I’ve been helping a friend of mine come up with ideas on renovating an outdoor range here in Florida, and in doing so, I realized that his competition isn’t nearby gun clubs, it’s all the other outdoor activities that are around the club. Dedicated gun owners will go to the range. We have no choice. Shooting is our primary hobby, and that’s done (for the most part) on a range. I’ll drive for two hours to shoot out to 1000 yards or go to a really good USPSA match, and I’ll go even further to train with one of the legends in the business.
The casual gun owners who make up a big part of Gun Culture 2.0 are not like that. Guns are a part of their lifestyle, which means the guns they own and how they use them needs to fit into their lives as well. If the club cannot provide the same experience and level of service as, say, a municipal driving range, casual gun owners are going to chose other recreational activities over going to the range. You want to make it as nice to go to the range as it is to rent a kayak or go for a horse ride or things that compete for the same outdoor activity dollar.
This is why the “guntry club” idea has taken off. It’s not that 50,000 people have plunked down thousands of dollars for a Super Duper Exclusive Deluxe Membership, it’s that those ranges tend to have nicer experiences for the average schlep than other ranges do, and if you’re paying roughly the same price for the experience, you want to go to places that treat you well. People have limits on the money and time they can spend on their leisure time, and if shooting a gun isn’t fun, they’ll do something else instead.