Become Part Of Your Community Thread


Guests at White Birch Armory’s Ladies’ Night (held the first Wednesday of each month) enjoy
range time with female instructors, learn about new products and develop a sense of
community with like-minded women. Events like this will help your store or range connect better
with the community.

Oftentimes, when we think of “community” we envision our surrounding neighborhoods, schools, police and fire departments, libraries, city halls and — sure — a few towns may have what they know to be their local gun shop. All of these places have a known purpose: your neighborhood is typically where you live, school is where children go to learn, facilities for first responders, your local government and so on.

When we think of our “local gun shop” is it just for those who shoot guns, already know about firearms and hunt? How do gun shops and shooting ranges play a part in their communities? It’s time to shift the mindset of every gun shop being a dark and scary place to a welcoming, friendly and safe environment where our communities can learn about shooting sports, hunting and home and personal protection.

There’s no question first-time gun ownership has skyrocketed, but where are these new gun owners now? When entering a store where you seemingly know nothing about the product being sold, it can be incredibly intimidating. Many of these purchases were fueled by the devastation of the projected economy, then protests and fear of a very uncertain future for their communities. While these reasons for purchasing firearms are valid, it raises concerns about responsible gun ownership and safety. We cannot expect “panic buyers” to immediately understand the concepts previously mentioned and why they’re so important.

As range operators and dealers, we have a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves within the community and reengage with these first-time gun owners. However, being in the firearms industry, we naturally have a target on our backs (pun intended). So, how do we get out from behind the counter and show the residents of our towns and cities we’re a resource for safety and protection, and should very well be considered a staple in community threads across the country?

Where To Begin

Your local chamber of commerce can be an invaluable asset for new connections. The people who make up your local chamber are incredibly resourceful and are proud to bring professionals together by developing networking events and opportunities for businesses to share ideas, cross-promote and support one another. 

One of the best ways to dive right into this and show the current chamber members who you are and what your business is all about is hosting a networking event. Most chambers have some sort of “Open House” or “Business After Hours” event where companies have an opportunity to open their storefront, offices and facilities to show attendees what it is they do day to day. These networking events are organized with a professional from the local chamber and are often a “speed-dating” type of networking exercise that offers intimate conversations with other businesses you may not otherwise have a reason to communicate with. Getting to know other local business owners allows you to connect on a much more personal level and open doors for your businesses to collaborate.

As the networking host, you can welcome guests or thank them for coming and give a quick highlight on what you offer to the community and how you can be of service to them and vice versa. Perhaps they’re looking for a team-building exercise. Did they ever consider a shooting range? Consider offering a discount on a safety course; there very well could be some attendees who purchased a firearm in recent years and weren’t sure what to do next.

At initial meet-and-greets, keep the selling aside — for now. Inviting those who make up your local community without any intention of selling them products or range time is a simple way to allow them the chance to know the people behind the sign out front.

A simple way to spread brand awareness in your area is to find an event that aligns with your company’s values.

Invite First Responders Onto The Range

Many L.E. departments across the country have ranges to train and conduct their yearly qualifications. However, you can still find ways to connect with your community’s first responders and offer your services as a gun shop and/or range.

Grab a few members of your team, a handful of brochures, stickers and maybe a couple of branded hats for a visit to surrounding departments and invite active-duty law enforcement to come in and use the range for free. This humanizes your business and gives your store a personal connection with the community.

By way of doing this, not only is your business establishing a professional relationship with local first responders (which can be beneficial in many other areas), but it also gives them an opportunity to continue to train in a safe environment between qualifications. It’s also a way of saying “thank you” and supporting local first responders so they feel comfortable and welcome. Open your doors and invite them to decompress in your conference room or member lounge if you have one. You can also offer your classroom to host seminars surrounding public safety and situational awareness the public can relate to. This is a great opportunity to see if a law enforcement officer would be interested in speaking to the community in an intimate setting and offers them the chance to connect with those they serve every day.

Let’s be honest: You can never have too many L.E. officers at your store or range. Also, consider having L.E.-only Wi-Fi available at your location. It’s great for officers to have a place to write their reports, etc., and having those officers on the third shift sitting in their squad cars at your store is a welcome burglary deterrent.

Donations & Sponsorships

Through your new connection with the chamber of commerce, you have access to all local community events. A simple way to spread brand awareness in your area is to find an event that aligns with your company’s values. It can be easy to make a financial donation to any organization, but being intentional about your partnerships and sponsorships is a great way to highlight the values that have been the foundation of your business. 

Unless everyone in your community is visiting your website and seeing your “About Us” page, the public isn’t going to know you as anything but “the local gun dealer in town.” Finding a charitable organization or non-profit that aligns with your business’s core values is a great way to showcase those pillars to the public.

As a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, White Birch Armory in Dover, N.H., often sponsors golf tournaments with local veteran organizations and their missions to support veteran healthcare and other life-changing services. 

Depending on your level of sponsorship, your logo might be all over the scorecards, on a green or you can offer a welcome bag to golfers with stickers, range passes and other branded items. Also having a physical presence or participating in the golf tournament or event you’re sponsoring allows the public to ask you questions directly about the services you offer.

If there isn’t a charitable organization in your area, consider donating raffle items to the chamber’s events — which will give your brand and company name exposure. Not only are you marketing your business in a very low-cost strategy, but you’re also becoming involved in events that may reach potential customers while supporting another small business.

Engaging in this genre of activities begins to break down the barriers between pro- and anti-gun members of the community. The more you become involved, the more opportunity you have to end the stigma of “the scary gun shop.”

Engaging The Youth

Our communities wouldn’t continue to excel if it weren’t for the next generation. Start getting involved in offering kids’ programming at the range. There are many seminars and events you can host at your facility to introduce kids to gun safety and shooting sports.

The NSSF is an incredible resource and produces engaging marketing materials around firearm safety you can hand out to families who are purchasing their first home-defense firearm. You can also have these materials printed as supporting items for various topics of seminars — such as how to properly store a firearm, home “fire drills” for children and their families (what to do if there is an intruder in your home), proper gun handling, etc. All of these seminar topics lead to building a foundation for a healthier, safer, well-equipped and prepared community.

Getting involved in your town and city affairs does a lot more than bring business and potential revenue to your store. As representatives of the Second Amendment, we have the responsibility to educate our peers and the next generation of society about our right to bear arms, what responsible gun ownership means and how shooting sports is simply a fun hobby for many. The more we, as dealers and range owners, become involved in our surrounding environment, the more likely the “local gun shop” becomes a staple in what we collectively call “community.”

Click To Read More Shooting Industry November 2022 Issue Now!