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Computer programs for gun dealers.


The gun business isn't a hide-bound industry governed by old New England stoicism any more. It's taking to computers with fervor. Even small dealers are computerizing. And it's easy now.

It surprised me how many software packages are tailored to the needs of gun dealers. I found four at the SHOT Show this year, and got information on another.

The adage about walking a mile in a man's moccasins is especially true when you're talking about computer programs. It takes a while to learn the basic functions. Then you find capabilities you didn't know about whenever you try to do something a little different. What I learned about software for gun dealers is only a first impression. The programs discussed have features I didn't find. But you'll find them as you use the program.

So, consider this an introduction, an overview of software packages for gun dealers. It's not a critical evaluation because that depends on what you want your software to do, and on how comfortable you feel with the way each one works. Nor is it a comprehensive review of all the point-of-sales systems offered. With hundreds of standard POS systems available, that task would be massive.


After installation, it literally took only a few minutes of reading the manual and looking into its many functions before I was actually using the program. It is menu driven so you don't have to guess what to do. The screen tells you to move the cursor with up and down arrows to select items, but you can take a shortcut by simply pressing a number key corresponding to the menu item, and press ENTER.

Most of your day to day functions are listed on Main Menu #1. Counter sales, mail order sales, ship and invoice mail orders, accounts receivable, mailing list, customer file, vendor file, more function, and exit are the options. That's a bunch to start with, but there are submenus defining functions within each of these choices.

The counter person will choose item 1, counter sales. If he makes a cash sale and you don't care who the buyer is, he simply creates a temporary customer, enters the items sold, and the program picks up information on description. If it's a firearm he's selling, he must first go to the customer file and enter the customer's information. But if it's a repeat customer, the information is already there. You can update the file. Or just go back to counter sales and choose the option to sell an item.

The screen shows you a form. Enter an existing customer's ID and his information is attached to the record automatically. Then you can itemize the items bought, make, model, serial number, and how it was paid. Then a lot of things happen. Since you're selling the item listed, it's deducted from your inventory and entered into your sales history files. If it's a charge sale, it's added to accounts receivables. In any case, your business records are updated. If it's a firearm, your BATF record is updated, and you can associate the Form 4473 number with the transaction.

The other way to sell items is by mail order and it works a little differently. Rather than updating your files at the time of receipt printing, as counter sales does, entering the mail order only allocates inventory. The inventory is reduced and other files updated when the order is actually shipped in another section of the program.

But that's not all you have to do in entering a mail order. You need to print out the red on white tags on UPS-COD orders, and/or a post card to confirm the order to the customer. Shotgun does this for you, using the work file in use.

The program is now fully bar code capable, the cash drawer reconciliation can account for all money in and out of the till, rather than just counter sales. You may create BATF acquisition entries without affecting inventory so you can handle customer repairs. And there are more enhancements planned for release later this year.

More than 50 programs make up the Shotgun package. Since they're inter-related, you don't have to enter information that's already there. When you receive a shipment from your supplier, you add it to inventory and the program takes care of it from then on. In a word, Shotgun remembers all of your business activities and provides you with accurate reports for making good business decisions. All you need is any MS/PC-DOS type computer.


QuikFire is a BATF compliant record keeping system, an inventory of current and disposed firearms, a costing manager, and a customer information file. It was written to be straight forward and easy to use. It was developed by gun dealers, for gun dealers.

Information is kept in two databases, like file cabinets. One holds information relating to gun transactions; the other, customer information. Each can be divided into different "drawers" organized in different ways. The first might be sorted by an individual's Last Name, the second drawer by Company name, the third drawer by State.

The individual "records" hold information on one customer or firearm sale. All records contain the same type of information: the serial number, the model, the caliber, etc.

QuikFire does the different things needed to keep your records up to date. The Main Menu lets you select an option: Add a Firearm to Inventory, Dispose a Firearm, Mate Firearms/Parts (Class 3 dealers), Cost of Transactions, Review Firearm Records, Print a Report, Utilities Functions, and Work in Customer File.

We tried version 1.5 and found it simple to use. You can complete a transaction without going back to the Main Menu to select each individual function. When you receive a special order firearm, you add it to inventory by using the "Add a Firearm" option. The cost screen then comes up for you to enter related expenses. When you've finished, QuikFire will ask if you want to dispose of it (or add another); after you have disposed of it, you can enter related revenues. If Class 3 dealers make an entry in the "Mated With" field, QuikFire will locate the associated part/firearm and mate it for you. QuikFire will always return you to the process you began with.

These jumps follow a logical sequence. They help to insure you don't forget to make important entries. However, QuikFire is just the required firearms records. It does not attempt to include other business functions.


FIRE can control inventory and purchase orders, create and forecast, buying needs, track trends and seasonal sales and ordering. It prints your own bar code labels, mailing labels and also handles mail orders. It marks items up or down by group, and tracks sizes, colors, calibers and gauges. Your repair department is part of the system with parts control, as well as handling rentals, layaways, and special orders.

Then, UniSoft says it has the only Indoor Range Management and Billing system in the industry.

It will issue and track fishing and hunting license sales, control consignment merchandise, do physical inventory by bar code unit, rate salespersons' productivity, report and analyze daily sales and summarize other financial reports. And on top of that, it will access your big distributor's computer to do your business electronically.

Fire Dealer Link [TM] can link your store to your home, distributor and other stores. You can look up stock, check prices, and place orders through your own computer.

In addition, FIRE can integrate with CP Accounting modules to give you a general ledger, interactive vendor file management, flexible payment preparation, cash requirements report, automatic check printing, and generate a report of distribution by vendor. It can handle your payroll and accounts receivable.


The Bound Book Reporting System organizes your firearms record keeping, records receipts, sales and transactions quickly, locates specific records, prints inventory and sales analysis, prints selected customer mailing labels, prints item and price lists. Like most software, the list goes on. It depends on what you want to buy.

Bound Book meets BATF requirements. It can count your guns in stock by model number, sales by date for each model number. But you say you want more?

The Bound Book Reporting module can interface with optional accounting software from RealWorld Corp. and Synchronics, Inc. that has been tailored to the need of firearms dealers. With integrated Inventory Control and Point of Sale (or Order Entry) modules, bound book entries are automatically set up and updated as you enter inventory receipts and record sales.

You can add modules for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, General Ledger, Sales Analysis, Purchase Order Tracking, and more. Of course, the more you get, the more it costs.

With Bound Book Reporting, the system saves you time and effort by copying basic receipt information automatically for each serial number received. When you sell that serial number, key it into the system and all its information is retrieved. The system prevents mistakes by using codes to identify customers, vendors and firearms. When you enter a customer code, it automatically fills in name, address and other information.

The system offers a pinpoint search function to look up item, vendor and customer codes while you're entering acquisitions and dispositions. And you can add new vendors or customers without having to interrupt your entry process.

Bound Book Reporting won't let you enter a duplicate unsold serial number for the same type of firearm. Its audit report scans bound book entries to show those with missing or invalid information. There's even a report to show customers with expired FFLs.


Scott Hoffman of Hoffman's Guns in Newington, Connecticut wanted the economies of computer technology for the retail trade, but he could find no commercial programs to do all he thought they should. So he developed one of his own, with the help of programmer friend Paul Poppel. "No one offers the retail emphasis that we do," Scott said.

"Gunware" is gun dealer software that focuses on how you interact with your customer. It can be used as a DOS version on a stand-alone personal computer or a multi-user system when running under the Xenix operating system. Hoffman's system serves several terminals in the store, that literally take the place of cash registers.

"And customers take pride in already being in our customer file," Scott said. "Then his information doesn't have to be entered in again. The program keys on the customer's state and prints out the proper forms, 4473s and forms required by his state."

Scott says his program does all that others do and more; mailing lists, reports, special orders, layaways, repairs. If a layaway is set up and the customer wants a different gun instead, it takes only a push of a button to revise the record. Poppel says you can complete a sale in just a couple of minutes if everything has to be entered fresh. If it's an existing customer, he's done it in 15 seconds.

"When you sell 6-7,000 guns a year like we do, that's a lot of paperwork," Scott added. "We developed this program to speed up our operation, to make it more efficient. I was spending 18 hours a week keying stuff into the computer at the end of the day. Now all that's done as the sale is being made and it doesn't take any longer than making the sale.

"We've been using this program for a couple of years now and it hasn't been down one day."

Dealers make a big mistake in trying to computerize everything all at once, according to Hoffman. His store's computerization was an evolution, rather than a revolution. Then you can grow into other functions as you progress, without having to virtually shut down while everyone learns how to run a computer and its software. He's designed Gunware so you can do just that.

Scott and Paul Poppel introduced this software package at the SHOT Show this year. Of course, there are add-on packages, and Gunware can be made to interface with your accounting software. Part of the deal is to configure your program to suit the requirements of your state. He's also developing a gun-value reference database, so you don't have to look it up in books.

"We don't plan on writing a book on how to run Gunware," Scott boasted. "Because you don't need it. The screen tells you everything. After all, dealers are in business to sell guns, not run computers."


Winchester's POS package was first introduced at last year's SHOT Show. Since then they have been busy upgrading and improving their product.

The Point of Sale Manager from Winchester allows a myriad of functions. In addition to bound book recording and POS capabilities, the package utilizes, inventory control, a purchase order system, a master database of of customers, a ballistics guide and a word processor (the word processor is not available in the multi-user version).

Inventory control allows the automatic updating of records and also tracking the buying trends of customers who shop at the store. Inventory analysis will help you determine what merchandise is hot.

Cash drawer and daily reconciliation features provides a checks and balances procedure to quickly determine discrepancies.

The reports generated by the program are clear and helpful in the way the information is arranged. Flexibility is built into the system allowing all aspects of the business to be mastered, including payroll accounting.

The software was developed by Northwood Software and distributed by Management Systems Technology. It requires an IBM [R] compatible 286 or above with: a 40 megabyte hard drive, 640 K of RAM and DOS version 3.2 or greater. Complete systems in both multi-user and single user configurations are available from the distributor.

Final Thoughts

Looking at all this software has confirmed what has long been true in "computing." There are many different ways to do the same things. Programs have "personalities." They "feel" different. You know the importance of the "fit" of a shotgun. You can say the same for computer programs. You wouldn't buy a personal gun without trying it. You should take the same pains with programs that you're going to live with for a long time to come.

When you evaluate software to handle your business, first make sure the program will do what you need to do. Question it's ability to adapt to anticipated changes in your business. Then try it. If it fits, wear it.

One final reminder. If you plan to computerize and keep records electronically, remember to get permission from BATF. The companies that sell the software will advise you how to write the letter requesting permission.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gunshop data processing
Author:Clede, Bill
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1990
Previous Article:Clothing for the hunt.
Next Article:Discover a new product from the SHOT Show.

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