- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2014

Veterans and other gun enthusiasts looking to fire off a few rounds have a recently opened 65,000-square-foot facility just miles from the nation’s capital as a new option.

Elite Shooting Sports, LLC opened up the massive indoor shooting range last month just off of Interstate 66 in Gainesville, Virginia. Managing partner Greg Wodack said they had a great opening weekend and have attracted a significant number of veterans since the opening.

“I have a lot of vets, retired vets who come here,” said Mr. Wodack, saying that they enjoy a “first responder discount” in the way of a reduced rate on annual memberships. “We have a lot of vets that come here during the week, especially when it’s slower.”

Ted Saunders of Gainesville, who served in the Air Force, said he was happy to pay full price for a membership but appreciated the offer of the lower rate.

“I just feel so privileged when I find out there’s a discount for me somewhere simply because I … decided to serve my country,” he said.

An annual membership is $34.95 per month and $29.95 per month for military, law enforcement and firefighters.

Mr. Saunders said it makes sense that veterans and members of law enforcement are two demographics that are attracted to such places.

“If they’re not military or former military, oftentimes they’re law enforcement,” he said. “It seems to draw one of those two [groups] quite a bit.”

The facility itself represents an investment of $14 million and 50 new jobs and houses four separate ranges: two 25-yard 12-lane ranges, a 50-yard 10-lane range and a 100-yard eight-lane range.

The space is “climate adjusted” to 71 degrees year-round and is planned to include a full-time gunsmith on staff, five classrooms, two customer lounges, dojo, cafe and a 5,000-square-foot space for additional retail. A training simulator, to be used with either lasers or live fire, is also on-site, and a two-level 1,600-square-foot live fire shoot house for law enforcement training is in the works.

Regardless of experience, every new shooter has to go through a short orientation class before shooting there.

The upscale facility is the latest in a recent trend of such “guntry clubs” that include amenities that go well beyond just targets to shoot at. The Frisco Gun Club in Texas, for example, is 43,000 square feet and has a 7,000-square-foot retail space and a VIP club featuring private lanes and a lounge replete with a fireplace.

Mr. Wodack has made it a point to shy away from such a “VIP” environment while still providing recreational shooters an opportunity for a more upscale experience.

“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 told The Washington Times earlier this year. “The range is a high-quality facility, but we’re going to try to make it affordable for everyone.”

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