An indoor or outdoor shooting range can be a lucrative business if you are the kind of person who can operate under strict federal, state and local regulations, including safety, insurance, record keeping and reporting requirements. You can start from scratch or purchase an already operating establishment, depending on your situation and the startup capital you have at your disposal.
Research your license and zoning requirements. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has an informative website and offers call-in support. Your local city offices can educate you on the zoning laws in various areas and the requirements you must meet.
Visit shooting ranges in and out of your area, and attend as many gun shows as possible. Ask questions of the people already involved in the industry and establish contacts with gun manufacturers who are likely to have helpful advice for anyone opening a commercial establishment that can promote and sell their products.
Join the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry’s largest trade association, the National Rifle Association and other interest groups where you can obtain news and advice.
Write your business plan giving special attention to the costs involved. It can be very expensive to build a shooting range from scratch, particularly if it will be an indoor range. Contact local ranges to see if they would consider selling or taking on a partner as the cost of improving an existing establishment may be far less than building a new one and you would have the added benefit of an existing customer base.
Contact several commercial real estate brokers and establish relationships with those who are knowledgeable with respect to the zoning laws and safety requirements involved in a shooting range. You’ll also need insurance to protect you against liability, and errors or omissions on the part of you or your staff.
Decide on your company image and apply that image to your name, logo, facility decorations, promotional literature and advertising. Your company image must meet the psychological needs of your target customer.
Promote your launch to local gun clubs, service clubs, sporting goods stores and commercial associations.
Provide special discounts and contests to draw customers during your first months of operation.
Offer classes in responsible gun ownership, maintenance and use through local night school and community recreation programs.
Promote your launch date with advertising and a grand opening celebration.
Items you will need
- Business plan
- Federal Firearms License
- State and local licenses
- Appropriate location
- Average shooting range use fees are around $10 per hour so you will need 100 daily customers to make $30,000 per month, which may only cover your costs of rent, salaries, utilities and insurance. Gun rentals and sales of ammunition, guns and gun accessories will be important factors in the profitability of your operation.
- Before you open, set up your accounting, record keeping and operational procedures. Failure to comply with record keeping and reporting requirements can put you out of business fast. Computer software will assist you in these matters but you and your staff must know how to use it every time.