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Published on May 3rd, 2016 | by FFL Unleashed


How To: Market to Millennial Shooters

Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation

The youth market is a demographic you’ve likely begun strategically targeting. If not, you’re missing out.

Competitive shooting, recreational shooting, and hunting are all growing, in part because of increased involvement of Millennials.

Millennials are typically classified as people born between 1982 and 2004 (give or take a couple of years, depending on whose definition you’re using). This can be a varied group, especially when you consider that a Millennial could be anyone from a young gun with very little purchasing power to a 34 year old college grad with a six figure income.

If you aren’t successfully reaching this market, here are a few reasons why you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to boost sales and gain loyal customers.

Get the Facts

The number of high school trap shooters across the country is growing by leaps and bounds year after year. In Minnesota alone the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League started in 2008 with three schools and 54 students participating. In 2014, participation grew to 380 schools with more than 6,100 students participating. More than 4,000 shooters participated in the Minnesota State High School League State Shoot last summer.

The USA State High School Clay Target League has also seen their membership levels grow, jumping from 30 kids to nearly 10,000 over the last eight years. Trap shooting is the “safest high school sport,” according to John Nelson, the league’s vice president. In their 14 years, they’ve never encountered a single injury. That’s more than 24,000 students going through the program and pulling the trigger more than 12 million times without witnessing a single injury. This is reassuring information for parents who might be on the fence in their view of guns.

The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) had programs in 42 states as of September 2015, and has seen participation grow from about 6,000 students to 13,000 in the last five years according to Tom Wondrash, national director of Scholastic Clay Target Program.

Attract the Youth Market

Social Media and Branding:

If you want to effectively engage Millennials and younger, you need to reach them where they spend most of their time. In this case, it’s social media. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Zogby Analytics, 87% of Millennials never let their smartphone leave their side, 80% reach for their smartphone right when they wake up, 78% spend more than two hours every day using their smartphones, and 60% believe in the next five years everything will be done on mobile devices.

Social media marketing will be where you fail to keep up or where you succeed at feeding this generation out of the palm of your hand. Think of some big campaigns right now. What are big names in the outdoor industry doing well on social media?

Hashtags. Reposts. Tags. Etc. Brands are doing a great job of engaging younger generations by tying hashtags to their brand names. To this generation, it’s exciting that a big brand might repost their photo, calling them out to an audience. They want to be noticed and feel included in a movement. You can empower them through interaction. While it may be your sales team commenting back to fans between in-store customers, they don’t see a man at a desk, they see a brandname actually taking the time to notice them.

Speaking of which, Millennials express themselves through brands. They want to relate to a brand and “share” personality traits with it. If they’re sharing your content routinely and really connecting, it’s safe to say you’re aligning with many of their values and personality traits. When they share your content, they’re relating to it. Look at your Millennial customers and work on creating a brand personality that reflects what you see in them.

Two examples of hashtag strategies that generate awesome engagement levels with Millennial outdoorsmen and women:

Cabelas: #ITSINMYNATURE represents the lifelong bond between people and the outdoors. They then routinely choose hashtagged photos from their audience and share them on their page, offering endless opportunity for engagement.


Outdoor Channel: #WHATGETSYOUOUTDOORS embraces all of the diverse interests that fueled the robust outdoor lifestyle. Technically, What Gets You Outdoors is a sweepstakes offering a grand prize worth $15,000. The campaign was meant to “incite a conversation among enthusiasts and drive engagement with the leading outdoor entertainment brand.”

Millennial Shooters

These are obviously a couple of mega brands with large campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their success. When you have a decent sized audience on your social media channels you should hold contests and sweepstakes as well, leading to higher levels of engagement and a happier audience. This audience is competitive and loves free stuff. Remember that.

Offer Discounts and Incentives

This is a great way to get more Millennials through your door. If you operate a shooting range you might have more to offer your customers than you’re aware. A few ideas: youth night/family night, couples night, women’s night.

By doing this you’re not only advertising your range, you’re also advertising your range’s ability to cater to different audience segments. Offer discounts on certain nights and the appropriate accompanying benefits. These benefits could include free self defense tips from your range personnel on certain nights, half off gun rentals if a customer brings in a friend, etc. Millennials purchase based on consumer input, whether that be from friends, family, or even strangers.

Collaborate With Them

The best way to learn about your customers is to collaborate with them. Millennials love to be involved in the decision making process when it comes to products they use. You might not be manufacturing the products, but you are the one they go to for purchasing, which means you need to stay up to date on the latest trends. So ask them what they’re looking for firsthand, whether that be in person or through a survey. Offer an incentive for filling out the survey. The better the incentive, the better the response rate.

This may or may not be as easy of a tip to apply for your business, but if possible, take collaboration one step further and consider hiring a Millennial or two if you haven’t already. After all, no one knows the wants and needs of Millennials more than a Millennial!

Learn About the Millennial Generation:

  1. To learn who the Millennials are, how they respond to the media, and how to gauge them and teach them, read our article on “Getting to Know the Next Generation.”
  1. Learn about your next best customers in our “Meet the Millennials” Gain insight into their opinions regarding the positives and negatives of shooting sports and much more.
  1. Observe how a leader in the industry is successfully “Deliver[ing] a Strong, Social Message for Millennials.” The key to Sig Sauer’s marketing strategy is delivering this message to Millennial consumers and making them part of the brand.
  1. This generation varies greatly from the Baby Boomers and even Gen Xers you’re used to selling to. Take the “How Millennial Are You?” quiz and see how well you relate to the biggest consumer market of the immediate and mid-term future.

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