How to Open a Gun Range | Legalities, and Useful Tips!

If you are a gun enthusiast, indulging in a gun range business can be an excellent way to become your own boss. However, the lack of a credible guide outlining how to open a gun range makes it a problematic adventure for most staters. Nonetheless, it is a profitable industry, and nothing should weigh you down.

Gun ranges made $2 billion in 2019 and a 1.2% growth rate, making it a lucrative industry. The best part is that no single gun range business commands a remarkable market share. You, too, can enjoy your share of the pie if you start now.

So, get all the facts right from this article. We will outline the steps you should take in opening a flourishing gun range business, how to choose a location, and the permits and capital needed.

A Guide for Starting a Gun Range Business

Whether you decide to start a new business or purchase an already established range, your guardian angel will be the following how to open a gun range guide. 

two people aiming the target

Passion

When opening any business, you must passionately guard, grow, and make its success your primary focus. In this case, you must be passionate about pistols, guns and shooting. On the other hand, the entrepreneurial being should develop an attitude of developing critical innovations and embrace challenges and opportunities.

Understand the Gun Control Laws

Start by going through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the federal agency that enforces firearms' legal possession, use, and safety. You should also check with your local municipality or county about the licenses and zoning requirements.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan will be your roadmap towards your success and progress. The plan should address your objectives, mission, vision, capital, employees, and challenges.

It should also address the type of shooting range you wish to open. Do you want an indoor, outdoor, or hybrid gun range? 

Get the Funds

When starting a shooting range, you must invest heavily in paintballs, handguns, ammunition, safety goggles, etc. Suppose you can fund the project; that's perfect. If not, look for investors ad present a robust business plan. The plan should have a clear strategy for achieving its goals, a vision for the future, and most importantly, funds needed and how you will channel them into growing a lucrative business.

Purchase Insurance Coverage

Starting a shooting range business can be expensive. In that breath, having an insurance cover can protect you from liabilities and minimize financial losses.

Attend Gun Shows

Exposing yourself to people with whom you share the same passion can help you with the knowledge you need to start on the right note. Establish contacts with established gun shooting owners and ask as many questions as possible.

Alternatively, be part of the industry's largest trade association (National Shooting Sports Foundation), where you benefit from news and advice from experts. Consider associations such as the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Market Your Business

Showcase your business to the world by choosing the right marketing strategies. If you choose to go online, ensure your marketing method captures the targeted audience and invokes the proper conversation. Ensure your company image aligns with your brand.

You can also market your business through your local gun clubs or sporting stores. Alternatively, you can also offer discounts and attractive offers such as free responsible gun ownership and maintenance classes through your local night school program. You should top it up with a grand opening event. Hire an excellent event planner who can make your event the talk of the town.

How to Choose a Location for Your Gun Range

When choosing a location for your gun range business, you must consider your State's zoning laws. The laws regulate geographical areas where a gun range can or cannot be located. So when choosing the location, consulting your municipality should be the first and critical phase. A special zoning permit gives you the go-ahead to start your gun range business.

Municipalities draft new local policies that address shooting ranges operation standards. Each municipality has its own rules on the ideal locations for shooting ranges. For instance, Chicago has a zoning regulation that states that shooting ranges are only permitted to operate in the city's manufacturing district.

It also states that shooting ranges should be 100 feet from each other and 500 feet from a library, liquor retailer, residential district, hospitals, and places of worship, among other places.

the target and weapon at the shooting range

In Pennsylvania, the zoning criteria prohibit shooting ranges on properties marked as low-density residential zoning. Residents can only put up gun ranges in recreational zoning districts, open spaces, and preservation zoning districts.

Each municipality closely evaluates gun range zoning and regulatory restrictions to ensure they withstand a constitutional challenge. They collect enough evidence to support the need for such regulations.

How to Apply for a Gun Range License

Dealing with firearms requires a special license, considering it is a dangerous business. Governments set technical and safety standards that applicants should meet before being allowed to operate gun ranges. The licenses address zoning, financial requirements(insurance covers), the number of firearms a shooting range should possess, and safety standards.

Facing your local government officials when applying for your gun range license can be intimidating. However, you can increase your chances by establishing relationships with the officials as they know the gun range laws. Additionally, become familiar with your local firearms and environmental regulations. To do so, conduct thorough research and learn every requirement for opening a gun range, and most importantly, you have a zoning permit.

the US flag on Capitol

What Kind of Permits Do You Need to Open a Gun Range?

There are no special permits needed to operate a gun range. However, you must apply for a zoning permit(as discussed earlier), FFL, and comply with the EPA regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulations (EPA) look into noise pollution (shooting ranges produce very high noises), soil pollution (the impact of lead dust and residues on the surrounding soils in an outdoor shooting range), and safety precautions.

You will also require a Federal Firearms License (FFL) when buying or selling firearms and firearms accessories. Remember, renting, buying, selling, or keeping firearm collectibles require different types of FFL. 

Nonetheless, the backstops with your local government give them a visit and find out what permits and licenses you must apply for. Additionally, call the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and learn of the license and zoning requirements on the federal level.

a handgun and ammunition

How to Train Employees for Your Gun Range

Your gun range business success will largely depend on the customer experience. Your employees can deliver excellent or poor customer service. Therefore, the make or break of your business reputation depends on them.

So, training your employees should be at the top of your plan.

When hiring your employees, ensure they have a prior understanding of firearms and shooting. They should also possess excellent listening and learning skills and, most importantly, people capable of representing your brand.

With the right employees, training them will be easier and more productive. When training your gun range employees, ensure you adopt the right approach. For instance, cross-training. Provide opportunities for your employees to cross-train with one another or a supervisor. The strategy not only enhances their skills but builds formidable teamwork.

Consider customer scenario actings—monitor employees' preparedness to handle customers and respond to emergencies. Introduce data study. Provide literature materials and recommend an informative website, especially for employees who grasp concepts better through data study.

a man giving shooting instructions to a woman

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Gun Range?

The gun range startup costs largely depend on the shooting range you decide to put up. An indoor range is expensive compared to an outdoor shooting range. Nonetheless, opening a gun range will cost you an average of $468,000. 

If you do not have enough capital, contact local ranges and enquire if selling their establishment is an option. Renovating an existing shooting range costs far less than building a new one.

To get an in-depth analysis, let us break down the cost of both indoor and outdoor ranges.

Indoor Range

Generally speaking, commercial shooting ranges may cost you close to $ 4 million. An indoor shooting range is surrounded by stringent requirements that make it costly to set up and operate. However, a commercial shooting range cost may vary depending on the location, setting up a new building or renovating technology, and the preferred design.

Besides, indoor shooting range designs factor in the safety concerns, making it more expensive. Components such as a granular rubber trap, sound dampener, a safety ceiling, and an HVAC System that ensures projectiles do not penetrate the wall and harm the range users are costly.

For instance, a safety ceiling, rubber strap, and ventilation package can cost you $46.000 per lane.

a shooting range with targets

Outdoor Range

An outdoor range requires less equipment, some that you can make independently. If you own the land, the highest cost you will incur is buying materials for building bullet catchers, barriers, and shooting bays. However, the cost can shoot up if you target high-end customers. Putting up a state-of-the-art commercial shooting range with enhanced features will cost you millions. 

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