By Taylor Smithfield
While guntry clubs — the YMCA or Starbucks of the firearms world — are certainly a luxury your grandpa never knew, a new shooting app is proving to be a luxury you never realized you were without. While gun clubs create thriving communal hangouts, they unfortunately have a weakness: they’re restricted to a zip code.
Jonathan Rockett, cofounder of The Shooting Club app, first realized the social limitations of ranges when his father asked him to build a simple competition website to compare photos of his targets side-by-side with those of an out-of-town relative. Surprised to learn there wasn’t an existing outlet to serve this purpose, Rockett decided to create one himself. He and his partner, Mike Hogan, launched The Shooting Club (TSC) in July 2016 becoming “The world’s first social shooting experience.”
The Shooting Club is a free app, available for Apple and Android devices, which allows gun enthusiasts from around the country to compete in virtual shooting matches for prizes within a Facebook-like environment. Shooters purchase official TSC targets at their local range or on Amazon, and upload photos of their target results — analyzed and scored by the app. Users are ranked on leaderboards and can also create their own private matches to compete against family or friends. With every target a customer purchases, they increase their chance of winning prizes (such as military-grade hearing protection or women’s concealed carry handbags, for example).
A Likely Partnership
The Shooting Club has over 800 partner ranges thanks to their grassroots efforts and one advantageous partnership with AcuSport, who distributes the Club’s targets to their more than 700 industry customers. They’re poised to add even more ranges across the country this year.
Through the Club’s “Partner Range Program” participating ranges are provided with a $250 starter package including printable signage to promote events (in addition to a free retractable banner), 200 official TSC targets ($350 net profit), 200 free brochures and access to a digital content library of social images and email templates.
“A lot of ranges are really excited about what we’re doing as a way to bring in more revenue,” Rockett explained. “When people compete with their friends as part of The Shooting Club community, it means more ammo, more lane fees, and of course they sell our targets, which they make a significant amount on. So it’s all win-win-win for everybody.”
In celebration of target shooting, The Shooting Club held their first “Range Day USA” this past October, where they co-hosted a local match and awarded prizes. They plan to co-sponsor partner ranges interested in hosting their own Range Days (the day or days or their choice), and will help market the event with Facebook and Instagram advertisements, brochures, local radio spots, as well as prizes and giveaways.
TSC offers a more “gamified” range experience for their more than 15,000 members, making it less intimidating for those new to the sport. With the app’s proprietary scoring system, they can also successfully market to both the experienced and first-time shooter.
“We developed this skill-leveling system kind of like a handicap in golf,” Rockett described. “It takes the average of your previous targets and compares that against the average skill level of the folks in the given match you’re competing in, and gives you a certain amount of bonus points to bring you up to their skill level. You can turn that feature off and on if you want to compete with raw scores in any given match.”
Rockett says, however, one of the best tools they offer to overcome barrier to entry is their “Find An Instructor” feature on their website. They’ve received significant buy-in from firearms instructors around the country who are eager to engage with TSC members.
“People new to the sport of pistol shooting can be intimidated at a shooting range, due to a lack of knowledge and experience,” Rockett said. “The Shooting Club helps eliminate that intimidation and empowers beginners and experts alike by providing training videos and safety tips, making practice more fun, and improving marksmanship and self-defense in a rewarding way.”
Safety is also an important aspect of TSC’s mission, so they’ve included a video section in the app to instruct users on range etiquette as well as how to sight-in, unload, clean and safely use a handgun.
“This Is The Coolest Idea!”
Rockett says they’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the media since launching. Fox News celebrates the app as “uniting gun lovers around the world!” NRA News enthusiastically describes TSC as “a great idea to keep the shooting sports vibrant!” Rockett says users regularly sing praises within the app: “I’m so glad this was created. This is the coolest idea!”
“The competition aspect has really surprised me,” Rockett admits. “The level of enthusiasm with average joe shooters who were never really into competitive shooting because they were intimidated are now going to the range every weekend and shooting. It’s been really neat to see relationships form on the app with people amongst each other.
Ranges interested in participating in The Shooting Club’s Partner Range Program or Instructor Program can contact their team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting their website at www.theshootingclub.com. We also encourage you to download The Shooting Club app and join the virtual competition, so you can speak firsthand about the experience to your customers.