Partner Up: A Win-Win Strategy

Partnering your gun shop with local and national instructors can have major benefits for everyone involved.

Partner Up: A Win-Win Strategy

Local instructors are convenient and probably already have a following in your area.

If you’re a gun shop owner looking to enhance the offerings at your store and foster a stronger firearms community, consider partnering with both local and national firearms instructors. This strategic collaboration not only benefits your business by directly and indirectly leading to more sales to new and existing customers, but it also contributes to the responsible and safe use of firearms in your community.

So, where should you start? 

Your customers will seek instruction in firearms safety and use for many reasons, the main ones being safety and skill acquisition or enhancement. 

Safety and safe firearms handling are paramount to gun ownership. Though many long-time firearms owners may not feel a compelling need to take a course in “gun safety,” there is no such thing as being too safe. Though the bulk of your customers seeking or needing safety classes will be new/inexperienced to and in the firearms world, a good partnership will allow you to address the needs of both the first-time and longtime gun owners. 

As a new firearm owner gains experience and confidence with their new gun, there is an opportunity to offer them more and more advanced knowledge and skills through instruction. 

As far as the long-time gun owner goes, they are usually seeking specialized and specific skills such as specific carry methods, draw techniques, accuracy improvement, and many, many more. 

In a perfect world, you would already have an extensive database of your customers with information about their purchases, hobbies and desires for things like training through the history shown in your CRM and marketing campaign records. If you don’t have this information, start gathering it now. One of the easiest ways to do this is to implement a simple survey for customers to fill out either in person or online. Offering them something as a reward for doing so will improve your results. Any knowledge you can gain will only help when speaking with potential partners. Knowing who your customers are and targeting them specifically will increase the benefits of your partnership. 

For example, let’s say that you have a very large contingent of experienced gun owners. You sell tons of defense ammo, high-end scopes designed for precision shooting, concealed carry-specific holsters, etc. Perhaps many of your customers have taken a basic concealed carry course, spend a great deal of time at your or another range, or are already local competitors in things like long-range shooting. In these scenarios, you’ll want to offer instructions in things like advanced draw from concealed techniques, off-hand shooting, multi-position shooting, and ballistic/doping hacks. For first-time and inexperienced shooters and gun purchasers, you may want to offer a basic safety instructor, classes in state concealed carry instruction (yes, even in states that don’t require permitting), and basic skills courses. 

So, now that you have some information and determined you have a need for instruction, who should you choose, and why? 

Local Firearms and Personal Defense Instructors

Local firearms instructors are the heart and soul of your community’s firearms education. Many of them are current or former local law enforcement, meaning not only do they have experience and training, but they also have a direct connection to your community — often for decades. By partnering with them, you create a direct link between your gun shop and the local customers who value hands-on, personalized training. Here are some reasons to consider teaming up with local instructors:

Community Bonding: Local instructors have a good understanding of your community’s needs and preferences. They can offer tailored training that resonates with local gun owners, and that fosters a sense of camaraderie within the community.

Convenience: Local instructors can usually offer on-site training at your store, reducing the need for customers to travel elsewhere for classes. This convenience can boost foot traffic to your shop and potentially lead to additional sales. Additionally, their proximity to you allows for multiple class scheduling over extended timeframes. If someone can’t make a class this month, perhaps they can make one next month. 

Local Reputation Enhancement: Partnering with respected local instructors can reflect positively on your store’s reputation by the implied “endorsement” of your store by someone who, if not widely known, is at least known to have credentials to give instruction in safe firearms use. 

National-Level Instructors

While local instructors have their unique benefits, partnering with national-level firearms instructors can provide your gun shop with a broader reach and a different set of advantages:

Expertise and Credibility: National instructors often have both a wealth of experience and a strong reputation in the firearms community. If people do a Google search on them, they may be more impressed with the sheer amount of content and “famous factor.” Their association with your shop can lend credibility and draw firearms enthusiasts seeking high-quality training.

Diverse Curriculum: National instructors might offer specialized courses that are not readily available through local options. These courses can attract gun owners looking for unique and advanced training opportunities. Increased Visibility: National instructors typically have a wider following on social media and within the firearms community. When they are giving a course in a certain location, they tend to promote it heavily through their channels and all media they use, including ones that are at a national level. This exposure can drive attention to your store and dramatically increase its online and media presence.

Special Events and Workshops: Partnering with national instructors opens the door to hosting/co-hosting special events, workshops and seminars at or near your shop. Offering special pricing, giveaways and co-promotions during the event will help your bottom line and increase your visibility even more.

Navigating Potential Challenges

While the benefits are clear, there are a few challenges to keep in mind when partnering with firearms instructors, whether local or national. Instructors often have busy schedules, and coordinating class timings that align with your shop’s availability can be a challenge. Effective communication and advance planning can help mitigate this issue.

It’s also crucial to have proper liability agreements and insurance coverage in place when hosting classes in your store or associated with your store. Both the instructor and the shop owner should ensure they are adequately protected.

For local instructors, marketing and promoting their classes may not be their strong suit. This can be a benefit to working with you. Collaborate on marketing strategies to ensure that classes are well-promoted and attract sufficient participants. In some cases, partnering with multiple instructors might lead to competition among them. Clear communication and agreements can help manage any potential conflicts.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

We’ve discussed a lot of the “why” to working with instructors. What about the “how?” It may be easier than you think. 

If you have a gun shop, there will likely be instructors in your customer base and, especially locally, ones who want to promote their events in your store and will approach you to do so. Some of the keys here are to do a thorough check of their credentials and reputation. This can be easy to do through a simple google search. Make sure to ask for references. 

Seek out instructors online. Two of the largest databases of firearms instructors can be found on the National Rifle Association website and the United States Concealed Carry Association website. Other resources include and state concealed carry websites. 

Social media can be a help or a hinderance. One of the easiest ways to find what your customers want is to ask them. Post questions on your social media, take surveys in-store, and, if you really want to get a ton of choices, offer a contest for product or free instruction. 

Make It “Win-Win” to WIN

In order for your partnership to be successful, both of you have to benefit. As the one seeking a collaboration, you should be more concerned about what benefits the instructor than what benefits you. Trust me — you’ll actually benefit MORE this way, even it it may not seem like it at first. Some of the things that you can offer an instructor: If you have a range, partnering with a local instructor provides them with a safe and familiar venue for their classes, eliminating the need to rent or find alternative spaces. If you don’t, offer to help with range fees for their classes. 

Instructors, especially local ones, can gain access to a new pool of students through your store’s customer base and marketing/co-marketing efforts.

Both local and national instructors benefit from a centralized location to host classes, which can be especially advantageous for those traveling to teach. The vast majority of national-level instructors are paid to host events and share in the profits for the fees collected. What they love is having their lives made easier — so make it so. Offer to handle their travel and/or accommodations and meals. Collaborate with them on marketing, contests and promotion. 

Partnering your gun shop with local and national firearms instructors can be a win-win strategy for everyone involved. The community benefits from diverse and comprehensive training options, your store gains credibility and revenue, and instructors receive a convenient and accessible venue to share their expertise. With effective communication, careful planning, and a commitment to responsible firearm education, this partnership can elevate your gun shop’s standing and contribute to a safer firearms community. 


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