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Targeting increased sales.


Recently a visitor wanted to practice PPC shooting, so we went looking for B-27 silhouette targets. Included among the unsuccessful stops was a gunshop specializing in handguns and handgunning.

The owner of the shop not only didn't know what a B-27 pattern was, he wasn't even sure it was a target!

Although an extreme case, it isn't really surprising. Most gun dealers, unfortunately, give short shrift to targets. The typical gunshop has a very limited supply of targets, and they usually are hidden out of the way.

"Dealers think of targets as a no-profit nuisance item," points out Bill Lambert, president of Precision Scope Sighter. "The days of freebies and ammo manufacturers' giveaways are over, however. Too many dealers just haven't discovered the fact."

His point should be well taken. Oldtime dealers could not make money on targets, because people like Remington gave away so many of them. But that's no longer true.

Today, savvy dealers are learning, albeit slowly, that with some prominent display, and an effort at cross-selling (especially against ammo), targets can be a big seller.

"Of course, targets are not a large ticket item for the dealer," notes Jon Allen, sales coordinator for Redfield. "However, the profit margin will be higher than most other accessories."

In point of fact, the margins on targets range from 30 percent to 50 percent. At least they do on paper targets. Bang & clank targets usually have margins of 50 percent or better, leaving you plenty of room.

What's more, target makers have, perhaps belatedly, realized they have to help you sell their products. So today's targets are packaged attractively, include pre-punching for pegboard display, and, sometimes, are available in free-standing display racks that include room for ammo. Daisy's airgun accessory center, for instance, let's you display targets, cleaning equipment, scopes, and ammo. And you can stand it near your airguns, for even greater cross selling.

Do not downplay the importance of targets as a cross-sell item. Very rarely does a customer come in looking specifically for targets. They are usually an impulse buy, or are purchased to go along with something else.

Every time you sell a gun, you should sell targets to go with it. Same goes for ammo. When a customer comes in for a box of shells, ask him if he needs targets too. You'll be surprised at how often you sell them that way.

This is especially true just before hunting seasons open, when you have an incredible opportunity to sell sighting-in targets in bulk; either traditional ones, like Redfield's, with its five targets printed in fluorescent orange; or newer designs like those from Outers and Precision Scope Sighter.

Bull's-eye targets are always in vogue, of course. Make sure you have an ample selection of NRA approved designs. You'll be pretty much locked in to the brands your distributor handles for these, but keep in mind that they are all printed to an NRA license. So if possible, go with a brand that is widely recognized, such as Hoppes.

Outside of "official" targets, you should keep abreast of other designs, and of how they might fit your customer base. Take Sinclair's set of modular targets. These are 14 targets printed on heavy-duty card stock. Each sheet measures 8-1/2 x 11 inches, and is three-hole punched. The whole thing comes in its own three-ring binder. Targets range from the traditional benchrest square on a circle, to "metallic" silhouettes, to prairie dogs, to crows, to bull's-eyes.

The idea is for the customer to buy the set, then photocopy those he needs. This is a big item with clubs and organized shooters. So if you have a base of such groups, it makes sense to stock this item.

Special purpose target designs have been proliferating like mushrooms after a spring rain. You should make an effort to know what is available, and stock those that apply to your customers.

For instance, the JAS 2700 is a special police combat target designed by consultant Julio Santiago to solve a particular purpose. There is a tendency to look an opponent in the eye when shooting, and shots go towards the face rather than the body mass. Santiago's design draws the eye back to the body mass where it belongs.

If you have an extensive police clientele, stocking this target makes sense. If you have few police and combat buyers, however, they would just sit on the shelf.

Take note, too, of targets designed specifically for hunters, such as Peterson's Targ Dots Instant Animal Targets. These are self-stick animal targets, scaled down to the size they'd appear at hunting ranges. The targets are used at 25 yards. Measuring 4" x 6", the targets are packaged 18 up in hang-tag plastic pouch. These are not only useful at formal ranges, they are ideal for the hunter who has to practice in a gravel pit or out in a farmer's field. He gets real practice even though he has limited facilities.

Shotgunners, in the past, have been all but ignored. Sure, the gun press keeps pushing the idea of patterning. But there was no specific paper available in the proper sizes. That's changed dramatically in the past few years.

First off the line was Hunter John, with its Winchester Patterning Target -- a combination design good for pure patterning, for determining shift in impact, and for hunter patterns.

At this year's SHOT SHOW, a couple more shotgunner targets were introduced. Among them was Canadian based Red Star Target Company, whose bright orange and blue target comes pre-quartered, and includes data on number of pellets per ounce of shot, how to figure percentages, and what percentages equal which choking. Quite a nice set up.

Taking things a step further, Hornady introduced its shotgun patterning kit, which includes a stand, and five targets. The targets contain a patterning circle broken into 12 zones, with a gamebird in the center. All of this is boxed for easy pegboard display. Hornady says the easy-to-assemble stand is good for about 30 shotgun blasts. The kit comes with duck centers. In addition, replacement targets are available with ducks, doves, and pheasant centers.

Frankly, this is a long-overdue item. If you stock it, you'll find that virtually every gunwriter in the country is helping you sell it, directly or indirectly, as they tout their readers on the idea of patterning.

The big deal in targets, however, are bang & clank, reactive targets. The widespread interest in metallic silhouette shooting probably is the main impetus for this. But the fact remains that people want something to happen when they pull the trigger. That's why plinking is so appealing.

Quite a few companies have jumped on this bandwagon, providing "plinking" targets that are reusable, "resettable", and reactive.

"Overall, our airgun target sales are steady," reports Tom Campbell, product manager for Crosman. "But that includes paper as well as metallic targets, which are by far our biggest sellers." There's nothing as boring, he adds, as shooting at paper targets, which is why the swinging and resetting targets are so popular.

Most familiar, to both airgunners and firearms shooters, are the scaled down versions of silhouette targets. These are not legal for competition, but do serve as practice for competitors. For non-competitors, they are just plain fun.

Only drawback to these is that once they are down, you have to reset them by hand. After awhile, that gets kind of old. Hence, the swingers and reactive targets.

Swingers are fairly common. Essentially, they are a metal frame that stands in the ground. A metal target (disc, square, or animal shape) hangs on a hinge from that frame. Hit the target, and it swings around the frame.

"Dealers must understand these targets before selling them," cautions Richard von Ruden of D&D Manufacturing. "I've heard dealers describe them to customers as small, medium, and large, for instance. That's wrong! The sizes relate to the kinds of cartridges that can be used safely, and they should be sold that way."

All makers of bang & clank targets agree with him. For instance, the Diamond Roto-Target comes in 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch versions. The thin one is for use with .22 rimfire only. The thicker is for handguns up to .44 Magnum, using lead bullets.

On the airgun side, this is an even bigger problem. Most steel targets are unsafe for use with BBs, and the airgun target makers stress this. BBs should be used on aluminum targets only. Don't depend on the manufacturer's literature for this (even though it is stressed there). Instead, go out of your way to warn any customers of this fact.

Make sure you understand the caliber and bullet restrictions on any metallic targets you sell. Few of them are safe with high power rifles. Most of them are not suitable for use with jacketed bullets of any kind. Still, others cannot accommodate magnums.

Probably the biggest potential sellers for you are the resettable targets. While it's fun to watch a gong swing, shooters like to knock things down. They just don't like walking downrange to rest them.

Various devices have been dreamed up to overcome this problem. Most of them involve a string or cable of some kind. All the targets are on a universal hinge. When they are all knocked down, pulling the string resets them all.

Others rely on the shooter to hit an additional reset target. This accomplishes the same thing as pulling a string, but is more fun for the shooter.

Still others use a double target on a hinge of some kind. World Of Targets, perhaps the biggest dealer supplier of metallic targets, has one called the "Hats Off." We always refer to it as Steidle's Hat Trick, which drives company president Pat Steidle a bit wacky.

The target is a man's torso shape, with a top hat sitting on his head. The idea is to hit the hat. Doing so swings a metal disc in place on the body. Hit the plate, and the hat resets.

Designed for .22 rimfire and airguns, a shooter could spend all day shooting at this one target and never get bored.

Pat Steidle offers one piece of advice. If you stock a cross section of metallic targets, you'll find that the swingers sell strangely. "Circles and squares, especially the doubles, sell really well. If you have them in stock, and animals too, the animals will sell, but at a slower rate. If you do not have the geometrics in stock, the animals won't sell at all for some reason."

The point?

Check with your supplier for tips on merchandising targets. They have reams of information you can put to good use.

PHOTO : Just before hunting season is the perfect time to sell sighting-in targets like these from

PHOTO : (left to right) Redfield, Precision Scope Sighter and Outers.

PHOTO : Hornady's Shotgun Patterning Kit includes a stand and five targets.

PHOTO : Crosman Airgun's Silhouette Target System, Model 444

PHOTO : JAS 2700 is a special police combat target designed by consultant Julio Santiago, intended

PHOTO : to make shots go toward the body mass rather than the face.

PHOTO : Diamond Manufacturing's Roto-Target

PHOTO : Left, Peterson's Targ Dots Instant Animal Targets were designed specifically for hunters.

PHOTO : Above, Beeman's Super-Tuff Swinging Silhouettes are a popular target for airgunners.

PHOTO : Right, a selection of official NRA paper targets from Hoppes.

PHOTO : Southland Outdoor Products offers up their brand new Hunter's Game(TM) for '89. These new

PHOTO : paper targets teach hunters where to aim for best results; and the company's 10 -- 14" x

PHOTO : 17" big game targets were developed to simulate actual hunting situations at varying

PHOTO : angles. Suggested retail price for these targets is $6.95.

PHOTO : Left, One of World Of Targets swinging metallic targets. Right, TARGART can be used by

PHOTO : either .22 rifle enthusiasts or airgunners -- and are targets which are suitable for

PHOTO : framing. TARGART is available with the likeness of a ram, duck, whitetail deer and an

PHOTO : Indian chief and carries a suggested retail price of $24.95. Above, Sight Rights Company's

PHOTO : Visible Impact(TM) Targets use radiant red bull's-eyes and graphics.

PHOTO : Daisy's white-centered scoring targets stand in metal frame.
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Title Annotation:marketing targets for shooting practice
Author:Elliott, Barbara; Elliott, Brook
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:New long guns for 1989.
Next Article:New equipment makes for great convenience and conversions.

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