Shooting range hits target
More than the sum of its parts, Reno Guns & Range is a 24,226-square-foot mega facility that got its start in the merger of U.S. Firearms Academy and MiScenarios.
RGR features gun rentals, a gunsmith, three indoor firing bays with a total of 20 lanes, a special events room with private access to one of those bays, a conference area and a reality-based training room. That’s in addition to the classes, retail shop and digital scenario training from the previous businesses.
“We’re trying to step out of the box,” said Debbie Block, sole owner of the business on Market Street next to the Reno Harley-Davidson store.
“Very few ranges throughout the country have everything under one roof.”
RGR’s retail store is expected to open any day with the shooting bays and other features in the facility to open one by one.
The entire business from purchase of the building to extensive remodeling and purchase of advanced equipment is costing about $6.5 million, Block said.
That’s a huge investment for a woman who grew up in a home that wasn’t involved in shooting. She thinks she might have shot a gun at camp when she was 10, but she’s not sure.
Block owned a travel agency in Milwaukee — but not a gun. She retired from the agency and moved to Reno to help her father with his investments and, in 2008, was approached about investing in a firing range.
“I was the financial side,” she said “Five years later, I bought out my last partner.”
Coming from a non-shooting background and being a woman in a male-dominated businesses, Block understands how intimidating firearms can be for many women — and some men.
“One of my focuses when I decided to build this range was to make sure that women felt comfortable,” she said.
RGR offers a broad range of classes, some just for women and also hand-to-hand self-defense classes that don’t include firearms.
For those who like the feel of firearms in their hands as they face a target, the range has three shooting bays with 25-foot lanes. There is a 10-lane general use bay; a six-lane tactical bay that allows movement while shooting; and a four-lane bay for special events.
Some lanes are designed to accommodate disabled customers or for shooting from a laying down position.
Safety is paramount.
“We always have a safety officer on the line when someone is shooting,” Block said.
The special events center is 1,500 square feet and available for corporate meetings, parties, training, video conferencing, and has a catering area, as well as access to the four-lane shooting bay.
Another conference and special events room holds larger groups. Drop down screens have electronic hookups for power point, videos or other uses.
Block is especially excited about RGR’s 2,260-square-foot reality-based training room, which will use live actors trained to simulate a variety of scenarios. Removable walls can simulate a home, grocery store or other building and a large bay can be opened for car access.
It’s not just a paint-ball battle. Participants use real firearms with modified ammunition that delivers paint.
“Law enforcement has been doing this (type of) training for a long time,” Block said.
She hopes first responders from around the region can take advantage of RGR’s controlled environment. Currently, they train inside abandoned homes, she said, which can introduce extra hazards from disease carrying bird droppings to weak floorboards.
The reality-based training isn’t just for law enforcement. It’s also a way for anyone in firearms training to test their skills.
Behind the scenes, the RGR has a lot going on, too.
“We gutted the whole place,” Block said. “We added $100,000 in insulation alone.”
The 10-lane shooting bay by itself has 105,000 pounds of rubber, steel and wood to mitigate sound, prevent rounds from exploding on impact and contain the lead released by spent ammunition.
The state-of-the-art air ducts are lined to mitigate sound. Air flows through several stages of filters to remove pollutants and the system is electronically monitored to ensure correct function — even customers can see the monitors.
“We will return cleaner air (into the environment) than what we take in,” Block said.
Additional environmental features include LED lighting and motion sensors.
“We’re trying to be as efficient as possible.”
It may not be fully open, but RGR already is getting national attention.
Two major out-of-town manufacturing businesses have approached Block about hosting special events, plus a national shooting competition is considering RGR as a qualifying location.
In addition, the Personal Defense Network featured Reno Guns & Range in a video of its cross-country 2015 PDN Training Tour July 9 update which can be found at http://www.personaldefensenet work.com — look under the training link.
Reno Guns & Range has 28 employees. Several from law enforcement, have brought their knowledge of training and safety to the business, especially to classes. She expects to hire several more people as the various parts of RGR open for business.
“It is exciting,” Block said. “I’m so proud of my team for their vision and goals.”
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.