Personal Defense

Right Firearm, Key Add-Ons, Plus Training Are Crucial To Greater Sales.

Dennis Rohman, general manager of P2K Range in El Cajon, Calif., capitalizes on his customers’ increased interest in personal defense, even though the state prohibits concealed carry.

His strategy: Educating customers on the benefits of owning a firearm that is going to give them the best chance of defending their homes against intruders. For some customers, that’s a shotgun. For others, it’s a handgun.

“Everyone wants a Smith & Wesson J-frame, or the Cobra that matches it or the Charter Arms. Taurus 85s do well, too. When we’re pushing a handgun, those sell because people like them,” Rohman said.

However, while many customers prefer smaller handguns, Rohman recommends larger models for those shopping for a personal-defense firearm.

“We try to put them into more of a Glock 19 or a Springfield XD — something that’s a midsize gun they can still use at the range and for personal defense,” Rohman said.

For customers who aren’t experienced shooters and are looking to protect their homes, Rohman emphasizes you can’t go wrong with encouraging customers to purchase a shotgun.

“We have a lot of people who aren’t shooters who walk in wanting a handgun,” Rohman said. “We explain to them the difference between handguns and shotguns: that intruders aren’t necessarily going to be intimidated by a handgun.”

Additionally, Rohman and his sales team emphasize to inexperienced customers that shotguns command “universal respect,” another reason they make an ideal weapon for personal defense.

Rohman’s top-selling shotguns for personal defense include the Escort Tactical, partially because “the price point is excellent,” Rohman said, along with the Remington 870 Tactical models. The Mossberg 500, “which is kind of a staple,” Rohman said, is also one of the shotguns favored by personal-defense customers at P2K.

Training & Education

P2K’s onsite range has improved Rohman’s personal-defense sales, he said, as customers must pass by the range to enter the store. That creates opportunities for customers to interact with each other, to discuss a particular firearm and ask questions about personal protection.

“Having gun rentals is a big deal. People can try different firearms for personal defense,” Rohman said. “They can come in and get instruction, and not just have someone behind the counter talking to them. There’s also a camaraderie component, where they can interact with other customers. They can shoot here, and then purchase at the same time. They can try different ammunition to make sure it feeds correctly in the firearms.”

For customers who want to purchase a firearm for personal defense, but have never shot a gun, Rohman signs them up for First Shots, the NSSF program that introduces first-time shooters to firearms.

“First Shots is by far our most popular class; it’s always sold out,” Rohman said. “We’ve been holding them every other month, but this year we’re going to hold one every month because of demand.”

P2K has held a “Women’s Awareness and Defense” class, which was very well-received by female customers. Women also enjoy taking the First Shots classes, Rohman said.

“A lot of women who come in for First Shots have never shot a rifle, pistol or shotgun,” Rohman said. “We get groups where women come in with their friends and they really enjoy it. It’s nice to see them come back to the range and shoot again, too.”

P2K also holds Level 1 and 2 handgun classes that directly address how to handle personal defense in the home. The Level 1 class focuses on what to do in the event of a home invasion, while the Level 2 class gives customers the chance to “run-and-gun,” engaging multiple targets.

Personal Defense Add-Ons

For add-on sales, Rohman knows he’s missing out when it comes to holsters, but he still manages to sell handgun accessories like Crimson Trace Lasergrips.

“For every 10 handgun sales, we get a Crimson Trace grip sale,” Rohman said.

Fortunately for Rohman and other California dealers, shotguns have their own fair share of add-ons.

“With a shotgun, we want to sell a carrying case that is comfortable, and ammunition that’s good for defense,” Rohman said. “We also want to get them some range time, possibly a shotgun class.”

P2K Range strongly emphasizes safety, and training spurs additional add-on sales for safety gear that’s important both on and off the range. Those products are crucial for both handgun and shotgun customers, Rohman said.

“We want them to leave the store with maintenance gear, like a silicone cleaning cloth; both range and defense ammunition, so they’re not wasting one or the other; and safety gear, like comfortable muffs and a nice set of glasses,” Rohman said.

Rohman offers a full-range of firearm safety products, with one prominent display of eye-and-ear protection from Howard Leight.

Other Defensive Sales

Rohman also sells a variety of other personal-defense products that turn good profit margins. Due to his customers’ increased interest in personal defense, pepper spray sales have increased dramatically, Rohman said, with SABRE Pepper Sprays selling well.

“We usually don’t sell just one can of pepper spray, because we start talking about how everyone in the family should have one,” Rohman said. “Women want one for their vehicle and one for their purse.”

Rohman also does well with Tasers, which he promotes to customers by having his staff members wear them around the store. Knife sales for personal defense have also experienced a “very good, steady climb,” Rohman said.

“Cold Steel has been our top seller consistently. They are extremely popular and we’re restocking regularly,” Rohman said.

Despite California’s laws prohibiting concealed carry, the sale of handguns, shotguns, pepper spray, Tasers, safety equipment and knives allow P2K to capture a sizable piece of the personal-defense market. Ultimately, doing good business means adapting to the circumstances — something Rohman and his team know all too well.

“I’ve talked to dealers in states like Oklahoma, where they have concealed carry classes every night, holsters picked clean off the shelf and every firearm with a barrel no longer than 2 inches runs out the store,” Rohman said. “We’re missing out on it, but we’re making do with what we’ve got.”

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