The kids are back in school, the days are becoming cooler and with the changing season comes a shifting customer base. With afterschool activities for the kids, followed by Saturday’s college football games and Sunday’s NFL rivalries, your twice- and three-times-a-week shooters can become once-a-month visitors. Skeet, trap and sporting clays ranges in particular can see a drop-off in weekly business as regular target shooters transition their focus to hunting.
This downtime so many outdoor shotgun ranges (or any outdoor shooting range) experience during the months of September and October is one many range owners grin and bear until the holiday season brings in a fresh burst of business. They shrug their shoulders, cut back on ammo supplies and chalk up the low cash register receipts as seasonal, saying “What can you do?”
What you can do is seize this downtime as an opportunity to develop new business. One of the best ways to do that, particularly for clay target ranges, is to host an NSSF First Shots event.
The benefits are many. First and foremost, you introduce your range and store to an entirely new consumer audience—and you have their full attention. Open to all ages but geared toward adults, First Shots is exactly what the name implies: the first shots participants will ever experience with a firearm. With this program, ranges partner with NSSF to host an event that teaches participants safety, provides instruction on firearms handling and shooting basics, and introduces these novice participants to a sport they’ve likely never heard of.
This is also the perfect time of year for such an introduction. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, the bugs have disappeared, and you haven’t gotten to the months where shooters in northern climes have to bundle up in layers that can hamper an introduction to long-gun shooting. Any new shooter should have the best experience possible; remember, attendees to First Shots events are often nervous. The more you can do to make their first time target shooting the best time they’ve ever had, the better their chances of returning next week, next month and next year.
Another reason this is a good time of year for outdoor range First Shots events is because you minimize the inconvenience regular customers sometimes feel when special events are held during busier times of the year. Clay ranges that frequently host tournaments through the regular spring and summer competition seasons always have to seek a balance between the income potential to be had from such special events and the possible alienation of non-competitor regulars who can’t be afforded range time during those events. First Shots events not only take up minimal range space in most facilities, they don’t require a large staff to run them safely and successfully.
NSSF provides a complete advertising package, including custom ads, attendee materials and safety literature, planning assistance and instructor Powerpoint presentation. Member ranges can order all of the First Shots material at no cost on the members-only side of nssf.org; simply log in and add the literature to your shopping cart. First-time First Shots range hosts are also entitled to a 50-percent aid in cooperative advertising funds up to $3,000, as well as targets and ammunition.
First Shots events in the fall are the winning answer to the seasonal slump on clay shooting ranges. With NSSF’s help, you gain new clients, increase revenue and improve your community outreach. It’s just one more way we can all promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
For more information on how you can become a First Shots range host, click here.
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