Firearms have been a topic of controversy for a long time. Despite that, the past year has seen a spike in gun sales, with 39% of households across the country owning guns, only being 32% in 2016. Because of this, businesses like gun ranges not only continue to be popular but are also still an extremely lucrative business opportunity for those who invest the time and effort. And while starting any business is difficult, starting an indoor or outdoor shooting range requires more effort and time to put up.
In fact, some of the things you’ll have to keep track of when starting a shooting range business include abiding by strict laws and regulations on local, state, and federal levels. In addition to that, you’ll also have to keep track of your insurance policies, safety guidelines, and practices, having to report requirements regularly, and even record keeping.
Needless to say, starting this line of business is a significant investment that takes a lot of time and effort, and whether you’re starting your business from scratch or buying the business from someone else, here are a few tips to help you get your business up and running.
What You Need to Start Your Shooting Range
Get Familiar with the Law
The first step to starting your business is by familiarizing yourself with certain laws and the requirements you’ll need to start your business. This includes doing your research on your local zoning and licensing laws and requirements. If you’re not sure whether the information you see online is accurate, you can also get in touch with The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives by visiting their website or giving them a call. Doing so gives you an exact idea of what permits and licenses you need to start your business.
In any business, networking is one of the most important steps to help establish contacts that can support you when you start your business and other connections you’ll need in the future. Consider visiting different gun shows and joining trade associations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, where you can meet people in the industry such as gun manufacturers and fellow business owners from whom you can get the latest news and helpful advice.
Create a Business Plan
If you want your business to succeed, you need to create an effective business plan. Not only does this help you list down your short and long-term business goals, but it also helps you set priorities, create strategies that can help your business grow and achieve its goals, manage cash, and keep track of your progress.
Make it Legal
One of the most important steps to starting your business, especially in this field, is making sure that you’re operating legally. Shooting ranges often need different kinds of licenses and permits to operate. Depending on where your business is located, there will be a few restrictions regarding the area you can open your shooting range in, what you need to have in the range, and what times you can operate your business. In addition to this, you’re also going to need to incorporate your business, allowing you to get your tax identification number.
Determine How Much Space You Need
Before putting up your shooting range, you’ll need to make a few decisions like whether it’s going to be located indoors outdoors, how many shooting stalls, bathrooms, and teaching rooms you need, how big you want your showroom to be, and where you plan to put your sale items. With this in mind, you’re likely to need a large space, especially at a time when physical distancing measures are still in place in some areas.
Protect Yourself and Your Business
Handling firearms is a dangerous job, and whether we like it or not, accidents can happen. And if something were to go wrong at your range, you can end up losing more money than you’ve earned in the time your business had been operating. Purchasing insurance coverage can help you protect yourself against any possible liabilities or errors caused by either you or your staff.
Establish Your Services
Once you’ve determined the physical requirements of your business, you can move on to deciding on the services you want your business to offer. Depending on whether your shooting range is indoors or outdoors, you can offer different services that cater to different people. It’s also important that you offer services that make you stand out from other similar establishments. For instance, in an indoor range, you can offer sessions where customers can shoot virtual targets rather than traditional target paper. You can also provide a pistol range, rifle range, paintball, and safety classes, among other services.
If your space is big enough, you can even hold events where people can celebrate birthdays, graduations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, etc.
Since customers may spend a good amount of time at your establishment, you may also want to consider adding a canteen area or food stall where customers can purchase food and drinks before, during, or after sessions.
Know What You’re Doing
Even if you’re enthusiastic about firearms and shooting, you must be knowledgeable on the subject, such as knowing how to handle them, the details of each firearm and accessory, and who they’re appropriate for. If you aren’t familiar with or don’t have enough experience, you may want to consider participating in an NRA Basic Firearm Training Program. This allows you to become an NRA instructor once you complete the program. Otherwise, you can also hire professional instructors who can help teach the classes.
Get Your Supplies and Equipment
You can’t start your shooting range business without your equipment. Some of the things you’ll need include safety goggles, ammunition, targets, cleaning supplies, earplugs, masks, and of course, your firearms. Now is also the perfect time to have your merchandise created, so by the time you have your grand opening, your business will be up and ready.
Starting any business is difficult, but when you’re dealing with things like firearms, you may find yourself jumping through more hoops than you thought you would. However, with the right amount of planning, time, and effort, your shooting range business will be safe and enjoyable for everyone.