National Shooting Sports Month: “It All Worked!”
By Warren Berg
“Last year we did a variety of things,” says Jacquelyn Clark, owner of Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center as she recalls the events the center hosted for last year’s National Shooting Sports Month. “For us, it was all about the family aspect of sport shooting and introducing newer people to the sport, something that would give them a lifelong activity or something that they could do together.”
Discounts for New-Shooter Classes
To achieve those goals, Clark used a combination of discounting and incentivizing existing shooters to bring someone new to the range. One effort was a 10-percent discount on all introductory classes for the entire month. Clark reasoned that if they made the price less of an obstacle to entry, more people would come through the door.
“The intro class promotion seemed to be the best thing we did,” says Clark, who noted that by giving someone a break on their first educational experience, they were much more likely to take follow-up classes and become regular customers. “I think introducing them through an educational avenue really worked in creating lifelong customers. These people came back, they have taken additional classes, they’ve been shopping in the store, they’ve been to the range and some of them have joined as members.”
Clark also ran a new-shooter referral program. “That was a ‘Give 10/Get 10’ deal: Bring a friend who has never been to Bristlecone to shoot on the range and the new shooter gets either $10 off their tab for the day or a $10 gift card,” Clark says, adding that the referring customer got the same deal. “Again, that was to encourage people to bring a friend or somebody who has never been shooting before to try it.”
Keeping with the new shooter theme, for National Shooting Sports Month Bristlecone also held a sale throughout the month on new-shooter kits consisting of a range bag, eye and ear protection, cleaning kit and range pass.
Family Day Draws a Crowd
“Probably the biggest thing we did was we had a big family day,” says Clark. “Last year it was on Saturday, August 19.” She remembers the day well because it was bright and sunny and the mercury hit 95 degrees—conditions she calls “unusual” for Colorado and ones in which people didn’t really want to do anything outside that day.
Despite being what she calls a “victim of the weather,” and having only a “moderate turnout,” Clark called the family day a “great promotion” and a success. Young children filled the two bounce-houses, a food truck sold meals and the local police had a variety of activities for those who attended. “We’re going to do it again this year,” she says, though this time she’s going to keep in mind that kids in Colorado go back to school mid-August, and she’s going to have more indoor activities as a backup in case it’s sweltering hot again.
Spreading the Word
This year Clark is looking forward to having all summer to promote National Shooting Sports Month. “It was really nice having the NSSF support something like this for the entire month at the individual retailer and range level,” says Clark. She’s already decided to do some things differently for 2018, though she will not put pen to paper until late April. “I don’t want to run the same activities again,” she says, adding that she will probably run a new membership special this year.
To get the word out, Clark will rely on a combination of radio spots, e-blasts and social media.
“We have a much bigger radio presence this year than we had last year and so those commercials we will probably customize toward National Shooting Sports Month and the NSSF-supported promotions,” says Clark. She plans to begin airing the spots in July on two different FM stations and four different AM/FM talk radio programs.
Targeted e-blasts about the different events and promotions will be rolled out leading up to the associated dates to her list of 16,000 subscribers, and Clark will use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well.
“We have a private group on Facebook,” says Clark who, like much of our industry, has had trouble getting her content seen. “We still maintain the business page, the fan page,” she explains, “but Facebook doesn’t show our posts to many people at all. We have a post pinned to the top of that page, and we have a slider on the webpage that directs people directly to the private group. We post the same content there, but we’re just more confident that 100 percent of the people see it.”
“This year, since we have a lot longer to plan and prepare and promote at the local level,” she says. “There’s a lot of new things we put into place, and when we have all summer to talk about it, the turnout is going to be incredible.”
Retailers and Ranges—Add Your Events to the National Shooting Sports Month Calendar
National Shooting Sports Month is all about getting people involved in the shooting sports and providing ways to better connect with the ranges and firearms retail stores in their communities. One of the best ways to do that during the month of August is to post your events and promotions here on shootingsportsmonth.org. All events you list there will be cross-positioned on our StepOutside.org and LetsGoShooting.org sites, which are designed specifically for consumer viewing and use. Bonus!—List your events here and we’ll send you a supply of National Shooting Sports hats, T-shirts and other materials to help boost your promotions throughout the month.
About the Author
Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for American Rifleman and Field & Stream, and has produced award-winning television programs on firearms-related subject matter.