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GUN CLUB MARKETING TIPS

EASY & EFFECTIVE

MARKETING TIPS FOR GUN CLUBS

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  Word of mouth, that's how most trapshooting clubs survive or demise.  Why do some clubs thrive while others strive?  It's not only a matter of club size and amenities... it's treatment of people!  Reputation is all and everything and clubs with good reputations naturally treat people with an extra measured mile of courtesy which = fun for the shooter x repeat customer x word of mouth = more shooters!

If your gun club is not doing well there are two things working to make it flounder.

  1. A Bad Reputation - Every club has a reputation, good, mediocre or bad.   The first step to resolve any problem is to admit a problem exists. 
bulletDenial in not only a river in Egypt!  Take a good hard look at your shooter's attitudes, not just the Good Ol' Boys who have been members since time began, but the new members.  Are they sort of quiet, laid back, not contributing ideas or suggestions?  That silence you hear is screaming aloud, "There is a communication problem at this club."
bulletAre there certain members tending to "run the show their way" abusing their status? Example:  A shooter, or group of them seem to "call the shots" as to what game to play next and everyone else sort of just follows along?   That's the cliche forming.  Every club has them, but they must be controlled to conform to the rules of "fair play" and "equality for all."   Remember, every club member is IMPORTANT and the moment you lose track of that thought... turnover begins, members leave, become disgruntled complainers, badmouth the club to out of town shooters, etc.  The ripple effect is powerful and it will silently damage the club's reputation over time.
bulletSince it takes years to ruin a club's reputation, it'll require years to absolve its sins.  Do not be deceived all is well when you see club members or visitors appear and disappear.  Turnover is a serious sign of "trouble brewing" and it will eventually catch up and bite you on the nose.  Suddenly, you see a major reduction in attendance to your registered shoots.  And, the excuse you use, "Oh, there's other shoot's going on that weekend" is only being blind to the real problems at your club.  If your club had a "Fantastic Reputation" people will come.
bulletI've seen it time and time again.  Good clubs with huge registered shoot attendance suddenly fall off the edge of the world and rely on maybe one or two shoots for good attendance.  The drop in attendance is due to a problem.  Once you discover the problems(s) you can resolve to restore the club's reputation.
bulletShooter's have eyes and ears and they use them quite well.  Gossip is only gossip unless it is true, then it becomes a signpost pointing to a problem.  Listen closely to the "criticism" people say about other clubs and you may find they are really poking fun at, subconsciously, at your club... or your management structure.  People talk in "subtext" with greater meaning that what first appears to be heard.   "That XYX club has rude and stubborn management."  It's really saying, "Our club has ignorant uncaring managers who only think of themselves."   That sort of management attitude kills membership and repels shooters to stay away.
bulletBeware of club rivalry.  The gun club in the next town is a partner not an enemy.   Once a rift develops isolation begins and competition surfaces with each trying to maintain their own identity and memberships.  Reciprocal memberships is a good way to keep both clubs in sync as associates to a common cause - Make the Shooter's Happy!   Patch up any divisions between your club and your neighbors and you will see attendance increase. Maintain the rift and attendance will fall and continue to tumble down the proverbial mine shaft.           
bulletNo Publicity -  Word of mouth is powerful advertising, which REPUTATION is the driving force.  But reputation alone will do your club little good in attracting NEW MEMBERS
bulletDon't resist the growth factor.  Too many clubs are complacent and satisfied with the membership count at their club.  "Gosh, we don't want anymore members... it's busy enough here already."  It's busy because you have too few members helping out! The more members you recruit the more help you will receive.   New shooters are most always willing to learn and participate while the older shooters just want to brag and impress others with their shooting skills, etc,. etc.
bulletThere can be no growth if you don't let people know you exist.  "We don't want exposure and have the environmentalist come after us."  Okay, that's a good point, but the environmental issue is being resolved as of late and ordinances are being passed in some cities that gun clubs can not be shut-down.  Progress is being made.  To defeat the special interest groups, who attack other groups, you need a group to counter back with.  If your membership is small and cliche'ish you have little defense.  But what if you had influential political people as members?  A free trial membership to the Mayor, Councilman, Senator, etc., is a great way to gain protection.  Invite them to come to your club!  Find out if they are anti-gun before doing so.  You want pro-gun people, of course.  If you are really aggressive, you can convert their views on guns by introducing them into trapshooting.  Once they see the light... get the idea?   
bulletOnce protection is established it is now safe to make your own market.   You could advertise a special event for free in the newspaper as a publicity release.   If that option is not available you can buy an ad.  Advertising works and it will pull in new members.  Example: "FREE TRAPSHOOTING LESSONS"  People will respond out of curiosity.   A few loaner guns, some lessons, and new shooters will be hooked on the sport.
bulletSCHOOLS - establish shooting teams where students compete against each other.  This will draw the parents into the sport too.  Consider High Schools and Colleges.  Environmentalist do not like to attack areas where children have fun.   They prefer to attack adults.  So here's a protective group you can use to build up your membership.
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COMPANY PICNIC - Did you know you could be paid THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for hosting a corporate company picnic?  You have the kitchen, grounds, restrooms and a new sport they can try. There's big money to be made here.

Corporations are always in search of entertainment opportunities for their employees. 

  They typically rent vacant land for summer company picnics with no amenities!!!  Now all you have to do is contact the company recreation/entertainment officer and say, "We have a clubhouse, full kitchen, restrooms, RV parking, picnic tables, and your employees can compete in a trapshooting event we will put on just for ABC Corporation."  You will pick up new members and you will be paid very well for hosting the picnic.  Now you can afford to fix up your club, install new trap stations, voice call systems, night lighting, etc.  This is a tremendous source of income so don't overlook it.  Move on this!

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Are you advertised with the shooting associations?  Associations can boost shooters to visit your gun club.  Each publishes a directory of shoot locations in a book or magazine they circulate to thousands of members. It is usually free to get a listing. Your club should be listed!  Click Here for a listing of associations who can assist you. Is your club listed with the ATA directory?

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   MORE MARKETING TIPS   

These tips will help you run a better registered shoot.

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Set your practice traps!  Too many clubs are setting the competition traps and ignoring the practice trap.  When you do this you ruin the shoot!  Shooter's spend good money to practice, imbedding sight pictures and timing into their form.  Then, when the main event begins, they fall apart because they were expecting targets similar to what they experienced during practice.  This is a great disservice to the guests attending your shoot.  It will ruin the club's reputation, "I can't shoot good scores at XYZ club so I don't shoot there."  Don't throw soft slow targets at the practice trap then throw fast hard targets in the tournament.

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Use a suggestion box.  It's a simple device, but it can give you insight.  "We tried that!"  Try it again, this time don't just let the suggestion box sit in a corner.  Put it at the sign-up area.  Another one by the scoreboard.  Have someone pass out the suggestion slips to shooters after they are done shooting.   Be a little aggressive here.  Tell the shooter's their feedback is very important and you need them to fill in suggestions forms.  Many will.

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Use a survey form.   A simple question & answer format with check boxes.  What's nice about a survey is you can get the answers you feel are important since you tailor the questions, and you can obtain a "feel" for what went right or wrong with the shoot.   When shooter's arrive at the sign-up area have your help pass them a survey form.   Or, when they are standing in line for meals hand them a survey form.  This is a good time as they will read the form as they wait.  Suggestion boxes (cardboard will do) on each dining table will get you a higher level of response.  After eating, shooters will deposit them.

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Train your pullers!   Terrible pulls will drive shooters away, you know they do so let's not debate the issue.  Your pullers need to be trained and they need to understand just how important it is for the target to appear immediately.  Rotate your pullers so they can have frequent rest breaks.  A tired puller is a disservice to your guests. 

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Need more practice trap traffic?  Offer a FREE BOX OF SHELLS for the highest practice score for; Singles, Handicap, and Doubles.  It's not a fantastic offer, but it makes WINNERS and the more WINNERS you have at your shoot the better odds these winners will return to shoot your club again.  Offer a case of shells and your practice traps will get very busy.

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Offer a FREE DINER to the shooter who comes in third place in class in the handicap event.  No shootoff on ties. Last name alphabetical order wins the diner.  Again you have more WINNERS and it didn't cost a fortune.

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  Develop an "Invitation Open House Day" every 6-months or yearly.  Each member is to invite a friend, neighbor or co-worker to the club to try trapshooting.  Each member that successfully obtains a visitor to join the club as a dues-paying  member obtains 5-free rounds of trap or half-dozen free meals, or whatever prize you feel is appropriate.  It's a great way to introduce more people to the sport and grow your membership.

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  You could offer "Free Camping" to RV owners only.  Develop a seasonal calendar of events brochure with dates, time and include a small map for directions.  Post at freeway rest-stops and other tourist sites.   RV'ers have money and are bored, always looking for something different to do and free camping for the weekend will get them to your club to try trapshooting.   "Free Camping for Trying Trapshooting" is a decent headline.   Contact RV magazines and they will likely run a publicity ad for you for free.  

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  Some shooters will disagree, but throw soft targets if you must to keep shooters coming back.  Try different color targets too just to break the monotony.  And make very certain you begin to place high priority on your trap settings to insure your are always throwing legal targets.  If shooters can't hit the targets they will go elsewhere to do so.   You will be doing a disservice to your club members if they are practicing on deviant targets, for this is what they are learning to shoot, then when they go shoot elsewhere they can't score well.  This is more important than you may realize.   Shooters won't complain because many of them simply do not recognize the problem.   Keep them targets legal all of the time.  Visitors will also notice a difficulty and will avoid your club.  Advertise the fact; "We throw legal targets to ensure you success!"

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  Are you giving your shooters recognition?  Everyone likes to see their picture and/or name dangling on the wall and it makes them feel real good to belong to your club.  So setup a low target count milestone program where each shooter gets some recognition for shooting the first 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 targets, etc.  Not just the targets shot at your club... total targets shot no matter where they were shot at and no matter which game is played.  A brass imprint on a oak plaque listing all the names would do. A pin to wear, that's a good idea too.  Give recognition for members who have been members the longest too.  Also, if you don't have a newsletter you may want to consider this option as most clubs use them.

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  There are members of your club who do not show up to shoot.  You may want to assign someone to look into this, initiate a personal visit or phone call to invite this dues-paying inactive member to come on down for a meal and shoot a few rounds.  It's a tough situation to have as you don't want to be too pesky and risk membership cancellation.   A special event Bar-B-Q could do the trick.  Try to get these members back into active status, if possible.  

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  Don't forget the power of Honorary Memberships!  Here you give a free membership to a prominent person in your community.  It could be the Mayor, Councilman, Governor, Superior Court Judge or CEO of a large corporation.  Send or hand-deliver the complimentary honorary membership with an invitation to a shoot and you'll see your membership swell with influential people and a strong following of those who follow leaders.   Good things can happen here!

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  Reach out to the charitable organizations in your state.  Tell them you would be interested in donating money from a charity shoot.  Get linked up with these charities.  They all have newsletters and your shoot will be advertised for free and many people will arrive to try out the game.  New members for you... everybody wins!

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  When you hold a fun shoot make sure everybody walks away with a prize.  A turkey will do.   Losers hate losing.  Make them feel like a winner and they will return to shoot again and bring home a turkey for the wife to keep her happy!  The product you sell is not throwing targets... it's making winners!  Shooters care about breaking the targets but they care ever more winning something for breaking targets.   That's why competitive events are so powerful... there is the chance to win something!  If that inner drive wasn't there then Sunday practice sessions would satisfy... but they don't.  Be a winner by creating winners.

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  Click here to get your gun club listed with various associations like the NSSF.  Don't forget to get your club listed with the ATA.  Even if you do not conduct registered shoots ask them to list your gun club as a practice site.  Get your club listed on the internet as many Websites are building databases listing gun clubs.   You can also buy a homepage listing your gun club.  The web is growing rapidly and new people are discovering the sport from the trapshooting Websites.

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When you change target brands make sure the targets will break when shot at.   Check that target spin speed!  If the new targets have a harder composition you have to increase spin.   I've seen numerous shooters pull out from registered shoots because only dead-on hits would break the targets.  If shooters are knocking the targets around in the air and they won't break?  Go back to the old target brand.  Or, increase target spin, install new rubber on trap throw arm, contact target mfg. and get the composition checked.

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  Find new shooters from the Boy Scouts and 4-H clubs including graduates of hunter education programs of Ducks Unlimited to NRA.  Conduct an introductory trapshooting scheme or competition.  Schools are always interested in competitive events students can participate in.  Talk to the sports coach first about these opportunities. 

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  Have you considered contacting your local churches and other organizations to use your facilities for church or community activities?

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  Contact local merchants to sponsor competitive and informal events to donate prizes and added money.   Even a simple coupon for a free oil change or $1 off a gallon of gasoline will boost attendance to your weekend practice session shoots.  You will be surprised just how many merchants will participate when you give them the opportunity and also give them an advertising plug in your newsletter.

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Every city has a writer's club.  Contact these writers and invite them to your club and ask if they will be willing to write a magazine article about trapshooting.  Writer's can give you a positive "outdoor adventure" exposure and lift the sport of trapshooting overall and increase your membership.

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Contact your local sports editor for the newspaper and radio.  Invite them out when you are having a shoot and make sure they have a good time.  They will write up a nice article especially if you mention you are "thinking" about advertising the club in the media.  They will do the write up nicely hoping you will gain new members and maybe place an ad.  It's called a publicity release write-up.

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Contact the Boy Scouts in your area.  The Scouts, nationwide, do a lot of outdoor activities and many are trap shooting!  Don't forget the 4-H Club.  Remember, once the kids start shooting the parents discover the sport too and the entire family begins to shoot at your club.

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Increase the professional image of your trap help.  Have your employees or at least key personnel and referees wear a hat or shirt indicating who they are.  Example:   Referee on the hat will do.  Even a simple clip on disposable name badge.  

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"TRAP SHOOTING SECRETS"

The books everyone is talking about. A must read !

0916367096.gif (9263 bytes) Here for Trap Shooting Secrets. 091636710x.jpg (2488 bytes) Here for Precision Shooting

 

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Here for Diary Book.  Here for Expense Book

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Go to Gun club Marketing Page

by; James Russell.  All Rights Reserved.
  If you wish to print these articles in your web page, newsletter or posting on your bulletin board you may do so... however, you must post the following credit at the beginning or end of the article printed as follows:

[Begin credit]

  Written by; James Russell, Copyright 1998, Author of "Trap Shooting Secrets" and "Precision Shooting - The Trapshooter's Bible." Web Site: JamesRussellPublishing.com

[End credit]

  Magazines or other entities who wish to print these articles for commercial purposes must contact the Publisher for permissions in writing by mail. 

 

 

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