Fill Your Range: How Text Messaging Drives Membership Growth

How Text Messaging Drives Membership Growth

Tired of empty lanes and unpredictable membership numbers? Wish you had a way to directly reach passionate shooters and make them loyal to your range? There’s an underutilized tool in your pocket, and it’s the key to unlocking steady membership growth – text messaging.

Did you know 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes?  This means your range’s updates and promotions have a much higher chance of being seen compared to traditional marketing.

What Keeps Shooting Range Owners Up at Night

Running a shooting range is no easy feat. Beyond the day-to-day operations, there are everyday struggles that keep owners stressed and hold their business back:

  • Membership Acquisition: Attracting a consistent flow of new members is a constant battle, especially in a competitive market. Traditional advertising is expensive and often has low returns.
  • Member Retention: Keeping existing members engaged and excited can be tricky. Without regular communication and value, they may easily drift away.
  • Low Engagement: Many members fall into a β€œsign up and forget” pattern. They might only visit occasionally, missing out on events, classes, or other revenue-generating opportunities.
  • Missed Revenue: Promotions, limited-time offers, and updates often get lost in crowded email inboxes. This translates to missed sales and untapped potential.

These are just a few of the thorns in your side as a range owner. But what if there was a way to turn these pain points into powerful growth?  Good news: there is! Text messaging offers a proven solution to boost membership, keep your lanes full, and build a thriving community.

Pre-Opening Membership Drive with Texting

A headstart on building your membership base is crucial for a successful shooting range launch. Text messaging offers a unique and powerful way to connect with potential members even before your doors are open. Here’s why it’s the perfect tool for pre-opening hype:

  • Immediacy: Reach interested individuals instantly, keeping your range top-of-mind even before you open your doors.
  • Direct Connection: Build a personal connection with potential members, fostering a sense of community from the get-go.
  • High Engagement: Text messages boast incredibly high open rates (more than 98%!), ensuring your offers and updates are actually seen.
  • Hype Generator: Easily create excitement and anticipation for your grand opening.

Examples of How to Leverage It

Now that you understand why texting is so advantageous, let’s explore some specific strategies to put into action:

Early-Bird Incentives: Offer exclusive pre-opening discounts, founding member status, or limited-time perks to encourage early sign-ups.

“Be a Lake Erie Arms founding member! Text JOIN to 55555 and get 20% off your first year, plus a limited-edition hat.”

Behind-the-Scenes Updates: Share construction progress photos/videos, introduce staff, and give sneak peeks of your range features.

“The LEA range is coming together! Check out our new state-of-the-art ventilation system [short video clip] Want more updates? Text PROGRESS”

Contests and Giveaways:  Text-based contests for free memberships, range time, or branded merchandise.

“Want a FREE year membership at LEA? Text CONTEST for your chance to win! 3 winners were announced on opening day! “

Sneak Peeks at Membership Tiers: Introduce different membership levels and their benefits via text.

“Ready for the VIP treatment? Our Caliber Club gets you lounge access, priority lane reservations, and more! Text CALIBER for the full scoop.”

Considerations and Tips

While text messaging is incredibly effective, there are a few key things to keep in mind to make the most of this channel:

  • Compliance: Always get express permission for texting (opt-in). Include clear instructions on how to opt out.
  • Branding: Maintain consistent branding across your text messages.
  • Frequency: Don’t over-message. A few well-timed, valuable texts are better than daily spam.
  • Value: Make sure each text provides something worthwhile to the recipient.

Membership Growth & Retention After Opening

The work doesn’t stop once your range opens! Text messaging remains a valuable tool to continue growing your membership and fostering loyalty. Here’s how to use it post-launch:

  • Welcome Messages: Immediately connect with new members by sending personalized welcome texts, including any onboarding instructions or special offers.
  • Membership Tier Promotions:  Upsell existing members into higher tiers by highlighting exclusive perks and benefits via text.
  • Renewal Reminders: Send automated, timely reminders before memberships expire, making renewals easy and minimizing member loss.
  • Referral Programs:  Text-based referral codes and rewards for both the referrer and the new member are a great way to encourage word-of-mouth growth.
  • Feedback and Surveys: Keep a finger on the pulse of your membership experience by sending short text surveys or polls to gather valuable insights.
Examples of How to Leverage It

Welcome Message:  Beyond attracting new members, it’s vital to offer opportunities for your existing members to upgrade and experience even more benefits. Let’s look at how to do that:

“Welcome to Lake Erie Arms, [Name]! As a member, you get priority lane access and 10% off ammo. Need help booking your first lane? Reply YES.”

Tier Promotion: A key part of membership retention is proactive communication. Here’s how to ensure your members feel valued and stay engaged throughout their membership:

“Upgrade to LEA Gold today! Enjoy our sauna, guest passes, and monthly private events. Text GOLD to 55555 to learn more.”

Renewal Reminder: “Your LEA membership expires in 2 weeks. Renew now for another year of awesome range time! Text RENEW to 55555 for a quick link.”

Referral: “Spread the LEA love! Get a $25 range credit when you refer a friend who signs up. Text REFER to 55555 for your unique code.”

Feedback: “How was your range visit today? Reply on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being awesome! Your input helps us improve.”

Considerations and Tips

While text messaging opens up many opportunities, it’s important to use it strategically to maximize effectiveness.  Here are some key things to keep in mind for your post-opening text strategy:

  • Segmentation: Target messages to specific member groups (new members, specific tiers, etc.) for greater relevance.
  • Personalization: Use the member’s name whenever possible.
  • Timing: Avoid sending messages too early or too late in the day.
  • Call to Action: Include a clear next step for the member to take (reply YES, visit a link, etc.)

Real-World Examples: Driving Membership with SMS and MMS

Shooting ranges of all sizes see success using text messaging to engage their audience and boost membership. 

Let’s take a look at how two ranges leverage these tactics:

Lake Erie Arms

Lake Erie Arms expertly uses SMS to create value, excitement, and urgency.  Here are some of their successful campaigns:

One-on-One Communication
  • Post-Visit Follow-Up: Hi [Name]! Thanks for visiting Lake Erie Arms today. Did you know members enjoy early access, unlimited 25-yard range, discounts on training, leagues, and more? Plus, our Caliber Club access! Ready to elevate your experience? Reply YES for details. 🎯
  • After Multiple Visits: Hey [Name]! Noticed you’ve hit the range with us again 🎯 – that’s awesome! As a member, you could save on visits and enjoy exclusive perks like our sauna, VIP lounges, and event discounts. Want to see how much you could save? Reply CALCULATE.
  • Personal Achievement Recognition: Congratulations on hitting the range 10 times last month, [Name]! As a reward, your next visit is on us. πŸ†”  
Exclusive Offers and Incentives

Introductory discounts for new members, training or league promotions, and time-sensitive deals to drive action.

  • Introductory Offer: “Exclusive Offer from Lake Erie Arms: Join LEA this week and save 20% on your first 3 months of membership. Plus, a welcome gift awaits! 🌟”
  • Membership Upgrade Offer: “Lake Erie Arms: Unlock exclusive amenities with a Gold or Platinum Membership. Upgrade this week for a special rate. 🌟”
  • Exclusive Event Invitation: “You’re invited to an exclusive Full Auto Night at Lake Erie Arms. Experience the thrill under the stars. πŸ’₯”
Magnum Range

Magnum Range strategically employs MMS to create attention-grabbing visuals and a strong sense of “you need to be here!”  

Here are some of their effective tactics:

  • Free Class Promotion:  An animated MMS gif showcasing a free class opportunity for new members, highlighting the $75 value and creating urgency with a signup call-to-action.
  • Targeted Appreciation Campaigns:  MMS highlighting free registration and range time for active duty, veterans, and retired personnel, or for dads celebrating Father’s Day.
  • Time-Sensitive Discounts: A visually engaging MMS with a  15% off for new members offer, emphasizing the limited-time nature of the deal.

S.H.A.F.T. Compliance for Shooting Ranges

The firearms industry falls under S.H.A.F.T regulations, making it extra important for shooting ranges to approach text messaging with compliance in mind. Here’s what you need to know:

Age-Gate Verification

One of the most critical S.H.A.F.T. requirements is age verification. You MUST implement a system that confirms all members receiving your texts are legally of age (21+).  This often involves a double opt-in process with birthday verification.

Focus on Value and Information  

Prioritize messages that offer real value to members, such as:

  • Range updates and closures
  • Event announcements and reminders (training classes, competitions)
  • Membership promotions and benefits
  • Safety reminders and protocols
Opt-Ins and Opt-Outs

Always obtain explicit consent before sending text messages (opt-in). Include clear instructions on opting out from future messages in every text.

Choose the Right Partner

It’s highly advantageous to work with a text messaging platform like OtterText that both understands and proactively supports S.H.A.F.T. compliance. They can help you set up age verification and guide you in creating effective campaigns within the regulations.

Important Note:  Regulations can change. Stay up-to-date on the latest S.H.A.F.T. guidelines by consulting with your SMS provider and monitoring industry resources.

For a complete breakdown of S.H.A.F.T. compliance, read our in-depth article.


Text messaging gives you a direct line to passionate shooters and allows you to build a thriving range community even before launch day. This translates into faster membership growth, stronger member loyalty, and a competitive edge right out of the gate.  Your competitors might already be leveraging this powerful tool. Don’t get left behind – start exploring the power of text messaging today!

Try OtterText for free and supercharge your membership growth. Our platform understands the unique needs of shooting ranges, making it simple to send compliant, effective text campaigns.