12 Ideas to Promote the Sport You Love

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 Each of us has a responsibility to take action to promote our sport so that it will continue to grow and prosper.  Here’s some novel ideas you can use that are free or cost a handful of dollars.  Remember, by promoting the sport you are increasing your own circle of new friends and preserving your gun club’s ability to exist.  They need all the help we can give them.

1.     Make some business cards inviting people to come visit your gun club and post them on bulletin boards and hand them to people you meet.  Mail order firms only charge about ten dollars for a few hundred cards.  You can make them yourself on your printer.

2.    Make a flyer and post them around town.  Many businesses will let you post them in their windows.  We need to get our gun clubs major exposure of the events taking place at the clubs to draw people into the sport.  Take photographs of a past shooting event of winners holding their prizes, shooters on the line, etc., and post them into the flyer to draw curiosity.  Make the flyer an “invitation for all ages” and draw a small map giving directions on how to get to the club along with the days and hours of operation.  A coupon giving a 10% discount on food and shooting supplies will help immensely.

3.     Advertising works and it can be for free.  When you have a shooting event or just want to announce your gun club’s existence and invite people to come visit, take out free ads on the Internet on sites such as MySimon.com, CraigsList.com and renew the free ads when they expire. 

4.    Make sure to let your local newspaper know of your event, as they routinely do give out free publicity notices on upcoming events.  Get your gun club listed.  The more events you can muster the more free advertising you will get.  Charity events go over big. Consider a charity shooting event to help diabetes, heart disease, cancer, disabled, food for the poor, etc.  Don’t forget to get your event listed in out of town newspapers even as far as fifty miles away.  There are regional magazines in your area that will also list your event or even do a story article about your shooting facility.  What is important is to realize most people in your city do not know your gun club exists.  It’s true.  All you have to do is start announcing your club’s presence to everyone, everywhere.  Even leaving an invitational flyer door-to-door at residential homes is not to be ignored.  Start an invitational campaign and keep it going for the next thirty years.

5.    Write an article on why you love your sport and send it to the newspaper business advertising editor asking him to send a reporter to do a news story on your sport and gun club.

6.    Talk to your local high school to form a shooting league for students.

7.    What do you do with your old Shotgun Sports Magazines?  Why not donate them to the public library or place them in automotive repair waiting rooms?  Never toss them into the trash.  Give them away.  Leave them at your gun club too!  This promotes the sport in a major way.  You should purchase a magazine subscription for your public library.  Gun clubs that do this promote the sport in their own towns.  Arrange to have the magazine’s mailing label say, “Courtesy of AAA Gun Club” then the library’s address.  Consider multiple subscriptions as there are likely more library branches in your town that could use the magazines.  Also, when the magazines get old the libraries usually do not throw the magazines away, they sell them and that means more circulation and exposure for your gun club.

8.    Talking about magazine subscriptions, make sure you offer a two year shooting sports magazine as a trophy prize.   If the prize winner already has the magazine then offer them something else, like a trap shooting book or video which you can purchase from the magazine.  I tell you why.  The gun club that gives the gift of helping a shooter shoot better is only going to see that shooter shoot more and more and he will not get discouraged and quit the sport.  Think about that.  It’s a better prize than a belt buckle because it keeps on working for you and the shooter.  Everybody wins!

9.    Now here’s a shocker.  How would you like to reach tens of thousands of people without spending a dime?  Now, some people may not like this, but it is not illegal as one may believe.  In the white margins of a dollar bill you can write a message such as, “Visit ABC Gun Club.com, Rapid City, South Dakota.”  It does not deface the money as it does not ruin it’s spending ability and bank employees routinely mark and stamp money when they count it.  If they can do it, so should you. Also, you are only writing on the outside white margins and not on the actual printed money so the dollar is not being altered or maligned.  The Secret Service has no rule against doing this as long as the money can still be spent (their definition of defacing is destroying the money so it can’t be spent).  And yes, the marked money will be accepted in vending and slot machines with no problem.   

10.  Invite a co-worker or acquaintance to come try target shooting and hand them your business card inviting them to your gun club.  And don’t forget to put those business cards everywhere you can.  If you purchase a roll of mounting tape, you can peel off a sliver, paste to the back of a business card and stick it to most any surface.  Crosswalks and store windows for example.  If you really want to reach a lot of people, try sliding the business card on the driver side window sill on parked cars.  The card slips in perfectly and the driver always finds it.

11.  Advertise your gun club as a fun, safe, affordable and friendly place to shoot.  Make a flyer and get it posted into every gun store in town and in neighboring towns. If you place your flyer inside a clear plastic document holder you can buy at Office Depot, ask the gun dealer to post it on the glass countertop for all to see.  I have been inside many gun dealers and sporting goods stores, including Scheels and Cabelas who service millions of shooters and I am amazed, actually shocked to see that not one gun club is ever promoted inside these establishments.  This is where the gun club customers are and they don’t know your gun club exists!  The gun dealers will cooperate with you.  Get your flyers posted and get their customers shooting at your gun club.  If you have a newsletter print extra copies and leave them at gun stores!  Are you present at any gun shows?  If not, are your flyers present?  Many vendors will gladly let you place them on their tables.

12.  Is your gun club listed in the Yellow Pages?  Are you listed in the Chamber of Commerce?  Better Business Bureau?  Any other business directories and lists you should be listed on?  Other gun clubs listing you in their newsletters?  How about Internet exposure?  Do you have a Website?  You can a Web site free these days!  Microsoft Live Business has free Websites.  Visit:  http://www.officelive.com/  Think of a Web site as just a large flyer telling people what they are missing by not joining your club!  List the social and charity events they could be enjoying!  The trophies and prizes and the turkeys!  Nice picnics, meals, socializing, free shooting advice, etc.  Sell it like it’s one huge party all year round, which it is.  With your advertising flyers and business cards it will draw people to your Website where you can draw their interest to come visit.  And don’t forget the welcoming committee.  The range master needs to go out of his way to greet and assist new arrivals.

You don’t have to go out of your way to reach a lot of people in advertising.  Just think of the fact you park your car in a supermarket parking lot and you have to walk past cars just to get to the store. That’s when you put a few flyers and cards on the cars.  When you walk out, you could do the same.  The important thing is to have the flyers and business cards with you or in your vehicle and to use them as you go about your daily business.  And don’t let fear stop you.  Most people don’t mind as many businesses post flyers on car windshields anyway.   

Think about the “ten second rule” where you could leave a flyer or card every ten seconds.  As you walk you can find a place to leave a card.  Public telephone, magazine rack, car, store window, telephone pole, restaurant, shopping mall, coffee shop.  You get the idea.  All you have to do is remember to leave your ad everywhere you go.

If every member of the gun club can distribute a handful of flyers or business cards each day, seven days a week, in three months time many thousands of people will be reached.  Apathy is the disease nobody cares about.  If we don’t get involved in promoting our sport it will perish.  Perhaps volunteers can canvass businesses to post your club’s flyers in their waiting rooms, countertops or windows.  Ask business owners who are members of your club to participate.  Leave no stone unturned.  Ask members to share creative ideas on how to market your gun club.  Gun club managers need to instill member motivation to get involved.  Of course, you could pay to place ads in newspapers, but often it is a waste of money as the advertising cost is too expensive.  Forget not the local television and radio stations.  They often provide free publicity event announcements and may do some coverage too at your event.  But you must tell them you exist or your club will remain in the shadows.  Police, sheriff,  highway patrol also have gun enthusiasts, so get your invitational flyers into the police stations.     

Around the country many gun clubs are closing and this is not because of environmental reasons, but due to a lack of shooters!  We need a new, strong, grass roots marketing campaign.  There are many people with guns in this nation that want to shoot them, but amazingly, they do not know where to go.  Most just find a remote place and hope its okay, but what they really want and need is a safe place to go shoot and meet others who share their interests.  But where can they go?  That is where we come in, as shooters, to promote and invite these people to come visit our gun club.

I will give you advice on making a flyer or business card, make it busy!  Don’t be like other people who just prints the business name and phone number.  No!  This is advertising.  Fill up the flyer or business card with images and text until there is no more room left.  Think of a business card as a condensed sales pitch paragraph you must write to convince the reader to come visit your gun club.  Here’s an example of a plain text card, but you can add small images in the left and right sides:



Invites you to come visit our shooting sports facility.

We have a lounge, restaurant, gun store, trap shooting,

sporting clays and many new friends for you to meet.

Come visit us any Sunday and get 10% discount in our restaurant and sporting goods store.

(List address, phone and Website URL here. It can fit on one or two lines).



Notice the important elements:  Your ad (flyer or business card) must obtain the club’s name, city and state in the top line.  Lists features of your club and new “friends” to meet.  At least one day is listed the club is open all of the time.  A discount is offered.  Address must be listed or a phone number or Website so the reader can obtain driving directions.  If you want to spend more money on printing fees, you can have a map drawn and printed on the reverse side of the business card.   Don’t forget.  A free ad like the above example can be posted for free on the Internet and it will reach a lot of people in your community.  What more can you ask for?  It’s fabulous advertising!  

So there you have twelve ways you can get involved to help your gun club perform marketing duties.  It is important not to think this a “chore” but rather a labor of love for the sport you enjoy.  Now ask yourself, what will you do today to enhance your sport? - © 2008 James Russell, author of Trapshooting Secrets and Precision Shooting – The Trapshooter’s Bible.  Visit:  JamesRussellPublishing.com