August 2014 Features — 06 August 2014

Real-life Scenario: First Shots and First Shots: Second Round – Even for Ranges that Are Already Busy

It’s not just theoretical. First Shots and First Shots Second Round bring a large, diverse group of new shooters to your range with each session.
Photo courtesy of Christy Christiansen

Has your range hosted a First Shots or First Shots: Second Round seminar yet? If not, why not?

More than 40,000 people, the vast majority of them novices in the shooting sports, have been introduced to shooting through the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s First Shots program. At least 200 ranges across the country have participated and taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the NSSF to hold these seminars.

“First Shots was created in 2005 as a marketing tool to help ranges get more new footsteps through the doors, said Tisma Juett, manager of First Shots. “ It has since grown into a way for ranges to show the communities what they do and dispel myths about firearms, owners and what people see in the media.

“Participants are provided information about firearms safety and responsibility in a safe, controlled and fun environment. They leave with a greater understanding of firearms and of those who choose to own them,” added Juett.

One range owner who has adopted First Shots and Second Round stresses the sporting aspects of shooting.

“We emphasize that the shooting sports are truly sports oriented,” said Dennis Rohman, manager of the P2K Range in El Cajon, Calif. “Many people don’t even realize that the shooting sports are in the Olympics!”

An indoor and outdoor range that offers shooting for rifle, pistol and shotgun, P2K has tailored its First Shots program to introduce students to all three disciplines of shooting.

P2K in El Cajon, Calif., is a believer. An influx of young shooters has come to the range via First Shots and First Shots Second Round. “I don’t know why all other ranges aren’t doing this,” said Dennis Rohman, P2K’s manager.
Photo courtesy of P2K Range

“I don’t know why all other ranges aren’t doing this,” said Rohman, who believes he may see up to an 80 percent return from first-timers in a First Shot program.

Although P2K charges $25 per participant, it gives back at least that much with a goody bag of free earmuffs, eye protection, information and, of course, instruction, loaner guns and free ammo on the range.


After First Shots, then what?

Last year, the NSSF launched its follow-up program to First Shots, called First Shots: Second Round, aka Second Round. The program is the next step for a First Shots participant. Tailored to a range’s unique setup, this event might offer Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, Rimfire Challenge or other styles of competitive shooting. Through Second Round, like First Shots, the NSSF offers monetary support to ranges that participate. The NSSF will donate a one-time contribution of up to $500 for a Second Round event. These funds can be used in several ways. In addition, the NSSF offers 50 percent in co-op advertising funds, payable upon receipt.

“Second Round is a way for beginning shooters to learn a skill in a group environment with others who have about the same level of experience. There is no pressure to win; the focus is education and safety. In the end, everyone wins: the shooter gains experience and feels comfortable, the range/club creates a new activity participant and the industry has a person who will continue to be an advocate for firearms safety,” explained Juett.

The typical result of a First Shots seminar: Proud, enthusiastic new shooters desiring more.
Photo courtesy of P2K Range

Juett said there are several ways that a Second Round event can attract beginner shooters to specialized seminars. Take, for example, a Second Round event held this past July at the Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Education Complex, at Platte River State Park in Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Outdoor Education Specialist Christy Christiansen planned the event, using Smith & Wesson M&P AR-15 .22 rifles. Eighteen students–fathers and sons, husbands and wives, along with singles–shot more than 2,000 rounds of ammo at steel targets. Christiansen purchased timers to use for the event with money from the NSSF.

“Hosting a First Shots or Second Round event brings a whole different client to your range,” said Christiansen. The facility hosts two events annually and, according to Christiansen, will hold even more Second Round events in the future.

“First Shots is a caveat to get people interested in the sport of shooting,” said Terri Bush, sales manager of The Bullet Stop in Wichita, Kan.

An indoor range, The Bullet Stop offers 15 indoor lanes and also sells guns.

“We offer a free First Shots clinic to every customer who buys a gun,” said Bush.

That customer can either take the offer, or give it to someone else.

“We want to interest people in the sport of shooting. We want them to bring their family members and friends,” added Bush.

The Bullet Stop holds two First Shots monthly. It started this routine last October.

“We can have up to 35 participants in each First Shot seminar,” said Bush. “Our training staff of instructors and range staff conduct the clinics.”

Bush said she encourages the staff to “think like a first-time gun shopper” and to encourage questions in the classroom and on the range.

Bush said First Shots seems to particularly appeal to new shooters who are female. It’s an opportunity for them to learn from credentialed instructors, and, she added, “It’s not like having to learn from a family member.”

Close supervision from credentialed instructors is a key to First Shots’ appeal and success.
Photo courtesy of P2K Range

The Bullet Stop also offers Second Round – Try Again, where students can come back and choose from a variety of handguns to shoot 50 shots downrange, under supervision, for $20.

“We’ve never had a negative response to First Shots,” said Jean Basore, owner of Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kan. “In fact, it’s a great opportunity to get people who are new to the shooting sports to try it, and the program brings repeat customers to the range.”

A new indoor range with 16 lanes, Centerfire has been hosting First Shots and Second Round seminars, featuring .22 caliber handgun and rifle disciplines, since last October. At first, the range availed itself of monetary support from the NSSF and spent advertising money for radio announcements. Now, it promotes the programs solely on its website. “We sell out within a few weeks,” added Basore. The range charges a nominal fee of $10 to take First Shots and reimburses the fee in the form of a $15 range pass.

The Second Round clinic costs $40 and offers more range time in a small group of eight or fewer. Centerfire supplies the guns and ammo with the price of the class.

“First Shots really appeals to women and families,” said Basore. “That’s who we want to see coming back to our range.”


Even private ranges benefit

For private clubs, hosting First Shots or Second Round seminars is a great means of inviting new members to join. The Harwinton Rod & Gun Club, located in Harwinton, Conn., caters to rifle, shotgun, pistol and archery shooters on outdoor ranges. In fact, it even offers two stocked fishing ponds and a horseshoe pit, along with picnic areas.

Even though the club is private, it holds public events.

“Being an NRA instructor, I always look at ways to bring fun, relaxing shooting events to our club,” said Joaquin Silvia. “I try to get beginners and people who may be unsure if shooting sports are for them into the club to see what it is all about. I discovered the First Shots Program and jumped onboard; it was exactly what I was looking for.”

Currently, he hosts a rifle program and looks to introduce handgun and shotgun in the future. He purchased steel targets from the NSSF’s funding of the Second Round program.

“This year, with the inclusion of the steel targets, it was an even bigger hit,” added Silvia.

Silvia has availed his club of the many benefits NSSF offers through its First Shots programs.

“The NSSF helped us by utilizing their partners in the industry to supply various goods that were used in the event. Targets, youth rifles, goodie bags, and in the past, ammo, were all supplied by the NSSF to help promote the event and make it a great value for any range to host,” said Silvia.

“We have seen many people come back to try something else at our club and eventually end up on the waiting list for membership,” he added.

Silvia said the club is looking at hosting an NSSF Rimfire Challenge event in the near future.

Learn more about First Shots and Second Round. Follow First Shots on Facebook.

Become another of the hosting ranges to discover the benefits of hosting First Shots and First Shots Second Round.

A First Shots Second Round Event, IDPA Style Shooting

According to Tisma Juett, the manager of the First Shots and First Shots Second Round program, if a range wants to hold an “Introduction to International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA)” shooting event, it might follow this agenda with its range staff for clients.

Start in the classroom

  • Go over some of the basic rules
  • Explain needed equipment
  • List basic terminology
  • Answer any questions

Set up a small scenario on the range

  • Explain what happens when you get to the match
  • Describe how to approach the course of fire
  • Run through course once untimed and then timed
  • Emphasize being slow, methodical and accurate

Throughout the entire process

  • Be encouraging, inviting and welcoming
  • At the end of the Second Round event, invite the participants to shoot at the next match

First Shots Newsletter

The NSSF publishes a monthly newsletter “First Shots News,” which provides information about the shooting sports and events around the country. Learn more about “First Shots News.”

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