The Changing Face of America’s Target Shooter

Firearms Enthusiast
Firearms Enthusiast
Southwick Associates
Southwick Associates

Fernandina Beach, FL -( The racial and ethnic make-up of America is changing and with it, so is the American firearms enthusiast.

In 2015, to support its marketing and outreach efforts, the NSSF commissioned Southwick Associates to study the interests, preferences, concerns and barriers surrounding target shooting among major cultural audiences in the United States.

And while the image of white, middle-aged males as avid shooting enthusiasts remains dominant in most marketing materials and available publications (and participation is in reality still very high), the fact is, interest in target shooting among Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans is high as well.

Of key interest, of those people surveyed online as part of the study who had not tried shooting in recent years, virtually all of them expressed some interest in giving it a try. The study also revealed that Hispanics and African-Americans (26 percent and 27 percent) are much more likely than Asian-Americans (15 percent) and white Americans (13 percent) to be definitely interested in target shooting.

So what motivates this potential crop of new shooters to try the sport?

  • 58% To have fun and experience excitement
  • 47% To develop/improve shooting skills
  • 49% To learn how to protect myself and my home
  • 43% To better understand firearms
  • 41% To learn a challenging sport

At the same time, if local ranges or businesses plan to market to specific segments of the population, they need to understand what drives that particular segment’s interest in recreational shooting. It’s not enough to take a “one ad campaign fits all” approach. For example, Hispanics are drawn to shooting more by fun and excitement, experiencing something new and spending time with family. Women on the other hand are more drawn than men by feeling empowered, learning self-defense, better understanding firearms and spending time with family and friends.

Just like current target shooting customers, interest among this new audience is greatest for handguns (67 percent), but respondents are interested in other types of shooting as well, such as rifles (40 percent), shotguns (22 percent) and air guns (26 percent). So what information is essential to nonshooters before making the decision to visit a range?

They want to know:

  • Prices (80%)
  • Directions to the range (73%)
  • The types of shooting available (66%)
  • Services available for beginners (64%)
  • Hours of operation (63%)

Because many of these new or would-be shooters will head to the internet to research options before engaging in the activity (73 percent will search Google to find a local range), it is important to have an easy-to-navigate website that includes all of this information. As far as in-store promotions to pull in today’s new shooters, discount coupons, beginning shooters events and beginners package deals that include firearms rental, ammunition and safety equipment are a big draw.

“We recognize that the face of America is changing. The future of hunting and target shooting depends on active participants. It is the NSSF’s priority to ensure that everyone sees hunting and target shooting as inclusive, accessible and as a valuable way to spend their leisure time. This study is a key part of our strategy to increase participation in hunting and the shooting sports,” says Samantha Pedder, manager of Outreach and Diversity for the NSSF.

About Southwick Associates:

Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm, specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets. For more than 25 years, Southwick Associates has established a proven record for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics assisting business and strategic decisions across the entire outdoor industry; from government agencies, industry associations and non-profit organizations, to affiliated businesses and manufacturers. Aside from custom market research, Southwick Associates also provides syndicated participation, media consumption and equipment purchase tracking studies utilizing their proprietary sportsmen panels.

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