Indoor shooting ranges represent an essential sector of the shooting industry in the United States. However, relatively little research has been done on the customers of indoor ranges. Pertinent questions include the reasons that customers choose to use indoor facilities versus outdoor shooting ranges, preferences for various range amenities and products, and, perhaps most importantly, how indoor range operators can best reach new customers and stay engaged with current ones. To answer these questions and a lot more, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) engaged Southwick Associates in an effort to learn more about indoor shooting range users.
Approximately 38% of U.S. firearm owners shot at an indoor shooting range at least once within the past year. Indoor range users tend to shoot more often versus outdoor range users, possibly related to greater convenience. Additionally, indoor range users spend about two-thirds of their annual target shooting days at indoor ranges.
Indoor range users, in general, share the same motivations and preferences as other firearm users. Among the eight segments that make up the U.S. firearm owners’ market, the Protector emerges as the most common user of indoor ranges. Indoor range users, not surprisingly, are slightly less likely to be represented by the Hunter segment versus the average firearm owner. To learn more about the NSSF and Southwick Associates’ consumer segmentation of the U.S. firearms market, visit http://www.southwickassociates.com/firearms-consumer-segmentation/.
Results indicate room for greater use of indoor ranges. Over two-thirds of firearm owners who have not visited an indoor range in the past year are interested in doing so. Improved and regular marketing will help many indoor ranges see greater foot traffic. If your retail business has a range, be sure to stay in touch with firearm purchasers to encourage repeat visits. Emailed newsletters are very effective.
Opportunities for growth exist. For example, be sure to offer firearm rentals. Over a third of indoor range users have purchased an item after first trying it at an indoor range, and for most respondents that item was a firearm. Manufacturers can bring their product to the attention of new customers by offering specials to retailers for units to be used as rentals. Also, only 9% of total ammunition purchases by indoor range users were made at indoor ranges last year. Be sure to promote the breadth of ammunition available at your range. The convenience alone may encourage regular customers to make more purchases of ammunition and other commonly used range items. Internet research and printed media, along with and advice from friends and family are the most important factors influencing consumers to buy at an indoor range.
Additionally, more than half of indoor range users do not currently have a range membership, instead choosing to pay range fees each time they visit. Converting these casual users into members may help to create more steady revenue streams for indoor range operators. Make sure to highlight the both the monetary and social benefits of indoor range membership. Having a strong community of members may help to improve the overall range experience for regulars and newcomers alike.
Most users (over 80%) use indoor ranges to improve as a marksman. Fun or entertainment and improving self-defense skills are the next two of the six most important factors that inspire people to visit indoor ranges. Three-quarters of indoor range users consider proximity to their home to be an important factor when selecting an indoor range. This demonstrates the fact that location is key to the success of an indoor shooting range.
As with any business, running a successful indoor shooting range depends first and foremost on knowing the customer. By discovering the habits, purchases and preferences of indoor range users, ranges and their suppliers can increase their profitability through improved service, product selection and communications.
Many questions on indoor range use were examined in this report, far more than can be covered here. To learn more about indoor range users’ motivations and preferences, please visit https://www.nssf.org/research/consumer-studies/ to obtain a copy of this in-depth report.
To explore additional shooting industry research, gain access to detailed market reports, or to acquire custom research to help your business grow, please contact Southwick Associates at Nancy@SouthwickAssociates.com, or visit www.southwickassociates.com.