Hearing pitches about bizarre new apps is part of the SXSW experience, but when we were contacted by a company claiming to be creating “…a social shooting experience” with a new app that lets you “find friends, compete, shoot guns,” even we were slightly stunned.
Jonathan Rockett is the CEO and founder of The Shooting Club, an app due to launch in April that takes a similar approach to guns as Strava does for cycling. Rockett says he came up with the idea after his dad and uncle talked about a new gun he had, and the conversation turned into a competitive ‘Who’s the better shooter’ type conversation.
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“And he said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a website where you could upload pictures of your targets and see whose the better shot?'” Rockett said. “I thought that’s actually a genius idea.”
The Shooting Club has a number of different elements, including a social network aspect of finding and talking with other gun owners, but one of the main features is the option to find your nearest range and use one of app’s targets to record your shots.
To start, you scan the target, upload it to the app and compare it with other users. There is also a gamification aspect where you can earn badges and achieve different levels depending on your performance.
Rockett is confident about the size of his target, saying that more than 40 million people in America take part in competitive shooting. The Houston-based company has various plans for revenue streams: the targets themselves cost $3, there are in-app upgrades (that provide access to training videos and other content) and a subscription service allows you to bypass the cost of entering regular competitions.
I have to confess that being from the UK, the hobby of shooting guns at a range is something that seems strange. When I tried my hand at it, I found it petrifying – but clearly I’m not the target market. Since the sport of shooting guns has a huge and loyal community in the US, if The Shooting Club can tap into that, Rockett may well be on to something.
Sometimes the ideas that initially seem the most ridiculous turn out to be the masterstrokes.