By Massad Ayoob
Point Blank Range Managing Partner Daniel Schwartz, MD, shared his store’s business has
profited through its “One Caliber For $20” program — where customers can rent as many
guns in a particular caliber as they want for a day.
The more markets a business can service, the more income it can rack up. For a prime example of this notion in the firearms retail world, look no further than the Point Blank Range facility in Matthews, N.C.
Following a substantial investment, Point Blank Range – Matthews was turning a profit by its second year in existence. The entire facility encompasses 22,000 square feet, with some 14 full- and part-time employees. Shooting Industry spent a couple days at the facility, watched the business in action in its many dimensions and queried key personnel to see how they did it. Chief among them was Daniel Scwhartz, MD, a practicing radiologist who was doing real estate development on the side when he became involved in the project that resulted in this facility, where he is now the managing partner. Point Blank Range – Matthews, located south of the Charlotte metroplex, is a separately incorporated sister operation to another Point Blank Range north of the city.
Multiple Income Streams
About half a dozen different business models come together to make Point Blank Range – Matthews work as well as it does. These include gun and accessory sales, range rental, gun rental, repair service, training and a social element.
Built at a cost of around $4 million, the operation has found the lion’s share of revenue (about 70%) comes from retail sales. Range rental is the next largest profit generator, followed by tuition from many in-house training courses.
The social element comes from what some call “the guntry club” model. At Point Blank Range – Matthews, this takes the form of the Patriot Gun Club. A plush lounge is available 24/7 to the members, who can let themselves in at any hour of the day to use the range, play billiards or just enjoy the luxurious 4,000-square-foot lounge. It is the site of parties, meetings and other assorted gatherings where upscale surroundings and the potential for shooting recreation make a pleasant mix.
On the retail side, hunting and trap and skeet guns are available in a wide variety, but the bulk of the inventory favors the tactical side. Dr. Schwartz told SI striker-fired self-defense pistols are by far the largest-selling guns in the shop, with GLOCKs and the Smith & Wesson M&P and Shield series the most popular. Best-selling long guns are MSRs, with the Colt brand selling particularly well. High-end firearms of all types — Cabot 1911 pistols, for example — are on display too. Ammo is stocked in quantity, with particularly good prices on bulk purchases.
There is also a gunsmithing operation on the premises. This is especially handy for the new shooter who comes in with an inherited gun and finds it not to be working properly.
The cornerstone of the operation is a well-ventilated, ultra-modern indoor range with state-of-the-art “rubber backstops” that allow the use of high-powered weapons. Across three separate bays the visitor finds a total of 20 firing lanes. At the sign-in point are dozens and dozens of fine firearms available for rent, staffed by well-trained personnel who make sure every customer knows how to safely handle a new-to-them firearm before they take it through the secured double doors to their chosen range bay.
One highly successful program for Point Blank Range – Matthews is “One Caliber For $20.” Explains Dr. Schwartz, “For $20, the customer can rent as many guns of one caliber — 9mm, let’s say — as he or she wants, and try them all, shooting all day if he or she likes.”
This initiative, Dr. Schwartz lends, also generates substantial, profitable ammo sales from the customers renting the guns.
Placing a strong emphasis on training, Point Blank Range brought on renowned competitive shooter
Brian Zins to spearhead the store’s training curriculum. It has been well received by students.
Dr. Schwartz puts great emphasis on training. Bringing new shooters into the fold is his passion, and he enjoys teaching the most basic levels himself. “It’s easy for the trainers who are into this at a high level to give the new students too much, too fast,” he points out. “I can still remember what it’s like to be a totally new shooter.”
A broad array of courses in pistol and carbine are taught at Point Blank, including a three-day, 1,500-round course taught by an experienced crew led by Brian Zins. Tuition costs $300, making it one of the best training values around.
First-rate teaching talent has been a priority at the facility from the beginning. When well-known trainer Daniel Shaw left to go on his own early in 2017, he was replaced as Point Blank’s director of training by Gunnery Sergeant Brian Zins, USMC retired. Gunny Zins (as he’s more commonly known) is the only person in history to win the National Championship of conventional pistol shooting (bull’s-eye, at Camp Perry) 12 times. One of Zins’ first priorities was to revamp the training curricula from Pistol I, Pistol IV, etc., down to two levels, supplemented thereafter by special workshops dedicated to specific skills — such as night shooting.
Having seen Zins teach, he’s every bit as stellar an instructor as he is a shooter. He emphasizes safety and fundamentals as a base, with accuracy the first priority followed by speed and tactical factors. Zins’ bull’s-eye shooting clinics have already drawn serious competitors from all over the country to classes at the Matthews facility.
At this writing, Point Blank has not yet heavily advertised Zins’ presence much, which comes as a surprise to the visiting shooter who knows who he is — but business regulations sometimes get in the way of what would seem to be logical marketing. Local ordinances limit the volume of business signage in Matthews. Thus, only relatively tiny signs on the part of the building fronting the street announce the presence of Point Blank Range, and many potential customers only see what appears to be a modern office building. Not until they swing into the spacious parking lot are patrons able to see the more conspicuous signage, which has to be placed at the back of the building.
Such are the pitfalls of doing business today. Point Blank Range – Matthews has overcome these obstacles to achieve success, and perhaps has demonstrated a successful model for other ranges and gun clubs to follow.