What Dealers Should Know About New Shooters.

Staying relevant and profitable means keeping up with industry trends, particularly when it comes to shifts in one of the most important components of business — the consumer.

The NSSF recently commissioned a survey to analyze target and sport shooting participation rates and to get an inside look at “the newcomers” to the industry. The report identifies new shooters as those who were introduced to shooting anytime after 2008.

The “Analysis Of Sport Shooting Participation in the U.S.” encompasses data collected from 2008-2012, mirroring an interval of increased ammunition and firearms sales. This survey carefully investigates new shooters; finding one out of every five current target shooters began shooting in the last five years. This suggests 20 percent of the entire target shooting population is new to the industry, with 11 percent starting in 2012 alone.

With these revealing numbers, new shooters are an important and growing presence. The NSSF’s survey provides a detailed profile of the new shooter community, and reveals a significant shift in gender, age and location.

Results reflect an increase in women shooters — 37 percent of new shooters are women, compared to 22 percent among established shooters.

Age trends have shifted as well, with those age 18-34 making up 66 percent of new shooters, compared to 31 percent of established shooters.

Those residing in urban areas are also playing a larger role in target shooting than in previous years, making up almost half of new shooters at 47 percent, compared to 34 percent of their established counterparts.

Using these three indicators, then, new shooters can be described as young, female and urban.


Background & Habits

The study found new shooters are less likely to have grown up around firearms, with almost 77 percent of them introduced to the shooting sports as adults. Their shooting habits correspond similarly; they are less likely to have participated in hunting, archery or fishing than those who have been shooting for more than five years.

“The research shows that new shooters today include many who did not follow or have access to the traditional pathway,” said Mark Damian Duda, executive director at Responsive Management, the research firm that conducted the survey.

So, what are these new shooters doing? A majority of them are visiting indoor ranges and displaying a resounding preference for handguns, as 57 percent of respondents reported using a handgun while target shooting in 2012. This preference differs from established shooters, who use handguns and long guns almost equally.

The NSSF found new and old shooters share a common trait — motivation. Both groups listed their top motivators as shooting for sport and recreation came in first, shadowed closely by friend and family influence. Personal-defense trailed behind both as third top motivator.

This growing segment of new consumers provides a fresh opportunity for profit potential, and dealers should be prepared for the arrival of these new customers in their stores.

“The landscape of target shooters has shifted,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of research and analysis. “This is data that everyone doing business in our industry should be aware of.”
By Holly Parker

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