More on Social Coupons & Shooting Lessons

While the coupon I mentioned yesterday sold nearly 2,000 training deals, I decided to see if there was any other data on how well shooting instruction coupons sell through the various Groupon knock-offs.

Buffalo, NY – Current count: 262 people buying coupons to be trained
Charlotte, NC – 442 people trained
Gainesville, FL – 642 rounds of trap shot
Ft. Lauderdale, FL – 567 people trained
New Orleans, LA – 618 people trained
Winston-Salem, NC – 120 rounds of sporting clays shot
Richmond, VA – 351 people trained
Birmingham, AL – 992 shooters took to the range
Miami, FL – 374 people trained

It’s not just the US, either!

Edmonton, Alberta – 894 people trained

This is actually just highlights from one easily searchable site. I didn’t cover all of them, so the numbers are actually far higher than this. But, if you consider that the low number I found was 120 more people getting out to the range on a coupon that’s only available for 1-2 days at a time, these things are actually great for our movement.

It’s also a reminder people truly have fun going to the gun range. It’s much more exciting than the anti-gun range.

12 Responses to “More on Social Coupons & Shooting Lessons”

  1. cryptical says:

    Living Social had a deal for the local gun club that’s just north of me about 4 miles. It’s primarily a shotgun place with indoor pistol shooting and a new indoor rifle range. On Friday my brother and I went and shot pistols, next week I’m going for my shotgun sports lesson that was nicely discounted.

    Without the coupons I might never have stopped in, now I might join.

  2. Brick O'Lore says:

    Knoxville, TN – 304 on the most recent one. Coal Creek has done other deals, too – range time for sure and maybe other courses as well.

  3. Dirk Diggler says:

    there was one the other day in suburban STL for Ultimate Defense, a new range that is top-notch. Buddy of mine and I each bought 2 coupons each since we are going to make a couples night and bring friends and wives along

  4. KR says:

    There’s a new company in my area offering “discounted” CHL classes through a coupon site for $149, claiming they are “reduced” from their standard price of $300. That guy has had over 100 people fall for the deception. The instructor in question is not NRA certified, has no credentials on his website other than passing a 3 day class to get certified as a CHL instructor, and his “discounted” $149 class is more expensive than just about every other CHL class in the area – most of which are taught by more experienced, more credentialed instructors easily located with a basic Google search or opening the Yellow Pages.

    It’s great that online coupons are getting people to the range – but sad that so many are flocking to these “deals” without checking to see if they are a good deal in the first place – and sad that it takes deceptive marketing to get them motivated to go to class in the first place.

    • Bitter says:

      I don’t think you’re considering how these coupons usually inspire someone to act. Many times, customers have never even heard of the business before it lands in their inbox. They don’t have time to do thorough research and find the best possible instructor. Even when one does have the time to do the research, there are plenty of people who find the less thorough classes perfectly acceptable and will give rave reviews over it. It’s easy to forget that when you’re active in the training community. You know what you consider quality and why someone might not meet your standards, and many people may agree with you. Regardless, as long as the instructor isn’t an ass and makes people feel like they came away with something, they are going to have plenty of nice things to say about them. That’s not deceptive marketing.

      As for the price, well, it doesn’t really matter if the $149 is the most expensive. What does matter is that more than 100 people were willing to pay that to get their license. Now, the upside of that means that they are very serious and less likely to skip out on using the coupon. It’s also not deceptive marketing even if there are far better bargains out there. He’s offering a service, he set a price, he offered a discount on said price, and he’s going to honor the coupons. It may not be the best deal available, but I don’t know of any service that actually makes such a claim. They simply connect people with businesses willing to offer coupons to gain new customers.

  5. KR says:

    Actually the dynamic of the coupon causing someone to act is what’s the most depressing. Getting a carry permit and learning to shoot is serious business – screw up with a gun and someone gets hurt, dies, or goes to jail. So it makes no damn sense at all to make your #1 search criteria for your training on that topic “lowest cost” or “I had a coupon”.

    While I know nothing specific about the company in question, I know that some of my competitors do a good job, and others do not. I recently coached a guy who was going to take the CHL instructor’s class. When we started practicing the qualification course of fire – he said he didn’t have to shoot it when he got his CHL. That’s a violation of state law, something that should have gotten his instructor sent to jail and caused all the permits of everyone he trained to be revoked. The guy I was coaching did not want to “rat out” his instructor, which was disappointing.

    I have had students who have trained with one local instructor who told them it was illegal to carry pepper spray in Texas (false), and I’ve had students who couldn’t load their guns without help showing up for post-CHL training, having passed the CHL course from other schools.

    You assume that every instructor is competent and is doing a good job – I have seen the opposite firsthand too many times in recent days, mostly from graduates of recently opened schools run by people more interested in money than actually teaching people what is required by state law and what is necessary for their success in a real life-threatening situation.

    • Bitter says:

      You assume that every instructor is competent and is doing a good job…

      Wow, that’s news to me. Especially since I’ve used the blogs to talk about incompetent instructors for years.

      What you don’t like about my acceptance is that I realize reality isn’t always ideal. Yes, some instructors suck. Yes, most even give out some kind of bad information. All of them make some kind of training mistake at some point in their lives. (If you say you have never made one, you’re lying and you’re doing a great disservice to anyone you teach. We call them teachable moments for a reason.) It doesn’t mean that we should throw everyone in jail or revoke people’s licenses who have demonstrated a perfect safety record in spite of their instructor’s mistakes.

      In a perfect world, the decision to learn how to shoot would be some big huge deal that people would classify as a damn near life-altering experience – at least that’s what I gather you’d like to be the case. In reality, more people come to it in a similar fashion to my experience. A friend decided that she wanted to go shoot since she hadn’t been home to shoot or hunt all semester, and she rounded up a few of us to go with her down to the range. We decided to go for it even though we were all sleep deprived from finals week. We rented guns, we got the 10-minute instruction, and then we pulled back our targets and celebrated that we even hit paper. We had fun. That’s what most people who are new to shooting want to do when they come out for classes. If the class isn’t fun, there’s a good chance that they won’t ever come back to the shooting sports. Safe, serious, and fun are not all mutually exclusive.

      Where did my 10-minute instruction lead me? Well, I joined the range as a member before we left. I continued to go back and shoot casually – with all of my shots regularly hitting the paper in future visits. I run into the guy who taught me most years at the NRA convention, and had drinks with him last year. (He actually remembers me even though it’s been just over a decade since he first gave me that basic safety primer.) I became a certified instructor before I even owned a gun – or had a permit to own one. Reality isn’t perfect. But, I think you should be able to recognize that even if people come to the issue from the perspective of just wanting to try something new and have a good time, they can still be safe and serious about gun ownership.

  6. KR says:

    The Texas CHL program has a standardized written test and a standardized shooting test. Instructors take a week long class at the state police academy learning how to teach the course to state standards. An instructor that signs official state documents stating that his students passed the shooting test, when in fact they did not shoot the test, is lying – knowingly and deliberately falsifying a legal document, and failing to hold his students to the same standards everyone else in the state had to meet.

    That’s not a ‘mistake’. A “mistake” is losing count and only running the “1 shot in 3 seconds” string 4 times instead of 5, and all your students end up with 49 holes instead of 50 in the target, or getting distracted and skipping over two paragraphs on some subsection of the Penal Code.

    If someone gets a CHL but has never demonstrated that they meet the standards, then.. they haven’t met the standards and should have their license revoked until they pass the same test the rest of us did.

  7. KR,
    You said to invalidate the records of everyone. What if some did in fact shoot the string and passed. You have now demanded that someone who did in fact legally obtain their CHL be suspended. There is no way to verify or disprove his records other than knowing that some were possibly falsified.

    Not to mention the fact that you are wishing to revoke a right for people who committed no crime themselves.

    The bottom line is training requirements are bogus for just the reasons you point out. People who want training will go get it. Forcing it serves no practical purpose other than to allow those who want to make a buck to profit. I see you were quick to jump on that bandwagon, and you are more than willing to bash other instructors. See the state of Colorado where one must obtain the training from a certified instructor. The only certified instructor happens to be a deputy and he sucks at it (point 4).

    Your bias became most obvious when you bad mouth marketing coupons being used to do two things,
    1) Entice people who have not received training.
    2) Bring new people into the shooting sports that may not have been exposed.

    Each hobby has basic costs at the outset. This is an effort to drop those costs and try and bring people in. You obviously just want to maximize your profit and have absolutely no care for the health of the sport by growing it’s membership.

    Please don’t speak for the rest of the community, we would prefer that our sport grow to the point where bias and bigotry against us becomes a huge pain just because of the sheer number of people affected by the bias and bigotry.

  8. Ashley says:

    I’m also very glad to see these groupons/living social, etc. deals popping up.

    I’ve seen two in the Northern Virginia area — for two different places. (Different from the Richmond, Va market — actually in the DC-suburbish areas!)

    Indianapolis recently had such a deal also.

    Always brings a smile to my face to receive them in my inbox and know that restaurant/yoga/pilates/facial/mani-pedi coupon buyers are also receiving these firearm coupons from the same beloved source.

  9. KR says:

    Whether I like the current system as it exists in Texas is irrelevant. State law established standards for licensing. There are 3500+ instructors statewide competing in the marketplace, all offering the exact same state-designed mandatory course. There is no bottleneck for training as you describe in Colorado. Anyone that wants to become certified to teach the course can do so – the DPS academy runs frequent instructor certification classes with open enrollment.

    If you want to find fault with an instructor motivated purely by profit, find fault with the guy who takes people’s money and then fails to provide them the service he promised – specifically teaching the course to meet state standards.

    You need to go back and read my original post. I objected to the local instructor using an online coupon because he was tricking people into paying $150 for a class they could get for $100 (or less) from other more established sources – and duping them into thinking they were getting a “deal” because his course had a $300 sticker price. That’s not “lowering the costs” for anyone. It’s **raising** them in this specific case. If I was a new shooter and figured this out, my first impression of firearms trainers is that they are all greedy liars. How exactly does that help our cause?

  10. KR,
    You brought up the negative comments with regard to a post about a positive influence coupons have had within the gun community. Your comment was projecting that negativity on the people who are running this training deal. You were using that experience to berate and tear down this program. May not have been your intention but with the way you ran off and attempted to hi-jack it certainly appears that way.

    Are there thieves in the world and crooked con-artists, yes. But the time to talk about them and their methods is not at the same time as we are discussing those who are doing something positive for the gun culture. It causes a direct comparison and a belief that some how they are doing something negative and nefarious without any proof or evidence.

    As for having plenty of instructors, consider how big the state of Texas is. There’s 0.01 instructors per square mile and many are probably concentrated in urban areas. Do rural areas have the same diversity in training choices.

    Out here in free America we trust law abiding citizens and don’t force them into finical transactions that serve no practical purpose. While it may be law in Texas, it’s bad law never the less. While people should follow it, jail is by no means a reasonable punishment, especially for bad law. Revocation of their permit and instructor credentials is understandable, jail is NOT.

    As for revoking everyone’s permit, seems like a great way to make felons of people who otherwise would be crime free. It’s such a wonderful thing for wanting to destroy the life of someone because of someone else’s screw up. I’m sure you fully and whole hardheartedly agree with the ATF going after people for just saying Y instead of Yes on the 4473.

    So yes I did read your original post, and my statements still stand. You’re attempting to vilify a positive program on the basis of what someone else did that was crooked. You seem to think any coupon is automatically crooked without consideration to the positive benefits that are possible.

    Actually the dynamic of the coupon causing someone to act is what’s the most depressing. Getting a carry permit and learning to shoot is serious business – screw up with a gun and someone gets hurt, dies, or goes to jail. So it makes no damn sense at all to make your #1 search criteria for your training on that topic “lowest cost” or “I had a coupon”.

    Maybe you should look at what the coupons were for first. Second realize that it may not be the primary search criteria. In this case it may be how someone discovers the sport in general. Which is what this whole damn discussion has been about but YOU were the one to turn it into CHL centric training for someone who is going to actively carry.

    One should go for the best training one can afford. If I get a coupon that would make it affordable for me to go to InSights should I go find someplace else instead?


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