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.
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.