Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to see
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Author:  jenrick [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to see

I'm looking into setting up an air sports club (pistol and rifle) here locally. This is something that is very unusual for the US and particularly Texas. I'd like to get some ideas on what kind of facilities people would like to see so I can start to work out a rough idea on what that might cost (beyond just the actual space which I have already done some pricing on). We have plenty of folks from other countries where air gunning is very popular as are clubs. So what amenities interest everyone?

The major things I can think of:

Electronic scoring - this is of course the big one. It's also extremely expensive and potentially fragile compared to mechanical systems. I know that this would be a big draw, but it is worth the investment and consequent higher fees/dues? I think it honestly might be the make or break draw though, as without it, I'm not really offering too much you can't do in your own backyard or garage.

Lockers and changing rooms - It potentially adds to the foot print of the space (and hence the rent) to add changing rooms. For AP there's no reason to have changing rooms, for AR it would probably be handy for folks to be able to change into their shooting pants. Lockers wouldn't be difficult to do, though for the items left in them to be covered by insurance that would spike the premiums I'm sure. Would having storage and changing space be worth a little extra to folks?

Gear rental - Particularly for younger shooters this could be a great way to grow the sport, and it would also allow for others to try out new gear they are considering buying. This creates an up front cost to the business, but would it attract folks as a value added option?

Freebies - For members at a certain price point, offer free PCP fills, a free number of pellets per day, a free gear rental once a month, etc. What would people like to see and at what price point?

Pellet testing - Regardless of whether it matters or not, a lot of people like to do it. While a vice isn't cheap, it's not that expensive either, and it offers a revenue stream. Potentially offer free testing at a certain membership level of a specific number of brands/lots as a perk.

How many lanes? - Each additional lane at an ISSF mandated 1m in width, adds about an extra 135 sqf to the space. I'm initially think 4-6 lanes, but if there was a lot of interest then going larger would make more sense.

If anyone has anything else they would like to see, or that your club offers I haven't listed I'm all ears.

Also how much would you be willing to spend to go regularly practice or for a monthly/quarterly/yearly membership that allows unlimited range use and possibly some perks.



Author:  Rover [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

If you're planning to shoot Olympic style Air Pistol then I think:

Electronics completely unimportant.
Changing rooms...lockers...just silly.
Gear rental is a good idea. It would give shooters a chance to try different stuff (a common complaint here).
Pellet testing....a vise IS cheap and they could do it themselves.
Lanes? At least the six minimum.
Club membership where I am now is $100 a year, but matches are extra.

Author:  redschietti [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Just my gut opinion, having only 6 lanes and electronic scoring is silly. If you have 15-20+ lanes with electronics you can run and draw shooters to a large match. Less than that and you will just have low level shooters shooting the frames etc

Air is probably expected to be free.
Gear rental is a good idea.
Having a vice bolted to a chunk of concrete and the bits to attatch it to guns is a good idea and cheap. Let them supply their own pellets and do it themself for free. Maybe some would pay you if you did it for them.

Author:  jenrick [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Ideally there would be both Air Pistol and Rifle.

-The lockers was a place to store gear, so people can leave their shooting jacket there, etc. Just a thought as Air Rifle has a lot more gear to get to and from the line. Same thing if they want to leave their rifle on premise, offer secured storage.
-Pellet testing, I'd have to charge for the lane use so I'm not down a lane. Beyond that you're right that a vice isn't that expensive.

Hmm so the general consensus is electronic scoring isn't necessary, and wouldn't be a big draw necessarily.

One additional thing that occurred to me at dinner, was to offer rentals on things like SCATT systems (with the option to purchase of course). For many that is an investment they just can't afford, particularly if they've never trained with one before. Giving people the opportunity to basically try it out would I think sell sets, as well as provide something people normally can't do. Also looking at it, there is another system on the market that offers the ability to use it live fire and get results pretty much like electronic scoring (no special targets needed). It would save the cost and hassle of getting true electronic scoring in place, for the same general effect if folks are willing to pay for it. I haven't tested it so I don't know how accurate it is however.


Author:  j-team [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

I would aim for at least 8-10 lanes. That way if you ever run a match, even if just a small local one, you can hold a final if you choose to.

Author:  SamEEE [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Spenser might be able to dig up the design specs for an IOC range, most modern IOC ranges follow the 'Sydney' footprint and this document might have lighting design suggestions. European clubs probably do it the best.

My list would involve in no specific order.

Conforms to rules
Sufficient lighting.
Sturdy shooting bench.
Good electronic target changers. Rika Sydney are good.
At least 8 bays for finals. I would aim for space for 12-15 bays.
Toilet and Kitchen space conducive to making it family and/or junior friendly.
Free air and targets are good.

SCATT is usually something that a club has floating around. Nothing special, I certainly wouldn't waste capital on one to start.

Electronic targets would be a supreme waste of capital for a starting club.

Author:  methosb [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Depends what your aims are and who you are expecting to have there,if you already have interest from serious shooters or you are starting from scratch with complete beginners.

If it is just fun plinking then electronics don't make sense. But if you expect serious training then electronics is the standard. Serious shooters don't want to warp their position after every shot to change the target in this day and age. Maybe you can compromise and have some electronic and some mechanical for newbies? Electronics doesn't need to be super expensive for air now (those new Mitteo targets seem to be cheap and shooters can use their own tablets and phones, and you can provide cheap basic tablets for those that don't have/want to use their own).

A couple of spacial considerations:
- enough space either behind the line or in a separate room for rifle shooters to open their rifle cases and gear bags and have enough space to get all of their gear on
- bench tops on the line that are either adjustable in height or low enough for shooters in wheel chairs to shoot
- if you do get shooters in wheel chairs you might want to get some wheel chair shooting bench tops (I don't know what these are actually called)
- rifle shooters only need a small space (eg. Bathroom) to get changed in and out of their under clothing, the rest of their gear can be put on behind the line or in a shared room, you don't need to worry about elaborate gender separate locker rooms.

Author:  Rover [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

"vice isn't that expensive"

Haven't been around much, have you?

"rifle shooters only need a small space (eg. Bathroom) to get changed in and out of their under clothing"

Hell, half the fun at a rifle match is watching the teen girls scampering around in their undies.

Author:  Ricardo [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Maybe you should come up to Dallas and visit us at Team Shooting Stars. Get an idea of a club that's up and running on a shoestring budget yet holds matches most months and is a USAS Certified Training Center. No lockers, no changing room, no fancy stuff, just serious shooting. Check us out at

Author:  kevinweiho [ Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Not everyone is into ten meter air pistol/air rifle. You should also offer an area for folks who would like to plink with their sporting/magnum air guns.

Distances of 15-50 meters with auto/pull resetting targets are the norm.

Author:  TenMetrePeter [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

our club has been going 35 years in a wooden Scout hut. We have heating, lighting, toilets, a tap (faucet), a kettle and a box of tea bags. Oh, and target holders at 10m.
We're British. Anything else is pure luxury.

Author:  theruleslawyer [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

I think it's worth thinking about what your demographic is going to be. Do you think you'll really have enough serious competition shooters to keep the lights on? Are you drawing in powder burner shooters who want a cheap way to practice? Do you think you're going to have a large junior shooter complement that are there because they are too young for guns? Maybe possible hosting events like a birthday party etc? Is it going to be staffed normal business hours, just open a few hours a week, or is it going to be a keyholder sort of range?

If I were paying a monthly fee a few things I'd expect
1) Air and co2 on site.
2) electronic scoring available. It doesn't have to be all lanes. Maybe a checkout to use them? This would be a big one to get me out of my basement. I'd think about a reservation system if you don't do it on all lanes.
3) Range guns. A selection of high-end ones for serious shooters, but you might want a bunch of lower end guns that kids can bang around too.
4) Restrooms. Make it large enough to change in if needed.
5) Supplies for sale on site. Pellets, o-rings, etc.

Some stuff that might increase draw
1) overhead target return for a few lanes to allow for standard pistol targets.
2) a couple lanes at 25y/m would probably be a good idea if you can manage.
3) meeting room/party room/class room/scoring room. You'll probably want a way to display a safety video anyways.
4) gunsmithing area

However the big draw to a club for me would be events like regular leagues and coaching.

Author:  redschietti [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Here we have had a jr program for decades. The last 6-8 yrs ive been around we had 10-15 kids start and half that many finish a 6 month once a week program.

This year when myself and another set of parents took over, got the word out on social media and made the practices fun, we have had nearly 60 shooters and all seem to want to come back and invite their friends. There is a lot of interest in shooting. You might dream big!

The comment on leagues and coaching is a good one.

Author:  j-team [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

We've all forgotten the most important thing...

A group of like minded friendly people to populate it!

Author:  Jslaughter [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Where in central Texas are we talking about?

Author:  jenrick [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

So to address a couple of things that have been brought up.

The plan is for an indoor space, so going to either 25m or 50m's is going to raise the rent significantly. I'm still investigating locations, but on average it would at least double the rent to have a 50m space. I do however like the thought of being able to offer more extended ranges for folks with sporters/magnum airguns. Honestly if I could locate a space for a reasonable price, I'd LOVE to be able to offer a 50m small bore range a few days out of the week. A nice indoor 50m range that would allow positional shooting for small bore is basically something that doesn't exist in central Texas. With rent for space sitting where it is currently however, I'm not sure how economically feasible it would be. I'd need a LOT of shooters to make it viable. A duel use facility (basically 12 or so 50m lanes or 50 or so 10m lanes depending on which axis the targets are setup) would be awesome, but I don't think there is currently the market to support that.

So to specifically address what is the market:

The University of Texas shuttered it's range close to a decade go, if I'm keeping dates straight. The 5th largest university in the country doesn't offer any kind of shooting program. Down the road about 90 minutes is Texas A&M the nations 3rd largest university, they have a basement 50 ft range for cartridge sports, and they actually have a shooting team. About 30 minutes south of Austin is Texas State University the 9th largest university in the country. So within 90 minutes there are approximately 120,000 undergraduates students. CMP has over 250,000 registered competitive air gun shooters (juniors) across the country. The odds that at least some of them ended up in the general area (for those who care within a 90 minute drive we have a bit over .5% of all college undergrads in the country) is pretty good. UT actually offers "informal courses" which is everything from basket weaving and horseback riding to boxing and billiards. These are basically facilities and business in the community that offer reduced fee's to UT students to provide them with instruction in whatever area they offer.

Additionally there is not (to my knowledge) any kind of air gun program in any of the schools in the Austin area (approximately 84,000 students in all grades). If you aren't familiar with the Student Air Rifle Program (, give it a once over. While having it based off sight wouldn't be ideal, it would certainly be a great first step. Having an air gun facility that is actually in town, in town, well maintained, etc, I think would do a lot for the sports image. Also the fact of the matter is a lot of parents have a LOT of money in this town, it's not unrealistic to expect parents to drop $5K on a rifle, shooting clothes, etc. if their child has an interest an aptitude. Heck, league fees and travel expenses can run more then that PER SEASON for select sports teams around here. Additionally while there isn't a "path" to professional air rifle shooting, if you establish a robust community of shooters you can certainly provide the venue for competition to keep them coming back for a long time.

Lastly we have a very large and active shooting population in the area. This ranges from weekend plinkers to national level competitive shooters in the action shooting sports. Everyone I have ever met and let shoot one of my airguns always wants to shoot it some more. They are just plain fun (hence why we do it in the first place). Giving people the opportunity to discover a new shooting hobby or competition venue can generate a lot of business.

So in short I think there is a large and viable population of customers. Additionally I believer there is a substantial opportunity to partner with local schools to offer either an after school or in school program to nurture and grow the sport. Lastly with the current high level of interest in competitive shooting of all types, I think simply getting the word out to shooters could see plenty engaging in a new discipline.

Thanks to everyone who has responded, and please continue with the suggestions. I might shoot some of y'all a PM to discuss particular things you brought up.


Author:  yana [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

What kind of air are you aiming it?
Olympic style only or full power as well?
I'd first make a choice between this because full power requires whole other setting

Author:  theruleslawyer [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Yah, if you're supporting some of the faster higher caliber air rifles you might as well support rimfire. Though I imagine the ventilation requirements might be a bit different.

Author:  Christopher Miceli [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

Place around here has 25 lanes with paper targets. The club has pellet holders and stands for rifles for standing position. They also have scopes you can use. A lot of high schoolers use the range to practice.

Once the line is Called safe go down and put up new targets. Air is free

Author:  jenrick [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Setting up an air sports club, what would people like to

The current concept is sporter and precision air rifle, along with air pistol. So basically the Olympic disciplines.

Supporting rimfire does add a significant issue with ventilation and lead abatement if you're going to do it right. The back stop isn't a huge deal, even mild steel can handle it no problem. Additionally it's highly unlikely that just any commercial property would allow you run a range in one of their spaces. An air gun range on the other hand doesn't require any of that. A good HEPA vacuum and you're pretty much covered as far as lead remediation goes, which would be a major issue for a property owner. Providing a space for folks who shoot metallic silhouette or field target a place to bench their gun and chronograph it could be an easy service. I don't care what caliber you're shooting or how fast out of an airgun, if it's a solid lead pellet you're not even going to scratch a piece of AR500 center fire rifle steel as a backstop.

Christopher Miceli: Thanks for the info. I'm thinking target returners to keep the shooters on line all the time. Just one less thing to worry about.


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