Features November 2014 — 05 November 2014

Your Price is Right…or Is It? A Sampling of Range Fees–and Services–from around the Country

Every range is different. Indoor and outdoor, private clubs and public shooting centers, they all have different costs associated with them, and even different financial goals. Though they don’t all offer the same services, they all are dedicated to making the shooting sports a fun and exciting activity for their participants. Yet within that broad mandate, they approach their services in a variety of different ways – not only pricing their services differently, but approaching them with a different philosophy.

The Range Report charged me with researching range fees around the country and presenting the results of the sampling in an easy-to-compare chart. Before you view the chart, which you can link to at the end of this article, please read on. You might want to see how the sampling of services varies beyond price.

One blanket service that most ranges offer is a membership. (The most recent National Range Survey, conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2011-2012, found that 81.5 of the respondent ranges had a membership of some sort.) Four of the ranges contacted for this story were public ranges that offered no memberships. Others offered memberships costing as little as $25 (The Gun Guys in Ottawa, Kansas) to $5,000 (a lifetime membership at Shoot Smart in Ft. Worth, Texas). Some ranges price memberships based on benefits—memberships at Bill’s Gun Shop & Range in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, come in bronze, silver and gold levels and offer different levels of benefits (cheaper or free lane use, discounted or free FFL transfers, free eye and ear protection)—while others are based purely on savings of range fees. At Shoot Smart, said Marketing Manager Jared Sloane, “The tiers are broken down by how much money you want to put up front and how much money you want to save down the road.”

Centerfire Shooting Sports offers an all-inclusive rental fee by caliber.
Photo courtesy of Centerfire Shooting Sports

Gun rentals are another differentiator—not just in how much ranges charge, but exactly what the service entails. In the National Range Survey, only 31 percent of ranges reported equipment rentals, but most ranges contacted for this story generated at least some revenue this way. A number of ranges charge simply by the gun, generally between $5 and $15, sometimes differentiating between handguns and long guns. Other schemes are also in play: Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club in Cumming, Georgia, charges an hourly rate for access to the entire cabinet, as does Shoot Smart. Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kansas, splits the difference, offering a fee of $15 per caliber. “Our thought process was that people trying to choose a brand of firearms have the opportunity to shoot multiple guns in that caliber,” said Centerfire’s Jean Basore. “Customers seem to really like it.”

Rentals also generated revenue by spurring ammunition sales. “Our guns, our ammo,” says Bill’s Gun Shop’s John Monson. “They can bring their own ammo with their own guns.” This isn’t just a cash-grab. Basore points out that Centerfire uses “ammo that’s guaranteed from our supplier, so that if the ammo causes damage to the gun, they will replace the gun or repair it.” This keeps the rental guns from falling out of circulation, a costly proposition. At the non-profit Indian River County Public Shooting Range in Sebastian, Florida, it’s a different story. “They can use their own ammo, as long as it’s not a tracer or an incendiary round,” said Jim Faulk.

At Shoot Smart Indoor Gun Range, customers can use their own ammunition with rental guns.
Photo courtesy of Shoot Smart Indoor Gun Range

Firing lanes are also subject to different pricing schemes. The National Range Survey lists the average price for for-profit indoor ranges as a little over $14/hour for both rifle and handgun, with outdoor ranges charging approximately $5 less. Non-profit indoor ranges charge around $6 for handguns, $5 for rifles hourly; both fees drop to around $3 for outdoor ranges. Most of the ranges contacted for this story charge hourly rates, but a significant number of them rent lanes by the day, or for an unlimited time. Monson notes, “The average range time is 40-45 minutes, but the customer perception is they stay for as long as they want. It’s like the endless buffet. You can only eat so much, but you feel like you ate your weight in gold.” Sloane agrees. “Our goal is to keep people shooting, keep them on the lines. We want people to be in our facilities, so what we like to do is remove as many restrictions as we can. There are enough restrictions in our sport. we don’t need any more in the gun range.” Sloane manages the queue with an app called QLess that texts people when their lane is free.

Then there are the shotgunning sports—trap, skeet, sporting clays and 5-Stand. The national average for a round of 100 sporting clays is $29.84. A 25-target round of 5-Stand costs $7.61, on average, and 25-target rounds of trap and skeet cost $7.37 and $4.82, respectively. Ranges contacted for this article reported prices as high as $41 for a round of 100 sporting clays, but the price was mitigated by a discount for members. Phil Murray, National Sales Manager of White Flyer Targets, notes that pricing on clay targets hasn’t changed for two years and suggests that any changes in the pricing of range services is largely due to other forces—“Upswings in range fees are the result of increased labor costs, or the fact that the range has realized that previously they were charging too little.”

Indian River’s Faulk feels the same. “We only went up one time since we’ve been open, about 13 years now. I guess we go up on the basis of how much it costs, in man-hours, to watch the shooters out there.” Like many ranges, Indian River also charges an environmental fee for collection by the state (in its case, Florida): $1 per shooter for rifle and pistols, 50 cents per 25 clays for shotguns. Murray also mentions the option of biodegradable clay targets, putting less burden on cleanup: “The bio target has been received very well by the recreational retail market, and many clubs have chosen to utilize them because it’s the prudent thing to do in their areas.”

Of course, prices are adjusted in other ways. Some ranges charge more for lane rentals on weekends, and many offer discounts to youth and law enforcement professionals. Shoot Smart has a second tier of firing lanes, offering a chance to shoot in privacy for a reasonable price upgrade. With the variety of pricing strategies being explored, it’s a matter of finding the one that works best for you and then maximizing its potential to generate profits and best serve your clientele.

Now, click here to see how various ranges’ pricing schedule compares to your operation.

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