Airsoft/Airgun Sales Bring In New
Shooters, Secure Future Business.
As depicted in the 1983 Warner Bros. movie A Christmas Story, it has long been a dream of many young shooters to get their very own Daisy Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. The Red Ryder may have paved the way, but the performance of today’s airguns has far surpassed the lever-action and pump-pellet guns just a few decades ago.
Airguns offer a price point that’s hard to beat — especially for the performance, maintenance and cost of ammo. Anyone who’s picked up a modern air rifle or pistol understands how many advances in the technology have been made over the past couple of decades.
“The biggest advances in airgun technology over the last 30 years have mostly centered around quality and performance. They’re more powerful, and with proper maintenance they’ll last a long time,” said Randy Potter, general manager for GAT Guns in East Dundee, Ill. “With standard break-action, spring-loaded models starting at just over $100, it’s an affordable option for many young buyers to purchase and begin their lifetime of training and education. The RWS 34 is an excellent seller and at a price point of under $300, the combination of price and performance is hard to beat.”
By introducing young shooters to the sport through the sale of airguns, dealers often realize the benefits as the customer gains experience, interest and skill level. The true value in offering these products in their shops is their investment in the future. It’s important for your customers to establish a safe and strong interest in the sport at an early age, which will ultimately develop their relationship with your store over time.
Designed with field carry in mind, the Crosman Marauder with rifle
wood stock features an adjustable comb, two-stage adjustable match-grade
trigger system and a 10-round magazine. It’s available in .177, .22 and
.25. Crosman also offers hollowpoint, hunting pellets for airgun customers.
Top: SIG SAUER P250 .177
Bottom: Umarex HK 45 GBB
Dealers who carry airguns and airsoft products are not only catering to younger shooters. They’re also selling products for a variety of other purposes as well, such as varmint control and backyard recreational shooting for older shooters.
“Approximately 50 percent of our airgun sales are being used for varmint control,” Potter reports. “Due to the stopping power and suppressed noise, airguns are effective tools for use in many residential areas. Because of this, customers benefit from the multiple locations where airguns can be used. Generally, there aren’t many restrictions for airguns as long as they’re operated safely — most of them can be fired in just about any backyard.”
Cost of ownership is another significant advantage for customers making the decision to purchase an airgun, Potter said. “Airguns have always been a cheaper alternative to rimfire for example, but now they’re a lot cheaper due to the cost and availability of ammunition.”
GAT Guns carries approximately 100 different models between new and used airguns. These are mostly made up of products manufactured in the USA, China and Japan.
“Even with the wide range of models and calibers we have for sale, airguns only account for approximately 2 to 5 percent of our gross sales. GAT Guns stocks airguns from Beeman, Crosman, RWS, GAMO, Stoeger and others. We offer the new line from Crosman: the Discovery, Marauder and Nitro Piston rifles,” Potter added.
Airgun rifles tend to dominate airgun sales, but there are a few pistols to choose from. Most airgun sales are mechanical piston guns, and a smaller percentage of pneumatic or CO2 models. The most popular caliber is still .177, but .22 and .25 are growing in popularity.
“Combined, sales of airguns in .22 and .25 calibers account for about the same amount of sales as those in .177,” Potter said. “We’re starting to see a gain in popularity for higher-end models and larger calibers such as .30, .38 and .45. We continue to get requests as customers become more aware of the options available to them.
Potter said most customers leave his store with everything they need to get started with the sport: usually including a couple tins of pellets, cleaning pellets, chamber oil, as well as scopes and mounts for the models that don’t already come with them.
Laser Ammo’s Open Range, a shooting range program that can be
customized by your store, is an add-on to the Smokeless Range
Judgemental Simulator. It pairs well with airsoft guns to
promote safe training.
Gamo USA recently debuted a C-15 Bone Collector Edition blowback pistol,
which has a Weaver-style rail for mounting accessories and an 8×2 dual
magazine for pellets and BBs.
GAT Guns in East Dundee, Ill., has a dedicated airgun department and
offers one of the largest selections in the Midwest.
Investing In The Future
Dealers with traditional ranges are also providing training and alternatives to younger shooters as well. RKA Gun Gallery, located in Plano, Ill., installed an interactive target training system, sold by Cybergun. It contains various programs to time shots and present various target configurations and has been very popular with customers.
“This has been a huge hit with the kids,” said Scott Peters, RKA owner. “This training system allows for proper instruction on safety and handling, but the interactive features make it fun. It’s also an effective sales tool since parents know they can bring their children with them to the range and keep them entertained while the adults shop for their purchase or receive training.”
Airsoft products are another excellent way to introduce young and new shooters to the sport. Some prospective shooters may be intimidated by the sound or recoil of traditional firearms, but are willing to handle an airsoft gun or an airgun. This exposure increases their confidence until they’re ready to handle a larger-caliber gun. True-to-life sizes, blowback action and CO2 cartridges provide a very realistic form of recoil that helps make the transition toward conventional handguns and rifles.
Airsoft is not only an effective means of introduction to shooting sports, but it’s also very affordable. Price ranges for specific models vary depending on action types.
“Spring-loaded models can be sold for under $10. Couple this with 40 to 50 percent margins on speed loaders, pellets, BBs and CO2 and the possibilities start to become clear,” Peters added. The entertainment value and the lessons learned while practicing with airsoft are well worth the time and money spent.
Peters sees offering airsoft/airguns as an investment in the future of his business.
“We don’t necessarily offer this product category as a moneymaker. Although we do get decent margins on the items we sell, we do it for convenience for the parents and to get younger shooters interested in the sport,” Peters informed. “Oftentimes, we’ll offer the range for free while parents are shopping or using the range. The impact is minimal as a direct contribution to sales revenue, but is proving to be an important tool to attract new shooters and capturing additional future business.”
By Kevin Russelburg