Target shooting participation increased in the United States by 6.4 million shooters from 34.4 million to 40.8 million in the period from 2009 through 2012 according to market studies conducted by Responsive Management on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The 19 percent leap was fueled primarily by newcomers, and they represent demographics very different from those groups long considered “traditional” shooting sports participants.
These new participants have a higher tendency to be younger, female, and urban- or suburban-dwelling. Especially critical for consideration of FFL stocking dealers is the fact that few of the new participants hunt or have intentions of hunting, and a sizeable majority of them aren’t being introduced to the shooting sports until after they are 18 years old.
Finding the channels by which to reach this growing, important new market will be imperative in optimizing your business. Advertising, social media messaging, and events at your store or range geared specifically to attract shooters in this demographic group need to be a focus in the continual updating of your business model.
These huge growth figures also may provide part of the explanation of the continued nationwide shortages of .22 rimfire ammunition. Adding more than 2 million new target shooting participants each year (and figuring that most of them will get started with a .22 rifle or handgun) combined with the industry’s limited ability to rapidly increase production provides a lot of answers!
It’s a good news, bad news scenario. While the market of customers interested in purchasing .22 rimfire firearms is, logically, growing, for most shops sales of .22s have actually dropped in recent months due to the lack of ammunition to go with these firearms.