union units) http://www.suvcw.org/reenact.htm

Civil War Re-enactment Units (links to local-Confederate units) http://nps-vip.net/history/reenact/ confed.htm

Civil War Re-enactors Listing (Union and Confederate units) http://americancivilwar.com/ reenactment/

American Revolutionary War Re-enactments (master list of units) http://www.revwar.com/reenact/ master_list.html

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Making the Most of Your Ad Dollars

before. It just wasn’t a winner, and frankly I was kind of surprised. We committed to a full-year run of ads, and we were even being promoted by a fairly well-known celebrity for this region. Lars Larson is a talk host—kind of Here’s one range’s strategy for maximizing expo- conservative the West Coast answer to Rush sure and branding on a limited budget Limbaugh or Sean Hannity— who is really into guns and shooting, and we figured it By Scott Bestul would be a win-win and an an Abbott has heard it every new customer; we want excellent promotion. Still, we more than once. to know how they found out never proved we generated any “I get a customer in to about us so we can measure business from those ads. We’d shoot or take a class, and they which ad attempts work and get customers and friends who wind up telling me, ‘I’ve lived which are less successful.” said, ‘Hey, I heard Lars talking in this area my whole life and With that in mind, here about you the other day,’ but never knew about this place. are some strategies—successwe could never quantify gainI’ve been going to X City or Y ful and not-so-much—from ing one new customer because State to shoot and buy supplies the folks at Oregon Firearms they’d heard the radio ad. It for years,’” Abbott said. “And Academy. was kind of mystifying, but we the second thought—right after dropped out after the one-year ‘Wow’—is ‘I guess you can Traditional media run. never quit advertising.’” “I can’t comment on “Newspaper, on the other Most shooting range the effectiveness of televihand, has been very good to us owners can empathize with sion advertising because we for quite a long time. Again, Abbott, co-owner of Oregon just haven’t tried it,” Abbott we committed to a fairly longFirearms Academy (OFA), says. “We have used radio term relationship, and one of the most we did gain clientele. well-established But we were also careshooting ranges and ful to change both the training facilities in placement and appearthe Northwest, if ance/design of the ads not the country. on a fairly frequent “We’ve been at basis. I think this is this for 14 years, important; if a newspaand I still can’t per reader notices your say I’m sure what ad and then in each works and what Facebook has proven to be a great new issue that ad source of exposure and advertising doesn’t,” he said. is in the same place for Oregon Firearms Academy. “But I do know and looks just like it Students serve as volunteers to run that it’s critical to did the issue before, OFA’s website. not only adverits loses its impact tise, but also to and becomes easy to adapt and change ignore.” to various media. Other print media has We try to track been a winner for OFA. the effectiveness “We’ve been fortuof each attempt. nate to get editorial We quantify every coverage in several registration from magazine articles and

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profiles,” Abbott noted. “And that’s frequently translated into immediate increase in business. Ads in magazines like ‘Combat Handguns’ have been effective. I believe that’s a function of looking over the market and finding magazines that target your specific customer.” Recent additions It’s little secret that the Computer/Electronic Age has transformed how people communicate, do business and gather information, so it should be no surprise that range owners have had to adapt to the trend. Though hardly a “techie,” Abbott views electronic media as a vital means of advertising OFA. “The web is obviously a huge deal right now, and our site is very good for us,” he said. “Fortunately for me, it’s not a large time-consumer. We have students who actually volunteer to run it in-house, and they not only monitor it, but make updates.” In addition to an OFA website, the range has joined the Facebook crowd. “This is another source of communicating that’s so popular it’s impossible to ignore,” Abbott said. “Even better, it’s been relatively inexpensive. Our office manager keeps the page updated to reflect new classes and signups, as well as store specials and other offerings. We’ve also taken out some ads, which have only increased our visibility. Now you can visit the site and type in any number of search words related to our business— conceal/carry, ammo, handgun training, etc.—and our name

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Summer 2011

pops up. And because the web is so fluid, we’re able to constantly update the page with pictures of our shooting classes or a celebrity if we’ve had one in the house. It’s been very successful for us.” Other venues Any savvy marketer is familiar with the term “branding,” and Abbott has done his best to put not only the OFA label, but also the experience in front of potential customers whenever he can. “One of our better ideas is what I call our ‘ricochet’ program,” he noted. “It’s pretty simple; we form an informal partnership with another business in our industry that’s not a direct competitor. For example, Bob may have a gun shop in the area, but he doesn’t have a range or offer the training experience, so Bob’s Guns and OFA agree to steer customers to each other in a semi-exclusive manner. Of course, you have to have total confidence in your ‘partners’ in this deal. I have usually started things off by simply posing as a shopper and seeing how I’m treated. That, and word-ofmouth, will usually tell me if the business is one I want to ricochet with. Some of those relationships have been really beneficial over the years and, best of all, it doesn’t cost me anything. I may leave business cards or materials there, but that’s material that I have already paid for.” Other methods of branding are obvious, but also effective. “We keep a line of T-shirts, hats, mugs and other souvenirs,” Abbott reported. “Sometimes I’ll be walk-

ing down the street and see a client wearing one of our shirts and think, ‘They’re advertising for me right now and they paid $15 for the privilege!’ Seriously, these items are very popular, and they keep your name and logo in front of people. We work with a consultant, who keeps us current with the most recent fashion trends. That’s important, I feel, especially with the younger crowd.” Finally, Abbott says that donations to charities, fundraisers and community events are a critical means of keeping a business in customers’ minds. “The main reason we donate is because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Whether you give door prizes and gifts to banquets and fundraisers, or money or a substantial donation to something like a cancer-research benefit, you’re not only taking a step toward effective branding, but you’re also being a good corporate citizen and member of the community.” Conclusion Naturally, deciding how much to spend on advertising is a highly individual process, and a clear-cut formula for success remains fairly elusive. “We devote a simple percentage of our gross budget each year to advertising,” Abbott notes. “So we’ve got a reasonable idea of the figure each year, but we also devote a little extra to a discretionary fund we can use for special situations. My basic philosophy is that advertising is very important. Even if business is at or above capacity, I never assume that I have enough.” RR 13


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Options & Innovations

Now Hear This Learn of the choices you have to protect your staff and customers’ hearing By Carolee Anita Boyles

W

hether you have an indoor range, an outdoor range, or both, one of your needs is hearing protection for your guests. It doesn’t matter whether they’re shooting sporting clays or plinking at targets, they need to protect their hearing. Hearing loss from noise exposure is 100 percent preventable; you need to be an advocate for hearing protection on your range. From a legal perspective, you also need to have rules on your range about wearing both eye and ear protection, and enforce them. “When you check someone in, you need to let them know that they must have ‘eyes and ears’ at all times,” said Joseph Smith, director of sporting goods for Radians. “It needs to be automatic when someone comes in. Everyone who owns a range should be promoting safety as well as promoting everyone having a good time and a great experience.” You should have, available for both for rent and for sale, a variety of products for different situations. “Most ranges have hearing protection available for shooters to rent, or sometimes just there for them to use,” Smith said. “You need to have them available for people who don’t come to the range regularly. Most regular shooters who are members at your range are going to have their own ear protection.” Smith said it’s very much to a range’s advantage to have hearing 16

Passive ear protection generally means ear muffs with no electronic component. Pyramex Safety Products’ pink muffs are popular with women.

Photo courtesy of Pyramex Safety

protection for sale, even if you don’t have a big retail component in other categories. “You should have a retail assortment of the best sellers,” he said. “Offer what your customers need so they don’t have to go somewhere else for hearing protection.” Unlike with eye protection, where

the first request a shooter makes is for something stylish, the first question a shooter asks about “ears” is how much protection a particular product is going to give them. “You typically start having hearing damage above 85 decibels (dB) of sound,” Smith said. “A big-bore rifle or handgun may put out 150 dB or more.” The goal, then, is to reduce the noise reaching your guests’ ears to less than 85 dB. The level of protection provided is defined by the NRR, or Noise Reduction Rating. The higher the NRR (or dB rating), the more protection you’re providing for your shooters. In other words, a pair of muffs with a rating of 30 provides a higher level of protection than a pair of foam earplugs with a rating of 25. On an indoor range, at outdoors under a metal roof or in another confined space with a lot of echoes, or where shooters are using larger calibers, you should be providing protection in the 24 to 32 range or above. If your shooters are outdoors in situations with fewer reverberations and echoes—such as on a clays course— they may opt for hearing protection with a lower NRR. Types of hearing protection Hearing protection can be divided into three basic types, Smith said. “There’s passive hearing protection, electronic hearing protection and ear plugs,” he said. “Earplugs break down farther into foam plugs, washable reusable ear plugs and custom-molded ear plugs.” Passive hearing protection Passive hearing protection generally means ear muffs with no The Range Report

Summer 2011


electronic component. “Usually the bigger the ear cup, the higher the NRR,” Smith said. In order to be effective, muffs must fit tightly but comfortably so that sound is blocked. “In fact, at indoor ranges, we recommend that shooters wear a muff with an earplug inside it,” Smith said. “People like ear muffs because they’re easy on and off and very adjustable, but a combination of both types is the best bet for protection when you’re talking about passive protection.” Specialty styles fit closer to the head than do traditional full-cup muffs. “Some people—especially shotgunners—like a more compact style that fits close and will fold up and fit into a range bag,” Smith said. Don’t overlook muffs for youth; adult muffs generally don’t fit them well. “Until now, there hasn’t really been anything in the market above an NRR of 21 or 22 for a youth or smaller shooter,” Smith said. “We’ve come out with a 26 NRR muff, so now youth can be protected at a higher level.”

Pyramex Safety Products is offering passive hearing protection in pink for women. “They’re pretty popular right now,” said Amanda Shinall, marketing communications manager for Pyramex Safety Products. “They’re low profile and have a 31 dB NRR.” Altus Brands has a cost-saving approach to passive hearing protection. “For indoor range use, we have a very high NRR muff called our Ultra 33,” said Charles Ricci, executive vice president of Altus Brands, LLC. “The Ultra 33 is modular, so if someone sits on a set of muffs, or the ear pieces get worn and can’t be cleaned, or the foam starts to shred, you can replace those parts individually. You don’t have to buy a whole new pair of muffs.” In addition, Ricci said, the company’s Pro Form synthetic leather ear seals make their muffs very comfortable to wear. “The synthetic ear seals are more comfortable than vinyl because they don’t slip and seal when they get damp from use,” he said.

for hearing protection on your range.

Hearing loss from noise exposure is 100 percent preventable; you need to be an advocate

Electronic hearing protection Typically, these hearing protectors amplify the spoken word but have some kind of a circuit that shuts off or compresses harmful levels Photo courtesy of of noise when Battenfeld there’s an impact Technologies sound such as a gunshot, thus protecting the Electronic muffs can user’s hearing. actually amplify Elecsounds, then compress harmful sounds over tronic 85 decibels. hearing protection can be further broken down into muffs and in-the-ear electronic protection. Some electronic ear muffs have single controls, such as Battenfeld Technolo-

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The Range Report

Summer 2011

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Custom-molded earplugs generally are comfortable, easy to insert and remove, and effective.

18

Photo courtesy of Radians

gies’ E-MAX series. “These have a 25 dB NRR,” said Brandon Butler, marketing manager for Battenfeld Technologies. “If there’s a sound above 85 decibels, they instantly shut off to protect the user’s hearing. We offer the E-MAX in two profiles—one regular profile, and one low profile that’s better for use with a rifle or shotgun where the shooter has his cheek on the stock of the gun.” Others electronic muffs have dual controls, one for each side, so your shooters can adjust to the situation they’re in. “When ours are turned off, they typically have a 23 dB to 27 dB NRR,” Radians’ Smith said. “Then when you turn them on, the shooter can control the two sides separately. If someone is shooting a big-bore rifle on one side of him, he can turn that side down and still hear the range commands coming from the other side.” Battenfeld Technologies has the G3 Platinum series of dual-control electronic ear muffs. “They amplify ambient sounds until there’s a loud noise, and then they compress the sound,” Butler said. “They don’t block all the sound out; they just compress harmful noise so the shooter can still hear the range officer or the instructor talking to him. They have an NRR of 21. The dual microphones provide stereo-type sound, so the shooter is able to localize sounds.” One thing that’s unique about the G3 series is the presence of an LED light that indicates when the electron-

Some Sources of HearingProtection Products Altus Brands, LLC. 484 W. Welch Ct Traverse City, Michigan, 49686 800-891-3660 www.altusbrands.com Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. 5885 W. Van Horn Tavern Rd Columbia, MO 65203 573- 445-9200 www.battenfeldtechnologies.com Electronic Shooters Protection (ESP) 15290 Gadsden Court Brighton, CO 80603 800-767-7791 www.espamerica.com Howard Leight 900 Douglas Pike Smithfield, RI 02917 800-682-0833 www.howardleightshootingsports.com Pyramex Safety Products 281 Moore Lane Collierville, TN 38017 901-861-6100 www.pyramexsafety.com Radians 30177 Pinecrest Drive Spring Hill, KS 66083 901-388-7776 www.radians.com SportEar 6440 South Wasatch Boulevard, Suite 220 Salt Lake City, UT 84121 801-277-2443 www.sportear.com

ics are turned on. Altus Brands’ Pro Mag Gold muff is designed for use as range-owned hearing protection. “They have a 33 dB NRR,” Ricci said, “so they amplify everything on the range but reduce the sound of the gunshot. They’re dual control.” Both of Altus Brands’ ear muffs are available through their designated range program. “We have a marketing partnership with AcuSport whereby ranges can buy from AcuSport, and we custom-

ize the ear muff labeling for each range,” Ricci said. Several in-the-ear electronic protection products are on the market, but few of them have a custom-fitted component. One that does is ESP’s digital Electronic Shooting Protection. “We’ve been making ESPs since the mid-990s,” said Jack Homa, president of Electronic Shooters Protection. “They let the shooter hear everything that’s going on around him, but they still protect his hearing. What’s different about the ESPs is that they’re custom fitted to each shooter’s ear, and they’re completely made in the USA with the newest technology that’s available.”

or handgun may put out 150 dB or more.

You typically start having hearing damage above 85 decibels (dB) of sound. A big-bore rifle

Earplugs Earplugs run the gamut from disposable foam plugs to fitted, molded plugs. It goes without saying that you should always have a container of foam plugs sitting on your counter for sale; you’ll go through a lot of them. The NRR on these generally is around 30 dB— when they’re properly used. The next step up is foam plugs connected by a cord, or banded ear plugs. Then there are multiple-use plugs. The material in these plugs conforms to the shape of the ear canal; in more sophisticated pairs, noise-activated internal baffles reduce the sound of gunfire while still allowing normal conversation. Custom-molded earplugs generally are comfortable, easy to insert and remove, and effective. Radians offers an inexpensive do-it-yourself kit that comes in a variety of colors for less than $15. They’ve partnered with Remington to offer a kit that also includes a lanyard and mirror. Whether you simply have passive ear muffs for shooters to rent on your range or go the whole way into stocking muffs, ear plugs, and electronic hearing protection for sale, hearing protection is a “must” offering item at your range. Your range rules need to reflect the importance of hearing protection, and you must insist that your shooters use it, for their protection and for yours. RR The Range Report

Summer 2011


Modern Sporting Rifle National Shooting Sports Foundation®

The Tools and Times May Change... Today’s modern sporting rifles (MSR) are just another step in the evolution of the tools hunters and target shooters use to enjoy our sports. These rifles may not look like granddad’s, but some of your tools probably don’t look much like his either. Packed with hunt-specific features and

chambered in popular hunting calibers, modern sporting rifles are an excellent choice for a wide variety of hunting from varmint to big game. Outstanding accuracy, ergonomic features and light recoil have made the modern sporting rifle the rifle of choice for both veteran and novice shooters at rifle clubs across the country, at the national matches held each summer at Camp Perry, and in the exciting, challenging, and highly-evolved sport of 3-gun competition.

They may not look like grandpa’s old rifle, but, then again, neither does your drill.

...But the Purpose Remains the Same.

Learn more about the modern sporting rifle at www.nssf.org/mSR The Range Report Summer 2011

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Issues and concerns The Wisconsin Shooting Range Workshop was a cooperative effort between NSSF and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF), and came about at WWF’s request. “WWF is made up of 160 hunting, fishing, and trapping groups throughout the state,” explained George Meyer, WWF executive director. Photos courtesy of Wisconsin “Of those, approxiWildlife Federation mately 130 are local rod and guns clubs, and many of them have shooting ranges or trap fields on their grounds.” WWF’s shooting range committee receives two major requests from member clubs: help with establishing youth programs to bring new shooters into the sport; and guidance on range Speakers at a statewide gathering sparked Wisconsin management issues. “Help is requested especially with ranges to organize the environmental, legal and zoning issues that so frequently come up with By Brian McCombie range ownership,” said Meyer. charges against the gun club, state s they had with the previ With NSSF Manager of Shooting environmental officials launched an ous speakers, participants at Promotions Zach Snow, Meyer and investigation. It took four-plus years Wisconsin Shooting Range the WWF shooting range committee and more than $1 million in legal Workshop held in March in Stevens put together the March workshop to and other fees, but the lawsuits and Point, Wis., started taking notes when address those management issues. It investigations are finally over. DougStan Pate began his presentation. was well attended, with 63 particilas Ridge was exonerated of the most Soon, though, the pens and pencils pants representing 21 rod and gun damaging charges, and today the club went still. It wasn’t that these range clubs. and its membership are thriving. operators and officers were bored In addition to Stan Pate, workshop Pate is a member of the National with Pate. Exactly the opposite, in participants heard from were: fact. They stopped jotting down notes Shooting Sports Foundation’s Range • Zach Snow, on NSSF programs Advisory Committee and president of because they didn’t want to miss a geared for shooting ranges; the Oregon State Shooting Associaword, as Pate told them how lawsuits • George Pitts, chairman of the nearly shut down his gun club—and tion. He and the other speakers came Oregon Association of Shooting to Wisconsin to share the message that could easily do the same to theirs. Ranges (OASR), about why shootshooting ranges can survive, prosper “Gun clubs are extremely vulnering ranges need to organize into and grow—but it will require some able,” said Pate, former president of state associations; preparation and organization. the Douglas Ridge Rifle Club in Eagle • Scott Kranz, of AMEC Earth Creek, Ore. “You can be doing every “I can say this without any reserva& Environmental Inc., on leadtion,” Pate told the audience. “Without thing right, and still someone may try management issues for outdoor our club’s Environmental Stewardship to take you down. And if you’re not shooting ranges; and ready? You’ll be out of business so Plan and our relationship with our • Meyer and other WWF officers fast, you won’t know what happened.” state range association we would have with updates on several Wisconbeen out of business soon after this Pate knew of that threat all too sin-specific issues. all started coming down. Those two well. When an unhappy Doug Meyer heard a good deal of very things saved our gun club, absolutely.” las Ridge member made various positive feedback at workshop’s end. Speakers such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Manager of Shooting Promotions Zach Snow, at left, helped make the Wisconsin Shooting Range Workshop, presented by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and NSSF, a successful cooperative effort. NSSF can support similar presentations in other states if a few clubs organize and show an interest.

An Eye-Opening Workshop

A

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“They really felt it valuable, especially the rod and gun club leaders because they could hear from and talk to people who are experts in these areas,” said Meyer. “We really appreciated all the strong sponsorship NSSF provided.”

“The workshop made a lot of people realize it’s time to take action.... The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s range committee is looking to head up a state range association. We’re hoping to work very closely with the federation to help it spearhead this effort.”

Time to organize Although the range operators hailed from different parts of Wisconsin, they actually had very similar concerns. Lead, neighbors and noise complaints were cited as chief reasons that brought them to the workshop. Yet, there was an even larger issue. “We want to learn how to stay open!” said a number of club officials and range managers during introductions. “We’re here to learn how to be proactive on these issues,” said the vice president of one gun club from northern Wisconsin, who attended with two other club officers, “and to

The Range Report

Summer 2011

Zach Snow, Manager of Shooting Promotions learn how to help our club grow—and to keep open.” As is common to ranges nationally, many of these Wisconsin gun clubs were established around the time of World War Two, in very rural locations. Today, these same ranges are surrounded by growing communities. “Our gun club’s right at Madison city limits—literally,” said Tom Downs, secretary at the Hope Rod and Gun Club. Madison is the state’s second largest metropolitan area. “We haven’t had any real complaints—yet,” Downs continued, “but we figure it’s only a matter of time.”

Downs’ assessment was right on the money, according to George Pitts. Based on his experiences as chairman of the Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges, as well as with his own gun club, Pitts told the audience, “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ you’re going to have a problem. It’s a matter of ‘when’ the problem’s going to occur.” Forming a state range association, Pitts advised, can go a long way to protecting your ranges. “Most of these situations are too difficult for individual clubs to handle by themselves,” he said, “but if you have an association, you can share ideas. A kind of collective intelligence

21


where you discuss things that work and don’t. An association also gives you important political clout. State agencies will take an association a lot more seriously than they will a single club or range.” Formed in 2003, the Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges is made up of 25 individual ranges, with memberships totaling more than 12,000 people. It is also a member of NSSF’s Range Advisory Committee. Time and again, Pitts noted, the association has helped Oregon shooting ranges fight closures and lawsuits. Creating a written leadmanagement plan No matter what their initial complaints might be, people trying to close down shooting ranges invariably use the lead issue as a weapon. As workshop participants discovered, ranges are wide open to lead-based environmental charges. “All a [range] neighbor has to say is, ‘I’m concerned there’s lead in my drinking water,’” Pate told the audience. “Or, ‘I think there’s lead coming onto my property.’ At that point, state environmental and regulatory agencies are obligated, by law, to investigate.” It is here, noted Scott Kranz, that a range needs to be able to show state agents its Environmental Stewardship Plan, or ESP, a written document that lays out a range’s lead-management practices. A project manager with AMEC Earth & Environmental Inc, in Portland, Ore., Kranz has helped many ranges develop and implement ESPs. As he pointed out, an ESP doesn’t have to be long and complicated, and

22

A Shooting Range Workshop in Your State? Gun clubs, shooting ranges or state rifle and pistol associations that would like to consider an NSSF-sponsored shooting range workshop can contact Zach Snow, Manager, Shooting Promotions, National Shooting Sports Foundation, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470, telephone 203-426-1320, email zsnow@nssf.org. The range workshops will present information on lead management and environmental stewardship plans, and NSSF programs available to help your ranges. NSSF will also help promote the workshops. “It’s all about educating range owners and operators about areas where they could be at risk, and may not even know it,” said Snow. “We also focus on the importance of engaging in Best Management Practices for your range.” Snow added that NSSF will gladly incorporate other specific issues or topics into NSSF’s existing set of presentations. “We do ask that any individual who has an interest in a workshop try to rally at least three other clubs or ranges that also have an interest in doing this before they contact us,” said Snow.

NSSF can provide guidance. The important thing, Kranz stressed, was to start writing an ESP as soon as possible. “Proper lead management on your property, with an ESP, will show state and local officials that if there is a complaint, you’ve already been doing the right things,” Kranz said. “A lead-management plan can save you litigation and a good deal of money in the long run. It all goes to documenting that you’re good stewards—that you care about the environment.” Become proactive Another message shared at the Wisconsin workshop was the need for gun clubs to become active on these issues—now. “But if it’s just one person taking those actions for your club or range, that person’s going to get burned out really quickly,” NSSF’s Snow told

the workshop. “You need to have a number of people working on these issues, a team. Make sure you include some of your younger club members, too. Frequently, younger, single members (in their twenties) will have fewer outside obligations, so they can spend time on this work.” Participants at the workshop took seriously this need to act; more than a dozen range managers and operators agreed to meet to discuss forming a Wisconsin range association. “The workshop made a lot of people realize it’s time to take action, not later when all the problems might begin,” said Snow. “The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s range committee is looking to head up a state range association. We’re hoping to work very closely with the federation to help it spearhead this effort.” “It was well worth the time and the gas money,” said Downs of the workshop. “I learned about a lot of things I really wasn’t aware of. The Environmental Stewardship handouts were very helpful.” Back at the Hope Rod and Gun Club, Downs presented a workshop overview to club members. He’ll soon be meeting with the executive committee, too. First item on that agenda? “We’re going to be talking about a Stewardship Plan,” said Hope Rod and Gun Club’s Downs. “The workshop really opened my eyes on the RR need for that.” The Range Report

Summer 2011


Your First Shot at New Shooters An introduction to shooting

F

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. 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 nonshooters to: 1) Gain awareness of target shooting. 2) Build interest in learning more about target shooting. 3) Evaluate and try target shooting before investment.

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.” Harry Misener, Special Events Coordinator, Shooter’s World

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 (tjuett@nssf.org) or call 203426-1320. Taking that first shot is always the toughest and the most memorable.

WWW.NSSF.ORG/FIRSTSHOTS The Range Report

Summer2011 Spring 2011

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undercover shooter Sighting in Deep in the Heart of Texas The Austin area offers two public ranges for riflemen

A

bout a million hunters live in Texas, and a good chunk of them reside in the Austin area. NSSF’s Find a Range search returned seven possibilities for shooting facilities around Austin. Additional research revealed two were closed, one was private, two were outdoor and two others indoor. I opted to visit the two outdoor public ranges where hunters can get in some practice and sight in. Both ranges are within a 30-minute drive of the city and both offer similar facilities, but their operations differ dramatically.

Range A Neat, clean and welcoming This facility is well established, having been around for more than 25 years. Clientele varies from young 20-something shooters to seasoned folks who are obviously regulars. If this were a golf course, it would be of the nine-hole public links genre – nothing fancy, but you can expect a reasonably good time at a fair price. The exterior shows some wear and tear, but the important areas are maintained and the grounds kept clean. The office and retail area were extremely neat and clean. Staff greeted me cordially and was eager to accommodate. As a first-timer, I expected the standard reading of the rules and disclaimers, but was pleasantly surprised when I was directed 24

instead to a small classroom to view a required five-minute video explaining each range rule and reiterating important safety protocols. Staff offered to review any rule or protocol from the video to be sure I was comfortable, and it was required that I shoot on my initial visit in order to receive my range card so that the information would be retained and put to practice. The entire range covers no more than a few acres, but use of space is efficient. The pistol and rifle ranges are adjacent and separated by a berm. The pistol range offers target distances from 7 to 25 yards, and the rifle range allots benches for 50-, 100-, 200- and 300-yard targets. Rifle-range target stands are stationary, so if you want to change distances, you have to relocate to another bench. It was apparent from the good condition of the target stands that the majority of the rifle shooting here is methodical and done from a bench. Targets are affixed with thumbtacks provided on the stands, so there’s no collection of staples. It’s obvious that over time, a lot of thought has gone into the details to make this operation run smoothly.

Range B Good place to burn ammo I’m glad I keep ear protection in the cab of my pickup because I needed

it before leaving my vehicle due to the noise level from several active semi-automatic rifles. Unlike the other facility, this range was created with tactical and self-protection training in mind. I was a bit intimidated by the setting initially, but the newly constructed clubhouse provided comfort until I could get my bearings. Staff was quick to greet and offer assistance when I explained it was my first time. My greeter had to excuse himself to remind guys that “bump shooting” was not allowed, leaving me unattended with a cache of unlocked semi-auto handguns and rifles, not to mention the cash register. His level of trust was reassuring. After reading a two-page list of range rules, filling out a registration form and then signing a waiver I was told I could find target stands in the rusted boxcar next to the rifle range and that I should help myself. I found a stand with the least amount of damage, waited for a cease fire and used debris on the range to wedge it into place at 50 yards. The rifle range also offers longer distances, but shooters are urged to stay on the same line. Concentrating on precision shot placement from my scoped .308 was out of the question, but it was entertaining watching some of the others rapidly rattle off rounds. So, instead, I practiced quick three-shot groups and left satisfied I found a place where I could have a good RR time burning a lot of ammo. The Range Report

Summer 2011


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/Visibility.................. 3

Staff..................................... 5

• Even though I am fairly familiar with the area, once you’re on a winding four-lane highway in the rolling Hill Country it’s easy to miss a turn, particularly during peak commute times. Generic “Shooting Range” signage leading into the range should be larger and more visible from a distance.

• I don’t expect a hug and a smile from a range official. I want to see a professional who can take care of my needs, and the staff here is spot on.

Cost...................................... 4

Training Courses................... 3

• Open to the public, facility charges one-time nominal fee for lifetime range card. Admission fee is per day. Although less expensive than local indoor ranges, offering an annual pass would be attractive.

• Instructional handgun training courses available, including basic pistol, CHL and defensive pistol

Range Safety........................ 4

• Shooters work cooperatively, and there is no confusion about whether the range is hot or not. Cease fire and commence fire are Appeal............................... 3.5 achieved only after all shooters • The paved parking area is ample have left benches, moved behind and well defined with overflow a safety line and signaled to each parking available. This facility has other. No one is allowed back to been around for 25-plus years the bench area until all shooters and could stand a facelift. have returned behind the line. • Concrete walkways lead to the • The only downside is the close pistol, rifle and shotgun ranges, proximity of pistol, rifle and and landscaping is adequate. Pistol shotgun ranges. Although baffles, backstops and berms appear and rifle benches are carpeted with adequate, I noted spent handgun a covered awning and are lighted. Rests and sandbags are also probullet fragments downrange on the rifle side. vided at each bench.

Retail Product Availability.... 3

Cleanliness........................... 4 • The grounds are well kept and loose brass is collected regularly. Brass catchers are installed at each bench to help minimize stray hot brass. • Restrooms inside and outside were clean. Perimeter cleanup would improve appeal.

• Stocked heavily for the reloader, but some factory ammunition is available. • Accessories, such as cleaning supplies, holsters and ammo clips, Comments/Impressions comprise the bulk of the other • I felt safe and comfortable during items for sale. the entire experience and would Rental Firearms Availability..... 2 consider making this my regular • A small selection of handguns range for practice and rifle sightand only a couple of rifles and in, especially because it offers a shotguns 300-yard range.

Range B Customer Satisfaction Rating Signage/Visibility.................. 4

Range Safety........................ 2

• Website offers concise and easy • Plenty of safety information sigto follow routes from just about nage on the clubhouse walls but every conceivable direction. Large none outside or leading up to the signage is more than adequate. ranges. • Range usage is pretty wide open, that is, all calibers and ammuniAppeal.................................. 2 tion, including full-metal jacket • This facility is only a few years and hollow point, are permitted. old and obviously a work in progShooters are allowed to conduct ress, but some major junkyard quick fire and draw from holsters, cleanup is needed. and plans are in the works for a • The clubhouse/office is ample in full-auto range for law enforcesize and ADA accessible. ment use. • The handgun and rifle range areas • That shooters are not required to are sufficiently separated. Conleave bench area during cease fire crete shooting stations are sturdy is a big concern, particularly with and of adequate size to accommothe amount of semi-auto activity. date shooting gear. Stations are covered, but the target stands and placeholders are tattered, a result Training Courses................... 5 of a lot of shooting. • An extensive offering of defensive training and instructional classes and some law enforcement certifiCost...................................... 5 cation courses are offered, as well • Open to the public. Very ecoas individual training. nomical for avid shooters. A minimal one-time registration fee is required, and shooters may Cleanliness........................... 2 purchase day or annual passes. • Shooting stations and range are littered with old brass and broken pieces of target frames. Shooting Staff . .................................. 3 frames are covered in layers of • I found that minimal direction used paper targets. Surrounding was offered to me as a first-time area is littered with old railroad customer. timbers and junked machinery.

Retail Product Availability.... 2 • Some ammunition in common sizes is available for purchase, as are a variety of paper targets.

Rental Firearms Availability......5 • This range caters to tactical/ self-protection shooters and has a wide selection of semi-auto pistols and rifles for rent, plus a few pump shotguns.

Comments/Impressions • This range meets the needs of serious modern sporting rifle and pistol shooters, but not a place I would feel comfortable taking a novice shooter unless additional staff were on hand.

Preferred Range Based on the Undercover Shooter’s experience and observations, he/she’s preferred range is Range A: Eagle Peak Shooting Range, 20026 Lindeman Lane, Leander, TX 78641-8191 512-267-1400 • www.eaglepeakshootingrange.com/epsr.htm 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 2011

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Home on the Range Views from NSSF staffers and guest contributors

Funding to Increase Traffic at Your Range

By Melissa Schilling Manager, Recruitment & Retention

Melissa Schilling is manager of recruitment & retention for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Her responsibilities include working with members, and nonmembers, on programs to increase participation in hunting and the shooting sports

NSSF makes money available for innovative programs from which other ranges my learn By Melissa Schilling

I

n May 2008 the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) piloted a new effort called the Range Partnership Grant Program, providing funds to help public and private shooting facilities jump-start public recruitment and retention efforts. Now, in 2011, the grant program continues, with many new, exciting and effective programs and projects resulting from this funding effort. NSSF’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. In 2008, NSSF adopted a strategic focus to increase hunting and shooting sports participation 20 percent by 2014, and the creation of the Range Partnership Grant Program became a great aid for increasing foot traffic in the ranges. This program helps to grow shooter numbers and shooting opportunities based on the fact that the best way to increase participation is to promote and enhance shooting opportunities at the local level. The Range Partnership Grant Program helps fund pilot projects designed to test new or existing recruitment techniques. Since its inception, the grant program has funded unique models that move the needle on recruiting new shooters, re-activating lapsed shooters and increasing opportunities for active shooters. The overall goal is to highlight the funded

projects that are especially successful so NSSF can then share that model with public and private shooting facilities across the country. Ranges must start thinking about how to create repeat customers and make the facility a destination for families and friends. NSSF is committed to guiding range owners in accomplishing their recruitment and retention goals, and we ask you to make the most of this grant program. Maybe your current efforts need a boost to help accomplish their goals? This is why the Range Partnership Grant Program was created. If you have a great idea to increase shooting participation and opportunities at your range, we encourage you to submit a proposal for consideration during the 2012 grant cycle. Typically, a request for proposals is sent out in early March of every calendar year. Applicants then have roughly 1½ months to compile and submit their proposal for consideration. All the grant guidelines are available at www.nssf. org/shooting/grants. This is a competitive process, and we are looking for stand-out pilot programs. We all have a common goal, and we need to work together as an industry to preserve target shooting. We have to involve more people in the shooting sports, which would benefit everyone with more triggers being pulled. The selected grant proposals will show the potential to help fulfill that common goal.

In order to help applicants understand the Range Partnership Grant Program, a Case Studies document was created that encapsulated past efforts under this grant program. This document provides direction on what type of recruitment or retention efforts might be appropriate in certain circumstances, allowing you to apply these circumstances to your range. The highlighted efforts in the Case Studies document show how range owners developed efforts, what problems they encountered and how they were addressed, and they also provide an overview of the numerous opportunities the grants can fund. This document is available in PDF at http://www.nssf. org/shooting/grants/RPGCaseStudies. pdf. Please take the time to review past projects and see if any can be a good fit for your range. Currently, the 2011 grant recipients are working on their outlined projects to increase and/or retain their custom base. Some projects are focused on marketing initiatives, new programs and advertising efforts. These projects will be highlighted on the NSSF website in 2012, along with the other case studies, to provide direction to range operators who are interested in applying past pilot efforts to their facility. To better understand the Range Partnership Grant Program and how your range can increase its awareness locally and its customer base, please contact me, Melissa Schilling, at RR mschilling@nssf.org. ©iStockphoto/BostjanT

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The Range Report

Summer 2011


The Range Report

Summer 2011

27


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The TheRange RangeReport Report Summer Winter Spring 2011


The Range Report -- Summer 2011