Business Feature Cullman Shooting Sports aims for October opening | CullmanSense

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Cullman Shooting Sports aims for October opening

Cullman Shooting Sports Facility Manager Doug Long demonstrates the wireless target movement and retrieval system. / W.C. Mann

CULLMAN - As Cullman Shooting Sports draws closer to completion, its staff is aiming (pun absolutely intended!) to see the one-of-a-kind facility become one of the top stops in the nation for fans of shooting sports.  And that could happen by the end of October.  On Thursday, CSS Facility Manager Doug Long took The Tribune on a tour, to show us the progress and talk about what’s coming up.

Most shooting fans already know that CSS will be home to the nation’s longest, above ground, public indoor gun range. It will be the longest indoor gun range in the Southeast, at 110 yards.  The facility will also feature:

  • A 25-yard pistol range that is also rated for rifle ammunition
  • Environmentally-friendly bullet traps that are rated to stop up to a .50 BMG bullet (not that people will be allowed to shoot those in there).  Each range backstop contains approximately 24,000 pounds of ground up car tires.  “All the lead that will go into this trap will be recycled,” said Long.  “All of the brass will also be recycled.”
  • A planned 25-yard tactical range where shooters can take part in active “move and shoot” exercises
  • Two simulator rooms with the TI Gunfighter and Gunfighter Pro systems, where shooters can practice everything from basic trigger control to facing real-world active shooter scenarios
  • Gun rental counter, where shooters can enjoy a change of pace from their regular firearms, or “try before you buy” a new personal weapon
  • Conference rooms for classes, meetings and social functions.  Long explained, “We can do anything in here, from show somebody how to clean an AR-15, to a corporate class.  We’re able to do corporate gatherings, we’re able to do birthdays, Christmas parties, team-building for offices, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties!”
  • Coffee bar and lounge area for shooters and non-shooters alike to relax.  Said Long, “Anybody can come into the lounge area, sit down, have a cup of coffee or Coca-Cola.  We’re going to have some snack machines in here, and coffee makers.  Just come, relax and enjoy some company.”
  • Adjustable tables on the rifle range that will allow shooters to choose any firing position from prone to standing
  • Selected ADA-compliant firing lanes, with wheelchair-accessible tables and controls.
  • An air filtration system that will remove both smells and trace gunpowder and lead materials from the air.  According to Long, the air inside the range will be “the cleanest air you will breathe all day long.”

The entryway is almost complete, with bullet-shaped vehicle barriers and custom pistol-shaped exposed roof trusses.  While The Tribune was visiting, crews were installing wall cabinets and counters in the retail area, mounting acoustic paneling in the range and setting up the air filters. 

Two air filtration/climate control systems have been installed on the roof.  The Tribune climbed up to have a look, and saw units the size of small mobile homes.  Imagine a central air unit you can walk through.  One was already up and running, while three layers of filters (including HEPA filters rated for use in hospital operating rooms) were being installed in the other.

On the rifle and pistol ranges, wireless computerized target movement and retrieval equipment is already running.  Long demonstrated how the target holder can spin and tease the shooter with dual targets for shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and how the system can move the target to different distances on a programmed pattern.  Lights in each firing lane can simulate flashing police or EMS vehicle lights, and a light on the target holder can even simulate shots from the target toward the shooter.

In what is sure to be a favorite feature for some, with the push of a control panel button, the range can be plunged into black-light darkness for all-in-good-fun “zombie mode.”  The target control system will allow zombie targets to appear suddenly out of the darkness at varying distances in front of shooters.

Troy Acoustics paneling and insulation up to 3 inches thick now lines most of the range areas’ walls.  Double outer walls and 3 inches of poured concrete on top of the slab ceiling panels will help make the CSS ranges among the quietest ever built, inside the building and out.

Visitors who don’t want to shoot will be able to watch activities on the ranges through level eight bullet-resistant windows.  According to Underwriters’ Laboratories, level eight ballistic glass will absorb five impacts from 7.62mm/.308 rifle bullets before failing.  Even an accident in the range will not endanger people outside.

And there shouldn’t be many accidents on the range.  According to Long, every shooter who goes to the range will have to go through a safety briefing before beginning, in a conference room set aside for that specific purpose. 

Helping people do things right with firearms is a major emphasis for the staff at CSS.  Long talked about how firearms training is shaping up to be a major activity at the facility.

“Training is really what’s coming into focus as one of the main needs that I’m seeing,” he said. “Everybody that I’m speaking to is asking for training.”

Training opportunities will start in the simulation rooms, where novices can learn how to hold a firearm and basic trigger control.  From there, advanced simulators will allow them to shoot at video targets with training guns that actually recoil when fired. 

“When you go to the (live-fire) range,” said Long, “you’re actually used to having something in your hand that’s moving.  And it’s really like old hat when you get to that point: you’ve gone through your classroom time, you’ve gone through your blue gun (non-moving simulator) time, you’ve gone through your blowback gun time.  Then, when you’re on the range, it just kind of flows naturally from one phase to the next.”

More advanced shooters can test both their gun skills and their judgment in real world simulations that teach not only how to shoot, but also when to shoot and, at least as importantly, when not to.

“I love the fact that we’re a ‘shall-issue’ state,” said Long.  “You know, you don’t have to go and get training before you get your concealed carry permit, but it’s something that’s our responsibility to do, to go out and be proficient with the use of your handgun.  If you’re going to carry it in public and, God forbid, you ever have to use it in public, or even at home with your family around, you want to make sure that you’re hitting what you’re aiming at.

“And shooting is such a diminishing skill.  You have your natural shooters, but then again, you have people like me; if I don’t practice, my skills erode.  And that’s 99 percent of the people I’ve talked to.”

CSS has already begun selling memberships, and shooters are lining up.  Of the sign-ups, Long said, “It’s going pretty doggone well.  I’ve been very pleased.”

Long hopes to open the facility, at least to his founding members, the last week of October.

For more information on the CSS facility or membership, visit www.cssrange.com or www.facebook.com/CSSRANGE.

Background:

www.cullmantribune.com/articles/2017/03/24/inside-look-cullman-s-highly-...

www.cullmantribune.com/articles/2017/03/20/cullman-targeted-longest-indo...

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  • W.C. Mann
    The entryway features custom pistol-shaped trusses.
  • W.C. Mann
    On the roof, Mike Hendrickson of Capital City Mechanical Services shows one of 12 hospital-grade HEPA filters that will go into each air filtration system.
  • W.C. Mann
    Select firing lanes will have lower and easily accessible control panels, making the facility ADA-compliant.