Reach New Customers With Range Days and Events

Women’s range days and other special events can lead to greater participation and stronger sales.

Reach New Customers With Range Days and Events

Women are the fastest-growing segment of gun owners and shooters in the country. The jump has been dramatic the past few years. In 2013, about 13 percent of American women owned guns. Compare that to 2020 when the number has increased to 23 percent.

If you go to the range much at all, you’ve likely seen that to be anecdotally true. Whereas at one time you’d usually only see a woman out shooting with her husband or boyfriend, it’s not at all uncommon now to see a woman out shooting with a female friend or even a group of women.

The fact that the number of female gun owners is booming is just one of several important reasons that firearm retailers should carefully market to that segment of shooters and gun owners. Many retailers who operate shooting ranges have learned that special events tailored to women can increase profits, memberships and participation in the shooting sports.

Ladies' Night

Whistling Pines Gun Club in Colorado Springs is one such outlet that has found success through exclusive women-only shooting events, according to Brent Voorhees, manager of Whistling Pines West. The club offers a ladies’ night once a month at both of its ranges.

“We’re mainly just getting them out to see the shooting world — that it’s not just a man’s sport, it’s a women’s sport too,” Voorhees says. “We do ladies’ night during the week. We close off four or five lanes on a Thursday night from 4 to 8 o'clock. We have a lady instructor here to work with them, since many of the women are more comfortable with that.”

Ladies’ night at Whistling Pines costs $15 for nonmembers and is free for club members. It offers women a way to shoot, socialize, network and get valuable instruction on firearms and firearm use.

“They can rent different guns in the case,” Voorhees says. “Many of them don’t know what they want. They’re novices and just want to come in and try it. So, we try to start them with a .22, but if there’s something else they want to try, they can rent it.”

Many women take advantage of the ladies’ night festivities to try a number of different handguns in various calibers to see what they prefer. Voorhees and his staff cater to them by trying to keep the cost of ammunition down.

“Instead of buying a whole box of ammo — because most boxes of ammo come in 50 rounds —we break them into 10-round baggies,” he says. “So, if they want to shoot a .380, a 9mm and a .45, they can buy 10 rounds of each instead of buying a whole box of each, which they likely wouldn’t shoot.

“And it’s priced right. The .45 is our most expensive at around $5 for a baggie, which won’t break the bank. If they want to shoot a bunch of different guns, just the ammo alone could end up being quite expensive if they had to buy full boxes.”

Good Numbers

When Whistling Pines started the program nearly three years ago, ladies’ night would often have close to 40 women show up.

“It was crazy,” Voorhees says. “With that many, we would have to break them into groups. We’d have a group in doing a safety briefing, then have another group on the range. Now we usually get about 15 to 20 women on those nights, which is a good number.”

Due to Colorado’s extreme swing in weather from season to season, Whistling Pines’ ladies’ night is more popular during some seasons than others. Depending on the climate at your establishment, the same could be a factor for participation.

“Summertime is our slow time,” he says. “There’s too much going on outside. The kids are out of school and there are too many other distractions. So, we focus on winter instead of summer, since we get a better draw. It’s cold outside, it gets dark at 4 o’clock.”

Motivating Factors

The increased interest in armed self-defense, including concealed carry, is one of the biggest motivators for Colorado Springs women to attend ladies’ night at Whistling Pines.

“We see many interested in concealed carry,” Voorhees says. “Some of them will come back and take an Intro to Pistol class or an Intro to Concealed Carry.

“For some of our classes, like our Intro to Pistol class, we offer some sessions just for women and taught by women. And we do an Intro to Concealed Carry class specifically for women, too. Some of the women just aren’t comfortable with men shooting next to them and making them comfortable is part of our job.”

Strong Strategy

Of course, there is also a profit motive involved.

According to a recent report in Business Insider, the majority of women (90 percent) control their family’s finances, from stocking up on household items to having the final say on home and car purchases. Consequently, drawing in a new female customer can be an effective way to draw in the rest of the family, too.

Marketing to women for high-dollar items like firearms is an important sales strategy. Plus, Voorhees says additional sales to women who become regulars because of ladies’ night is another positive aspect of the program.

“We’ve seen some additional sales,” he says. “Just getting them in on women’s night, that draws them back in saying, ‘Hey, I can buy a gun or ammo or magazines.’ It’s obviously not a lot, but some do come back and buy guns and ammo from us.”

Membership Growth

Women who come for ladies’ night also are instrumental in helping build membership, as their interest can become contagious to other family members.

“It definitely helps with membership,” Voorhees says. “Once they’re paying $15, if they’re coming to ladies’ nights at both of our locations, that’s $30 if they’re not a member. At that point, we draw them in and say, ‘Hey, you might as well get a membership if you’re going to come to ladies’ nights.’ With the membership, they don’t have to pay anything. They just have to buy ammo, and the gun rental is free. It’s just $32.50 a month.

“Much of the time we’ll get them to join. Then if their husband is into it, we can normally get both of them to join from her initially coming in for ladies’ night and bringing the husband back.”

As an added bonus, some women who begin shooting by attending a ladies’ night event will eventually bring their kids to the range and introduce them to the joys of shooting. Or they’ll bring female friends who might be interested in shooting but have no idea of how to get started.

Voorhees is such a big advocate of ladies’ night and other women’s programs in the shooting sports that he thinks all ranges and firearm retailers should participate to help introduce new shooters to the sport and increase the number of safe, responsible gun owners.

“I’d say start a women’s night if you haven’t done so already,” he says. “All ranges are different. We run a membership-only club. But even public ranges can have a women’s discount or a certain day of the week that they’re catering to women just to get them in and build their business a little bit more. You never know, quite a few might go on to buy guns, buy ammo and get into the sport.”

Event Promotion

Of course, some clubs and ranges have tried women’s shooting events only to see them quickly fail. The key is getting the word out, so women know.

“There’s an interest out there, but they’ve got to know about it,” Voorhees says.

At Whistling Pines, the staff starts getting the information out about a month in advance. Then they promote the event again in the weekly newsletter the week before the event.

But social media is where the range attracts much of its ladies’ night participation.

“Publicizing it on Facebook and other social media has been very successful. Our social media person will hit it on both Facebook and Instagram. We’ve got good returns from both.”

Obvious Value

Economics aside, a largely overlooked aspect of marketing to women is the fact that bringing them into the community of shooters and gun owners increases the number of effective pro-gun advocates while also building the pro-Second Amendment voter base.

In fact, women are among the best and most vocal Second Amendment advocates. Just look at the D.C. Project, an educational, nonpartisan initiative that brings women — at least one from each state — to Washington, D.C., to establish relationships with their legislators and reveal the faces and stories of firearm owners and Second Amendment supporters.

The women of the D.C. Project are making important inroads with policymakers with their reasoned conversations and personal stories of safe, lawful firearm ownership and use. In fact, the women of the D.C. Project might just be the most effective gun-rights proponents in the country right now.

In the end, there’s an obvious value in women’s programs for those in the gun industry. If you are a firearm retailer, you should consider offering special women’s programs like ladies’ night at the range, special discounts or women-specific training opportunities for the increased profits alone.

In doing so, you’ll also be recruiting new, effective pro-gun advocates to join the fight to ensure they’ll always have a right to bear arms — and you’ll always have the freedom to run a firearm-oriented business.


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