Gourmet restaurants and cafés, live-fire shoot houses, gunsmiths, gun vaults and onsite full-auto guns — these aren’t your grandfather’s shooting range amenities, and that’s the way many of today’s shooters prefer it.
Adopting fascinating new trends in user experience and customer service, a variety of ranges are reinventing themselves into luxury gun clubs, or what many are calling “guntry clubs.” News outlets covering the guntry club trend say the shooting sports are the new golf, and ranges, the new bowling alleys.
While gun ranges will always remain a loyal home base for traditional customers, and L.E./military personnel (and rightly so), ranges are seeing a rise in unique memberships, attracting young, elderly and women shooters alike.
Luxury ranges also offer several insights into consumer interest and how it can broaden your customer base. If you’ve maximized your current market, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate methods to reach new customers. Let’s take a look at three guntry clubs with varying facilities and the unique ways they reach their target audience.
Elite Shooting Sports (Manassas, Va.): Elite Shooting is for the traditional, skilled, family-oriented shooter. The facility features a shooting simulator training room, dojo, café, lounge, onsite gunsmith, two-level live-fire shoot house, as well as 42 shooting lanes, training classes, ladies programs and personal-defense courses.
Run by internationally-ranked competitive shooter Greg Wodack, Elite Shooting’s passion is gun safety, training and top-notch customer service. The range welcomes shooters of all ages and skill levels, and specifically encourages ladies, couples, and kids to enjoy the facilities. Memberships are affordable at $34.95 per month. Visit www.eliteshootingsports.com.
Lock & Load Miami: Machine Gun Experience & Range (Miami): Offering a trendy and high-end shooting experience, Lock & Load runs a modern operation. If you picture industrial decor, Andy Warhol-inspired gun art, posters telling you to “Keep Calm And Shoot Straight” and a decommissioned helicopter suspended from the ceiling, then you’re standing in the middle of Lock & Load’s lobby.
The range, located near Miami’s art district, gives shooters the chance to fire automatic guns, bringing to life their Call of Duty video game fantasies. Two-time NBA champion LeBron James even chose to ring in his 29th birthday there last year. Shooting packages like the “007,” “Scarface” and “Special Forces” range from $82 to $545. Visit www.lockandloadmiami.com.
Frisco Gun Club (Frisco, Texas): For the refined and savvy shooter, Frisco Gun Club offers a luxurious experience in the form of a VIP club lounge, gourmet restaurant (whose chef has experience at Wolfgang Puck), café, partnering golf range, smoking rooms, private lanes, after-hours biometric access, gun storage vault, 100-person training room and a retail space that features “the largest selection of guns in the Southwest.”
An average day at Frisco might consist of a private shooting session accompanied by a private dinner, a few rounds of golf and a cigar enjoyed fireside. Annual family packages range from $375 to $850 and VIP memberships go for $7,500. Visit www.friscogunclub.com.
Creating An “Experience” Pays Big Dividends
While these state-of-the-art facilities are specifically built to offer shooters a high-end experience, the customer service principle behind their amenities is simple: If you create an engaging atmosphere and communal environment marketed toward shooters of varying ages and skill levels (to lower the barrier to entry), your facility can turn into the Starbucks of gun ranges — a place where everyone wants to be.
So how do you do this on a smaller scale if you’re running a gun range or shop minus the square footage and leather lounges of a guntry club? You get creative with the space you have. Consider hosting a family day in your parking lot by inviting food trucks out in conjunction with a sale, class or firearms demonstration. You could find a vendor who serves a unique fare like Family Shooting Center’s (Aurora, Colo.) offering of gourmet bratwursts made with buffalo, elk, pheasant, wild boar and jackalope.
Host events in your space like P2K Range’s (El Cajon, Calif.) annual comedy night called “Guns & Grins” which features “high-caliber comedians” and “magnum laughs.” Ladies nights, like the ones ATP Gunshop & Range (Summerville, S.C.) regularly holds, are popular events for women to handle pistols in a comfortable, non-threatening environment. A similar-style event could be held for parent and kid nights. FreeState Gun Range (Middle River, Md.) cleverly caters to video gamers with poker-style target games and zombie shoots.
The possibilities are endless. With increased interest in the shooting sports and personal defense, your product will be in high demand — and so will the quality of the “experience” you offer. With guntry clubs on the rise, it’s a perfect time to look at ways to reshape your range’s identity and broaden your consumer base. Yes, many of your customers are content to simply handle a firearm, but more are willing to pay the extra dollar for “an experience.” If you invest in ways to involve the community in your business, your community will make it their business to invest in yours.
Browning BPS Micro Midas
Browning is currently offering a Growth Insurance Program for purchases on their Micro and Micro Midas youth shotguns. The insurance covers youth shooters who are still growing and will need to upgrade their stock as their length of pull increases. Anytime during the five years after signing up for the program, children can upgrade to a full-size stock for 50 percent off the retail price. The offer covers purchases made between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
LWRCI Offers Free Aimpoint Micro T-1
LWRCI has teamed up with Aimpoint to create their “most significant consumer promotion” ever, which they’re calling the “Step Up. Aim High.” promotion. With the purchase of select LWRCI rifles, consumers will receive a free Aimpoint Micro T-1 Red Dot Sight with a pre-mounted 39mm spacer and LRP, which retails at $889.
“This program is set up to support our distribution partners by bringing together two high-performance brands with an amazing consumer-based promotion that will make an impact in the marketplace,” said David Ridley, LWRCI senior VP of sales and marketing.
The promotion, which began April 15, runs through August 31, 2015.
Smith & Wesson Reveals Dynamic M&P Finish
Smith & Wesson revealed several new M&P pistols featuring a Kryptek Typhon Finish during the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. The pistols, available through TALO Distributors Inc., offer full-size and compact models in .22 LR to .40-caliber. The Kryptek Typhon’s dynamic black finish and unique three-dimensional pattern provides optimal concealment at both close- and long-range.
“Each model has been specifically engineered to meet the high standards of today’s professional operators,” said Jan Mladek, S&W general manager. “When combined with the new Kryptek Typhon finish, these new pistols offer even greater concealment benefits as well as the ability to have further customization on your personal firearm.”
By Taylor Smithfield