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First Shots—driving New Business for Ranges Across the Country

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The NSSF First Shots program is designed to introduce new shooters to the sport like these attending an event at Houston’s Shooter’s World indoor range. IMG

U.S.A. -( you looking for a flexible, affordable, and friendly way to bring more shooters to your facility? Explore NSSF’s First Shots, a program designed to deliver a great shooting experience to new and inactive shooters.

Winning Locals and Tourists in Florida

Florida’s Shooters World in the area known as The Villages is located in the center of a sprawling, 55-plus retirement community full of people looking for experiences and activities. First Shots has proven to be of great interest to them.

“We have a 53,000-square-foot facility, and it can be daunting for first-time shooters,” says Patricia Quattrini, Shooters World’s Events Coordinator. “But we make sure to greet our First Shots attendees at the entrance and direct them to the classroom, so they feel immediately welcomed. Our goal is to deliver the best firearms experience possible, focused on safety first.

“We offer First Shots several times a week and it’s been a great way to capitalize on the foot traffic potential of our village community and get participants hooked,” she added. “We see all kinds of people—husbands and wives, families just starting out shooting, women’s groups. It’s a mixture, and our range staff encourages all customers to take the class before moving on to a more skilled class or before purchasing a firearm. Our post-class survey results are phenomenal, so it’s definitely working for us!”

Across the state in Orlando, another Shooters World facility also uses First Shots as a tourist attraction. Carmen Lout, Assistant Store Manager—Range, says, “Eighty percent of our First Shots participants are tourists. They run through the usual fare of the Orlando area and are looking for something new to do.

The NSSF helped setup an event at the grande opening of Top Gun in Orlando Florida. IMG

“We view First Shots as our opportunity to educate and give back to the shooting community,” she emphasized. “We strive to deliver a great firearms experience, especially for people who live in an area or a country where they are not granted the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of shooting sports. We get a lot of referrals from them, and they encourage their friends who travel to Orlando for the other attractions to include a First Shots class in their plans.”

“A recent father and son duo said they felt ‘welcomed, educated and safe,’” Lout says. “This means we’re doing our job. We offer classes daily, and in addition to the tourist traffic, we reach out to local Boy Scout Troops, businesses, and more. First Shots is working great!”

Changing Minds in Texas

Craig Davis, Vice President of Texas Gun Club in Stafford, Texas, leverages First Shots as a “Learn to Shoot” promotion to the large number of people passing through their building on their way to another business.

“It’s a way of changing consumer expectations of a gun range,” Davis says. “We’ve developed a very warm and friendly environment and offer First Shots both on demand and as a frequently scheduled event. All our instructors are trained to deliver a consistent experience.”

TGC charges $25 for the course, a fee it positions as being offset by the First Shots rebate a class participant can use. Instructors use the course as a precursor to their Handgun 101 class, and since TGC started using First Shots, it has noticed an increase in the number of Handgun 101 students. “First Shots is a funnel to our range and our classes are definitely working,” said Davis.

Top Gun Handgun Training & Shooting Center in Houston is in its second year of actively using First Shots as a way to get new shooters in the door. “First Shots is a great way to introduce family members to the shooting sports, especially if they are nervous,” says General Manager Kyle Harrison.

Even the Lonestar state hosts NSSF First Shots events for shooters new to firearms. IMG

“First Shots has been a good business decision for our range,” Harrison added. “We’re bringing in customers at a very low acquisition cost. We’ve promoted the class on our radio program and do outreach via our email list. It’s working so well for us, we’re increasing the class frequency in 2020.”

Key to Range Success in the Keystone State

“First Shots is one of the best things we could have done for our range,” says Jessica Keffer, Marketing Manager of The Sportsman’s Shop in East Earl, Pennsylvania. “It’s a great way for customers to learn about firearms safety and proper handling in a safe environment. Fifty percent of First Shots participants move on to private training or come back to use the range on their own, and many of the women who take First Shots also sign up for the local chapter of The Well Armed Woman.”

“The class builds a comfort level with people just starting the journey,” Keffer added. “Seeing the pride and enthusiasm of a new shooter is so gratifying, and our instructors love it. It’s why we do what we do.”

About NSSF’s First Shots
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, encourages all member ranges to utilize its First Shots program in a way that best fits their facility and community. To explore adding First Shots to your range’s training curriculum, please contact Ann Gamauf, NSSF Retail & Range Business Development Coordinator, at [email protected] or 203-426-1320 ext. 247.

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