Sites like LivingSocial and Groupon are abuzz with steeply discounted gun-related offers—often 50 percent off standard retail prices.
How do these deals work? A local range or instructor will partner with the sites to offer a discounted course or shooting session. With their wide local appeal—the sites have deals on everything from dining to clothing and beyond—a large audience will see and (hopefully) sign up for the offers. In return, the websites take half of the discounted price, meaning that for a 50-percent discount, the range or instructor takes home just 25 percent of what it normally would for the service offered in the online deal.
Why, then, would a business utilize these sites? Because the response has been universally enormous. Silver Eagle Group, a modern indoor range in Ashburn, VA, has sold nearly 6,000 sessions via LivingSocial. Customers get 30 to 45 minutes of personalized classroom instruction, rental of a Glock 17, an hour on a lane, eye and ear protection, and a box of ammo for $75—the equivalent of 60-percent less than retail for those goods and services. "We want to introduce people to shooting in a safe, clean environment," said General Manager Jason Randall. "And about 90 to 95 percent of the people who use the LivingSocial deals are new shooters." Interestingly, 35 to 40 percent of those utilizing the web-based offers have been female. "We've had many instances of a group of women enjoying a girls night out at the range," Randall said. "The women also tend to shoot better than the men who sign up, as they actually pay attention during the classroom instruction."
Jay Temple, owner of Straight Shooters in Lubbock, TX, was contacted by LivingSocial in December 2010 to run a half-off deal on concealed-carry training. "I told my friend that if I got 30 people to sign up, I'd be happy. I got 140 people the first time I ran a discount. Now, I buy stuff on LivingSocial!"
While young people make up the plurality of shooters signing up for these online discounts, they are not alone. "The majority of folks who signed up for our classes via LivingSocial were in their 30s," said Dallas, TX-based DFW Shooters Academy owner Travis Bond. "But about 10 percent of the more than 1,000 people who participated were older than 60."
If you haven't browsed these sites, you're leaving money on the table. Given the numbers, however, a lot of you knew that already.