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How to Start a Shooting Range

How to Start a Shooting Range

Are you a gun enthusiast and love to go to the shooting range?  Having your own shooting range could be an excellent opportunity for you to do what you love and make a living with your own business.

Business Overview

A shooting range provides a place for people to shoot their own guns, or the range may have guns available to rent. Sometimes they offer firearm training,  or even host competitions.

Shooting ranges can either be indoor or outdoor and offer a target parctice, clay targets, long-distance riffle range, and more. 

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the shooting range industry size is $3.8 billion and expected to grow 4.2% during the year.   It has grown at a rate of 4.1% per year for the last five years. According to Transparency Market Research, it is expected to increase at an average of 7% per year through 2030.

Related Industries

Firearms Training
Gun Shop

Industry Trends

The industry is recovering after the pandemic and is expected to increase as the economy recovers because shooting range spending is considered discretionary.  The potential for new gun laws is a threat to the industry due to the possibility of more limited gun ownership.

Target Market

Your target market will be gun owners and people who want to learn to shoot.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Shooting Range

There are several specific skills that you will need to open a gun range.

  • Experience.  Experience working in a shooting range is valuable, particularly in management.
  • Knowledge.  Extensive gun knowledge and knowledge of gun laws are essential.
  • 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 build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and keep them coming back.

Checklist for Starting a Shooting Range

Starting a shooting range can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Use this checklist to help make sure your business is on target.

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your shooting range 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 to 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 shooting range 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 shooting range, 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: 3 steps 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 Location

You will need to find land that does not have zoning restrictions for a shooting range. Outdoor ranges provide more versatility than indoor ranges, however, the weather will be a major contributor to the amount of money you can make.

Zoning requirements for your facility will be important to research upfront as many states and municipalities have several rules and regulations on where a range can be located. Additionally, there are typically noise and safety concerns from neighbors, which can make securing a location more difficult than most businesses.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

In particular, not only do outdoor shooting ranges need to be aware of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, but indoor ranges need to as well.

Additionally, a Federal Firearms License is required for gun shops through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

In addition to shooting range-specific regulations, there are general registrations such as a business license, sales tax permit, and Employer Identification Number. 

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 6: Find Financing

It is expensive to start and run a shooting range, which is a big financial risk. You will need a solid plan to get enough customers to make money.

In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total startup costs.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your business and personal finances in separate business bank and credit card accounts makes it easier to track the income and expenses of the business.

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

A shooting range will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a shooting range include social media marketing and online advertising. Developing a website can be a significant expense, but it can also give your shooting range greater visibility online.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Every business is going to need a logo. Make a professional logo in no time with the free logo makers from BrandCrowd and Canva.

Step 9: Get Business Insurance

A commercial shooting range needs several types of insurance to fully protect the business. A few of the more common types of insurance include:

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 of insurance policies will vary, especially with the types of activities offered. The cost for insurance will be more expensive for a high-power rifle range, than for a pistol range.

To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need

Step 10: Hire Employees

You will need employees such as a range safety officer, trainers, etc. to help run your shooting range.  Make sure that you select people with appropriate experience and training.

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 shooting range 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.

Related: Setting up the accounting for your business

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 shooting range?

Here are the typical costs you will face when you open a shooting range.

– Land for the range $100,000 – $500,000
– Range construction, preparation, and installation ( shooting stalls, ballistic baffles, ventilation systems, bullet trap, and skeet targets, etc.) $250,000 – $500,000 +

How profitable is a shooting range?

Your revenue is hard to predict, but profit margins are relatively high.  If you are able to get a lot of repeat customers, you could easily bring in revenue of over $100,000 per year.

Adding a shop to sell firearms, ammunition, and accessories will help improve profits, in addition to teaching firearm safety classes. A shop can also sell hunting and fishing licenses.

In addition to the gun range, some ranges will offer an archery range as well.

Are there grants to start a shooting range?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a shooting range. 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 shooting range?

The NAICS code for a shooting range is 713990, which is broadly classified under All Other Amusement and Recreation Industries. This code also includes miniature golf courses, billiard halls, archery range, sports teams, dance halls, and more.

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.

Related: What is a NAICS code and how to find yours

Resources:
National Rifle Association (NRA)
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)

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