Development and Promotion of Family-Friendly Shooting Range Facilities

The National Range Survey & Needs Assessment (2007/2008 Edition), conducted by the National Association of Shooting Ranges (NASR), reported that 71 percent of ranges believe that programs designed to attract young shooters offer an excellent opportunity for growth. Two thirds of the private ranges reported having a junior shooting program in place with the majority of the remaining ranges expressing interest in starting one. Half of the ranges surveyed offered free instructions for Boy Scouts of America or other community groups and an additional one-third of the ranges expressed interest in offering such programs.

The Assessment also reported that a total of 59 percent of the ranges surveyed see programs designed to attract families shooting together as excellent potential growth areas.

Cultivation of our youth and their families could significantly increase participation in the shooting sports and carry on our shooting sports heritage. To capitalize on this customer base, the Assessment encouraged ranges to create a family-friendly environment and position the range in the community as a place for responsible, fun and safe target shooting and instruction. As a pro-active response, the YSSA focuses on improving gateways for youth and family participation in the shooting sports.

The priority programs that the Board selected are units of established youth organizations (i.e.: Boy Scouts of America, JROTC, Royal Rangers) that offer shooting sports as an integral part of their respective curricula. The majority of these priority programs selected are introductory in scope which presents the challenge of ensuring opportunities are readily available for continuation and development of the joy of shooting for the kids as well as their families as expressed in our vision statement.

Shooting range facilities will help draw newcomers to shooting only if the shooting atmosphere is conducive to attracting whole families to the range. Too many club shooting range facilities are deficient in offering a positive shooting environment for active family involvement. In order to attract families and new shooters, ranges must be user friendly and customer service oriented. Ideally, if we can develop a positive shooting atmosphere, we can increase participation, build positive community relationships, and ensure the viability of our ranges for years to come. Range managers must create a comfortable, helpful, atmosphere for anybody who uses their facility.

As an initial effort to address these challenges, the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA) hosted special youth shooting sports program forums in several communities during April, 2008. These forums provided an opportunity for youth program leaders and representatives of archery clubs, gun clubs and commercial shooting range facilities to work together to ensure that shooting range facilities in each community provide a positive shooting atmosphere conducive to encouraging new shooters and their families to continue their shooting experience. By cultivating our youth and their families, we can leave our mark on the future of our shooting sports heritage that will continue for generations to come.