Why do I have to pay range fees when I already paid for X class?

*NOTE This is an informational post only.*

At a recent class a friend of mine that was down for a class had a friend of his that was at the class ask him a genuine question about the range fees.
“Hey man what is the deal with paying range fees when I already paid for the class? The range gets part of that course fee right?”
My friend explained to him that the range didn’t get anything from the course fees. After that was explained and my friend laid out what all the range was expending (he kind of knows my operation well) and that the range fees paid for those things, his friend was onboard and had no issue with them. I have been thinking about this situation for a while because this guy was a switched on dude and just didn’t have a clue about this specific thing. So I thought I would write this piece up as information for those people that just don’t know and explain how some of this works. I own my range so it is a more direct line but most of this applies to those people that just do hosting and don’t own their own places.

First let’s look at the two types of instructors.
Type 1. This instructor doesn’t want his or her students to deal with anything other than the course fee, so the instructor collects the range fees in their course fee and pays that to the range. Whether the instructor rents the range itself or accounts for range fees per individual it kind of works out the same. Often an instructor will prefer a range fee per person because those ranges that rent you the bay often are more expensive. This means for the student that you pay the course fee and that is it.

Type 2. This instructor doesn’t want to have to handle the fees for the range because that is just one more detail among many. They prefer to have their fees and the range fees be a completely separate entity. That way there is no possibility of miscommunication when it comes to money.

BOTH of these instructor types are perfectly valid in the way they handle it and have good reasons for doing it that way for them.
Remember that often the Host and the Range are often two different entities as well. And in this industry hosting classes is considered a loss leader so there are very few dedicated open enrollment ranges for training.

So that being said let’s go back to what range fees are for and what they cover, bearing in mind this is from the perspective of MY range and how I do things here.

There are a LOT of costs involved. I’ll list some of those below but I likely won’t get them all.
Build cost of Bathrooms, shade structure, mobile shade structures, parking, classroom
Build cost of barricades, target frames, mobile target stands, protective wall, turners, movers
Purchase costs of steel targets (I assure you this is significant)
Repair and maintenance costs of all of the above
Consumable costs for targets, staplers, staples, striping and steel paint, pasters, water, electricity, furring strips for mobile stands, gasoline and diesel for equipment, tool blades/etc.
Time/Labor costs for painting, repairing, mowing, striping, building, refreshing line boxes, handling trash, and a whole HOST of other things involved with running a range.
Insurance *shudder*

Some of these are capital costs and are pretty large. No one recovers those all at once. They are usually recovered over a long span of time or you might well be paying $100 a day just to recover those over a year or two or three.

This is for my range. This doesn’t include time posting to websites and facebook to try to let people know a class from a phenomenal instructor is coming to my place. Answering questions, making sure to get down to the range early to get everything set up (if I am not the first person there I got up Really late). I am also usually the last person to leave because there are things to do after the class is done. Some ranges might have more to deal with like payroll etc. Most have a lot less. Regardless of if there is more or less to the range there are always costs.

Let’s look at another aspect. If you spend time on an indoor range down in my area of the country you are paying anywhere between 10 to 20 dollars an HOUR at most places. And some of those are adequate but not great by any means. A good few of the outdoor ranges it is kind of standard to pay $25/person/day and I get that people expect that. I also know some ranges where you are looking at $40/person/day. What is the difference? Usually a lot. How many ranges/distances they have, amenities, how close they are to lodging, etc. Does a particular range offer things you can’t get somewhere else or very few places? It can be harder than you think to find a range that allows movement, holster work, rapid fire, and other needed capabilities for an advanced class.

Amenities can make a HUGE difference in how much you enjoy a class and how much you GET from a class. Adult learning theory says pretty clearly that you learn more when you aren’t miserable. I have a friend of mine that will train wherever and deal with whatever to take a course at the time he wants from an instructor he wants. Awesome. But if he can choose a range with better amenities that works for that time frame he’ll PREFER that if at all possible.

All this comes down to, yes range fees are a thing, whether you see them or not. And choosing the right range makes a difference in your enjoyment of a class, even if it costs you above what the class costs.