The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the firearms industry trade group. In addition to lobbing government on behalf of the gun dealers, manufacturers and (yes) end users, the NSSF is a pretty statistics-intensive organization. Their latest statfest is based on a sample of about 10k handgun owners who completed an online survey. It may not have laid U.S. handgun ownership bare, but it provided some key insights into the purchasing habits and intended uses of American handgun owners. The first thing we learn is once you pop you just can’t stop . . .

The average handgun owner surveyed owns between two to five handheld heaters. Beware! One out of every five handgun owners owns one gun. Remember: this survey was distributed via websites where “gun people” tend to congregate. It makes sense that people who like guns own multiple guns.

Still, the results match what we’ve been seeing anecdotally: those who own guns usually own more than one. You can’t own just one wrench, you can’t eat just one Lay’s potato chip and you can’t own just one gun.

Unless you’re my Dad, and that’s because I’ve been slowly leeching the collection away from him before he does what my Grandfather did and died with a ton of guns in New York which were quickly sent to be destroyed.

Another interesting fact: most people don’t really go to the range that often.

Out of the 10k or so responses, the largest percentage of gun owners visit their range less than once a month. Which is slightly worrying, considering that a good number of them plan to use their handgun to defend their lives or their homes (more about that in another post).

When these handgun owners go to the range, they like to bring other people along. As the graph above indicates, shooting is a social experience. So where do they go to bust a few caps? Private property.

I’ve never had the pleasure of being able to go out into my front yard and pop off a few rounds. Apparently the rest of the nation considers that more or less normal. Almost makes a city boy green with envy. The next most popular location is an outdoor public range, followed by a public indoor range.

The NSSF does a fantastic job collating firearms industry stats, which help us understand both the business and personal side of exercising our gun rights. We’ll bring you more NSSF insight and analysis as it drops.

22 Responses to NSSF Consumer Handgun Report: Pop Until You Drop

  1. I purchased my first handgun in January. I’ve already purchased two more. On the forums I frequent, it surprises me how many gun-lovers there are who don’t seem to shoot their guns all that often. I’ve made it my personal goal to go twice a month (I’d go weekly if my budget allowed).

    I think a lot of gun guys are like classic/muscle car guys. They trot them out every once in a while, but it’s more about gazing at them in the garage and knowing that you have them than really using them.

    This would appear to conform to the view that when we talk about “gun guys,” we’re usually talking about white males aged 50+. It seems like that may be changing, I only fit 2 out of 3 of those criteria 🙂

    • “I’ve made it my personal goal to go twice a month (I’d go weekly if my budget allowed).”

      First, good for you! Second, shop around at other ranges if you have too, a lot of ranges have membership options that include shooting time. You should be able to find one with unlimited shooting time for about the cost of one hour of range time per month. http://www.wheretoshoot.org/ may help you find one.

      • Thanks for the advice, that web site is a handy tool. Unfortunately, cost of ammo is an even bigger factor in the budget than the range fee. For a little over $100 a month, I can shoot 100 rounds of 9mm, 50 rounds of .45 ACP, and 150 rounds of .22 LR in two range sessions at a range that is on my way home from work and two miles from my house. That range doesn’t offer memberships.

        I might be able to save money by getting a membership at another range ~20 miles from my house, but most or all of the savings would be offset by the added cost of fuel. The added travel time would deter me from making the trip frequently.

        I guess I’ll have to consider whether a membership + hand loading ammo (and associated equipment and time) would really allow me to shoot much more.

        I really envy those folks (like my parents) who can walk outside their homes and shoot to their hearts’ content.

      • Honestly, range fees are almost inconsequential compared to ammunition and other costs; my current gun club membership (NHRPC) costs about 100 per year (plus a $300 initiation fee that funds the land purchase account, and the fee is split over the first two years) for my brother, my father, and myself. Comparably, a case of 9mm costs ~200, and .45/.223 each cost about 300. Between us we went through over three cases of 9, over a case of .45, at least a case of .223, and around a case of .380 between the three of us. All told, we’ve spent ~ 600 on range fees (250 to the outdoor club, 300 to an indoor range, and second lane fees at the latter), and at least 1500 on ammunition in the last year. The chief costs are the ammunition, and travel time/gas, as both are about a 25-35 mile trip each way.

  2. In paragraph one you reveal the secret to smaller government: Don’t lobby them. Heck, just lob them somewhere, anywhere, into the ocean? As for range time, many of us in the once-a-month club live far from our favorite range. On private property we prefer to use the backyard. It’s just custom, I guess.

  3. On occasion, I’ve eaten an entire bag of potato chips though usually it happened when I was younger. BTW, nice image of the semi- and silencer.

  4. I get grumpy if I can’t go every week. I’ve been busy recently, so I’ve been grumpy.

    I had a good week recently and got to go twice. That rocked.

  5. For Peter, Jerry Miculek told me he shoots roughly 60,000 rounds a year in practice. Several thousand more in competition. He shoots 7 or 8 3-gun matches a year, each of those take somewhere around 300 rounds, then add in all the pistol only matches he shoots, classes he teaches and it’s unreal. I know some darn good competition guys who shoot far less than that – but they’re not at Jerry’s level.

  6. After admiring the cleavage I have forgotten what this thread is about?
    Two of them.
    Oh, handguns…two of them.

  7. the largest percentage of gun owners visit their range less than once a month. Mea culpa.
    they like to bring other people along. My kids.
    two handheld heaters.
    most popular location is an outdoor public range,

  8. Well if my range had an RSO like, and dressed like, that I bet 50% would go more than once a week. I’m just saying.

  9. Back in the day, I used to go to my club’s indoor range twice a week. Weekly ammo was 500 rounds of .22LR and another 100 of what ever centerfire handgun I was shooting. Oh and as to handguns owned? I think currently I have 9, but it might be 10.

  10. “You can’t own just one wrench”

    Hi. My name is Bob
    {hi, Bob!}
    And I only own one wrench.
    It does have a little adjustment doo-hicky (sorry if I am being too technical) which changes the size of the gap. Further confession – I have never used it…

  11. 2 guns; 7 trips to the range so far this year. I try to go at least once a month. Would go twice but ammo cost and distance (nearest range is about a 30 minute drive) put a damper on that.

  12. Couple of pistols, another on the way, couple-three rifles, building another one… I go to the range twice a week and I thought that was low. My favorite part of the week is getting to the range and slowly improving.

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