Getting a job at a gun store


Dr.Mall Ninja
December 15, 2009, 03:22 AM
Do I need to build some kinda of resume that gun store owners are looking for? I would absolutely love to work at a gun store, id even intern for awhile while I learn. Anybody have any ideas?

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December 15, 2009, 03:54 AM
Retail is retail, I'd say more than anything it'd be about being a good salesman and less about guns. Also, being a master of BS. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not, it seems to me a huge part of the gun business is being a master of BS.

December 15, 2009, 03:55 AM
Talk to the owners. Be earnest and sincere. Tell them your aspirations. Ask to work part-time until you get the hang of it. Keep at it; you'll eventually score. Be honest to yourself: Will a job in a gun shop make you less-enthusiastic about guns? Like the guy who works as a car wash, having the dirtiest car in town, or the mechanic that is always driving a clunker, will you loose your edge when exposed to so many weaopns? Will total immersion desensitize you? Something to think about.

December 15, 2009, 04:17 AM
head to a major gun store in your area and ask what they need as qualification to work there and what would look good on your resume

not dicks gander mountain or walmart because these are usualy general retail and need nothing special other than an application and maybe some in house training

the mom and pop shops usualy dont hire people off the street so start a good buyer relationship and chat them up become friends and who knows if they ever get a reason to hire someone they may take interest in you if you offer

at minimum the things i would assume (and only assume) that would be good to have are some basic firearm training in saftey handleing etc some advanced training in shooting etc maybe a gunsmithing course (in shop smiths are getting harder to find) general knowledge of product which really is just you looking at whats offered from different companies and UNDERSTANDING them not just a quick overview (youd be suprised how many sales people ive walked away from because id ask a simple question and they didnt know) understanding of your local firearms laws regaurding sales same goes for the federal level and above all be friendly no one wants to talk to an elitists and no one buys from a prick sales guy (just ask the jerk at shooters choice in dover who lost my $1000 sig 1911 sale because he was acting like a d-bag)

December 15, 2009, 04:44 AM
i worked at one of the most popular gun stores around my area for around 2 years (757 VA) and the way i got the job was to just shoot there every weekend...then talk to employees....if they see you actually know what your talking about, your get ridiculose deals from customers (not going to go into detail but trade ins...imagine a kimber TLE II ,usp 45 or brand new ar's and higher class firearms for like 300-400 and even lower lol) but yeah you learn alot and meet the most interesting people youve proably ever met...the people who buy guns like yourself..

December 15, 2009, 07:27 AM
I was offered a job at a gun store a while back because I was in there so often that everyone there knew me, so I didn't have to prove anything to them. I worked there a short time and then left to pursue other interests.

Wish I still worked there, that was much more enjoyable job than the one I have now:banghead:

The only real problem I had working there was the temptation to take advantage of the employee discounts. Instead of making money to pay my bills I was trading my services for guns. I was like a kid in a toy store and all of a sudden all the toys were a lot cheaper because now I worked there.

December 15, 2009, 08:11 AM
be the fly on the wall at the mom and pops store. Listen to the old timers and learn all that you can. Ask questions when something comes in of value or with history. When they are busy, offer to help. Refuse to be paid at first. Remember everybody has different taste in firearms, what I think is junk may be the best gun in the world for the next guy. Don't upset people with your opinion, it doesn't count.

If they are looking for help, you will be remembered. There is a lot more, but this is a start

Ala Dan
December 15, 2009, 08:23 AM
Sometimes, gun store employee's get quite busy; especially since (and after)
our last Presidential election; for no one can predict what the brain trust in
Washington may try too accomplish in the future~? :uhoh: :eek: These days, there
is not much time for the typical BS; by employees or customer's. I do
not mean don't be friendly; but rather keep up a good pace, and keep the
sales rolling~! That is exactly what sporting goods/gun shop owner's want
too see.

December 15, 2009, 01:29 PM
The biggest criterior for working in a gun store, or any other, seems to be the ability to operated a cash register. They can teach you that in a few minutes. The fact that you are interested in guns at all means you likely already know more about them than most gun store clerks.

December 15, 2009, 07:37 PM
be the fly on the wall at the mom and pops store. Listen to the old timers and learn all that you can.

Big word: LISTEN. If you're hanging around, for every minute you talk, listen for 30. Trust me: the on thing (true) mom & pop shops don't like is a wiseguy moving in on them.

Want to practice? Find an old-school barber shop. The old timers talk, haggle, and razz each other. Newcomers keep their yip shut.

When you get hired:
Learn how to multi-task, but always give the customer in front of you 110% attention, no matter how trivial. You can crack wise about him when you get home.

Learn a little bit about as much as you can, and pick one or two things that are your specialty. Example: Does the shop carry reloading? Learn it - lots of folks don't know much about it, and some good, honest guidance makes a difference. Or, at least, learn some basics so when a noob comes in you have some basics to offer. The correlary to this is when you don't know your ear from a hole in the ground, admit it and then immediately resolve the issue by finding an employee who can. Then, stand and listen & learn.

A little salesmanship (i.e. good bull) will bring a customer in, but honesty will bring customers and their friends back.

Remember names - both immediate short term and long-term. It counts in today's day and age. If you can't remember names, welcome repeat customers with a "Good to see you again."

Do not discuss the owner with other employees.
Do not discuss employees with the owner.
Do not criticize customers. You never know when that crazy guy with bad breath is the manager's cousin.


December 15, 2009, 08:55 PM
Where do I sign up!! I would get even better deals.:D I gotta do this now.:cool:

December 16, 2009, 02:49 AM
It's all about dealing with people. Your job is to make them feel welcome and find the right solution to their problem, even if they didn't know they had it.

Have a solid background in guns and ammunition. Give good advice. If you don't know something the ONLY satisfactory answer is an honest "I don't know", followed by "but I'll find out.". Do not BS.

Get a good set of arch supports in your shoes. You'll spend a lot of time on your feet.

Learn the gun laws, Federal, State and local. Follow them.

Extremely Pro Gun
December 16, 2009, 03:06 AM
learn the 4473 now online. Then interview. I work at Academy.

Erik M
December 16, 2009, 04:04 AM
is it a mom and pop store or a retail store? probably dosent matter what you know, skills as a salesperson is most important. I don't ask gun store employees their opinions.

December 16, 2009, 10:32 AM
I believe there are only two requisites to work in a gun store. 1st is to be able to operate a cash register. 2nd to have some understanding of the English language. Based on my buying experience at the local gun stores it appears that gun and ammo knowledge/experience is not required and to be able to count out change to a customer would also be helpful but is not required. I am being cruel but in my area the clerks at some stores know very little about the guns or the ammo they sell except for the price on the tag.

I am sure a strong gun/shooting background and any type of retail sales experience would be welcomed by the store owner/manager and should be a great help in getting a job in the gun salesbusiness.

December 16, 2009, 12:17 PM
Have you worked retail before? It's not going to be nearly as much fun as you think it will be. Trust me on that.

Just tell them you are looking for a part time job and ask for an application. If it's a chain store they'll give you an ap. If it's a mom 'n pop store they might ask you a bit about your background, they might say they aren't hiring, or they might hire you on the spot.

In the the end though it's just another retail job. Knowledge of the product helps, as does knowing how to provide good customer service. You also need to be very, very detail oriented in regards to the ATF paperwork such 4473's and other book keeping requirements.

December 17, 2009, 03:26 AM
It seems my advice about being knowledgeable about guns has been misunderstood. It may not be required to know much about guns to be a gun salesman, as experience has shown. It does require knowledge about guns to be a good gun salesman. At the shop where I work most of the salesmen are semi-retired older men who work in the shop as a way of getting out of the house for a couple of days a week. (It sure isn't for the money!). Between the 5 of us, we have about 130 years worth of experience. Our gun prices are not the cheapest, but a beginner can come in and be treated with respect, listened to and will walk out with a recommendation for a gun that will suit his purpose.

General Geoff
December 17, 2009, 04:21 AM
A good salesman knows two things: The customer is usually right, and advice is nice, but cash is king.

As a salesman and technician at a small, privately owned computer repair/parts shop, I'm pretty much the equivalent of a resident gunsmith at a gun shop. What I've learned is that customers come in a few basic categories:

1. The novice. This person knows nothing, or very little about what he wants, and he freely admits to it. This is the type of customer where having extensive (and correct) knowledge about what you're selling/repairing is truly indispensable. This type of customer needs a certain amount of guidance to purchase what he really wants/needs.

2. The know-it-all. This person thinks he knows more about what he wants than he really does. The tricky part about this customer is you have to cut his BS carefully without insulting or deriding him. DO NOT just blindly acknowledge and agree with everything he says, if you know for a fact he is incorrect, when talking about important technical specifications or other qualities of a product he wishes to purchase, order, or have repaired. This can bite you in the butt later, if he is not satisfied with the actual product or repair work he wanted done, because he was badly misinformed and you didn't correct him before the order was placed or work done.

3. The quiet type. This person will come in the shop, ask if you have a specific product, and if you do not, he'll ask if you can order it for him, He'll often pay cash for a down payment on more expensive products, or full cash for a product you have in stock. This type of customer is the easiest and quickest to take care of. He comes into the shop knowing exactly what he wants, and goes about getting it with little fuss. He may or may not engage in small talk while you look up product availability with your vendor(s), but is generally fairly easy going as far as prices are concerned (he likely did research on how much the product SHOULD go for, and expects a certain markup from wholesale at a retail shop). This type of customer is rarer in my line of work since most of them just order computer parts online, but the heavy regulation of gun purchases by the FFL system necessitates their patronage of gun shops for acquisitions so you're likely to get more of them in that business.

There are other types of customers, but I'd say those three comprise about 95% of my customers. There are also chatters, tire kickers, bargain hunters, and for lack of a better term, annoyances, but they're in the minority, at least in my experience. Your mileage may vary, of course.

You also need to be very, very detail oriented in regards to the ATF paperwork such 4473's and other book keeping requirements.
This should be stressed as well. Gun shop records are scrutinized very closely by a lot of people, so crossing your t's and dotting your i's is essential.

December 17, 2009, 05:14 AM
Also, being a master of BS. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not, it seems to me a huge part of the gun business is being a master of BS.

I could not disagree more with this statement. Stores with salesmen that have know-it-all attitudes and make up stuff if they don't know the answer or embellish information is the last place I want to be (as an employee or as a customer). It may be one thing to get a BS answer about duct tape at KMart, but completely another thing to give BS about something that I may have to trust my life with.

Otherwise there is some great advise on this thread. Good luck in your employment.

December 17, 2009, 05:59 AM
Also, being a master of BS. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not, it seems to me a huge part of the gun business is being a master of BS.

I disagree with this statement as well. As a former gun shop salesman I can tell you that all the employees I worked with were very knowledgeable on guns and gave great advice to the customers.

When I first got hired at that gun shop the owner told me that he had two basic rules when it came to selling. Only tell the customer what you know to be true and if you don't know the answer then go find it.

I've been to gun stores where the clerks obviously don't know what they are talking about. However if you go to a gun shop enough times and get to know the people that work there you will soon discover the employees who do actually know a thing or two about guns.

At my local gun shop that I frequent several times a week all the employees who work there are very knowledgeable on guns and I go in there all the time just to chat with them with no real intention to buy anything. They never try to push a sale on me and I consider them friends more than salesman. When I'm in the store and other customers have questions they will sometimes call on me to help them out if they aren't sure of the answer, I'm always willing to help them out.

December 17, 2009, 07:30 AM
I worked part-time in a good sized local shop for a couple of years. I could walk in and start working there most any time.

Pay is pretty low, maybe $8-10 per hour. Zero benefits. As noted above, you get the full gamut of customers. If you think BS from gun store employees is bad, wait until you start talking to customers. The customers can come and go. You're trapped.

After a while, guns tend to be a commodity. Kinda like money at a bank to the teller. Just something your have to handle and keep track of.

December 17, 2009, 09:01 AM

1. Must know many things which are not so, and spread the ignorance around freely -- and insistently.

2. Must have the uncanny ability to ignore a customer with a big wad of cash in his hand, so you can chat on the phone with your buddy about your new videogame console.

3. Must alienate women whenever the opportunity arises.

Jim K
December 17, 2009, 01:16 PM
Get a job in a gun store. Then you can be the dumb, ignorant, nincompoop at the gun shop that everyone is always ranting about on these sites.

Been there, done that.


December 17, 2009, 03:18 PM
Just to play devils advocate, two things occur to me right off:
1. You're going to have NO spare cash, but lots of guns and ammo :D
2. You're going to have to politely listen to every idiot in town who wants to come in and impress all the guys in the gun store with his dubious views on everything gun related. I know I couldn't stand that for much more than a month :D

December 17, 2009, 04:04 PM
Once upon a time, long ago, there was an article in a car magazine (Car & Driver?) about the Penske car sales operation (in Pennsylvania?). Candidates for salesmen were given a test. The writer thought it must be a test of car knowledge. Wrong. The test was primarily designed to find out if the candidate really, really wanted to make a lot of money.

A smart gun shop owner is looking for someone who will sell a lot guns, maybe even while being careful not to break the law or otherwise get the shop in trouble.

I had another insight that has to do with the owner, not the salesman. I had a colleague whose father was unsuccessful as a seller of used and rare books. He wouldn't sell a book for less than HE thought it was worth. He cared too much about his books. Later he was successful selling used furniture. He knew about furniture, but he didn't care about it. The lesson is that caring too much can lead to bad business decisions.

December 17, 2009, 04:21 PM
I work at the gun counter at a Cabela's, and the number one thing I was told on my first day was do not BS the customer. Not everyone there is going to know everything, but there's always someone you can ask. I've learned a lot about weapons that I previously had no interest in.

If you're going to work at a gun store, do NOT mess up the paperwork, and watch for signs of a straw purchase.

December 17, 2009, 08:36 PM
I work at the gun counter at a Cabela's, and the number one thing I was told on my first day was do not BS the customer. Not everyone there is going to know everything, but there's always someone you can ask. I've learned a lot about weapons that I previously had no interest in.

BTW my previous post was a joke, with a kernel of truth that we are all a bit familiar with from one shop or another.:)

Frankly, Cabela's gun counter and the Gun Library have been great. No false information, and if someone doesn't know, he/she will find someone who does. Thumbs up to Cabela's gun counter. Seriously.

December 17, 2009, 09:58 PM
Also, being a master of BS. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not, it seems to me a huge part of the gun business is being a master of BS.

Perhaps that was inartfully worded, but I knew right away what he meant.

I have known three people for years--Dan is in in computer/network account sales, Kris is in catering account sales, Mark is in real estate.

Each of them is sincere, jovial, and will remember your name, your face, your wife's name, your kids' names and ages, your favorite pastimes/hobbies. Even if he/she hasn't seen you for three years he/she will ask questions and make small talk about each of the above, and do so in such a way that you have no doubt about their sincerity. You would believe he/she was happy to see you and had no interest in selling you anything. And the best part is, all of that is true.

Although I live at least a thousand miles from each and do not have a business relationship with any of them, all the above still applies. I have no doubt that they treat each of their acquaintances and customers just the same way. None of them will ever want for a job, as each could sell ice to an Eskimo, and the Eskimo would go tell all his friends what a great person he just met and transacted business with.

This is truly a gift, although I know for a fact that at least one of them was not born with this gift. He read Carnegie's book, attended training, and works hard. He is also a genuinely sincere, decent person. I don't know about the other two, although I'd suspect the same was true of them as well. I suspect each of them makes $100k per year or better. I know for a fact that two of them have, at least in certain years.

If you can master these skills, you will not need to sell the product. You will simply establish a business relationship and facilitate the transaction, which will take care of itself.

Gun stores need more people who can do this, as does every other business. The fact that it is a fairly rare skill combined with the fact that gun shop counter flunky does not pay well, means that you will find very few people of this caliber in gun shops. The ones with real talent move on to "greener" pastures. Sad, but a fact of life.

December 18, 2009, 01:29 PM
Be excellent in customer service, know your guns and sell, sell, sell!!!

Good luck. I've been working part time at a shooting range and love it...except for the idiots that come in.:what:

December 18, 2009, 03:18 PM
Do I need to build some kinda of resume that gun store owners are looking for? I would absolutely love to work at a gun store, id even intern for awhile while I learn. Anybody have any ideas?

Are you a young hot college girl that can sell firearms and push accessories and ammunition?

December 18, 2009, 06:30 PM
The last thing you want is to be known as the BS-artist at your LGS, either as a customer or as an employee.

December 18, 2009, 09:38 PM
I worked at a couple of sporting goods stores part time on the week ends a while back. One was a well known chain and the other not. Working for both of them was fun. I enjoyed handling the hunting/fishing & camping gear.
My manager at one of these knew of my handloading experience and would point prospective and experienced handloaders in the store to me when they were looking for something or had questions. Some of the more experienced customers gave me some pointers and I gave pointers to the newbies. I remember one guy was amazed that the 30-06 and the 308 both shot the same size bullet. He even called a friend on his cell phone to tell him about it. He didn't believe me until I showed it to him in a manual. I then went on to show him the 300 win and other 30's. We talked about the 7mm's and 280's being the same and he was really interested by the time he had bought a starting kit. He had a new toy that I was pretty sure was going to be a new hobby for him when he left.

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