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How Do Gun Clubs Determine Their Costs

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Target13, Jun 5, 2009.

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  1. Target13

    Target13 Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    As I look over these threads each day, I see shooters complaining about this or that club - "they charge too high per round" etc. In my travels around the country, the most asked question by Managers and their gun clubs is how do they determine their costs to charge a certain amount per round ?? In all my years of shooting I've yet to find anything ever published that is there to help the Manager to determine these costs - of course, the bookeeper helps, but it seems there is not one "surefire" way to do it other than tell them to take their expenses and figure that in.

    Hence, how about some of you Club Managers taking a moment of your time to discuss for those out there that could use your help and expertise, how you arrive at determining per round costs using factors like labor; electricity; target costs etc. If you'll take a moment to do this, I honestly think you will be doing a lot to help - in my travels, I've unfortunately come across many that have no idea about this and are too ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help and guidance. You'd really be doing some folks a real favor to pass along what issues you examine before setting costs.

    I for one would like to see the clubs/ranges WORKING TOGETHER to be successful - you are not giving any trade "secrets" away here. Yes, we are in competition, but if we don't start working together, we are ALL going to lose out. Hence, if your club has a success story, let us all know. What you tell us might enable another club to make a successful try at something different and be very successful.

    Based on our economic and political conditions, it is time that we quit bashing one another and instead, do what we can to improve our gun clubs and shooting sports. I surely don't have all the answers, but as a collective group, if we can work together; promote shooting; promote it's fun; support our gun clubs etc., we can begin to make inroads never seen before.

    Look forward to your responses ..... good or bad.

    Phil Murray
  2. BigM-Perazzi

    BigM-Perazzi Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Don't know all the particulars, but, at .08 a target, it's $2.00 a round immediately for the targets, then you've got utilities, maybe $40.00 a month just for the traphouse electric if your out in a field somewhere.

    Most clubs around the Hell, Michigan area are holding to $4.00 for non-member, $3.00 or $3.50 for members....

    Not a great ROI....
  3. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    From an accounting perspective, it is pretty easy to figure out the DIRECT cost(s) of targets thrown: including shrinkage and maintenance.

    Where it can get complicated, confusing and angst-inducing is in what other amenities are wanted and how they are covered: gun racks, shade, lights, manicured fields, more concrete ... have to be paid-for (subsidized).

    Or adding other amenities ...

    Conflicts are guaranteed to arise between hi-volume shoot-and-go types and hang-out-at-the-club types. And between the 'one game' and 'I like to shoot different things' crowds, as can be seen on the companion thread - especially when it comes to work days.

    Transparent accounting that clearly shows what is being subsidised by what helps, of course - but there is no true solution if interests are hardened into two camps.

  4. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    The land that the club sits on is taxed, the building is taxed, mortgage, the place has to be insured, then there is labor which is constant to a degree, gun rack,s clean up, cutting the grass, heat, cooling, targets, shells, toilet paper, hand towels,soap, water bills, electric, ATA fees and charges unless eliminated, general repairs and then those major repairs that pop up from time to time when you can least afford them ... Take a figure that covers all of that then double it and hope you break even when alls said and done ... Want to make a small fortune open a club and start with a big fortune ..? WPT ... (YAC) ...
  5. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    The bottom line for all clubs (private and member owned) is, what does it cost to run the club for 365 days BEFORE throwing a target?

    Each club is different...

    Insurance, taxes (federal/state/local), heating cost, electricity cost, mowing grass, snow removal, association fees, garbage pickup, general building maintenance repairs, yearly anticipated cost of trap/skeet machine parts.

    Also, if a new lawn mower is needed or the club house roof is in need of replacement, or the bathrooms need an upgrade....

    Are those using the archery range and outdoor range getting a free ride and only paying a yearly membership fee to use the ranges 365 days a year? The monies to replace targets and to mow fields comes from where?

    For clubs that have hired help. The cost is more than the hourly wage paid, unless they are being paid under the table. Not an option for many clubs.

    The cost of a club manager?

    Some clubs have a number of volunteers. At many clubs, it's two or three doing all the work and they need to bring in paid help.

    Take into consideration if the club has plans to replace machines, purchase voice release systems, or add target counters. This has to be budgeted for.

    Rainy day fund?


    The clubs annual income from MEMBERSHIP is XXX dollars.

    The clubs annual income from club drawings/raffles is XXX dollars.

    The clubs NET PROFIT (not gross) from shoots held is XXX dollars.

    NET PROFIT from sale of components?

    NET PROFIT from kitchen?

    Now, knowing the cost of a truckload of delivered targets, you can come up with a figure on what to charge for a round of clay targets for general practice to pay all club expenses not covered.


    The bottom line for me is that those who ask why the club charges so much to shoot or don't like the fee charged for membership, especially if a member run club, does not attend club meetings....

    I've seen it take two or three years to increase membership or shoot fees from the time of the initial proposal made at a meeting. Raising prices is not something that is done just for the heck of it. The biggest problem for some clubs is they hold off to long on raising prices and place the well being of the club in jeopardy!
  6. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    If you like low shooting fees, then have the fixed costs of running the club paid for by the members dues. HMB
  7. ffwildcat

    ffwildcat TS Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Some good info so far. Consider this. There are two different types of gun clubs - member owned and operated and private ownership open to the public.

    I am not aware of any clubs run by either ownership type that is rich beyond their wildest dreams.

    As a general rule of thumb you can adopt one of 2 methods to "sniff" test pricing:

    1. Direct cost times 3
    2. Total labor costs times 2.
  8. Target13

    Target13 Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    THANKS for all your input so far - all good stuff. You bring up different factors for different clubs. Gotten two calls already from some Managers telling me they learned some new factors today - that is good.

  9. Trap2

    Trap2 Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Redding, California
    HMB is right on the money. If all of the clubs fixed operating costs are covered by the members dues, it is fairly easy to keep target costs down. For a small club, there are only 2 ways to go when faced with price increases: Increased membership fees, or, increased target fees. The larger the club, best case scenario, the lower the target fees should be. The larger membership generates more income in order to cover the fixed expenses, provided the membership fees are sufficient to do so, and allows that club some leeway in its operating policies. Small clubs often have a disadvantage here. I think that's the main reason for the demise of many of the smaller clubs around the country. They cannot afford to raise membership fees due to the fact that they will lose members, and they hesitate to raise target fees for their fear of driving shooters away. Unfortunately, they usually wait too long to raise their fees, and when they finally do, they are faced with the same problem again almost immediately. Membership fees, or target fees, must be raised as soon as ANY increases are noticed by the clubs BOD. Gun clubs MUST be run like any other business is run. Failure to do so results in a constant struggle to remain afloat in todays economy. It is a never ending job to continually try to balance the budget and show a modest profit for a gun club that is run by a BOD and volunteers only. It is much easier to do this if you have a BOD and a gun club manager that is responsible for the day to day operations of the club. There must be a system of checks and balances, and a constant eye on gun club costs to turn a profit. A good gun club manager can make or break a gun club. The relationship between the BOD and the gun club manager is paramount to a successful operation. Here again, it is unfortunate that many clubs hire the cheapest manager they can find. Cheap is not the answer, EFFECTIVNESS IS. Someone like Earl Scripture can make you a ton of money, while some shooter looking to retire and run a club can't.
    There are no clear cut answers to your question, Phil. Every gun club has a different set of circumstances and scenarios, and each club must respond and react to them on an individual basis... Dan Thome (Trap2)
  10. phirel

    phirel TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Calculating the true cost of operating a gun club, or any business can get complicated. Some good ideas listed above but some important costs are not considered by most shooters.
    Return of the investment- A sound business should get a return of the initial investment in about seven years.
    Return on the investment- Not only should the investment be returned, the investor should make a profit on the investment.
    Opportunity Costs- If you make a risky investment and gain a 6% return, and you could have made a safe investment (Bank CD) and gotten a 4% return, your real return on the risky investment is only 2%.
    Reserve Costs- IF a new roof on the club house has a 15 year life and costs $10,000 now to replace, assuming a 4% annual increase in costs, the club loses $1,200 per year on the roof.

    If any club wants to know their real expenses and net worth, I suggest they hire me to do a commercial appraisal. I am not cheap, but I will work for new shells. I will produce a detailed +-50 page document supporting my estimation of the business profit the club makes. Most likely, my final conclusion would be that the club is a very poor business opportunity.

    Pat Ireland
  11. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998

    I appreciate your offer, but we can't afford you emptying our ammo room to tell us that running a member owned shot gunning club is a loss leader venture. Shooters have no idea how difficult it is to attempt to at least break even with a fair amount of volunteer help.

    Now, if you have a 50+ page proposal on a successful plan that can show us the easy no fail way, we can re-examine our shell supply.LOL

    Have a good day and shoot well, Bob
  12. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

    Jan 29, 1998
    Prairie State
    Our range is government owned and operated with prices determined by them...

    Direct Expenses...

    Targets - 1 rd/case incls a spoilage factor
    Labor - paid range supervision

    Indirect Expenses... calculated as 1/4-1/2 direct expense (?!)

    Utilities - Electric/AC/lights, Gas/heat, Water/sewage/garbage
    Maintenance (mowing/minor repairs to range,
    Salaries - contribution to government official salary

    No real estate taxes, lots of volunteer range help and use a 3-tier pricing system...

    Jay Spitz
  13. mixer

    mixer Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Coral Springs, Florida
    Like Spitters example above, Markham Park is also a Govenment (county) operated public facility in S. Florida open 6 days a week. Markham has 5 trap/skeet combo fields, a 5 stand field, a 1.5 mile sporting clays course, and a 40 point rifle and pistol range.

    Everything except the SC course is lit for night shooting. All help are county employees and no volunteer help is allowed. Target costs are $7.25 per flight for trap and skeet and higher for 5 stand and SC.

    Last figure I heard was that the entire facility grosses about $1.5 million per year and that clay target part just about breaks even due to expenses of targets and help. All the profit comes from the rifle and pistol ranges where they sell nothing but time.

  14. Dr.Longshot

    Dr.Longshot Banned Banned

    Jan 29, 1998
    Registered shooting costs are more than practice shooting because of stipends
    such as trophies.

    I shoot at a club that shoots practice for 25 targets@ 2.50
    another club charges $3.00
    Another club charges $4.00
    "" "" "" $5.00

    And one I won't shoot at charges $9.00 for non-members and has Elite shooters.

    The $2.50 club we all help out loading, pulling/scoring and have a 50/50 drawing every shoot.

    A long shot that pays out 75% if target is hit and pot keeps growing till it is broken, pulls 3 names and club furnishes 3 new shells and shot at a pre-determined spot till broken, and then another place is chosen for the next longshot.

    We also throw 3 Black Birds and if they are not broken the pot builds for the next weeks shoot.

    If all three are broken divided 33 1/3% to each shooter, 2 divided 50% to the 2 shooters and if only one is broken 100% to that shooter.

    When the black bird is thrown that target is not scored, he must shoot another target for it to be scored, we do this on buddy shoots, shooter must play the Black Bird to win the money.

    Gary Bryant
  15. Lead Man

    Lead Man TS Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    I would suggest to purchase an accounting software like quick books pro, not the home version. Enter everything in and see what the outcome is. It amazes me that folks at the clubs can run a million dollar business but fail to look at a club the same way.

    If you elect a secretary\treasurer it would fall under their job description. It's a business.
  16. fssberson

    fssberson Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    One of the most overlooked aspects of club operations is the amortization of capital investment. The most prudent approach to managing the cost of amortization is to establish actual fund accounts, like a savings account, into which you regularly deposit money so that money is available to pay for the major repair or replacement of a particular capital item.

    An easy example of this is the trap machine itself. As a mechanical device, it is going to need repair and maintenance and eventual replacement. A new PatTrap will cost about $8,000 delivered. Just for example let's assume you can expect to throw 2 million targets from that machine before replacement. That would be 80,000 rounds. This means that you have a cost of $.10 per round that you should be collecting and putting in a savings account so that if in fact the machine wears out at 2 million targets, the money will be there to buy a new one.

    However, we also know that the machine requires maintenance on its way to reaching 2 million targets. Let's say that that number is $300 every 10,000 rounds. That is another three cents per round. Consequently, a prudent club would add $.13 per round and set this money aside just to amortize the capital investment of the trap machine and its maintenance.

    Further, above Pat mentions a new clubhouse roof that is going to cost $10,000 every 15 years, or, $667 per year.. If your club throws 10,000 rounds per year, then you need to add another $.07 for every round thrown so that when the roof starts to leak the club has the $10,000 in the bank to pay for the roof.

    As you can see, using just these two examples we have added $.20 per round into the costs of throwing targets. Obviously, clubs have several other capital investments that need to be amortized such as voice releases and other club facilities and equipment. Consequently, it is not too difficult to find that a club should be adding as much as $.50 per round just to have the funds available when capital items need to be replaced.

    A club also needs to establish a legal defense fund. Clubs are closed every year because 20 years before the club members did not have the foresight to believe that their club would face any type of legal or encroaching development challenge. Had that club added $.50 per round to establish a legal defense fund and that club threw 10,000 rounds per year, the club would have had between $125,000 and $150,000 in the bank to either fight the legal challenge or help to pay relocation expenses.

    As you can see, a prudent club should add these types of financial needs into the cost per round. Obviously, if targets are costing $2.25 per round a club probably shouldn't be throwing targets for $2.50 per round because eventually the financial chickens will come home to roost.
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