Recreational Dollar

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How can we ensure our sport grows
and is attractive to newcomers and
corporate sponsors if we don’t
offer them the facilities they
                                           CHASING THE
expect? For a number of years now
we’ve all been aware that the
competition for the recreational
dollar is tough – and that
competition is not just the next gun

club along the road, it’s all the
other recreational pursuits
available that are chasing the same
dollar. Golf, tennis, baseball,
equestrian, swimming, football,
and many others, all offer a
typically higher standard of facility
    Although sporting clays has            SHOOTING FACILITIES TO ATTRACT NEWCOMERS TO OUR SPORT.
been called ‘golf with a shotgun’, if
you think about it, it’s a bit of an
insult to golf! The average golf
course today costs in the region of
seven to nine million dollars to
build – and with some areas
reaching course saturation that
figure is much higher. The
important point to note here is the
word ‘average’. At least golf has an
    Among the shooting fraternity
there are those that want to build
‘something really nice’ – but with
widely varying budgets from tens
of thousands of dollars, and,
believe it or not, others with
millions of dollars. With those ends
of the ‘standards spectrum’ so far
apart, it’s difficult for those of us in
shooting sports to talk about an
average shooting facility.
    If there is any desire to achieve
some sort of average design and
development standard to justify the
golf analogy and attract
newcomers to our sport, we need            time-consuming, the approvals          fit the user profile? Will they be    customer profile further, take a
to take a methodical approach to           process cannot be ignored if range     content with a basic range, or will   close look at the local demographic
designing future facilities (or            and club owners want to protect        they expect to find a manicured,      factors influencing the potential of
upgrading existing facilities) that        their investment and have ‘relative’   well constructed and maintained       the project – such as population
must include a detailed analysis of        peace of mind in the years to come.    standard of facility which they are   size and distribution, socio-
all potential zoning, environmental            The approvals process aside        accustomed to with other popular      economic levels, local industry,
and development approval issues            however, the first step in             outdoor activities? Will they be      existing sports facilities, access to
to result in the improved industry         successful facility design should be   tournament shooters, corporate        the property. Then determine if the
standard needed. Although this             to define who you want to              executives, hunters, resort guests,   project should be clay shooting
might sometimes be expensive and           entertain. In other words, who will    non-shooters? To define the           only, or if there are opportunities

82   C L AYS H O OT I N G U S A

to integrate other (inexpensive)           market to consider – but how do         these difficulties, improve our              The sport is making progress
recreational activities into the overall   you get them out in significant         image and attract bigger numbers        however. There are now numerous
conceptual layout plan – thereby           numbers? I have been convinced          of new shooters, we must make the       shooting facilities which offer a
creating additional profit potential.      for many years that incorporating       sport more attractive. Golf courses,    construction standard and level of
    Regardless of profile, since           different skill levels on the same      equestrian centres and multi-use        service comparable with any of the
each of these individuals and              sporting clays course (like the tee-    sports facilities have all              other highly visible outdoor sports,
customer groups have different             box arrangements on a golf              demonstrated quite clearly that         and which the non-shooting public
expectations of facility standards, it     course) can overcome the                much of their appeal is their           and media cannot fail to be
is those expectations that will            ‘intimidation factor’ for beginners     standards and aesthetics. As            impressed by. However, is this too
determine to a great degree the            and benefit the range owners, their     shooters we may be content to           little too late? Who knows? I don’t
motif and overall cost of the              customers, and eventually, the          accept average facilities. However,     have the proverbial crystal ball, but
project, as well as what activities        sport. Over ninety percent of           when you invite your non-shooting,      with the current international
are to be offered.                         shooters are introduced to              golf-playing buddy to leave her or      political stance on gun control, I
                                           shooting by a shooting friend,          his ten million dollar golf course to   really don’t think we have much
                                           relative or spouse, and considering     try shooting for the first time –       time left for debate – as a sport we
MULTI-USE BENEFITS                         the ‘intimidation factor’ inherent in   they may have fun once, but will        need to keep investing and
Let me use a personal example to           shooting, the beginner usually          they return?                            providing ever improved
illustrate this point. A client in         ends-up feeling inadequate after            To compound this, we’re not         standards.
Texas was interested in a typical          shooting at the same targets as         working together as a team.                  Nevertheless, I shouldn’t finish
sporting clays range, but after            their experienced friend. Having a      Throughout shooting sports it           on an apocalyptic note. I’m
reviewing with him the location of         multi-skill level design, where the     seems that everyone is not moving       confident that as we gradually
his site, its natural aesthetics and       beginner can shoot and achieve          together in the same direction, and     reach that broader cross-section
the local population demographics,         greater success while their friend      consequently, the sport is not          of the public, thanks in part to
we felt that by just offering              is entertained with more difficult      being promoted as effectively as it     improved range and club
sporting clays and relying on the          targets is a worthwhile concept.        could. If you think of the available    standards, it will, in the future, be
walk-in shooter for business his           Nevertheless, it took quite a few       market share of the sport as a          difficult for the policy makers in
chances of success were pretty             years to persuade some of our           pizza, and everyone has their own       government to ignore the
slim. After much discussion, we            clients to incorporate this into our    slice, it appears that everyone         honest and fair treatment that
discovered that he had a very              designs for them, but we now have       wants their slice to be bigger by       the sport starts to attract from the
impressive network of relatively           a number of facilities offering this    taking a piece off someone else’s –     media.
young corporate contacts.                  to their users. Husbands and            hardly progressive is it? I think we         And, if we do manage to bake
Consequently, we drew-up a rough           wives, or whole families, or            should simply bake a bigger pizza       that bigger pizza, I’m quite sure
conceptual layout plan and budget          corporate executives and their          so that everyone’s slice, even if it    there’ll be plenty of room for
for discussion. The primary profile        clients are now able to shoot with      remains the same percentage, will       different toppings to suit
we were now looking at, while still        one another at each stand without       be bigger!                              everyone’s taste.
accommodating the walk-in                  fear of intimidation. Also, to
shooters, was active, young to             maximise utilisation and                MASTER LAYOUT PLAIN FOR A MULTI-USE FACILITY
middle-aged corporate executives           potential revenue for the facility,
and professionals looking for              this concept allows a number of
corporate entertainment. The new           different groups to enjoy the
plan now offered sporting clays,           facility simultaneously, but
fishing (on a man-made lake),              separately. It must be the way
mountain bike riding, 3-D archery,         forward to introduce more
bird hunting, ATV riding, tennis,          people to our sport.
basketball, and after all those
exertions, great relaxation and
dining with wonderful on-site
                                           TEAM WORK
overnight accommodation to end             Looking at the political
the day. And yes, he is very busy!         difficulties our sport faces today
                                           and the poor image created by a
                                           generally biased media, the task
INTIMIDATION FACTOR                        of attracting the non-shooting
With the majority of the public            public is becoming ever more
being non-shooters, it’s an obvious        difficult. In order to overcome

84   C L AYS H O OT I N G U S A

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