Air Profits

Improve Margins With
Customer-Friendly
Airgun/Airsoft Marketing.

Competition with big-box and online stores is fierce. What if you could gain an extra edge by offering a product that requires very little learning curve and has the potential to endear customers for years? If so, you should consider adding airgun and airsoft products to your product line. According to the IBISWorld report on airgun and airsoft manufacturing, there are over $74 million “up in the air” for dealers to benefit from. Are you getting your fair share of the market?

barska_airsoft

Barska offers a line of airgun scopes available at a mid-range price point.
The AC10004 4×32 AO features adjustable objective lens for parallax adjustments.

crosman_airsoft

The GFAP13 is Crosman’s first AEG in the Game Face Airsoft series.
It comes with a 30-round push-button magazine and has full and semiauto modes.

Encourage Youth Participation

Selling airguns and airsoft products gives the firearms retailer a unique opportunity to cultivate a lifelong customer from an early age. Airguns, generically referred to as “pellet guns,” don’t require permits — making it easier for young shooters to get started in the sport earlier. Jeremy Fuller, airgun expert and sales assistant at Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham, Ala., highlights the many advantages of airguns.

“It’s the best thing a young person can do to get started and become accustomed to handling firearms. They can learn standard safety practices and handling rules in a much safer environment,” he said. “Training a young shooter on an airgun is an easy way for a child to have a safe, ‘real gun’ experience without dealing with the recoil and price of more powerful ammunition — and they’re very effective for hunting small game such as birds, squirrels and rabbits.”

Likewise, airsoft guns allow a budding gun user to learn safety and technique using non-lethal firearms that closely resemble the real thing. Both military and law enforcement entities use airsoft in force-on-force training, attesting to its validity — so what better way to introduce young people to the basics of firearms use? Stan Yam, co-owner and manager of Battlegrounds Airsoft in Irondale, Ala., says airsoft teaches young shooters the basics of safe gun handling.

“Airsoft is a good introduction to basic safety procedures for handling firearms. Muzzle and trigger finger discipline are two of the most enforced safety precautions we learn right away, such as: Only point your gun at something if you intend to shoot it and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. These two are also the most important safety precautions in stopping negligent or accidental discharge,” he said.

Although the typical legal age for buying airsoft guns is 18, youth are often introduced to the sport much younger under careful adult supervision. “It’s a particularly good choice for kids because it keeps them active as opposed to sitting on the couch playing video games,” Yam said.

Many adults enjoy airsoft as well, since the weight and appearance of airsoft guns are close to the real thing — with gas-powered guns featuring blowback actions. That’s why military and law enforcement departments find it an effective, non-lethal training alternative.

barska_airsoft

Barska offers a line of airgun scopes available at a
mid-range price point. The AC10004 4×32 AO features
adjustable objective lens for parallax adjustments.

Umarex_Fuel

The new Umarex Fuel air rifle is equipped with a
nitrogen-powered ReAxis gas piston, capable of
sending alloy pellets downrange at 1,200 fps.
It also features the integrated SilencAir
Noise Dampening system to reduce auditory report.

Built-In Customer Base

One key advantage for dealers selling airguns and airsoft is they already have a built-in customer base. Because airguns and airsoft products aren’t as expensive as their authentic counterparts, they don’t tax cash flow or borrowing power as much, making stocking them an easy way to expand sales.

Air pistols and rifles of good quality range from $50 to $250 suggested retail, and dealers won’t find near the competition in margins found in standard firearms. “To get a mid-range airgun up and running with a scope and ammo will cost you an overage of $200 to $300, a fraction of the cost compared to a standard firearm,” Fuller said.

Another key advantage of airguns is the cost of ammunition is significantly less. “An airgun shooter can buy pellets for a fraction of the cost of firearms ammunition, and it’s readily available in a day and time where customers can hardly buy the firearm ammunition they want,” Fuller said. “Airguns are also non-seasonal. Customers can hunt small non-restricted game with a pellet gun year-round.”

Likewise, airsoft pistols and rifles are very affordable and there are several benefits for people of all ages training and participating in airsoft. For instance, ammunition is a fraction of the cost of firearm ammunition. Also, customers can train or play airsoft without special permits or other restrictions found in the real firearms arena.

“The basic startup costs can vary significantly, but a good starter AEG (Airsoft/Automatic Electric Gun) rifle, mask, battery, smart charger and BBs will cost about $150 to $250. We usually recommend this as basic starting equipment,” Yam said.

There’s also money to be made in accessories, including many you may already stock in your store. “Over time, players will buy a tactical vest or plate carrier, an airsoft pistol sidearm, additional magazines for their rifle or more accessories for their AEG,” Yam said. “The majority of the quality airsoft brands make their AEGs and Pistols 1:1, which allows for almost all accessories from real firearms to be attached to the guns.”

crossman-airsoft

To complement your airsoft sales, consider carrying
Crosman’s Game Face line of airsoft BBs.

Beretta-500

The Beretta ARX 160 by Elite Force has a realistic
feel with metal accessory rails and a collapsible
stock. It can shoot full and semiauto with a
300-round drop-free magazine.

Bigger Margins, More Profits

Better yet, you’ll find the profit margins in airguns and airsoft products not nearly as tight as you’re accustomed to in firearms. “Depending on the product and manufacturer, markups in airguns, pellets and related accessories will be anywhere from 25 to 40 percent,” Fuller notes. “From top to bottom, the average profit margin is approximately 35 percent.”

According to Yam, the mark-up in airsoft doesn’t quite enjoy the higher profit margins seen in airguns, but are appreciable. “From a retailing standpoint, the profit margin on airsoft equipment ranges from 10 to 20 percent. Competing with online retailers is difficult with the only saving grace being MAP-controlled (Manufacturer Advertising Price) products, which allow brick and mortar stores to compete on a level playing field,” he said.

If you’re stocking airguns and airsoft products and your competition isn’t, you already have an advantage. Let your customers know you offer these products by simply working them into promotional messages such as online newsletters, social media, newspaper, television or radio. The profit margins inherent in selling airguns and airsoft make them ripe for special promotions. Unlike firearms, they can be discounted without taking a big loss from your bottom line.

Bigger profit margins, less cash expenses, a younger customer base and an opportunity to endear customers for life — what wouldn’t motivate you to venture into this market? Consider making airguns and airsoft part of your retail strategy to add more black ink to your ledger.
By Pat Covert

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