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When discussing any ‘new’ build location, whether brand new or using an existing building, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is location. Along with location you need to understand the demographics of the area you plan to start your business in. Knowing things like average age, income, and even spending habits of the people who live in or around the area of your shooting range is key to succeeding.

First, I’ll dive into the pros and cons of using an existing building. Then I’ll do the same for new.

Pros of Using an Existing Building

  1. Primo location:
    Most spots that are high traffic areas or areas with the demographics that fit your business plan generally will not have any available space to build new. This is a big reason why existing buildings can be such a great option, you have the ability to put your range in a perfect spot.
  2. Unique Situations:
    When looking at existing properties you have the possibility to run across a motivated seller or a bank owned property. In these situations, you will usually get a great deal on the property which means more money to spend on other aspects of your business.
  3. Ability to Lease vs Buy:
    Another possibility with existing buildings is the possibility to rent a location rather than buy. This can cut down the starting costs of a range and could potentially give you a leg up. In some cases, we’ve even seen costumers get the first six months free when renting which really set them up to succeed.

Cons of Using an Existing Building

  1. Inadequate Structure for Range:
    When looking at existing buildings you want to look for a specific shape with the right qualities. You want to find a rectangular building with little to no support posts throughout, with ceilings that are at least 14 feet tall. Depending on where you look this might be hard to find.
  2. Issues with Ceiling Leading to Unwanted Customization:
    We talked about ceiling height but it is worth mentioning separately as well because this is usually the main issue we run into with existing buildings. If the ceiling height isn’t at least 14 feet, it is still possible to make a range, it will just require a more custom building of ceiling baffles and other components, which can be slightly more expensive than if you found ‘the perfect building’

Mistakes Made With Existing Buildings and Examples of Ideal Building Types

A common mistake we see when people purchase existing buildings is them underestimating length. For example, to reach a 75-foot-long range, you need a minimum of 105 feet to work with. This is due to the space needed for the ventilation, target length, and bullet trap length. It’s important to talk with your range provider early to make sure you’re saving enough space for each component of the range.

Two examples of ideal building types are old bowling alleys and old movie theaters. Past costumers have had success with these because of the way the building was initially set up. Bowling alleys are nice because they are already set up to have the right lane structure. Movie theaters are nice because of the high ceilings and rectangular shape. These are just a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a good spot.

Pros of Building New

  1. Ability to Customize Your Exact Design:
    When building new, you have the ability to layout your business in the exact way you want. This is very good if you plan on having a retail portion within your range or if you want to include lounge areas or ready rooms in your build.
  2. Fresh and Clean:
    You get a clean slate when building new. You have a fresh new range, which can be an asset for the first couple months you’re open. Everyone will want to see your clean new facility, driving costumer traffic up.
  3. Multi-use Capabilities:
    If you build new and your range business doesn’t work out, you will have other possible options for the use of your building if you plan correctly. Some of our past costumers have even made provisional plans for what they could use the space for if worse came to worse. If you ask me, this is a brilliant plan.

Cons of Building New

  1. No Lease Agreement and Large Investment:
    When building new, you won’t have the ability to sign a lease agreement. Along with this, buying a piece of land to build on and the materials for the build is a large investment that needs a lot of upfront capital. This doesn’t need to become a big issue, just be sure to do all the necessary planning.
  2. Longer Construction Process:
    Building new requires a lot more work because you’re required to get a lot more permits and it takes longer for your build to be approved. You’ll need to get approval on things like zoning, water lines, environmental study, and mechanical aspects. Depending on where you’re building and who you deal with this can be a lengthy process that can slow down progress.

Mistakes Made With Building New

The issues we see with building new often reflect poor budget planning. When building new make sure to not over build or go over budget. As a safe bet, it’s always good to have a 20% contingency plan to accommodate any unforeseen costs related to issues or extra add-ons.

Another mistake is not doing enough research on the demographics leading to poor traffic to the range. You can have the most beautiful range in the world, but if your unable to drive traffic you will without a doubt run into issues.

Key Takeaways and Additional Information

When building new or existing, make sure to engage with a shooting range provider sooner than later. They have the ability to make to process go smooth and help you in many areas.

It’s all about location and demographics. Location is key for traffic, and be sure to find the demographics for the area you plan to build in, making sure your business will be supported.

A great resource for things like business plan builders, sample profit loss statements and links to experienced consultants please visit http://www.nssf.org/research/customized-market-reports/
Along with this, you can find our Range Systems, range design guide on our website that has a ton of great info.

Don’t forget to check out our blog and webinars sections on the site to find other topics we’re discussing. To receive information for our upcoming webinars, subscribe through the “Webinars” section on our site.

If you want to talk with one of our range specialists find the “Contact Us” section of our site to fill out a contact form or contact a specialist directly through email.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you on the range!

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