Fa­cil­ity in Vir­ginia will even host feds

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY DAVID SHERFIN­SKI

A shoot­ing range con­sul­tant is open­ing a 65,000-square-foot in­door fa­cil­ity in Oc­to­ber — the lat­est in a num­ber of shoot­ing clubs that have been pop­ping up in places from gun-friendly Colorado and Texas to Mi­ami’s Wyn­wood Arts District.

Greg Wo­dack, the owner and op­er­a­tor of Elite Shoot­ing Sports LLC, and his team broke ground on the lo­ca­tion just off of In­ter­state 66 in Gainesville, Vir­ginia, in April and have been work­ing at a break­neck pace to open on sched­ule in Oc­to­ber.

The fa­cil­ity will house two 25-yard ranges, a 50-yard range and a 100-yard range, a 1,600-square-foot, two-story live-fire shoot house for law en­force­ment train­ing, a cafe, a lounge and a 5,000-square-foot re­tail area — a con­trast to the im­age of musty ri­fle or hunt­ing clubs.

“[We] kind of look at it as the new golf clubs,” Mr. Wo­dack said. “It’s a des­ti­na­tion range. It’s for ev­ery­body.”

Elite Shoot­ing Sports also will have its own gun­smith and a dojo for law en­force­ment train­ing. It also will fea­ture Ti train­ing — an ex­pe­ri­ence like a video game that ad­justs its sce­nar­ios based on real-time out­comes.

“Elite Shoot­ing Sports is go­ing to be an­other one of these ‘gun­try clubs,’” said Zach Snow, man­ager of shoot­ing pro­mo­tions at the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion, the trade group for the guns and am­mu­ni­tion in­dus­try. “I wouldn’t say these kinds of fa­cil­i­ties are try­ing to com­pete [with coun­try clubs], but in many cases there’s a lot of over­lap with a golfer who is also an avid shooter and vice versa.”

In­deed, the Frisco Gun Club in Texas sold more than 2,400 found­ing mem­ber­ships even be­fore it opened in De­cem­ber. The 43,000-square-foot com­plex in­cludes an in­door gun range with 40 shoot­ing lanes, a 7,000-square-foot re­tail shop and a mem­bers-only VIP club fea­tur­ing pri­vate lanes and lounge ar­eas com­plete with a fire­place.

In Florida, Lock & Load Mi­ami, a short drive from South Beach, boasts 24 aircon­di­tioned lanes and of­fers a VIP room for par­ties of up to two dozen that in­cludes six lanes, two flat-screen TVs and pri­vate in­struc­tion.

“The monster fa­cil­i­ties — 40,000 to 60,000 square feet — is a new trend,” Mr. Snow said. “Will it con­tinue? I think only time will tell. … In most cases, they’re put in mar­kets that are fairly af­flu­ent, as well as places with sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tions.”

Mr. Wo­dack said his range will be dif­fer­ent. It will not cater to spe­cial or VIP mem­ber­ships, he said, but will fo­cus in­stead on recre­ational shoot­ing.

“There are shoot­ers in North­ern Vir­ginia that don’t have a place to go, and they’re not go­ing to go wait in line for two hours to shoot,” he said. “The range is a high-qual­ity fa­cil­ity, but we’re go­ing to try to make it af­ford­able for ev­ery­one.”

It also will cater to the teem­ing sprawl of federal govern­ment.

“We’re in a dif­fer­ent de­mo­graphic,” he said, re­fer­ring to the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of law en­force­ment agencies in the area.

Six federal agencies al­ready have in­di­cated their in­ter­est in train­ing at Elite Shoot­ing Sports, though Mr. Wo­dack said with a grin that he is not at lib­erty to dis­close which ones.

Such cross­over ser­vices of­ten amount to “more of a com­mu­nity-re­la­tions builder than a profit cen­ter,” Mr. Snow said.

Af­ter a slight downtick in the lat­ter half of 2013, year-over-year federal gun pur­chase back­ground checks in­creased in March, April and May, and four of the top 10 sin­gle-high­est days were in Fe­bru­ary and March.

Al­though the cor­re­la­tion of gun sales and pur­chases is not di­rect, Na­tional In­stant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem records are used as an im­per­fect proxy for gun sales.

Each of the top 10 high­est weeks for back­ground checks were in the wake of the De­cem­ber 2012 shoot­ing deaths of 20 chil­dren and six adults in New­town, Conn. The tragedy gave way to a na­tional de­bate over firearms, the Sec­ond Amend­ment and tight­en­ing the back­ground check sys­tem.

Federal leg­is­la­tion has since stalled, and the in­dus­try is reporting solid sales.

Home sim­u­la­tors of­ten at­tract pur­chasers, who might want guns for self­pro­tec­tion, Mr. Snow said.

“The in­di­vid­u­als who were go­ing and buy­ing these were also want­ing to get prop­erly trained,” he said. “You see a lot of in­di­vid­u­als us­ing these to bet­ter pre­pare them­selves for a home in­va­sion.”

An art ren­der­ing shows plans for Elite Shoot­ing Sports, which will house sev­eral shoot­ing ranges, a cafe, a lounge and a re­tail area.

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