New Shooters Need
More Than A Gun


Janeen Wyatt (right), Shoot Like A Girl Pro-Staff team member and instructor, is well aware a
customer’s first firearm purchase will lead to related accessories, such as secure storage.

Gun sales are still on the rise — especially to women. At Shoot Like A Girl, we focus on metrics and measures and our data shows us there remains tremendous opportunity to introduce women and their families to the shooting sports, and in turn, create new gun owners.

These are exciting times as our shooting community continues to grow and gain more diversity in every category. As these new shooters show up to the gun counter to make their purchases, the industry has an opportunity to promote safe gun handling and ensure these new consumers have everything they need to be safe, responsible gun owners. Their shopping list should include more than a gun — giving your staff an opportunity to increase add-on sales potential.

Promoting Safety Key

In 2021, Shoot Like A Girl traveled to 21 locations and provided 2,815 guests with the experience of shooting a pistol, rifle, bow and pepper spray. The guests and their friends and family had hands-on interactions with a multitude of products. We saw families shopping for firearms for the first time with a desire to learn as much as they could during their visit with Shoot Like A Girl.

Retailers have a tremendous opportunity to not only meet the needs of their customers, but also help the industry promote firearm safety and safe, responsible gun ownership.

Many retailers have stepped up to this occasion to provide new shooters more than a gun by implementing programs to promote safety. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s now have a checklist they use to review with each customer when they purchase a gun. Other local gun stores, like Larry’s Pistol & Pawn in Huntsville, Ala., have created programs to add safety training for new gun owners. To help meet the needs of these new shooters, focus on safety and offer them opportunity to purchase a full array of accessories.

Shoot Like A Girl launched a new public safety campaign called SafeLivinG to promote firearm safety education. This campaign encourages responsible gun ownership by starting an initiative to change the industry’s common slogan of “Know the Four” firearms safety rules to “Know the Five to Stay Alive” — adding, “Always keep your gun secured from unauthorized persons.”

“Know The Five To Stay Alive”

1) Always treat a gun like it is loaded.
2) Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
3) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
4) Always know your target and what is beyond.
5) Always keep your gun secured from unauthorized persons.

As experienced gun owners, most of us think these rules are common sense and everyone follows them. (Or, at the bare minimum, knows them.) However, new shooters just don’t know what they don’t know yet, and we should never assume they inherently understand the full responsibility of gun ownership.

Unfortunately, the gun sales counter in many stores is an awkward place, and not all sales teams demonstrate good, safe gun handling. These new shooters should be told the firearm safety rules right up front. For new shooters, when the sales professional first clears the firearm and hands it to the customer, have them explain why they’re doing it. Then review the five safety rules and help the customer find the perfect gun. Once the gun is found, offer them the full complement of shooting accessories.

Good, Better, Best Safety Products

New shooters need more than a gun. Often, a new shooter is sold a gun and ammo, but the equipment list they should be offered extends way beyond those two items. With a focus on safety, talk in terms of good, better and best.

Start with required equipment, like eye/ear protection and safe-storage options. Explain why this basic safety equipment is needed, and the benefit of each level, which will help them make decisions based on their budget and needs.

Hearing protection has many options; in terms of good is the basic foam earplugs. Better hearing protection would be adding passive muffs to the foam plugs. Best would be interactive hearing protection — which enables the shooter to hear their instructor/RSO, as well as what is going on around them, while protecting their hearing. Ballistic eye protection is also necessary. Safety glasses come in a variety of styles, from clear basic lenses, to amber or sunglasses.

Safe storage is a must for every gun owner. Take a moment to share how gun cable locks are used; it’s often overlooked at the sales counter, leaving the new gun owner at a disadvantage.

Secure-storage options, such as safes, are bountiful. Following the good, better, best approach, make sure to keep entry-level safes in stock, up to electronic rapid entry options.

Lastly, don’t forget to sell training. Retailers should encourage new shooters to fully educate themselves on how to be proficient and safe, responsible gun owners.

Elevating The Shooting Experience

Once the required safety equipment is purchased, there’s a multitude of other accessories that make a new shooter’s experiences better. We hope these new shooters are headed to the range. They need a safe way to carry their firearm into the range. A good option is a simple soft pistol case, even better would be a range bag and best would be a backpack range bag.

If the customer’s intent is to carry concealed, show him or her a variety of holsters, concealed carry bags and concealed carry clothing. The new shooter will need to purchase a gun-cleaning mat and kit. Retailers should offer a gun-cleaning class as well.

”Retailers should encourage new shooters to fully educate themselves on how to be proficient and safe, responsible gun owners.“

Additionally, with ammunition being a big investment for a new shooter, talk to them about options for training — like buying a .22-caliber pistol to practice or an airgun. Airguns are a great way to practice, and are not only cost effective, they allow for a wider range of safe locations to set up and practice. Dry-fire training systems represent another cost-effective option.

These items are not the end of the list; there are many ways we can spend our money on our shooting sports journey. New shooters, however, need to be provided with options to help them be successful.

Dealers can influence the industry with thousands upon thousands of gun safety advocates by promoting safety messages like SafeLivinG’s “Know the Five to Stay Alive.” Local retailers are also the key factor in helping new shooters move forward to experienced enthusiasts. It all starts with new shooters needing more than a gun.

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