Indoor shooting range coming to Henrico

An indoor shooting range billed as the largest such facility in the nation is coming to Henrico County.

Colonial Shooting Academy is expected to open in February at 6020 West Broad Street near Willow Lawn, in the former Colony House Furniture building. The facility will be open seven days a week and house 39 shooting stations for use by members or the general public, as well as 11 stations for law enforcement training and a "shoot house," in which officers can practice various scenarios.

"It's real exciting for us, because there's a huge need," said general manager Ed Coleman, "and we feel like we're meeting that need."

In Central Virginia, there are three outdoor ranges and one indoor range. Coleman has been affiliated with one of the outdoor ranges – Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club in Hanover County – for nearly four decades and said the new facility will appeal to a range of customers.

"We've been all over the country looking at indoor ranges," he said. "Typically what we've found is professional people or tradesmen who are interested in shooting and need a place to shoot, or people who are interested in shooting competitions, which we'll have some of."

The facility earned plan of development approval from the Henrico Planning Commission late last month, clearing the way for demolition and renovation work to begin inside the structure. Investors in the shooting academy expect to spend $6 million or more outfitting the building during the coming months, Coleman said.

The building, owned by the real estate firm Spotts and Carneal, has been vacant since Colony House Furniture closed several years ago. Spotts and Carneal principal Courtland Spotts is the academy's managing partner and a primary investor. (Ed Lacy, another real estate official, is the other primary investor.)

The facility will offer memberships – beginning at $35 a month with a $100 initiation fee – but also will accept walk-in customers and offer gun rentals. One hour of shooting time will cost $20, Coleman said. Twenty-yard and 25-yard shooting ranges will be available, and the facility intends to offer some firearms for sale.

All customers and members will be required to take an on-site safety course prior to their first use of the facility and once every 12 months thereafter, Coleman said.

The academy is expected to employ 25 to 30 people, Coleman said. Among the facility's instructors will be recently retired Henrico Police Chief Henry Stanley.

The firearms industry as a whole has shown steady growth in recent years – including growth of more than 15 percent annually in the past few among first-time firearm owners, according to Coleman.

But many of those new owners lack formal training or the opportunity to access it nearby, he said. That's a void that the new facility will seek to fill locally, he said.

"There are very few facilities where you can go to learn," Coleman said. "Our primary purpose is to create a good, safe place for people to learn to shoot. We'll have a safe, secure environment where people can come and take classes and learn proper shooting techniques."

Coleman also expects that the academy's role with local law enforcement agencies will expand over time. Because of its vast amount of space, it will be able to offer local police departments training opportunities that many of them – even larger ones – may lack, he said.

Colonial Shooting Academy will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

More details about the facility will be available during the coming months on its website (http://www.colonialshooting.com) and by phone (804-266-AMMO).
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