Super-size gun range to open in North Richland Hills

Posted Monday, Sep. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The city could become a destination for North Texas gun fans and those who want to learn more about firearms.

An indoor shooting range to be called Caliber Shooting Center is expected to open next summer in one of the city’s most visible buildings, the former Home Depot Expo Design Center. Caliber will boast mock holdups, shooting lanes, a gun shop and a cafe.

The building, between Boulevard 26 and Davis Boulevard, near Northeast Loop 820, has been vacant since 2005, city Senior Planner Clayton Comstock wrote in a memo.

To help ensure safety, the shooting range will include a deceleration chamber that will literally slow fired bullets until they drop and can be collected, Caliber partner Aaron Kreag said.

The project will also include a concrete and steel wall to be built inside the exterior concrete wall. Air will flow over the shooters from the back to prevent lead contamination.

“From a sound standpoint and a safety standpoint, I think you could probably stand outside this and not even know they’re shooting inside,” project architect Joe Hilliard said.

The City Council voted 7-0 on Sept. 9 to approve a special use permit, allowing the business to open. Nearby property owners were notified through letters and visits about the planned business. No residents spoke at the meeting.

The vacant building has stood out as Davis and Boulevard 26 are among a handful of major thoroughfares in North Richland Hills.

“This is a great example of our staff thinking outside of the box to attract businesses to our community,” Councilman Tom Lombard said. “This puts this property to use. It’s been dormant for a long time.”

The shooting range will be large.

The owners plan to add a second floor to the building, increasing the floor area from 92,475 square feet to 146,781, Comstock wrote.

Other features include more than 60 live-fire shooting lanes, two 100-yard indoor rifle bays, seven classrooms, a coffee shop and cafe area. The sales area will have “clean lines” similar to those in an Apple store, Kreag said.

The project’s cost is proprietary information, Kreag said. But the business should produce the equivalent of 50 full-time jobs, he said.

Perhaps a more unusual feature is what Kreag called the “simulation city,” which will feature theatrical mockups of buildings typically seen in a municipal center, such as a home, ATM, office, bank and restaurant.

Employees will play the part of criminals to give police, security guards and others real-life defense training. The guns will fire a wax material similar to paint balls, Kreag said.

“You will know if you’ve been hit by one of them,” Kreag said.

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