Author: Jackie Holbrook
Archery ranges boost business at shops. They can attract and retain customers, and potentially increase equipment sales. They’re also fun, safe and a great place for friends to connect and archery enthusiasts to meet. Having a retail archery range opens up opportunities for events, leagues, lessons and tournaments. While a range is great for business, it also takes time, money and a considerable amount of research and planning to open one. That’s where the ATA comes in.
“Is my range big enough?” is one of the most common range-related questions Nicole Nash, ATA’s manager of range and retail programs, receives from members. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to archery ranges. There are many factors that every shop owner needs to consider including logistical ones like indoors versus outdoors, temporary or permanent, and 3D or paper targets.
Budget the cost of the range and weigh it against potential revenue generated by the range. Photo Credit: ATA
This consideration is always top of mind for business owners. While an archery range is a good business investment, there are important financial factors to consider. Does your current facility have the room to support a range? Are you renting the shop space or do you own it? Can you build a range adjacent to your current building? If you don’t have indoor opportunities, is there enough outdoor space?
In addition to budgeting funds for building or expanding a range, there are additional costs such as targets, lighting and an increase in utilities. It’s rarely a bad idea to start small and expand as business allows. For example, a 20-yard indoor range with a couple of lanes is better than no range. It’s enough space to begin with lessons and programs. People will be able to test gear, sight in new equipment and get technique pointers from staff.
Because having a range will rack up additional costs when it comes to design and sustainability, it’s important to maximize its potential to offset those costs, if not generate extra income. Your range should always be in use. Advertise that it’s available. People can find most equipment online, but with a range, they can try before they buy. Emphasize this opportunity to customers. Make sure they also know that they can practice at your shop, even if they bring in the equipment they’ve purchased elsewhere. Once archers are hooked on practicing in your shop, you’ll have income from lane rentals, group lessons, private instruction and archery events. Selling drinks and snacks is another steady way to generate income from range use.
Climate should be a big consideration when planning a range. If you’re located in an area where archers can shoot outside comfortably year-round, a smaller indoor range may work well in conjunction with a larger outdoor range. However, if you’re in a climate with cold winters, you might consider a larger indoor facility that can be heated. When archers are unable to shoot outside for extended periods, they’ll look for warm indoor facilities. In warmer climates, consider providing indoor facilities with air conditioning. A large, climate-controlled indoor range gives archers somewhere to practice in bad weather. This is an opportunity to attract backyard archers in addition to your usual customers.
The community can play a big role in range access. Does your town already have an established indoor facility for shooting? Does your community have an outdoor range? If there are other established ranges, consider designing something different. Study other local ranges before creating your own.
Take into account the kinds of activities customers would like to see at your range. Photo Credit: ATA
Understanding your customers and what they want will help you create the best possible range plan. In an urban area where archers have minimal access to ranges, you’ll likely need a more expansive range than you would in a rural area where many archers have backyard ranges.
If you plan to host leagues and lessons, you’ll want enough shooting lanes to accommodate several people. If you’re interested in hosting tournaments, you’ll need to research tournament requirements and know your bandwidth to host a successful event. Hosting tournaments is a great way to put your shop on the map. However, you need to have the space and capability to be a sanctioned location. Range requirements vary greatly. They often change depending on the organization, style of equipment and level of archers.
Safety should always be the No. 1 priority when creating a range. As a general rule, shooting lanes need to be wide enough to space out archers. Safety buffer zones also need to be included within the total range area planning.
Here are some of the most common sanctioned tournaments:
Information about range requirements for the National Field Archery Association can be found here.
Range rules for the Archery Shooters Association can be found here.
Scholastic 3-D Archery rules can be found here.
Set up temporary ranges at local events. Photo Credit: ATA
There are alternative options if you don’t have the space to dedicate to a range. If you want to host an event, set up a temporary range. Anyone can set up a temporary range at community events like festivals, farmers markets or shooting-sport tournaments. These temporary ranges help introduce newcomers to archery. The ATA’s Archery Safety Brochure can help officials understand how safe archery is for participants.
There may also be community archery parks in your area. There are a lot of benefits to community archery parks. And they work great for community events and tournaments. These types of archery facilities promote community involvement and diversity. They often provide a welcoming atmosphere for archers of all ages and abilities. At the recent National R3 Symposium hosted by the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, attendees addressed the need for more range access. Community ranges are a great way to grow archers and attract people who aren’t pursuing archery from a bowhunting angle.
Ranges are a big part of a successful business, but they’re also a big venture. The Archery Trade Association is here to help. The ATA’s Archery Range Guides are a great resource for agencies and organizations. They include the Retail Guide, Community Park Guide and Temporary Range Guide. These guidebooks include tips, maps, photographs, case studies, potential layouts and more. They cover everything in the building process including costs, safety measures, staff requirements and much more. These helpful guidebooks are available free to members and at a minimal cost to nonmembers.
If you’re in the planning stages, let us know. The ATA has also launched the Archery Range and Program Call for Projects. Submit project plans and the ATA can help you determine and implement the next step.
If you have additional questions, please contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager, at (502) 640-0944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.