By Massad Ayoob
Bows and firearms are different, but shooting is shooting, and the two can go together nicely … and profitably. Add training to the mix and you have even more income streams.
A notable example is Hangtown Range, owned by Dick and Darlene Rood in Placerville, Calif. Bows are racked alongside firearms, arrows inventoried alongside ammunition. And, indeed, the archery range is directly adjacent to the firing range. SI sat down with Dick, Darlene and their staff to get a sense of how they’re making it all work.
Hangtown Range opened fall 2017, representing the outgrowth of Dick and Darlene’s gun shop and outdoor sports store a mile closer to town — Mosquito Creek Outfitters.
“We built Mosquito Creek Outfitters here in 2010. We have 4,500 square feet of retail space there, and about 11,000 square feet at Hangtown Range, including the classroom. The name Hangtown goes back to Gold Rush days. A creek runs behind the range — known as Hangtown Creek — and the name just seemed suitable.”
Hangtown Range is a scrupulously clean facility, staffed by friendly, courteous employees. There’s also usually a pot of Black Rifle Coffee (which keeps everyone happy!) in the comfortable, spacious lounge area. Five full-time employees and one part-timer work at the Hangtown Range; another four full-time staffers plus a part-time employee and a contract gunsmith work at Mosquito Creek.
Having a contract gunsmith on his roster is “just one more service we provide,” Rood noted.
The firing line of this indoor range is comprised of 10 shooting bays that go out to 25 yards. The backstop, Dick shared, is engineered to soak up bullets at up to 3,600 fps. Only one door away is the archery range, 20 yards with eight bays.
Where did the archery element come from? “I’m not much of an archery guy,” he confessed, “but my son is.” Dick’s son, Don, runs Mosquito Creek Outfitters — the retail side of the Rood family operation.
“Firearms is the big part of the business; archery constitutes maybe 10%. We’re trying to expand on it,” Rood added.
(We can probably all agree: Anything adding 10% to our business volume is “a good thing.”)
The Roods invested in a MILO shooting simulator. It works with live ammo, and trained staff debrief customers after each scenario they face. The sophisticated MILO program shows the customer where each shot struck, and at what point in the sequence. Hangtown Range charges $60 per hour for one lane on the MILO simulator, and $20 per hour for a second lane. For half an hour, the rates are $40 on the first lane, and an additional $10 per half hour for the second. The MILO has proven to be very popular among customers — so naturally, the Roods are expanding.
“We’re working on getting some competitions going here — literally working on setting up MILO competition,” Rood shared. “A local chapter of The Well Armed Woman is hosted here the first Sunday every month, as well.”
As to more conventional gun sport formats, he adds, “We’re also working on hosting some NRA-sponsored youth groups. NRA does their annual Friends of NRA meeting here in February. We’re hoping to bring in 80 or a 100 people this year on the archery range. Their business meeting is done in our training room.”
Speaking of the training room …
“We are getting very active with training here,” Rood lends. “Josh Slater, our general manager, is focused on CCW renewals and handgun safety training, and is looking at more first aid training with emphasis on tactical medicine and first responder treatment of life-threatening wounds. It’s going very well right now.”
Josh Slater is also a Krav Maga practitioner, an accomplished combat shooter and a veteran combat medic with substantial experience treating gunshot wounds.
(Editor’s Note: Slater’s role at Hangtown was discussed in a previous Personal Defense Market column. For more, visit www.shootingindustry.com/supplement-gun-shop-income-with-training.)
Firearm rentals represent a sizable income stream at virtually all commercial indoor ranges, and Hangtown is no exception.
“Here we only rent firearms and archery equipment; Mosquito Outfitters is just one mile down the road, and we send them there when they’re ready to buy. If the customers like a rental firearm, we’ll give them a $30 discount on the purchase of that make and model at Outfitters. It gives us a future shooter and another customer. There’s no other indoor range here in El Dorado County and only one outdoor range, El Dorado Rod & Gun Club. Here, many just shoot on public land. I like to say, ‘The woods is our biggest competitor.’ The closest indoor range, other than ours, is [an hour away] in Sacramento,” he said.
Their most popular rental gun is the GLOCK 19. “Ammo is our biggest dollar volume right now. We get good deals from the manufacturers on rental guns,” Rood added.
“We have almost 50 handguns we rent, only four or five long guns. People come in with shotguns but we don’t rent them,” Rood shared. “At Outfitters, we carry about 75 or 80 firearms for sale.”
Thriving, Despite Restrictions
Being in California, Rood adds, “The gun business isn’t too difficult — there are just a lot of things you can’t do. The state has the approved gun roster, so a lot of firearms aren’t allowed. The rest of it is not much different from anyplace else. The best-selling guns are the new firearms coming out; the Shield, for example, was huge here when it was introduced. GLOCKs continue to be a very good sales item: good reputation, good firearms.”
In Northern California, the atmosphere is less anti-gun than in other parts of the state. “The local Mountain Democrat newspaper has given us very positive coverage, reviews from shooters on Facebook have also been very positive. Josh handles Facebook and our website. We’re getting great reviews on social media.”
Prior to the Roods’ acquisition of the Hangtown facility, it was a disastrously broken down tire store. The City of Placerville was cooperative with the Roods because it wanted the building cleaned up, and the building next door had burned down. The community has welcomed this gun-oriented family business.
Expanding into the range, then the rental business, then archery and training has proven overall to be a very successful strategy. The future looks promising for Hangtown Range and its parent company, Mosquito Creek Outfitters.