Q&A — 01 July 2012

When the Lights Go Out

Q. How do you deal with a power failure?

A. Robin Ball, president, Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop

Fortunately, the lights don’t go out often.  What that means, however, is we have little practice in implementing our process, so employees may not remember the process and new employees may not have witnessed our procedure—or even been briefed on it.

The actual contingency process is simple.  For the point of sale [POS] system, we go back to the dark ages with the “knuckle buster” for credit cards, call in for approvals and handwrite receipts.  The process is slow but doable.  If we know the customer, we will write the receipt and then run the transaction when the system comes up, without the card (yes we pay a higher fee), but then, again, we aren’t taking the time to call in.  Customers are typically patient and even see the humor in power outages.

On the sales floor, we are more cautious.  We have staff on the floor.  Our emergency lighting is not as bright as the normal lighting, so the risk of theft increases.  We hope that a stronger presence of staff on the floor reduces the temptation.

On the range, we shut down.  The emergency lighting system is great to get people packed up and off the range, but without ventilation we don’t allow shooting.  Since our outages are usually short amounts of time, sometimes customers hang out and shop.


A. Bill Kempffer, President, Deep River Sporting Clays & Shooting School

Although we do not need to worry about artificial lights to shoot because we rely on the sun and  because all of our trap equipment is operated by 12-volt batteries, a blackout is not the challenge it is to indoor ranges.  Nevertheless, we do have to take steps to continue to operate our business of processing shooters on and off the range and conducting affairs in our pro shop.

Our operations manual covers this in providing instructions on how to journal sales by hand and how to process credit cards using manual imprinting and calling in each sale for approval.  When power is restored, we batch in these sales, and we enter the journal sales into the computer.  Our telephone system does not work when the power is off. So, for such an emergency, we keep an old telephone for our backup, with which we can answer calls and check messages.

Fortunately, our local electric cooperative is very good at preventing outages and quick to get the power back on when one does occur.


A. Barry Laws, CEO, Openrange

No electricity = no computer = no POS = no payment processing. Plus no indoor lights and no working range.  Worse yet:  no security, no exterior security lighting, no security cameras and no security recorder.  Alarm monitoring systems rely on a small backup battery.  When it dies, no alarm system = no security = NO Sleep.

Dream solution:  Generator to power everything.  Reality: Can’t afford $75,000+.

My solution:  Three UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) units energize, No. 1, in our backroom, the server and modem; No. 2, also in our backroom, our security camera, monitor, printer and telephone system; and, No. 3, at the front counter, our main sales computer, monitor, card scanner and printer.

I also keep a deep-cycle battery on a trickle charger and a 120-volt inverter for any emergency I didn’t think of.  Our security system has small 12-volt batteries, which die after about two days.  I rotate spare batteries into the system each month to keep backups charged.  Finally we have a portable solar panel and two battery pods, which recharge “solarly” in 10 hours anywhere there is sun.  One pod can then be used to power the security system while the other recharges.

Enough power to close tabs, leave a phone message and keep our security alive = Sleep.

In Q & A, The Range Report invites NSSF’s Range Advisory Committee members past and present, and others with special expertise, to provide their answers to questions of interest to our readers. If you have a question you’d like to see addressed, submit it to rangereport@nssf.org. If you would like to comment on the answers given in this edition’s Q&A, or if you have related follow-up questions for this expert, please share your thoughts at the same e-mail address.

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