How to Start a Firearms Training Business
Are you a gun enthusiast and love to teach? Firearms training is important to keep people safe, and a firearms training business could be an opportunity for you to use your skills and passion for guns to make money and be your own boss.
A firearms training business teaches people the proper use of firearms, improve shooting skills, and firearms rules and safety protocols. Classes can be for individuals or for groups, and they are held at a shooting range. To legally offer classes in most states, instructors will need to be a certified firearms instructor.
According to Statista, there are 9,502,628 firearms manufactured in the U.S. annually. 42% of households own at least one firearm, illustrating the need for adequate training. According to IBIS World, the firearms industry has grown 4.2% for the last five years and is currently a $3.8 billion industry.
The advancement of technology and new types of weapons is part of what is fueling the growth of the firearms training market, as well as the increased desire for self-defense. The industry is at risk due to the push for new firearms laws, which may limit the ability of people to own guns.
Your target market will be gun owners, particularly new gun owners.
Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Firearms Training Business
There are several specific skills that you will need to open a firearms training business.
- Training and Certification. Most states require passing a certified instructor course before teaching a class.
- Experience. If you are already certified and have experience teaching, you will have more credibility with customers.
- Business knowledge and experience. You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
- People skills. You’ll need to be able to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and keep them coming back.
Checklist for Starting a Firearms Training Business
If you’re thinking about starting your own firearms training business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here is a checklist of the essentials to get started.
Step 1: Write your Business Plan
After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your firearms training business should be to write a business plan. The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.
Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 2: Name the Business
Finding the perfect firearms training business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name. Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.
Step 3: Form a Business Entity
A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.
When deciding on which business entity is best for a firearms training business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.
A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.
That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.
The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.
Related: Guide to forming your LLC
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
Some popular LLC formation services include:
IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!
ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!
Step 4: Select your Training Site
Your location will have to be in an area where shooting ranges are allowed. Check with your city and state to find out what laws apply. You could also potentially partner with an existing shooting range to rent part of their space for your classes.
Related: Choosing a business location
Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits
You may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits. These permits and licenses can vary based on the state and town where the business is located. Check with your state for specific license and permit requirements for your firearms training business.
You will likely need to be licensed and certified as an instructor. The National Rifle Association (NRA) offers instructor training courses, like the non-law enforcement NRA instructor certification. Additionally, there are firearms instructor certifications that are often offered through weapon manufacturers, such as the Sig Sauer Academy.
In addition, there are general local, state, and federal business registrations that may be needed, such as a sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number.
Step 6: Find Financing
Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a firearms training business is another. In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to personally invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.
Related: Finding the money to start a business
Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account
Keeping your small business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.
Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place
A firearms training business will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a firearms training business include social media marketing and online advertising, as well as brochures and flyers.
Additionally, look to building relationships with gun clubs and shooting ranges to get referrals.
One important task while working on the marketing is developing an online presence. A website developer may be out of the budget, but Wix makes it easy for non-technical people to get a website running quickly and affordably.
Step 9: Get Business Insurance
There is a considerable amount of potential liability in the firearms training business, so being properly insured is critical. Here are several types of insurance to consider:
– General liability insurance can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage.
– Professional liability insurance protects you from claims of professional errors or negligence that result in a financial loss.
– Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.
The cost to insure a firearms training business will vary depending on a number of factors, though it will be on the higher end due to the nature of the business.
Insurance coverage may be difficult due to the high-risk nature of this business.
It may be worth researching special insurance companies that specialize in gun-related businesses, to save on insurance costs.
Step 10: Hire Employees
You may need employees such as firearms instructors to help run your business.
In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.
Related: Hiring your first employee
Step 11: Set up an Accounting System
Setting up an accounting system for your firearms training business is critical to the long-term success of your business.
Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.
The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:
- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.
Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.
How much does it cost to start a firearms training business?
Here are some of the typical costs you will face when you open a firearms training business.
– Training, licenses, and certification $2,000-$4,000
– Space rental deposit $1,500-$3,000
– Equipment and supplies $1,000
– Insurance $400-$1,000
How profitable is a firearms training business?
Firearms training prices range from $200 – $300 per person per training day. If you can get to the point where you are training 10 people a day 5 days per week at a price of $250, you would make $650,000 in revenue per year before expenses.
Are there grants to start a firearms training business?
It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a firearms training business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.
Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.
What is the NAICS code for a firearms training business?
The NAICS code for a firearms training business is 611699.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.