By Ashley McGee
A friendly, engaged staff makes all the difference to ensure a successful ladies’ night at the range. “Make sure your staff is prepared to be encouraging and informative, not dismissive or condescending,” lends Anthony Wood, West Coast Armory range and training director.
When it comes to attracting female customers, the greatest challenge facing firearm dealers and sporting goods retailers is the intimidation factor followed closely by safety concerns. Both of these barriers to entry can be addressed with one solution — ladies’ night.
If you have considered hosting a range event specifically for women, but aren’t sure where to begin, we’ve uncovered some helpful tips for you.
Consistency Is Key
Designated range time for women doesn’t have to be limited to an evening. West Coast Armory’s (Bellevue, Wash.) shooting facility, Bellevue Gun Club Indoor Range, offers ladies’ day all day on Mondays. Range and Training Director William Wood said Mondays are a relatively slow day at the range and ladies’ day helps boost business.
“Ladies who come in won’t have to deal with the wait they might have on the weekend,” Wood shared. “The environment is also a bit quieter, which is appealing to new shooters.”
Bellevue, an NSSF five-star rated facility, strives to maintain a welcoming environment for both new and experienced shooters. They have hosted ladies’ day at its 31,000-square-foot facility for the past nine years.
“Having an entire ladies’ day makes it more accessible to those who might have a schedule preventing them from making it during a specific time,” Wood added.
Regardless of which day you choose, the more important thing is to be consistent. Robbie Paskiewicz, owner of Knoxville Gun Range (Knoxville, Tenn.), suggests hosting ladies’ day (or night) weekly on the same day.
“Once a month isn’t often enough,” he said. “Being comfortable and learning to safely operate a firearm comes from consistency over time. Make it part of someone’s routine they can count on each week.”
Attract Their Attention
After deciding on a day and/or time, how do you get women to show up? The key to effective marketing is connecting with your target audience through the channels they’re already using with a message that resonates with them.
For Knoxville Gun Range, the way to spread the word about their events is through social media, in-store signage and printed materials like brochures.
“Word of mouth works far better than traditional marketing like print, radio or television advertising,” said Paskiewicz. “Having a printed brochure a woman can share with her girlfriend, neighbor or co-worker is a much better return on investment.”
Make An Offer
Unless your event is so widely attended you can afford to close the range, you’ll likely remain open to the public during ladies’ night. Offer a ladies’-only promotion to help set the event apart from just any other day on the range.
On ladies’ day at Bellevue Gun Club Indoor Range, first-time shooters are considered a Bronze Member for the day, which includes unlimited access to a 20-yard pistol bay. For existing Bronze Members, lane fees are waived as well as the cost of guest passes for any women who attend with a member.
Bellevue supplies a couple targets upon check-in, but ladies’ day does not include gun rentals, ammunition, eye and ear protection, or extra targets.
Knoxville Gun Range offers women a discounted range rental fee during ladies’ day, including hearing and eye protection.
“Whether you want to come for an hour of range therapy on your lunch break or spend the entire day, our rental fee covers unlimited rental time for the day,” Paskiewicz informed.
Because an event like this is likely to attract first-time shooters, you should also consider safety requirements.
Prior to ladies’ day, Knoxville Gun Range requires a mandatory orientation class for anyone who has never used a firearm. This brief introductory course is offered seven days a week and covers loading, discharging and the safe handling of a firearm.
Understand The Differences
All shooting instructors should be well versed in teaching first-time shooters, but there’s some additional knowledge they should have before staffing a ladies’ day event. Women aren’t just built differently than men, they also learn differently.
When providing shooting instruction to a female, either on the range or in a classroom, it’s important to understand women learn best when given time to understand one step at a time. The ability to ask questions also helps women grasp the “why” and the “how” behind concepts and best practices, whereas men more easily follow the “big picture.”
If you plan to host a ladies’ night at your facility, consider having female instructors available. Not only will they understand the ways women learn differently, but they can also enhance the comfort level.
To effectively train others, firearms instructors must also understand the differences between shooting styles.
“Combat shooting is different from target shooting, and target shooting is different than personal protection
shooting,” said Paskiewicz. “Understanding a person’s motives for wanting to learn
how to shoot are important.”
Communicate The Benefits
Though the industry has made significant strides in recent years, there’s still a stigma firearms and shooting sports “aren’t for me.” Hosting a ladies’ day can help disprove the misconception.
“Make sure your staff is prepared to be encouraging and informative, not dismissive or condescending,” advised William Wood of West Coast Armory. “Having a really positive first experience makes them much more likely to tell their friends and return for the next event.”
These events are also the perfect opportunity to help educate women who have safety concerns — this may be the mom with young children in the home who has questions about safe gun storage or a woman who enjoys running but is nervous about the best way to carry concealed.
Don’t Limit Yourself
A ladies’ day event is a great way to get new customers and increase range memberships, but don’t limit yourself to just a one-off event. Help women feel like your facility is just as much for their everyday use as it is for their male counterparts.
Consider offering courses tailored toward women focusing on topics like shooting in low-light conditions, training for self-defense or quick drawing from a holster or concealed-carry purse.
Many women may start with an interest in firearms for personal protection, but then they become drawn to the sport-side of shooting. Help grow their interest with courses in shooting at moving targets, shooting at multiple targets and how to improve shooting accuracy. (This will lead to repeat visits — and purchases!)
If you aren’t sure what topics would be of most interest, survey the women who attend your ladies’ day event.
Bottom Line: It’ll Open New Doors
The bottom line is women represent one of the fastest-growing demographics of gun owners in America, and they’re certainly a population you don’t want to underestimate or dismiss. Not only are they packing serious firepower, but they are also fiercely loyal consumers with significant buying power.
The more barriers to entry you can remove, the more success you’ll have in attracting new shooters of any demographic. By implementing these tips for hosting a ladies’ day (or night) at your range, you can provide an affordable opportunity for women to learn new skills or practice old ones in a comfortable environment.