It’s always exciting for me to hear about the successes of other women in the firearms industry, and one of those victories that came to my attention recently was about Minnesota’s Jeanine Gill, President & Owner of Osseo Gun Club & Pro Shop, who was awarded “Woman Pioneer of the Year” from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-MN) for extraordinary success and achievement in a predominately male-dominated industry. The NAWBO awards focus on the many accomplishments and contributions of exemplary women who have contributed to the women’s business community and who continue to build a legacy for future generations of entrepreneurs. But Woman Pioneer of the Year is particularly noteworthy, since it signifies that Jeanine has achieved success as a female business owner in our oftentimes male-oriented world of firearms. It’s also refreshing to see that a national entity like NAWBO (headquartered in Washington, D.C.) desires to “effectively represent the full diversity of the women business owner community,” and they gave this much-deserved recognition to a woman who clearly supports the 2nd Amendment and even owns and operates a shooting range … of all things!
Jeanine is certainly a unique and exemplary woman who had a passion and a goal … and followed it through to fruition. At age 50, Jeanine left her career job of 20-plus years to construct and open a family-friendly public gun range located in downtown Osseo, Minnesota. The indoor, 20-lane facility features three separate indoor ranges for rifle and pistol, a 7,000-square-foot retail area, two classrooms with a variety of training opportunities, a firearms simulator room for virtual training and on-site gunsmith services.
I reached out to Jeanine to get some thoughts and answers about her decision to build a range from the ground up and about what this special award means to her.
What was the main reason that sparked your decision to change careers and open a gun range?
I left my job and worked for a range manufacturer involved in inside sales. At this company, I received excellent training in handguns. At the same time, my husband Chris and I had a part-time business in our home. We had a Federal Firearms License (FFL) in order to receive firearms and transfer them through the ATF background system to customers who purchased them. This was a part-time venture for us, which we did for about five years. And while we considered many businesses over the years, after having so many wonderful customers come to our home, we started talking about opening a gun store. After my experience with a range manufacturer, adding a range felt like an ideal business model, with retail and range.
What were some of the challenges or obstacles you faced with building the range and/or within the industry itself?
As Osseo Gun Club & Pro Shop was born, lots of work was to be done. And there were many challenges in this project. Building the range took about three years of planning, with creating a business plan, finding a location, securing financing and getting approval with the city before construction started in May of 2014. We opened on Black Friday 2014, with our 20,000-square-foot, 20-lane indoor range with 100% purge air system. We also feature a simulator, classrooms, retail space and a lounge area. From our opening, Osseo Gun Club has been a welcoming facility to everyone. We have had women customers since the beginning, but over the past several years, our increase in female customers has been significant. We also added a women’s league called A Girl And A Gun, which promotes women to improve their shooting skills along with enjoying fellowship with other women and education on everything from ammo, lasers, holsters and more.
What does winning Woman Pioneer of the Year mean for you?
It’s a nice recognition to all women who strive to make a difference in the world. I’m happy to say that women like to know OGC is woman-owned, which seems to have a comfort factor for some of them. In addition, OGC’s goals are to help develop their training in target shooting and meet other like ladies who want to have the confidence in handling a firearm, learn some defensive shooting and even get their permit to carry a firearm. All are common goals by many of our female customers.
Well, congratulations, Jeanine, from all of us. And a special “thank you” to you and to all the trailblazers and influencers out there who are making a difference for men and women in our industry.
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