If you are a gun enthusiast who enjoys teaching others, a shooting range might be the right business for you. While you must obtain a number of licenses and permits, if you are knowledgeable about gun-safety issues, it shouldn't be difficult. You may choose to take your range in a dozen directions, so pay close attention to the interests of the customers in your area.
Contact your local government office about zoning laws for shooting and building permits. There are a number of restrictions regarding where you can open a shooting range, the times you can operate it and what you must have in your range.
Determine if you will start an indoor or outdoor shooting range. For an indoor range, consider opening it near a shopping mall or downtown, if zoning allows. You will need room for at least five shooting stalls, room to host classes, bathrooms, a showroom for your rental guns, room for T-shirts, hats and any guns for sale, and room for your cash register. Expect to need at least 3,000 square feet. For an outdoor range, you may want to purchase land outside of city limits or in a rural area. You will need at least two acres for your outdoor range.
Incorporate your business and obtain a federal tax identification number.
Purchase at least $500,000 in liability insurance (see Resources).
Determine the types of services you will offer. An indoor range may have a pistol range, rifle range and paintball, which is a great way to draw in the younger crowd. Both indoor and outdoor ranges may offer firearm safety classes and training for those seeking a concealed carry license. You can offer group classes, events and parties for birthdays, coworkers and bachelors and bachelorettes. If you decide to offer group events, contact a local pizzeria or deli and ask them about catering. Consider putting in vending machines, because customers may spend hours at your range.
Apply for a Federal Firearms License to buy and sell firearms. Expect to pay about $200 for a license, plus $90 for renewals (see Resources).
Become knowledgeable about guns and shooting, if you are not already. You should know details about each of your guns, how they handle and for whom they are appropriate. If you do not have a background in firearms, consider enrolling in the NRA Basic Firearm Training Program. Once completed, become an NRA instructor, unless you intend to hire instructors to teach your classes (see Resources).
Purchase your equipment and supplies. Buy handguns, rifles, paintball guns, paintballs, masks, earplugs, safety goggles, ammunition, targets of various sizes, trap and skeet targets (for an outdoor range) and cleaning supplies (see Resources). Purchase custom T-shirts, hats and infant bodysuits with your logo to sell to satisfied customers.
Start-up costs can be significant. If you will need financing, write a business plan. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration for help. Build a website listing your classes, prices, age limits, member information and other safety requirements. Consider selling gift cards.
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