Working at a range/gun shop?

Working at a range/gun shop?

This is a discussion on Working at a range/gun shop? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm taking a guess as to where this thread would belong. Anyway, this is mainly directed to those of you who currently work at a ...

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Thread: Working at a range/gun shop?

  1. #1
    Member Array laeckcrov's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Groton, CT

    Working at a range/gun shop?

    I'm taking a guess as to where this thread would belong. Anyway, this is mainly directed to those of you who currently work at a range and/or gun shop.

    As of late i've been thinking about trying to work/volunteer part time at a locan range/shop. I haven't actually moved to Groton yet, i get there this weekend, so i obviously haven't been able to find one i like yet.

    I am curious as to the rules/regulations regarding employment. I'm sure it varies state to state, but even some rough heads up would be wonderful.

    It would be nice to spend time helping others with what i love, and maybe earn an extra buck doing it.
    The muzzle end of a .45 pretty much says, "Go Away" in every language.

    Fast is fine, accuracy is final. Learn to be slow in a hurry.

    "I never met a man that had been in a gunfight and wished that he had a smaller gun. Ever."

  2. #2
    Member Array 22RSSIX's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    I am a volunteer RO at my local outdoor range on weekends when I am in town. I show up and help setup and setdown along with watching the 4 rules and enforcing the range rules.

    They have some paid employees but there are a few of us who volunteer.

    I think the employment requirements would vary state to state. But if you can own a firearm I am sure you will be good to go.

    As far as getting a paid RO gig that might be hard unless the place is hiring.

    Being a RO has been great. The guys are fun to chat with and there are a few old guys who come in and chat. I have learned a lot of stuff, met a lot of nice folks and get to shoot all sorts of cool guns that the public brings in.

    Once you find a place you like get to know the owner and employees. Once they know you you will have a better shot at getting somekind of job with them.

  3. #3
    Array SIXTO's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Working on a public range isnt nearly as fun as someone looking in from the outside would think. I will never do it again.
    "Just blame Sixto"

    I reserve the right to make fun, point and laugh etc.

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  5. #4
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    Array limatunes's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    I worked at a range/gun shop for about a year before my husband and I moved to VA and then I got another job at a gun shop pretty much as soon as we arrived down here and have been working there for over a year now.

    As far as "rules" are concerned, legally, in the states I've worked in, you just have to be over 21 years of age and able to pass a background check. That doesn't mean they DO a background check on you (some gun shops will though) it just means you should legally be able to handle the firearms you are selling (insert big "DUH" here).

    Anyway... like Sixto says, it's not NEARLY as glamorous as people make it out to be.

    Expect to get a LOT of guns pointed at you and to be astounded at how incredibly stupid some people are (including your coworkers).

    You will hear a lot of astounding "theories" about calibers, guns, makes, models, "stopping power," etc. and don't get sucked into the vortex of repeating what you hear without rechecking (about 4 times) the information.

    Nothing ruins your credibility with knowledgeable gun purchasers than just spouting out random stuff that makes you look like a complete idiot. You'll loose customers and sales and if you work on commission then you are really screwed.

    If you work on a range expect to be VERY BORED with brief periods of terror. When you have a shooter or two who is safe, knowledgeable and competent you are going to get bored out of your mind and wish you could be doing anything but watching this guy punch holes in paper. HOWEVER, when you get four or five punks (or worse yet, young military personnel who assume that just because they know how to shoot a rifle they can shoot a handgun) and you have to run out there and stop them from shooting holes in your floor, ceiling, walls and other people, you have your moments of terror and a few questions as to whether you should have written out a new will that morning.

    There were at least three times while working range duty that I was almost sure someone (including myself) was going to get shot.

    The up side is that on "down time" it is fun to go into the range and pop off a few rounds and if you get to know your customers well you get the opportunity to shoot some REALLY COOL guns and if you have rentals at your place it's always fun to shoot those.

    I used to sit back at the range and clean the rental guns when the shooters were competent and I didn't have to watch them every second of the time. I learned a LOT about a LOT of different guns.

    Then, of course, you will have to deal with paperwork.... and more paperwork.. and more paperwork... and you have to get it 100% correct or you get the ATF or state police breathing down your neck.

    And then, of course, unless you own the place you have to deal with a boss and truer words were never spoken when it was said that a boss could make or break any job. I don't care how much you love guns, if you and your boss are at odds you won't be as thrilled about it as you thought.

    It has it's rewarding moments and it can be fun but it can be boring and frustrating and irritating. When there are no customers you are stuck doing things like cleaning, stocking shelves, ordering parts, sorting through paperwork and all the boring things people hate about their jobs in general. When it's super busy it can be okay and you WILL have that customer or two or ten who comes in regularly, is the most annoying human on the face of the earth, who just stands around no matter how busy you are and asks you a thousand STUPID questions, asks to see every stinkin' gun on the shelf and NEVER buys a single thing.

    I LOVE working with guns and I love getting to know good customers and helping people find guns that are right for them. I love learning about the new guns and getting to at least play with the newest pieces and read and learn about them. But there is a lot I DON'T love about working at a gun shop as well.

    If I ever leave (which I think will be soon as this baby is about to be born) I'll miss it, but I'm sure I'll find something else that makes me just as happy.

    Good luck!

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    Aug 2006


    I "work" part time at an indoor range and gunshop. Before that I worked at a small gunshop. I originally started working after I was a regular at the shop for a while, then started helping when the owner tried to computerize the inventory and got in over his head. I apprenticed with the gunsmith/ armorer and worked there fixing and selling and helping run the place until he retired. There were no special requirements more than any other job, legally-speaking. I was thinking about finding another shop to work in a few years after the first one closed. My wife went into the shop where I work now to buy me a birthday present and mentioned that I was looking again to the owner. I came in and talked to him, a miracle kind of happened, and I got hired again. After he sold, I stayed on as a part time volunteer with the new owner.

    The bad:
    The money is not good for a full time person, profit margin is slim and we expect the gun business to get busy for a while, then drop off again. (cough, Obama, cough cough) Working on an indoor range is dirty, especially if it's not a lead free range. Even if the ventilation is great, sweeping and cleaning up is dirty work. Maintaining the range is even worse. It is much safer on our range than at the public outdoor range. I work for the local County, which also runs the range and I could work there if I wanted to, but I never would.

    As for what I like about it, I love meeting people. I love seeing all different kinds of guns, rare stuff, neat stuff, stuff you might never see anywhere else. I get an opportunity to buy stuff cheap, either pawns or used stuff, or to get new guns near cost. I also can work off the price if I need to. I get free ammo mostly. I also like the ability to teach new shooters and to help experienced shooters that are having problems. I'm a much better shot than I would be otherwise. I have shot all different kinds of guns, taken them apart, mostly put them back together... I also realize I could never own a gunshop. I would turn it into a big personal gun collection and never make any money. My gun collection is slowly still growing, just don't tell my wife.

    My current situation is kind of unique, but I work as a consultant now. For reasons of taxes, insurance, and such like that. I can come and go as I want and have no set schedule. I come in, do the things I can do, teach what I can to some other folks (sometimes clean up their messes) and go when I'm done. The boss is very understanding and it's very low stress. There are still no requirements different than any other job I've had. Still got to pay taxes to the man, still worry about getting sued if I blow a gun up.

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    Bob from Southern New Hampshire
    I work at this place KTP.Com which is one of the largest sporting goods dealers in the east Coast. I see all types come in, plus the tourits, which can make your day VERY long. Questions are always abound, and sometimes it can get VERY overwhelming to all of us on the Gun Floor.
    What I find most concerning is, the fact that some of the people we see in the store, don't even know their own State Gun laws, never mind the Federal laws. Most people just want to do the "touchy feely" thing with al the handguns we have in the cases. It's amazing what you see and hear on the gun floor, like "all ya gotta do it file down the sear" on semi auto guns and other silly things from people who know nothing about what they're talking about, except to impress the others around them. Yes, it's cool to work there, but it's also a strssing day, especially when you get way too many "touristas"
    On the other end, the perks are, you get to fool with everything that comes into inventory, get to sign them out for testing, and there's way too many guns, than my wallet can handle, so, like my co-workers at the Store, we laugh and say "yup, we're ALL on the 12 step program, but it just isn't working out" or " just imagine it being an alcoholic, and working for Jack Daniels. Either way, it's a blast!
    Why Waltz when you can Rock-N-Roll

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array LenS's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    I lived and worked in Groton for 3 years back in the early 1970s and last visited the place a year ago, so I have some idea wrt the OP and what's around there.

    Sounds like the OP is a Navy Submariner getting stationed at New London Sub Base.

    There are no public ranges in SE CT AFAIK. There are private gun clubs, the closest is probably Ledyard. There are very few gun shops in the area and none with ranges attached TTBOMK. One shop (hunting only focus) around Old Lyme (not certain which town) that I stopped in on a few years ago. I am unaware of any other gun shop East of New London to the RI border.

    I am a volunteer NRA Certified RO at a local gun club where I live now and one day/month I am assigned to our outdoor ranges. Mostly boring, occasionally get to shoot some nice toys that others bring to the range, get to chat with some nice folks (occasionally, as I'm not there to deter them from shooting), and it's an excuse to do some shooting there myself after my shift is over.

    I've visited (but never shot at) two public ranges and in general do not feel safe around many of the folks that use these places. One of them gets more than its share of gang-bangers visiting to the point that the BATFE has mandated "special record keeping" (and turning over same to BATFE on a regular basis) for those using their facility. The other place rents F/A and I've heard horror stories from some folks about rookies "trying to make like in the movies" with the rental guns. No thank you, I'll stick to the private clubs (a lot less expensive too) where most have a clue about gun safety rules.

    When I visited the S&W range in Springfield, MA last year I noticed that all their ROs wear ballistic vests while on the range. I think that there is a message there!!

    One thing I see in all shops is bad gun handling (sweeping others) that would probably drive me nuts if I worked there.


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