Starting a firearms training business allows you to share your passion for shooting and self-defense with others in your community. Whether you are a military veteran or a firearms enthusiast wanting to share your skills and knowledge with others, starting a firearms training business could be a viable opportunity.
However, starting a business is never an easy task, especially when dealing with firearms. That’s why we created this guide to help you through the process. In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the firearms training business, steps to get started, and answer some common questions to help you build a successful firearms training business..
The firearms training industry provides instruction to civilians, security professionals, law enforcement, and military personnel. Courses cover topics like basic shooting fundamentals, concealed carry, home defense, competitive shooting sports, and more. As a firearms instructor, you’ll develop your own curriculum, find a location to teach, purchase gear and ammunition, and market your classes. Successful instructors combine their technical shooting abilities with strong teaching skills to provide safe, educational, and enjoyable classes to students.
To legally offer classes in most states, instructors will need to be a certified firearms instructor.
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The firearms training industry has grown steadily along with the increase in gun ownership and concealed carry permits.
There are now an estimated 22 million concealed carry permit holders in the U.S., and many gun owners seek out professional training to learn how to handle their firearms safely and responsibly. The industry has become more competitive, but niche markets still exist for those offering specialized instruction like women-only classes, hunter safety courses, or tactical and self-defense programs.
The firearms training industry has experienced many changes in recent years by adopting new technologies and equipment, such as online courses and virtual reality training systems.
Steps To Start A Firearms Training Business
The firearms industry is a booming market, and demand for firearms training has increased significantly in recent years due to various factors. However, starting a firearms training business requires you to have the necessary certifications and licensing, as the industry is heavily regulated to ensure public safety and security. Below is a list of steps needed to get started.
Step 1: Research the Market
Starting a new business is a challenging process that requires careful thought and planning, and the firearms training industry is no different. Even with the consistent growth in gun purchases and demand for professional firearms training on the rise, is starting a firearms training business a good idea?
Before anything else, understanding the legal requirements of starting a firearms training business is necessary. Regulations vary by state, and potential business owners need to have all necessary licenses and certifications before operating. For instance, some states require a person to complete firearm safety training prior to purchasing a gun or carrying one in public. Thus, researching local laws and regulations is a vital first step to make sure there are no legal issues that could keep you from starting.
Assuming there is nothing legally standing in the way, the next step is to analyze the potential demand for your service. In the case of a firearms training business, one way to measure this is by looking at the number of concealed carry permits issued in your state. Many states require that permit holders take training classes, thus creating a built-in demand for your services.
Even in states that do not require permits for concealed carry, many gun owners seek instruction for personal safety and responsible gun handling. Therefore, gauging the level of interest in firearms training in your local area can provide valuable insights into the potential success of your business.
With an understanding of the market, identifying and analyzing your competitors should be another part of your market research. Look for independent firearms training businesses in your area and analyze their class offerings, pricing, and reputation. This will give you insight into the local marketplace and help you identify ways for your business to stand out. This could be specialized courses, competitive pricing, or a superior customer experience.
Step 2: Write a Business Plan
Starting a firearms training business, or any business for that matter, without a solid business plan is like setting off on a journey without a map or GPS. You might have a general direction you want to go, but without specific guidelines and milestones, the chances of getting lost or sidetracked are high.
A business plan serves as a reality check, forcing you to look hard at your idea from multiple angles. It helps you identify potential challenges, understand your market, set realistic goals, and develop strategies to achieve them. It’s a tool that guides your decision-making process, keeps you focused, and assists in managing resources efficiently.
One important section of a business plan is the financial projections. This involves projecting income and expenses to estimate whether the business is financially feasible. For a firearms training business, this might include expenses such as location rent, equipment costs, staff salaries, marketing expenses, and licensing fees. The income would primarily come from the fees charged for the training courses.
This exercise gives you a more clear picture of your financial needs, potential profits, and return on investment. It helps answer important questions like how many clients you need to break even, what should be the pricing for your courses, and how long it might take to become profitable.
By estimating these figures in advance, you can assess the financial viability of your business idea. If the numbers don’t add up, it’s better to know in the planning stage rather than after you’ve invested time, effort, and money into starting the business.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 3: Source Funding
Securing the necessary funds to start a firearms training business is the next step to cover, and this can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business. Here are the most common sources of funding for a firearms training business:
Self funding: The first source of funding is your personal savings. This method allows you to maintain complete control over your business. However, if personal savings aren’t enough to cover the start-up costs, outside funding sources will be needed.
Bank loans: Banks can provide funding for businesses, but they have specific requirements. Typically, a bank expects the borrower to contribute 15%-25% of their personal funds towards the total project cost, in addition to a strong credit score and sufficient collateral to secure the loan. If a bank deems the loan too risky, they might opt for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan guarantee, which can help by backing up a portion of the loan and reducing the risk for the bank.
Friends and family: Borrowing from friends and family is another source of funding and can be quicker and less formal than bank lending. However, to maintain healthy relationships and clarity, it’s vital to put all agreements in writing. This formalizes the loan or investment and sets clear expectations for repayment or equity stakes.
Microloans: If funding needs are low or credit isn’t readily available through a lender, microloans might be a viable option. Microloan programs, often offered by economic development organizations, provide small loans to start-ups and small businesses. Some programs also provide business training in addition to funding, which can be a valuable resource for new entrepreneurs.
Step 4: Register the Business
Starting a firearms training business involves several key legal and administrative steps. These steps may vary slightly depending on your specific location, as each state has different regulations. Here’s a general guide to help you get started:
Business structure: You’ll need to decide on a business structure for your new venture. The four most common types are Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
- Sole proprietorship: This is the simplest structure, where the business and owner are legally the same entity. It’s easy to set up and has the lowest costs, but it doesn’t offer personal liability protection.
- General partnership: This structure involves two or more people who agree to share the profits and losses of a business. Like a sole proprietorship, it’s relatively simple to establish but lacks personal liability protection.
- Corporation: A corporation is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders. It offers personal liability protection but is more complex and expensive to set up.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a hybrid structure that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the administrative simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership.
Because of the potential liability, many firearms training businesses opt for an LLC due to its balance of protection and simplicity.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
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Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Obtain business licenses and permits: First off, you will need to obtain gun-related business licenses. This will typically include a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and state licensing. Check with your state for specific license and permit requirements for your firearms training business. To obtain licensing, you will likely need to be licensed and certified as an instructor. The National Rifle Association (NRA) offers instructor training courses, like the non-law enforcement NRA instructor certification. Additionally, there are firearms instructor certifications that are often provided through weapon manufacturers, such as the Sig Sauer Academy.
In addition, there are general local, state, and federal business registrations that may be needed, such as a local business license, sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number.
Step 5: Select your Training Site
After registering the business, the next step is to secure a place to offer training. Setting up a firearms training facility involves two primary options: creating your own range or renting space at an existing one.
Creating your own range requires identifying and purchasing suitable land, ensuring it complies with local laws and regulations, and then setting up the facility. This option provides complete control over your operations and the potential for higher profits in the long run. However, it requires significant upfront investment, time, and effort as you’ll need to deal with zoning laws, noise regulations, and safety considerations.
Renting space at an existing range is an alternative that can be more cost-effective and quicker to start and allows you to tap into their client base. The downside also means sharing profits and having less control over your operations. Additionally, available time slots might not always align with your preferred schedule.
Both options have their pros and cons, and the choice depends on your resources, business goals, and market conditions.
Step 6: Purchase Insurance
In the world of firearms training, business owners face unique risks and liabilities. To safeguard against potential financial losses, business insurance coverage is needed. There are a few types of insurance that are especially important for this type of business, which include general liability and workers’ compensation, particularly when hiring employees for a firearms training business.
General liability insurance is a must-have for any business, including a firearms training operation. It provides protection against claims involving premises liability and property damage. For instance, if a student gets injured during a training session or property gets damaged, your general liability policy can cover the associated costs. Without this coverage, your business could face significant financial strain or even bankruptcy in the event of a lawsuit.
If you plan on hiring employees, workers’ compensation insurance is often legally required by the state. This type of insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets injured or falls ill as a result of their work.
In addition to general liability and workers’ compensation coverage, there are insurance policies tailored specifically for firearms instructors. These policies are designed to address the unique risks faced by those in the firearms training industry.
Step 7: Set Up Operations
Starting a firearms training business involves much more than just having a passion for teaching others about firearm safety. It requires careful planning and execution, particularly when it comes to setting up operations.
First on the list (and maybe the most fun step so far) is securing firearms, ammunition, and safety equipment. These are the tools of the trade, and having a well-stocked inventory is essential.
The next step is to develop a comprehensive training curriculum. This should cater to various skill levels, from beginners to advanced shooters, and be designed to keep students engaged and learning effectively.
A reliable booking and payment system is another potential cornerstone of your operations. It should be straightforward for clients to use, allowing them to book classes and make payments with ease and security. This system will also serve as the backbone for managing your business’s finances.
Finally, given the inherent risks associated with firearms, establishing emergency protocols is an important task. A solid plan should be in place for handling incidents ensuring the safety of participants and staff. This includes procedures for injuries, criminal activities, fires, or severe weather events.
Step 8: Prepare to Open!
Starting a firearms training business requires attention to several important details before opening your doors. Every business will have different needs, but below are some common final tasks for starting a firearms business.
Hiring staff: If you plan to have employees, selecting and hiring qualified individuals is necessary. It’s important to perform comprehensive criminal background checks on all potential staff and instructors for the safety of your clients and the integrity of your business.
Setting up bookkeeping: Implementing an efficient accounting system to handle daily transactions, taxes, and financial statements is essential. Accounting software such as Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks can help streamline this process.
Contracts: Before students participate in training courses, they should sign liability waivers. These documents protect your business from potential lawsuits related to injuries or accidents that may occur during training. In addition, asking students to complete medical questionnaires can help identify any health conditions that could impact their ability to safely handle firearms.
Opening a business bank account: This task will assist in keeping your business’s financial transactions separate from personal ones and help in financial and tax management.
Marketing your classes: Advertising your classes, building relationships with local ranges or clubs, and offering free seminars can be effective ways to attract students to your business.
Joining industry associations: Associations like the National Rifle Association (NRA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) offer valuable networking and professional development opportunities.
Common Questions When Starting A Firearms Training Business
How much does it cost to start a firearms training business?
Starting a firearms training business involves various initial costs that can vary greatly depending on location, scale, and specific services offered. A rough estimate could be anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000, plus the cost of purchasing and setting up a range if you plan to own the facility.
Here is a summary of the costs involved in starting a firearms training business:
Training facility: If renting time from an existing facility, there won’t likely be an outlay of cash, but if setting up a property, this cost will need to be added in.
Training equipment: The starting inventory of firearms, ammunition, targets, protective gear, medical kits, and other gear may cost $3,000 – $5,000.
Business registration: Registering your business can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on the state and the type of entity you’re creating.
Firearms licenses: Obtaining the necessary federal, state, and local licenses to deal in firearms may cost $500 – $1,000 in application and licensing fees.
Insurance: Expect to spend around $2,500 – $5,000 as an initial premium for proper liability insurance coverage for your firearms training operations.
Marketing: Initial marketing, like a basic website, print materials, and online ads, might run $1,000 – $2,000 to promote your new business.
How profitable is a firearms training business?
The profitability of a firearms training business can vary greatly based on factors such as location, size, and specific services offered. However, based on some industry data, we can come up with a rough estimate.
To calculate potential revenue, let’s assume an average training course fee of $200, and you’re able to train 8 students per week. In this example, the monthly revenue would be $200 x 8 students x 4 weeks = $6,400.
Estimating expenses like range fees, ammunition, marketing, insurance, and general overhead to be around $2,000 monthly, this business could potentially generate $4,400 in monthly pre-tax profit or $52,800 annually.
What is the NAICS code for a firearms training business?
The NAICS code for a firearms training business is 611699.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.