Shoot Center Is Now Open In Cape Coral

So awhile ago, I wrote,

If I were Going To Open A Gun Store Today

After my time spent marketing two large gun stores, here’s what I do.

  • Make sure it had a gun range. Doesn’t have to be big, 12 lanes, 20 yards maximum. Maximum caliber, 308. Have good air conditioning in it, so people enjoy their time there. Encourage selfies and social media.

  • Emphasize training. Have a competition league on Monday nights.

  • Get a GREAT working relationship with either A Girl And Her Gun or The Well Armed Woman.

Shoot Center in Cape Coral is pretty much what I described.

It’s open, modern and inviting inside, not some cheap strip mall joint with stuffed animal heads on the wall and second-hand office furniture scattered about. It looks like a modern, clean retail store inside (something that is less common in the gun industry than you’d believe).

Retail gun store in fort myers

They’re set up pretty well: The training classroom is big enough to handle two dozen people in a class, a BIG deal when you’re trying to bring in big-name trainers in from out of town, and the store itself has the sort of things that a suburban gun owner might be interested in.

Shoot Center Range

The range itself is the best indoor range in SouthWest Florida (even nicer than my old shop). That range wasn’t really designed well: If you didn’t shell out the $$$ for a luxury membership, all you could do was shoot pistols in a 12 yard range (and dark and cramped 12 yard range at that).

At Shoot Center, the lanes go out to 25 yards, and they’re rated up to .308 caliber. I’m not a fan of shooting rifles indoors, but I’m not a fan of limiting consumer choice, either. One thing I really like about the range at Shoot Center is that the have a hand-washing station set up just outside the range entrance for shooters to clean off the gunpowder and lead residue after a shooting session.

Smart.

If you’re tired of baking outdoors in the Florida heat and you want someplace to go shoot that’s as nice (or nicer) than the other stores you walk into, go check out Shoot Center. They’re showing the rest of SWFL how it’s done.

The Most People-Friendly Gun Store You’ll Ever See. 

I made a trip out to the other coast earlier this month (sorry, Miguel, my schedule was pretty tight, or else I would have dropped you a note), and one of the priorities for me was a visit to Nexus Shooting Center. Visiting them has been on my radar for a while now, and I finally made time to check them out.

Outside, it looks, like, well, a stand-alone gun store. Not a lot different from a lot of other gun ranges, maybe a little more dramatic than most. Inside, however… inside.

Let’s just be honest: It’s the best gun shop I’ve ever seen.

Every gun store seems to look like every other gun store, because they all take their cues from each other. Nexus doesn’t follow what’s good for a gun shop, the look outside the firearms retail industry to create experience that’s more like the Apple Store than any other gun shop I’ve seen.

Let’s just concentrate on one small area, the way merchandise is displayed in the store. Aside from the signage, is there REALLY a difference between the gun counter at a Bass Pro and the gun counter at your friendly local gun store? Both of them have glass display cases showing off the pistols, and behind them, slat wall displays showing off the long guns.

Why? Did Moses come down from Mt. Horeb with “Thou Shalt Erect Slat Walls In Thy Gun Store”? Is that in some weird translation of the Pentateuch that I’ve never heard of? Who said a gun store has to look that way, and why has no one ever questioned if there’s a better way?

Enter Nexus. Rather than hang guns on the wall and lock them away in cases, Nexus displays almost everything using backlit panels that are actually LED televisions, making paper signage a thing of the past. Also, if you’ve ever worked in a gun store, you know that tracking which gun is on display is a constant struggle and a potential mind field for ATF compliance. With the backlit TV’s, the serial number of each gun is display right along side the price, keeping things nice and neat inside your bound book.

The (female) head honcho at Caswell’s range in Arizona once told me that to a woman, the experience of walking into a gun store is like walking into a strip club: It’s an overwhelmingly masculine environment that’s unwelcoming and vaguely threatening.

And in response to this obvious fact, gun store owners PROUDLY display the mounted trophies of their last hunt and calendars of half-naked women holding guns.

And then they wonder why women (one of the fastest-growing segments of the market) don’t seem to frequent their stores.

While the environment inside of Nexus is definitely “no-nonsense tactical”, it’s not threatening, because they temper the tactical with a bright, open layout and with a concierge station that welcomes people as they walk into the door.

And then there’s the range. There are twenty 25 yard lanes for their pistol and rifle customers, but the heart of the range are the twenty Nexus Lanes, an electronic targeting system that takes going to a gun range to a whole new level. The lanes are wider than the typical gun range phone booth: Two people can stand side by side with ease, leading to a more comfortable and relaxed shooting experience and also making instruction easier.

Rather than list all the cool things you can do with an electronic target system (like shoot targets that are 25 yards away within the confines of a 7 yard bay), I’d like to highlight two little touches in that photo which show the planning and effort that the owners of Nexus put into the customer experience.

That’s an Uplula universal magazine loader, and there’s one permanently attached to every lane inside Nexus. Now, why would a gun range spend an extra $30 per lane on a speedloader?

Think about it. If you fill your magazines with ammo faster, you shoot ammo faster. You shoot ammo faster, you either a) turn over your lane quicker (more profit), or you buy more ammo from the range master (ditto). I’d be willing to bet those speedloaders paid for themselves the very first day they installed them, and every day since then brings better and better ROI for Nexus.

Smart.

Secondly, this is a photo of the floor under each shooting lane. Rather than have a solid concrete floor under your feet, at Nexus, there’s a slat floor that allows spent casings to fall into a pit under your feet, where there’s collected up at the end of each day. No more skating on a sea of spent brass, and much less worries about safety incidents from customers losing their footing on a shell casing.

I could gone on and on about the other little touches inside the Nexus range and store, like their plans to reduce analysis paralysis (the bane of gun store owners everywhere) and the layout of their classrooms (home theater, not middle school), but the fact is, Nexus is what a gun store should look if your market is today’s city-dwelling gun owner. If you’re in S. Florida, (or are planning to be soon), you need to put a trip to Nexus on your to-do list.

I’m Done With Florida Open Carry.

I am now completely and utterly convinced that if and when Florida does allow for the open carry of firearms, it will be despite the efforts of Florida Open Carry, not because of it. I joined the group thinking they’d be as effective in changing Florida’s  gun laws as Arizona Citizens Defense League has been changing the laws of Arizona.

Boy, was I wrong.

Look, if you think that gay pride parades open carry fishing events and stuff like the photo below will get people to change their minds about the public display of guns, you’re fooling yourself.

Open carry won’t happen until guns are seen as boring, not frightening, and frightening the locals with such things as that  is not the way to change minds.

Work on removing the need for a background check if you have a CCW license. Lower the CCW fees. Get more scholastic shooting teams in the schools. Change the culture, then change the law.

Back At It.

I received a job offer today, for the same salary I was making before, doing pretty much the same work I did before, but with the added possibility of a bonus if I drive in more revenue.
Thank you everyone for your kind words and support. They really, really REALLY made a difference.
And Bob, you were such a big help the last time I was laid off. I miss you brother, I really, really do.

Pirates Of The Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Sean Sorrentino posted a terrific Marc MacYoung piece on ‘The Disneyland State Of Mind“, a mindset that Marc describes as slightly (or more than slightly) out of control and believes that dammit, I have a RIGHT to a good time, and HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT ME HAVING A GOOD TIME!!!!!

I’ve written about how that applies to the interrupted good times of the Democratic Party over at Ricochet, but it also applies to our personal lives as well. To be honest, I was kinda troubled by how NORMAL it felt for me to carry around a knife and trauma kit inside a theme park. I mean, I’m on vacation, I’m SUPPOSED to be relaxing in a care-free environment with my family, and here I am wondering about how I’m going to smuggle things like a pointy-stabby blade past security.

And then I watched a violent domestic argument break out in front of me. No, I didn’t intervene, (because that’s what park security is for), but yes, it did wake me up to the fact that even though I was on vacation, reality itself was not on vacation, and bad things can and do happen in the happiest of places.

Having the means to defend myself and potentially deal with the consequences of lethal force didn’t affect my ability to have a good time. In fact, keeping an eye out for trouble also let me see the good things around me, like how many people around me were having as much fun as we were having inside the park. Being aware of what’s going around you means you’re aware of the good things going on around you, not just the bad things. It leads to a bigger life that’s more-connected with reality, not paranoia and fear.

Live in the moment. ALL of the moments.


Update: I wrote this post and queued it up for publishing before Monday night’s horror. If anything, it’s any more appropriate now.

Stand And Deliver… Sales.

Dear Acusport.

I love you. You know I do. You were our #1 vendor when I worked in the biz, and you have your @$#! together at a level that most other wholesalers only DREAM of having.

But.

You’re leaving cash on the table when it comes to accessories and weird special orders.

Special orders for a gun store are a nightmare. There is so much that can go wrong, and they take up so much time for so little profit. Researching the proper part number and then sending in an order for, say, a mag release button for a Glock 34 takes so much time,  a gun store will actually LOSE money on the sale, and if they say “We don’t do special orders,” they’ll lose the customer to Brownell’s or Midway.

Whether or not the customer has the time and willpower to navigate through those often-confusing sites is a topic for another day.

Instead of p!ssing off gun stores and customers alike, Acusport, why not turn yourself into the NFDN of gun parts, and set up in-store kiosks with all your stuff? Stores could set their own prices on their kiosks and then regulate which areas of your catalog they want to allow their customers to access. That way, if a customer comes in asking for all the weird stuff that customers ask for (but are a pain in the @$$ to stock), they can buy it at their local gun store and get it shipped right to them, and the gun store makes as much (or more) money off the process than they would have in the first place.

Oh, and as an added bonus, maybe have VOIP built into the shopping app (and a headset with video) so you can do the customer service as well. Net cost to you: A cheapo Android tablet and headset. Net benefit: More sales for you, and more sales for the gun stores who will have a steady stream of customers coming in to use the app.

You’re welcome.

Security Theater.

Those of you who know me on social media know that I spent the weekend at two theme parks in the central Florida area. Both parks are “weapons-free zones” that have metal detectors and bag searches before you walk through the park gates, so surely you couldn’t get a gun or a knife through such air-tight security, right?

And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Gaza to sell you.

I waltzed through the security checkpoints both days with my cell phone, a Coast flashlight (neither of which raised any eyebrows) and my lightweight emergency tourniquet, which looks like the nylon coin purse it really is. I had my Boker knife in my wallet, and on the second day, I carried around the ABDO safe with me, and that passed right through the bag search at the park because it looks like a big ol’ cell phone case it’s meant to look like. I know that I can fit an LCP ][ and a spare mag into that case, which means that even in a non-permissive environment, I can carry a gun along with a cell phone, spare mag, flashlight and a knife, the four things I recommend for concealed carry EVERY day, and also had a tourniquet on me in case that was needed.

Keep in mind that I in no way recommend you do similar, because that might be construed as telling you how to subvert Florida’s gun laws, and that would be a BAD thing, so don’t do this.

Even though you can if you want to.

Concealed Carry Needs An On-Ramp

Or at least, a better on-ramp than what we have now. We say “Carry your guns, people, it’s a lighter burden than regret!” and then we do nothing to actually help people get used to carrying a gun.

We ask them to run a marathon, without teaching how to prepare for a marathon.

Fortunately, there’s at least one training team that’s doing something about that problem, and their model could change “Gun Culture 2.0” forever.

Go check them out at Ricochet.com.

Armed? Who, me?

I’ve got a family trip coming up to a couple of Orlando theme parks that use metal detectors and bag searches to make sure they’re “weapons-free” zones.

Uh-huh.

I’m not planning on carrying a firearm with me into the parks, but I do want to carry a knife with me because a knife is useful for more than just defending your life.

After a few searches and reading a few blogs that I trust, I settled on the Boker Plus 01BO010 credit card knife.

The knife is skinny and hides easily. It is, essentially, your daily carry folding knife’s anorexic midget cousin. Without the clip, it’s just a few millimeters wide, and the size is very conducive to carrying inconspicuously.

That’s the new Boker next to my usual covert carry knife, a CRKT Pazoda 2, and a AA battery on the right. The blade on the Boker is taller and longer than the Pazoda, but the handle is a little shorter, which means I can only grip it with two fingers instead of three. Yes, that is an issue, but no, I’m not too worried about it. This is not a fighting knife, as it takes me two hands to open, but it is very useful thing to have with you because it’s a knife, and knives are handy.

The blade is 440-C stainless, and out of the box, it was quite dull. This did not please me, but a few moments with a sharpener solved that problem.

Did I mention it’s easy to conceal? Believe it or not, the Boker is in this photo, tucked in between a couple of dollar bills.

What’s the first rule of camouflage? Help the people see what they’re expecting to see, and in this case, the aluminum in my Ridge wallet will set off the metal detector, along with the metal in the knife.

Overall, I’m very happy with this knife. Yes, there were other, more covert options out there that are better fighting knives, but I’m not really too concerned about fighting my way through the line for “It’s A Small World”. Rather, I want a knife with me because of all the other things a knife can do, and this little Boker seems about right for that job.