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Profit boosters: local airgun matches boost dealer profits.

The past year of slowed retail sales and too many retail outlets has been hard on the small gun shop owner. Cutting back on expenditures may not be enough. It's time to try more aggressive tactics to increase your sales.

One successful way to get customers into your store is to get your loyal shooters to try another style or type of shooting sport. These buyers are a proven source of revenue and are your best chance to increase future sales.

What's new in shooting and what's available that will interest customers without putting them to too much trouble? Are there any types of shooting events that are not shot in your town? There are the questions you need to ask yourself.

Sales From Thin Air

Most people have to drive hundreds of miles to shoot Olympic or international air pistol and air rifle matches. Ask your local rifle and pistol clubs about having air gun matches on a regular basis.

If none of the clubs are having air gun matches, bring the subject up at the next gun club meeting. Explain to the club officers how air gun matches can help make everyone there a better shot. Tell them that these matches will draw new members and make theirs a better club.

Call or write the NRA to get information on setting up an air gun range as well as how to get the match sanctioned. The NRA will be very helpful in setting up your air gun program.

To shoot air pistol or air rifle matches you need an area at least 40 feet long, because the targets are set at 10 meters (about 33 feet) and you should allow about 5 feet more for the shooters. Each shooter needs a 3- to 4-foot-wide bench or table to shoot from. The length of the firing line depends on the size of the club. Almost any type of building can be used for air gun shooting -- the only requirements are good lighting and adequate size for the number of shooters.

Check the roster of club members to see if any of them belong to the National Guard. If there is a Guard member in the gun club, have him talk to his commander about renting a building on the base. If you don't have an inroad with them, just call and ask for the officer in charge. You will find that most National Guard units have shooting teams and will be very receptive to any shooting events.

Most National Guard Armories have one building that is about 100 to 200 feet long and 75 to 100 feet wide, if not several. They have sky lights on upper walls, which will give shooters very good light to work with.

Help From Manufacturers

As a gun dealer, you can call almost any of the major air gun manufacturers and ask for assistance with your match. They are very eager to help with all airgun events and often offer package deals or good prices on their target air guns.

The cost of modern air guns starts at around $60 for a good pistol and goes up to $1,500 for a top-of-the-line model. Air rifles run in about the same range, although their bottom line is slightly higher. As you can see, there is room to make good money on air gun sales.

As a dealer, you may want to purchase a few extra air pistols and rifles to use as loaners at club matches. In between your monthly club matches you can sell these guns as demonstrators. You'll find that many of the air guns will be sold right at the matches; when a competitor shoots a good score with your loaner, he will demand to buy it on the spot.

Two excellent rifles to purchase are the RWS Model 24 and the Daisy target Model 853. The best pistol is the Daisy Model 717; it's inexpensive and has incredible accuracy. Your total expenditure will be less than $350.

For inexpensive traps, you can make your own out of wood or old plastic milk crates. These crates are about 13 inches high and 20 inches wide. By lining them with 1/4-inch plywood, including a 1 1/2-inch lip on the front to catch any pellets that try to bounce out, and putting an 1/8-inch steel plate set in the box at a down angle of 45 degrees to the shooter, these inexpensive plastic boxes become the ideal air gun targets.

This size trap allows one 10-bull air rifle target or two air pistol targets to be hung on the face of the trap. Rifle shooters can shoot one shot on each of the 10 rifle targets. The pistol shooters can fire five shots on each of the two pistol targets. Being able to shoot ten shots with both the rifle and pistol in one relay will allow you to have both rifle and pistol shooters on the same line at the same time. Keep the pistol shooters at one end of the line and the rifle shooters at the other.

Besides the steady increase in sales in your growing air gun department, you're helping to expand the ranks of the NRA in its steady growth. After seeing the fun and challenges in match shooting, these new shooters will go out and shoot other rifle and pistol matches. You can expect the yearly profit of your store in all match firearms to go up 500 percent or more in the first year.

Tony Riley owns Riley's Guns in Barstow, Calif., a town of about 18,000 residents. He is 45 years old, a Vietnam veteran, and holds a business degree in marketing. He held the title of California State Air Pistol Champion in 1991 and has been shooting for 30 years.

Riley's Guns sells about 800 firearms per year, of which 5 to 7 percent are air guns. Working with local gun clubs, Tony sponsors air gun matches which draw 18 to 20 shooters. He advertises these matches via free public service announcements in local newspapers.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Riley, Tony
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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