TFNB is going “out of office” and into one of the newest businesses in Central Texas; one that hopes to support education and proficiency for the thousands of gun owners in McLennan County.
Travel south, just off TX-340 Loop and I-35, and you’ll find the future site of McLennan County’s first indoor shooting range. The building, now under construction, is the culmination of Owner Eric Nutt’s vision to bring a state-of-the-art shooting facility to McLennan County.
From hobbyist to entrepreneur
When Eric Nutt moved back to Waco about five years ago, he soon discovered a problem: as a shooting and gun hobbyist, he wanted to visit an indoor shooting range in the summer to escape the unbearable Texas heat. Though he searched in vain for an air-conditioned, all-weather shooting range in the Waco area, he soon figured out it didn’t exist. For two years he waited, hoping one would open. So when that indoor shooting range never came around, Eric decided maybe he should be the one to build it.
As a business consultant familiar with the risk of entrepreneurship, Eric went straight to the numbers. What would it cost to open up a new shooting range? Would it be a sound investment?
Though he found the cost barrier to entry was significantly higher than an outdoor range, he soon realized the market in Central Texas was ripe for this new kind of shooting facility. Now, he only had to find the funding to break ground. Visit Heart of Texas Shooting Center’s website.
A Great Time to Open Shop
The Heart of Texas Shooting Range is opening during a time where gun ownership and the sport of shooting is more popular than ever.
In April, The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released its 2020 report, revealing the firearm industry’s economic impact increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $60 billion in 2019 (an increase of 213%).
The NSSF also reports gun ownership among women has increased 77% since 2005 and is one of the fastest growing demographics in the industry.
This year, firearm purchases have climbed every month since March, with more than 1.7 million background checks in October alone — a 60% jump over the same period in 2019.
On average, 60 residents of McLennan County get License to Carry permits each week, amounting to about 3,000 people every year.
A Partnership with TFNB
Eric tried opening the shooting range a few years earlier, but couldn’t secure the right funding. In 2020, he tried again with TFNB Your Bank for Life.
“I approached two banks in the Waco area,” Eric said, “and TFNB was the one that was most committed to making this opportunity happen.”
Together, Eric and our team determined an SBA loan, with its flexible terms, would be the best option for his new business.
“The SBA process is challenging under normal circumstances, but this year, with delays and other issues due to COVID-19 and the CARES Act, it was additionally challenging,” said Eric. “However, we got through the process pretty expeditiously because the folks at TFNB took great care to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row before submitting our application. Even though the SBA came back with clarification questions, they were very minor and didn’t require any substantial re-working on our part.”
As the only SBA Preferred Lender headquartered in McLennan County, our team knew what the SBA district office in North Texas would be looking for. TFNB’s ability to expedite the SBA loan approval process is incredibly beneficial for new entrepreneurs like Eric who are bringing a new concept to the local market. The Heart of Texas Shooting Center was approved for the SBA loan in October, and the business broke ground in early November.
Today, Eric says they are on course for a grand opening in late February or early March of 2021.
When it opens, the Heart of Texas Shooting Center will be the Waco area’s first indoor, public shooting range. The 5,600 square-foot building will feature a 10-lane indoor range and will offer ammunition, firearms, and accessories for sale. It will also focus largely on training and events.
The rapid growth trajectory of the firearm industry offers no sign of slowing anytime soon. Eric points to the growing number of McLennan County gun owners as a great marker for potential business success, but also a unique opportunity: ”The challenge that we have in the McLennan County area is that we have people buying guns without proficiency in using them.“
The Center will fill that knowledge gap with classes like License to Carry (LTC) certifications, basic firearm safety, and proficiency, marksmanship, and self-defense. Specialty classes geared toward women and families will help reach every demographic to increase understanding of how to safely handle and operate a firearm.
When it opens, Eric hopes this new shooting center will offer gun enthusiasts like himself a place to enjoy their hobby any time of the year — even during the hottest Texas summer days.
TFNB is proud to work with entrepreneurs like Eric who bring new business to Central Texas. We are excited to be his financial partner as he prepares to open his doors in just a few months. To learn more about The Heart of Texas Shooting Center, visit their website or Facebook page. Or, head here to learn more about TFNB’s SBA Loan program.