Miles Hall, co-owner of H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City, has a message for the shooting industry: We need to keep bringing in new blood, aka, those people who did not grow up in gun-owning households but who actually have an interest in the shooting sports. Many of these new potential shooters are, frankly, a little scared of firearms. So they tend to look for operations that can supply product plus education and training, as well as some of those shopping mall-type amenities so many people are used to. Hence, the “shooting sports center.”

Hall adds that he has nothing against “mom and pop-type” retailers and ranges and feels they are an important part of the industry.

“They do a fine job, and serve their customer base very well,” says Hall. “But when we started looking at our business plan and what we wanted to do, we came to the conclusion that what I will call the ‘traditional gun buyer’ was already being well-served by these smaller operations. So if we were going to have any success? We were going to have to attract a newer type of customer.

“Not a lot of people like us were represented in the shooting sports,” he adds. “Younger, just starting families, suburban.” He laughs. “Mall rats!”

Hall notes that, for example, the gun and ammunition sales records of the last few years were set in large part because of new shooters entering the sport. Fearing ever-more gun regulations, they figured it was time to buy that AR rifle or that concealed carry handgun. And many of them did their initial buying at places like H&H because they offered an inviting atmosphere and one-stop shopping and training.

“The shooting range is the new heartbeat of our industry,” Hall says. “The blood-flow comes from the merchandise we sell. But we can’t have one without the other.”