Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Shooting Range Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a profitable shooting range business with our 11+ step guide. From permits to marketing, we cover everything you need to know.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

image of a shooting range business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Before diving into the shooting range industry, a thorough market analysis is essential to understand the competitive landscape, customer preferences, and potential market size. This foundational step will enable you to tailor your services to meet demand effectively and carve out a niche for your business. Here's how to get started:

  • Research the local and national shooting range market to identify trends, such as popular services, customer demographics, and pricing structures.
  • Analyze competitors by visiting their facilities, reviewing their offerings, and understanding their marketing strategies.
  • Conduct surveys or focus groups with potential customers to gauge interest levels, desired features, and willingness to pay for various services.
  • Examine regulations and legal requirements specific to the shooting range industry in your region to ensure full compliance and to identify any potential barriers to entry.
  • Assess potential locations for accessibility, visibility, and suitability for shooting range operations, considering factors such as noise ordinances and safety regulations.
  • Estimate the initial investment and ongoing operational costs to determine financial feasibility and to identify potential funding sources.
image of a shooting range business

Are shooting range businesses profitable?

Yes, shooting range businesses can be profitable, depending on factors such as location and the services offered. Factors such as equipment leases and ammunition sales can also increase profits. Additionally, certain types of shooting ranges may qualify for reduced operational costs due to government grants or tax incentives.

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2. Draft a shooting range business plan.

Embarking on the journey of starting a shooting range business requires a well-thought-out plan to navigate the complexities of the industry. A business plan is crucial as it will serve as a blueprint for your venture, outlining your vision, goals, and the strategies you'll employ to achieve them. Here are the key components to include in your shooting range business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Briefly summarize your business concept, mission statement, and the services you'll offer. Highlight the unique selling points that set your range apart from competitors.
  • Market Analysis: Research and document the demand for a shooting range in your area, the local demographics, and your potential competitors. Identify market trends that could impact your business.
  • Services and Offerings: Detail the types of shooting ranges (e.g., indoor, outdoor), training courses, and other services (such as firearms rentals, retail space) you plan to provide.
  • Operations Plan: Outline the day-to-day operations, including location, facilities, equipment needs, staffing, and safety protocols.
  • Marketing Strategy: Describe how you will attract and retain customers through branding, advertising, and community engagement.
  • Financial Projections: Provide detailed financial forecasts, including startup costs, pricing strategy, projected revenue, and break-even analysis.
  • Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks and challenges, and explain how you will mitigate them.

How does a shooting range business make money?

A shooting range business can make money by charging customers for the use of their facility, as well as for providing gun rental, ammunition and training services. An example target audience for a shooting range business could include novice shooters looking to get comfortable with the basics of gun safety and marksmanship, as well as experienced shooters looking for a new challenge. In addition to targeting recreational shooters, shooting ranges can also offer tactical training packages aimed at law enforcement and military personnel. By creating flexible packages to accommodate different skill levels and budgets, a shooting range business can appeal to a broad customer base and maximize their potential profits.

3. Develop a shooting range brand.

Developing a brand for your shooting range is crucial as it defines your identity and sets you apart from competitors. Your brand should resonate with your target audience, reflect your values, and promise a unique experience. Here's how to create a compelling brand for your shooting range:

  • Define Your Brand Values: Decide what principles are at the core of your business—safety, education, empowerment, precision, community, etc. These values will inform all branding decisions.
  • Identify Your Target Audience: Understand who your customers are, what they value, and what they expect from a shooting range. Tailor your brand to meet their preferences and needs.
  • Choose a Memorable Name and Logo: Your name and logo are often the first things people will notice. Ensure they are distinctive, memorable, and reflective of the shooting experience you offer.
  • Create a Consistent Visual Identity: Use consistent colors, fonts, and imagery in your marketing materials to build recognition and convey professionalism.
  • Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Highlight what makes your range different and better than others—be it technology, training programs, facilities, or community involvement.
  • Establish an Online Presence: Build a professional website and engage on social media to connect with your audience and strengthen your brand identity.
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How to come up with a name for your shooting range business?

Coming up with a name for your shooting range business is an important step in getting started. Consider what type of business you are running and the services you will offer. A clever name can often be more memorable and help you stand out from the competition. Think of what makes your business unique and brainstorm some related words or phrases that could be used in a creative name. For example, if your business is focused on handgun training, you could come up with something like “Trigger Training Academy”. Take time to explore different ideas and ask friends or family for input to help you settle on a great name for your shooting range business.

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Before you can open the doors to your shooting range, it's essential to formalize your business by completing the necessary registration processes. This ensures that your business is legally recognized, compliant with regulations, and structured in a way that aligns with your goals. Follow these steps to properly register your shooting range business:

  • Choose a Business Structure: Decide whether an LLC, corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship best suits your business needs and liability preferences.
  • Register Your Business Name: After selecting a unique name, register it with the appropriate state authorities to ensure it's legally yours and not in use by another entity.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN): Apply for an EIN with the IRS for tax purposes, especially if you plan to hire employees.
  • Register for State and Local Taxes: Ensure your business is registered to pay all necessary state and local taxes, including sales tax if applicable.
  • Secure Permits and Licenses: Acquire all relevant permits and licenses, which may include a federal firearms license, zoning permits, and a range operation license.
  • Understand Regulations: Familiarize yourself with ATF regulations, local ordinances, and environmental laws that impact your shooting range operation.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore indispensable resources designed for shooting range entrepreneurs to gain insights into market trends, operational effectiveness, and strategies for business expansion:

  • NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) Annual Report: Offers detailed industry data, trends, and forecasts crucial for strategic planning.
  • Rangemaster Magazine: A leading publication providing operational advice, safety guidelines, and best practices specific to shooting range operations.
  • ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) Guidelines: Essential reading on legal compliance for shooting range owners.
  • Shooting Range Industries Newsletter: Offers updates on the latest industry trends, technology, and innovations for shooting ranges.
  • SSI (Shooting Sports Industry) Market Watch: Provides analyses and reports on market trends, consumer behavior, and industry developments.

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for shooting range.

Starting a shooting range requires compliance with various regulations to ensure safety and legality. Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is a critical step that can vary by location. Here's a guide to help you through this process:

  • Research federal, state, and local firearm regulations to understand the specific licenses required for operating a shooting range in your area.
  • Apply for a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) if you plan to sell or rent firearms.
  • Check with your state's Department of Environmental Protection for permits related to lead management and disposal, as well as noise regulations.
  • Obtain a business license from your local city or county government, which may include a special zoning permit for the shooting range location.
  • Secure a building permit if you need to construct new facilities or modify existing structures to accommodate your shooting range.
  • Contact the local health department for permits related to public occupancy and ensure you meet all required safety standards.
  • Consider additional certifications or memberships with organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to enhance credibility and stay informed about industry best practices.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a shooting range business?

The type of license and permit needed to run a shooting range business can vary by state or locality. Generally, you will need a gun license, firearms-business license, and zoning permit. You may also need to obtain liability insurance and special permits from state agencies that regulate safety standards for firing ranges. If you plan to sell ammunition and firearms in the facility, you will need additional licenses.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Securing your financial foundation is crucial when starting a shooting range business. A dedicated business bank account will help you manage finances effectively, while securing funding ensures you have the capital needed to launch and grow your business. Below is a concise guide to help you with this essential step.

  • Choose the right bank: Research and select a bank that offers business accounts with favorable terms and services tailored to small businesses.
  • Prepare necessary documents: You'll need your business registration details, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and personal identification to open an account.
  • Understand banking fees: Be clear about any transaction fees, monthly account fees, or minimum balance requirements to avoid unexpected costs.
  • Explore funding options: Determine how much funding you'll need and consider various sources such as small business loans, investors, or crowdfunding to finance your shooting range.
  • Prepare a solid business plan: A well-crafted business plan can improve your chances of securing loans or investment by showcasing the potential profitability of your shooting range.
  • Consider government grants: Investigate if there are any local or federal grants available for starting a shooting range or similar business ventures.

7. Set pricing for shooting range services.

Setting the right prices for your shooting range services is crucial for attracting customers while ensuring profitability. As you determine your pricing structure, consider the costs of operation, the value provided to your customers, and the prevailing market rates. Here are some guidelines to help you set competitive and fair prices:

  • Analyze the market to understand what competitors are charging and what customers are willing to pay.
  • Consider tiered pricing for different levels of services, such as basic range access, instructor-led sessions, or premium experiences.
  • Offer membership options with monthly or annual fees for frequent shooters to build customer loyalty and provide a steady revenue stream.
  • Include package deals or discounts for groups, law enforcement, military personnel, or educational programs to target a wider audience.
  • Factor in equipment rental costs for firearms, protective gear, and other accessories, if applicable.
  • Ensure your pricing covers operational costs, such as staffing, maintenance, insurance, and utilities, while allowing for a reasonable profit margin.
  • Regularly review and adjust your pricing strategy based on customer feedback, cost changes, and market trends to remain competitive and profitable.

What does it cost to start a shooting range business?

Initiating a shooting range business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $705000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your shooting range business.

8. Acquire shooting range equipment and supplies.

Starting a shooting range requires careful selection of equipment and supplies to ensure safety, functionality, and a great experience for your customers. Here's a guide to help you acquire the right gear for your range:

  • Targets: Purchase a variety of targets, including paper targets, steel reactive targets, and electronic scoring systems to cater to different shooting activities.
  • Backstops: Invest in high-quality bullet traps and backstops to safely capture and contain spent rounds.
  • Shooting Booths: Install shooting booths with protective dividers to provide shooters with a safe, personal space.
  • Range Equipment: Get range flags, target retrieval systems, shooting benches, and range bags for convenience and functionality.
  • Firearm Rentals: Offer a variety of firearms for rent to accommodate different preferences and skill levels.
  • Eye and Ear Protection: Stock up on safety glasses and noise-reducing earmuffs or earplugs for customers to purchase or rent.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: Keep a supply of cleaning kits, gunsmithing tools, and replacement parts to maintain rental firearms and range equipment.
  • First Aid and Emergency Equipment: Ensure that you have first aid kits, AEDs, and fire extinguishers readily available for emergencies.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a shooting range business:

  • Land or Building to House the Range - $1000 - $2,000,000+
  • Range Equipment and Accessories - $10,000 - $50,000+
  • Target Retrievers & Holders - $300 - $2,000+
  • Target System for Walls and Ceiling- $1,500 - $5,000+
  • Firearms Safety Training Certification - $400 - $800+
  • Security Camera and Monitoring System- $200 -$4000+
  • Computer and Point of Sale (POS) System- $750-$3,000+
  • Gun Rental Inventory- Varies depending on preferences
  • Marketing Materials (Website Design & Printing) -$500-$5000+
  • Insurance and Business Licensing- Varies depending on requirements

9. Obtain business insurance for shooting range, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is a crucial step in protecting your shooting range and ensuring its long-term success. It not only safeguards against potential liabilities but also instills confidence in customers. Here's how to obtain the appropriate insurance:

  • Assess Risks: Evaluate the specific risks associated with running a shooting range, such as property damage, personal injury, and liability for firearm mishaps.
  • Research Insurance Providers: Look for insurance companies with experience in the firearms industry and compare their coverage options and premiums.
  • Consider Coverage Types: Typical policies may include general liability, property insurance, workers' compensation, and umbrella insurance. Ensure you also consider professional liability and product liability insurance.
  • Consult with Professionals: Speak with an insurance agent or broker who understands the unique aspects of shooting range operations. They can provide tailored advice for your business.
  • Review Policies Regularly: Once insured, review your coverage annually or after significant changes to your business to ensure continuous protection.
  • Comply with Regulations: Verify that your chosen policy complies with local, state, and federal regulations for shooting ranges to avoid any legal issues.

10. Begin marketing your shooting range services.

Marketing your shooting range is key to attracting enthusiasts and building a loyal customer base. A strategic approach to promotion will help you highlight your range's unique features, safety standards, and the exciting experiences you offer. Consider these tactics to effectively market your shooting range services:

  • Develop a strong brand identity: Create a memorable logo, slogan, and brand colors that reflect the professionalism and excitement of your shooting range.
  • Launch a user-friendly website: Ensure your website is informative, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly, showcasing your range's facilities, services, and safety measures.
  • Leverage social media: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with your community, share content, and advertise promotions or events.
  • Offer promotional deals: Attract new customers with introductory offers, discounts for group bookings, or loyalty programs for regular visitors.
  • Partner with local businesses: Collaborate with nearby gun shops, outdoor retailers, or hunting clubs to cross-promote services and tap into their customer base.
  • Host events and competitions: Organize shooting competitions, safety workshops, or themed events to draw in crowds and generate buzz.
  • Engage in community outreach: Participate in local events, sponsor teams or causes, and establish your range as a community-friendly and responsible business.
  • Collect and share customer testimonials: Positive reviews from satisfied customers are powerful; use them in your marketing materials and online platforms.
  • Invest in local SEO: Optimize your online presence for local searches to ensure your range appears when potential customers are looking for shooting-related activities in your area.
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What licenses and permits are needed to run a shooting range business?

  • Land or Building to House the Range - $1000 - $2,000,000+
  • Range Equipment and Accessories - $10,000 - $50,000+
  • Target Retrievers & Holders - $300 - $2,000+
  • Target System for Walls and Ceiling- $1,500 - $5,000+
  • Firearms Safety Training Certification - $400 - $800+
  • Security Camera and Monitoring System- $200 -$4000+
  • Computer and Point of Sale (POS) System- $750-$3,000+
  • Gun Rental Inventory- Varies depending on preferences
  • Marketing Materials (Website Design & Printing) -$500-$5000+
  • Insurance and Business Licensing- Varies depending on requirements

11. Expand your shooting range business.

Expanding your shooting range business can help you attract more clients, offer additional services, and increase your revenue streams. Consider these strategic steps as you plan to grow your enterprise and solidify your presence in the market.

  • Introduce advanced training courses and certifications to cater to a wider range of shooters, from beginners to law enforcement personnel.
  • Invest in additional shooting lanes or upgrade existing facilities with the latest technology to enhance customer experience.
  • Expand retail operations to include a larger selection of firearms, ammunition, and shooting gear, potentially offering online sales.
  • Partner with local businesses and organizations to host events, competitions, and corporate team-building activities.
  • Incorporate membership programs with perks such as discounts, priority booking, and members-only events to foster a loyal customer base.
  • Engage in community outreach and education programs to promote firearm safety and raise brand awareness.
  • Explore the possibility of opening additional locations to serve a broader geographic area.
  • Leverage social media and online marketing to reach a larger audience and showcase new features and services.