“It makes perfect sense to use the NSSF® First Shots® program for our chapter introductions,” said Jessica Keffer, leader and instructor of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, chapter of The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters, Inc. (Armed Women of America), and instructor at The Sportsman’s Shop, also in Lancaster. “First Shots really incorporates Armed Women of America’s goals to educate, equip and empower shooters. It’s also a great recruiting tool for our chapter.”
“First Shots helps us build a relationship with our new Armed Women of America members,” says Jan Ennenga, leader and instructor of the Yuma, Arizona, Armed Women of America chapter and instructor at Sprague’s Sports in Yuma. “It’s a great partnership. The First Shots curriculum is perfect for helping new shooters succeed. I love hearing our members talk about First Shots and Armed Women of America to other women they meet at the range. It’s an ideal recruiting opportunity!”
“Offering First Shots has brought a lot of new customers to our range, and new members to our Armed Women of America chapter,” says Elise Wilson, owner and instructor at Timberline Firearms and Training in Flagstaff, Arizona, and co-leader of the Armed Women of America Flagstaff chapter. “First Shots is fun, and it’s not intimidating to new shooters.”
First Shots is a nationally recognized introductory course created by NSSF, the firearm industry trade association. NSSF members that commit to hosting First Shots events receive equipment and financial incentives to offer the program to new shooters as a means of engaging and promoting safe firearm use and ownership.
“We developed First Shots to work as a foundational course for new or returning shooters in almost any range environment, and it’s a particularly good fit with the mission of Armed Women of America,” says Zach Snow, NSSF Director, Retail & Range Business Development. “A key element of the program is the reward coupon given to each participant at the conclusion of the course. They can return to the host range and use the coupon to keep the momentum going.”
Support for the Range, the Chapter and the Industry
Timberline Firearms and Training has been offering First Shots since it opened. “I really appreciate what NSSF and program sponsors do for our range,” says Wilson. “The equipment and support is fantastic, and I love the course outline.”
Participants receive eye and ear protection, course materials and a $25 reward coupon upon completing an online survey. Host ranges also receive financial support to offset the costs (ammunition and advertising support), and a complete course curriculum that can be personalized to the circumstances. “It’s a wonderful, packaged-product approach to help new shooters experience their first shots and learn the fundamentals,” says Ennenga.
“We ask all our new Armed Women of America members to take the First Shots course,” adds Keffer. “Everyone starts at the same point, with the same understanding. It’s also an appropriate way to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Marti Stonecipher, National Program Director for The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters, Inc., finds the Armed Women of America/First Shots combination very encouraging and appropriate for Armed Women of America chapters, saying, “We encourage our chapter leaders to look for programs that aid in our mission of educating women in firearms training, and the NSSF First Shots program does just that. The program is a great resource to introduce new shooters to firearms, leaving them comfortable and ready for their new journey as a firearm owner.”
“We make it really easy for people to sign up for First Shots,” says Wilson. “It’s the only class we offer in which we allow people to sign up online using EventBrite. It’s easy, fast and efficient.”
Sprague’s has been a First Shots host range since the program was launched. “It’s a great proficiency builder,” says Ennenga. “People start with First Shots and quickly step up to additional training, firearm ownership and use of the range. It’s such a flexible program. We can adjust the class to the ability/needs of the students so easily. And I love the materials NSSF provides us!”
“We want them to succeed.”
“Let’s face it: new shooters tire and lose focus,” adds Ennenga. “That’s why I love the program and love teaching the class. It’s a great, condensed introduction and or refresher session. We tell students not to worry about the bull’s-eye, but to focus on consistency and safety. We get them working on stance and eye dominance, we give them a break, and pretty soon we see them starting to relax and enjoy themselves. We want them to succeed.”
Richard Sprague, owner of Sprague’s Sports, added his observations on First Shots, saying, “It’s such a flexible product, I encourage all NSSF member ranges to use it as their introductory course. We’ve used it for small groups that wanted to shoot together, for “snowbirds” that wanted us to bring the class to them (with SIRT guns), and for remote learning using Zoom (classroom portion, with the range time is scheduled separately). Once a customer has taken a First Shots class, they are eager to sign up for more.”
About NSSF First Shots
NSSF First Shots events, which can utilize handguns, rifles or shotguns, are designed to provide a highly personal experience to new shooters and firearm owners. Classes are small and include both classroom and range time, with instructors providing one-on-one guidance as participants take their first shots. Multiple resources are provided to host ranges to help them be successful, including ammunition, targets, classroom materials, co-op advertising dollars and more. NSSF also provides incentives to participants to help them return to their First Shots host range for additional instruction and shopping. For more information on First Shots, including how your shooting facility can become a First Shots host range, visit NSSF.org or contact Ann Gamauf, NSSF Retail & Range Business Development Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-426-1320 x 247.