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Thread: OT - Considering Opening Indoor Shooting Range In Snohomish County - Your Thoughts

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    OT - Considering Opening Indoor Shooting Range In Snohomish County - Your Thoughts

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I am considering the possibility of opening an indoor shooting range in Snohomish County. Most likely in the Lynnwood/Everett/Marysville area. I am very interested in hearing what you all would like to see in a shooting range that would be sufficiently attractive enough for you to potentially change from your current range. What is it that you want in an indoor shooting range? Keep in mind, your ideas HAVE to be financially feasible. What do you like/dislike about your current options such as Belleview Gun Range, Sams, Norpoint, Champion Arms, Shooting Sports NW, etc?

    I look forward to everyone's thoughtful responses.

    Moderator - If I have posted this incorrectly in a this forum, please accept my ignorance, delete and let me know.

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    Regular Member SpyderTattoo's Avatar
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    Damn, if I lived closer, I'd apply for a job there.
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    New range...

    Okay I'll bite. First let me say I don't think you are going to be building a new range...

    If you haven't looked into the zoning and building code and have a location you are years behind. You'll need to look at city, county issues as well.

    What's your hook? What is going to make you stick out compared to Sam's in Everett or Norpoint in Arlington, Shooting Sports NW in Bothell and even Wades and West Coast Armory in Bellevue?

    Another big question is do you have a bank roll of a couple million - yes I said million. You'll need to buy the land/building and meet building codes/ air system / back stop materials. And for any "new" business" you're not going to break even for a few years... Remember you have to pay staff, insurance, electricity, taxes, etc, etc, etc

    The only thing that is really missing for the general public is a "shoot house" Although a public venture into this may cost you more than an arm and leg from an insurance perspective.

    Your first move is to come up with a business model/plan so you can submit that to the bank - this includes many things (google it).

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Well, if you looking at Lynnwood, then your only REAL competition is Sam's (Everett) and SSNW (Millcreek-Bothell). Both have major flaws you could exploit to help your range stand out.

    Sam's range has no temperature control, and according to posts I have read on this board lately, they don't allow rapid fire anymore. I like Sam's, but frankly I wont go there from October thru April because its just plain miserable to stand in a refrigerator for an hour or two. Its also very hard to get a lane there at times. I find myself calling ahead to see what my chances are before I make the 30-45 minute drive, just to stand around for another hour waiting for a lane. Their prices for range time are excellent (especially if you are military or a LEO), and their prices for ammo and rentals are fair.

    SSNW is EXPENSIVE, but that's only because they know they are the only game of its type anywhere within an hours drive. Its a nice clean range, but their track system is constantly breaking down, their "steel reactive" bay simply sucks after a few VERY EXPENSIVE visits, and forget about taking anyone there for a one timer unless your willing to plunk down 30+ just to walk through the doors.

    Dont even think about buying ammo, or renting eyes & ears, because that will quickly jump you near a C-note for a one time trip. Their gun rental rates are fair, but only because they require you buy and use ammo sold from the range or DGS store in them.

    SSNW always seem to have lanes available, but I think that's more due to the fact that many people just cant afford to go there. For me, its the easiest range for me to get to (about 20-30 min), and I can shoot year-round and be comfortable. Those are pretty much the only reasons they have by business, otherwise I would tell them what to do with their high prices.

    So...

    One major thing I would like to have in a range, besides the normal pistol and rifle lanes (rifle ranges could be a bit longer than the standard 50 at the other two places), a special shoot on the move/rapid fire area(s) would be nice. Charge a bit more, or make it for members only, I would pay the extra, because it would be nice to have someplace to go to do year round practical shooting without having to drive 1-2 hours one way to get someplace far enough away from the cities.

    A mix of the two ranges mentioned above really. Not as expensive or "high nosed" as SSNW wants to make itself out to be, but a nicer facility than Sam's, with an eye that not all shooters are at the same level, and there needs to be facilities that allow themselves to everyone's interests. If you are able to do that, you got my business.

    Poking holes in paper with a minimum three count between shots gets old fast, ya know?

    I don't visit any of the other ranges you mentioned, as they are just too far away to justify the cost in fuel for a regular range trip.

    As for land and a building, maybe you can find an old bowling ally to renovate?

    Good luck, and keep us updated.

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    I looked into this a few years ago on Spokane and decided that I would have to put up $750,000 cash just to open the doors. I could not get it to pencil out unless classes were taught and charged for, Utah Permit, gun safety, street smarts, legal issues etc. I dont believe that a straight shooting range can make it with out classes, ammo sales, gun sales, accessories sales and a good sized fee paying membership base. PM me to discuss more if you like.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    I won't mention the name of the range but I am intimately aware of some of the issues. Some individuals thought they could just toss open the doors for a measly investment of $100k or so and they'd need an armored car to make daily pickups. After a year the doors were almost closed.

    Just the heating bill alone, considering the amount of outside air you have to bring in in order to maintain air quality standards will be a major expense. Lead control while cleaning up is another.

    Most ranges that are successful operate in conjunction with other complementary activities. Gun Shop, Training, Gunsmith, and the like are necessary to help keep the doors open. Many of the current ranges also operate with contracts to provide range time to Law Enforcement agencies in the area. Most are already committed and many have their own ranges.

    Go talk to the people at West Coast Armory (not the one I was referring to initially) and see what obstacles they had to overcome. Many cities are so adverse to shooting facilities that they require a members only policy. The costs to a shooter go up with this requirement so it pushes out those on a budget.

    Gun Ranges are like Theaters. They will sit empty for hours and hours then packed for a few. Your expenses are 24/7/365 while revenue hours may be less than 5 or 6 each day. Simple formula, just take all the hours in a day for a year and divide it into your annual cost for Rent, Taxes, Insurance, Maintenance, and Debt Service, and Payroll (as well as the myriad of incidentals like advertising, utilities, janitorial, etc). That gives you a cost per hour for a year. Now figure out how many hours will actually be utilized. If you only have customers paying the "rent" for 8-10 hours of the day, you are only utilizing 30-40% of your time while the expenses are running on 100% of the time.

    Just like a theater, you will have to overbuild your facility so you can accommodate Customers WHEN they come. That increases the overall expense.

    Take a look at what the new ranges are doing to meet the increased costs. Memberships are sold so the operator has the cash to make those "expenses". Sam's was once charging $125/year for a "single. What is it now? The new range in Bothell has memberships at twice that. Ditto for West Coast Armory. Go to the outdoor range at Kenmore, that doesn't have heat and ventilation problems where the Membership is $125/year ($200 initiation for first timers). This range owns the property, facilities have been paid off for years, and still has a cost as much as an indoor range.

    In short, a Range is best utilized to complement another viable business. A successful, and profitable, gun shop or training facility can operate a range and not "loose their shorts". A stand alone range will have fees more like those at the "Beverly Hills Gun Club" or go out of business soon.

    All this said, anyone who opens a business needs to have an extensive, and well reviewed Business Plan. Without one you're merely "planning to fail". Put together you're Business Plan, without the "dreams and wishes", and the numbers will speak for themselves.

    BTW, my idea of a reasonable fee is $15 for a lane and no limit on guns. I won't pay for ammo that is any more expensive than "regular retail" and won't shoot at a range that doesn't allow me to bring my own.
    Last edited by amlevin; 12-21-2010 at 11:39 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    I won't mention the name of the range but I am intimately aware of some of the issues. Some individuals thought they could just toss open the doors for a measly investment of $100k or so and they'd need an armored car to make daily pickups. After a year the doors were almost closed.

    Just the heating bill alone, considering the amount of outside air you have to bring in in order to maintain air quality standards will be a major expense. Lead control while cleaning up is another.

    Most ranges that are successful operate in conjunction with other complementary activities. Gun Shop, Training, Gunsmith, and the like are necessary to help keep the doors open. Many of the current ranges also operate with contracts to provide range time to Law Enforcement agencies in the area. Most are already committed and many have their own ranges.

    Go talk to the people at West Coast Armory (not the one I was referring to initially) and see what obstacles they had to overcome. Many cities are so adverse to shooting facilities that they require a members only policy. The costs to a shooter go up with this requirement so it pushes out those on a budget.

    Gun Ranges are like Theaters. They will sit empty for hours and hours then packed for a few. Your expenses are 24/7/365 while revenue hours may be less than 5 or 6 each day. Simple formula, just take all the hours in a day for a year and divide it into your annual cost for Rent, Taxes, Insurance, Maintenance, and Debt Service, and Payroll (as well as the myriad of incidentals like advertising, utilities, janitorial, etc). That gives you a cost per hour for a year. Now figure out how many hours will actually be utilized. If you only have customers paying the "rent" for 8-10 hours of the day, you are only utilizing 30-40% of your time while the expenses are running on 100% of the time.

    Just like a theater, you will have to overbuild your facility so you can accommodate Customers WHEN they come. That increases the overall expense.

    Take a look at what the new ranges are doing to meet the increased costs. Memberships are sold so the operator has the cash to make those "expenses". Sam's was once charging $125/year for a "single. What is it now? The new range in Bothell has memberships at twice that. Ditto for West Coast Armory. Go to the outdoor range at Kenmore, that doesn't have heat and ventilation problems where the Membership is $125/year ($200 initiation for first timers). This range owns the property, facilities have been paid off for years, and still has a cost as much as an indoor range.

    In short, a Range is best utilized to complement another viable business. A successful, and profitable, gun shop or training facility can operate a range and not "loose their shorts". A stand alone range will have fees more like those at the "Beverly Hills Gun Club" or go out of business soon.

    All this said, anyone who opens a business needs to have an extensive, and well reviewed Business Plan. Without one you're merely "planning to fail". Put together you're Business Plan, without the "dreams and wishes", and the numbers will speak for themselves.

    BTW, my idea of a reasonable fee is $15 for a lane and no limit on guns. I won't pay for ammo that is any more expensive than "regular retail" and won't shoot at a range that doesn't allow me to bring my own.
    Another business man :-) Well said Amlevin

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    FMCDH:

    I appreciate your "on-target" responses. Thank you.

    I would plan to have not only a indoor range, but also provide training programs and firearms sales.

    One theme that I am picking up is that quality and pricing needs to fall somewhere between the low budget Sam's and the higher budget BGC or SSNW.

    Excellent comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idlechater View Post
    FMCDH:

    I appreciate your "on-target" responses. Thank you.

    I would plan to have not only a indoor range, but also provide training programs and firearms sales.

    One theme that I am picking up is that quality and pricing needs to fall somewhere between the low budget Sam's and the higher budget BGC or SSNW.

    Excellent comments.
    And stock your personnel with attitudes like Norpoint. They are by far the best bunch of people working a range I have found yet.
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    Go North

    Me! I think the area you’re considering has enough choices of ranges. I’d be inclined to look at setting up shop further North in say the Burlington area. That’s some distance from Marysville rifle club and Norpiont and some distance before the Plantation. Dab smack in the middle of an area with no indoor range services (as far as I know). You have Skagit arms and Wholesale sports, and Kesselring’s further down the road, but no ranges. There’s far more gun sales and ranges from Arlington to Seattle, than from Arlington the Bellingham. I would seek an area the least amount of competition in as many of the store front offerings as I could.

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    JBone:

    Your thought about further north is certainly worth consideration. Two factors that I would need to consider are:

    1) I live in the Snohomish area, do not want to move, and do not want a long commute.

    2) Population density.

    I appreciate your well thought response, however.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbone View Post
    Me! I think the area you’re considering has enough choices of ranges. I’d be inclined to look at setting up shop further North in say the Burlington area. That’s some distance from Marysville rifle club and Norpiont and some distance before the Plantation. Dab smack in the middle of an area with no indoor range services (as far as I know). You have Skagit arms and Wholesale sports, and Kesselring’s further down the road, but no ranges. There’s far more gun sales and ranges from Arlington to Seattle, than from Arlington the Bellingham. I would seek an area the least amount of competition in as many of the store front offerings as I could.
    Before considering anything in the Burlington area, go ask Donnie Kesselring (owner of shop with same name) why he didn't go ahead with his plans for one there. He had plans for a beautiful indoor range that was supposed to open last year. Now if he didn't see the way clear to do so, I doubt that many other's could.

    There has been a movement for years to get a range open in Skagit County. Not a great political environment. Environmental and Governmental roadblocks everywhere.

    Just a note, the best place would be in the middle of nowhere where there is an existing building. Something like an old factory, roller rink, indoor horse arena, etc, that can be rented for next to nothing. The real costs start from there.

    Then of course there would be a good reason for cheap rent. Nobody near there.
    Last edited by amlevin; 12-21-2010 at 06:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMCDH View Post
    Well, if you looking at Lynnwood, then your only REAL competition is Sam's (Everett) and SSNW (Millcreek-Bothell). Both have major flaws you could exploit to help your range stand out.

    Sam's range has no temperature control, and according to posts I have read on this board lately, they don't allow rapid fire anymore. I like Sam's, but frankly I wont go there from October thru April because its just plain miserable to stand in a refrigerator for an hour or two. Its also very hard to get a lane there at times. I find myself calling ahead to see what my chances are before I make the 30-45 minute drive, just to stand around for another hour waiting for a lane. Their prices for range time are excellent (especially if you are military or a LEO), and their prices for ammo and rentals are fair.

    SSNW is EXPENSIVE, but that's only because they know they are the only game of its type anywhere within an hours drive. Its a nice clean range, but their track system is constantly breaking down, their "steel reactive" bay simply sucks after a few VERY EXPENSIVE visits, and forget about taking anyone there for a one timer unless your willing to plunk down 30+ just to walk through the doors.

    Dont even think about buying ammo, or renting eyes & ears, because that will quickly jump you near a C-note for a one time trip. Their gun rental rates are fair, but only because they require you buy and use ammo sold from the range or DGS store in them.

    SSNW always seem to have lanes available, but I think that's more due to the fact that many people just cant afford to go there. For me, its the easiest range for me to get to (about 20-30 min), and I can shoot year-round and be comfortable. Those are pretty much the only reasons they have by business, otherwise I would tell them what to do with their high prices.

    So...

    One major thing I would like to have in a range, besides the normal pistol and rifle lanes (rifle ranges could be a bit longer than the standard 50 at the other two places), a special shoot on the move/rapid fire area(s) would be nice. Charge a bit more, or make it for members only, I would pay the extra, because it would be nice to have someplace to go to do year round practical shooting without having to drive 1-2 hours one way to get someplace far enough away from the cities.

    A mix of the two ranges mentioned above really. Not as expensive or "high nosed" as SSNW wants to make itself out to be, but a nicer facility than Sam's, with an eye that not all shooters are at the same level, and there needs to be facilities that allow themselves to everyone's interests. If you are able to do that, you got my business.

    Poking holes in paper with a minimum three count between shots gets old fast, ya know?

    I don't visit any of the other ranges you mentioned, as they are just too far away to justify the cost in fuel for a regular range trip.

    As for land and a building, maybe you can find an old bowling ally to renovate?

    Good luck, and keep us updated.
    Precisely and exactly what he said.........My experiences at both ranges are identical.

    In addition, I liked Sams membership without range fees. I could go up, shoot a new load, go home load some more and go shoot again as many times as I wanted or needed. At SSNW, you pay a membership AND a range fee. That is less than ideal if you are a reloader who wants to test loads. Which takes us right back to the EXPENSIVE comments.
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    Regular Member OrangeIsTrouble's Avatar
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    I hate indoor ranges.

    Wasting my time and ammo shooting at stupid pieces of paper.

    Following stupid rules because some dumbasses did something dumbass-ish.

    NVM, I don't even like shooting at the national forest. I need some interesting targets. I might get an RC car and attach a target to it! Now that would be fun!!!!


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    Norpoint will let their master members, pay $50 on top of the membership and run through an IDPA qual, drop the benches and run drills in the bay as long as their are two for safety purposes. This is well worth the $250/yr in my opinion.

    Just something else for you to think about.
    Last edited by joeroket; 12-21-2010 at 11:01 PM.
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    I was looking at opening another range here in the South Sound area. I found a Canadian company that would take an empty warehouse and make it into a gun range complete with moving targets, clean air, heat, low light, move and shoot lanes as well as the ability to shoot .17 to .50 cal pistol and rifle bullets.
    The traps were set up so that there was a recovery system for lead and copper. The air systems were designed so that the air coming in and out was cleaned.

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idlechater View Post
    JBone:

    Your thought about further north is certainly worth consideration. Two factors that I would need to consider are:

    1) I live in the Snohomish area, do not want to move, and do not want a long commute.

    2) Population density.

    I appreciate your well thought response, however.
    Population density may pay a very critical roll in the survival of a new range in the northern'ish-Seattle area, as more and more people get CPLs and just generally get turned on to firearms due to growing awareness and 2A activism.

    I only see the demand growing in the next few years, even with the economy as it is, and as it gets better, so will more people spend more on the hobby and or the serious training. I see new people, and even families joining SSNW 3 out of 4 times I go there.

    They have an excellent location, (if a bit unseen by the public) and its certainly not in the middle of nowhere.

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    Regular Member OrangeIsTrouble's Avatar
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    Why are there no gun ranges in Seattle? City code BS?


    Been harassed by the police? Yelled at by the anti-gun neighbors? Mother doesn't approve?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIsFaster View Post
    Why are there no gun ranges in Seattle? City code BS?
    It's because nobody in Seattle would ever need a gun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Gunr View Post
    I was looking at opening another range here in the South Sound area. I found a Canadian company that would take an empty warehouse and make it into a gun range complete with moving targets, clean air, heat, low light, move and shoot lanes as well as the ability to shoot .17 to .50 cal pistol and rifle bullets.
    The traps were set up so that there was a recovery system for lead and copper. The air systems were designed so that the air coming in and out was cleaned.
    So what happened? What kind of cost were you looking at? What were the hurdles that you had to overcome with the "Government"?

    Will it ever happen?
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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak56 View Post
    It's because nobody in Seattle would ever need a gun.
    Naa, its because no-one wants to be found out by their friends and neighbors that they own and like to shoot guns. Seattle is full of closet gunners I'm telling ya.

    We have to bring them out of the....err....whatever they are stuck in.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idlechater View Post
    JBone:

    Your thought about further north is certainly worth consideration. Two factors that I would need to consider are:

    1) I live in the Snohomish area, do not want to move, and do not want a long commute.

    2) Population density.

    I appreciate your well thought response, however.
    No problem, I hope it works out for you.

  23. #23
    Regular Member jbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIsFaster View Post
    I hate indoor ranges.

    Wasting my time and ammo shooting at stupid pieces of paper.

    Following stupid rules because some dumbasses did something dumbass-ish.

    NVM, I don't even like shooting at the national forest. I need some interesting targets. I might get an RC car and attach a target to it! Now that would be fun!!!!
    I've always injoyed shooting indoors and outdoors, and I've also enjoyed (loved) your Avatar's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbone View Post
    I've always injoyed shooting indoors and outdoors, and I've also enjoyed (loved) your Avatar's.
    Ummm... uh... yeah - he wins the avatar contest hands down!!!!!

    M1 - would you mind sharing the name and contact information for the company that you found that does turn-key shooting range installations? You can PM if you like or send directly to ejb@ecgmc.com.

    Thanks.

  25. #25
    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbone View Post
    I've always injoyed shooting indoors and outdoors, and I've also enjoyed (loved) your Avatar's.
    I will take outdoors whenever I can reasonably get it, and as weather allows.

    I miss the free outdoor public range I used to visit up in Juneau. No fees, no rules except clean up after yourself. Just bring your own targets and train in whatever style you want.

    I wish I had used it more while I was there, but ammo was pretty expensive and hard to get in that town.

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