An open letter to range members...

To all my range members,

We have had several members call who are upset at having to pay anything above their annual dues payment to the range to use the range.  I completely understand.  The changes I made were not anything I wanted to do.  For 22 years, I worked at ways to make and keep the cost of shooting as cheap as it can be made and keep the bills paid and payroll met.  All the new guys may not know it but the dues they pay today are no different than what the range charged for membership in 1996.  Think about that for a moment.  Where else on the planet have prices gone unchanged for such a long period of time?  That is not completely accurate as for a while dues went up about $100 above what they are now because they had to in order to meet obligations.  But, as and when we could, I cut the annual dues.  Most recently, I cut them another $20 for all members who just pay their dues on time.  What you also may not know is that there was even a period of years that I worked for this facility without drawing any paycheck.  I reinvested every penny back into the business.  That let me do improvements and make the range as you see it today. 

Do the math.  I did.  I will use April 2019 as an example and the numbers do not fluctuate much during the year.  The range grossed $23,540.  That is every penny that came in from all sources.  Annual member’s dues were $4450… 18.9%.  The fact is that years ago, I should have increased membership dues to keep up with inflation and be charging $400 single and $500 family for memberships today.  I don’t.  All the other ranges do.  We are the blue collar range.  I embraced that and structured our finances around that.  $150 a year does make a difference in many of our member’s ability to pay.  With the Public, Day, Trial member’s $25 each contribution to the bottom line, I was able to keep your dues cheap and still eat.  That changed and is gone for the foreseeable future.  Think about our situation.  The risks.  The measures we all have to now consider to stay safe from a virus that kills a chunk of those over 70 who get it.  Now factor that into a shooting range business model and figure out how to keep the doors open.  We are very lucky to be open.

I could have stayed closed and just waited on the government to hand me a check to pay my guys with and all our bills for sitting idle.  Or, I could fight.  I fought the closure and got us open.  Now I am fighting for enough money to make payroll, lease, lights and liability insurance payment.  It takes about $9000 a month net money to break even, if nothing breaks.  Our cash cow, the day use of the main range, is gone so it has to come from somewhere.  Dues make about $150 a day this time of the year.  We need another $150 a day to break even.  That is just 6 guys a day deciding to come and shoot.  You invested in a membership so you could have a place to shoot.  You still have a great place to shoot.  Every other shooting position has been closed off to ensure social distancing.  Use of a mask when shooting with others on the range is strongly encouraged but not yet a hard requirement for range use.  Every day, the shooting areas have been hosed down with a bleach water disinfectant to ensure your safety. 

I will point to the business model I adopted… private golf clubs.  Join a country club and want to play a round of golf?  You are going to pay a greens fee and you can bet its way more than $10.  Our range use fee is a greens fee.  Its how it has to be until I can figure out another way.   Reservations for shooting spots is how we are controlling the number of people on the facility.  It is super easy.  To use the range call 205-744-2600.  Put your name on the slot of time on the range you want to use.  Secure it with a $10 range fee and its your space while you are here. 

Jon Grigsby