North Texas gun fans and those who want to learn more about firearms will have to wait until May before an indoor shooting range opens in North Richland Hills.
Range owner Bill Brandenburg said he plans to convert one of the city’s most visible buildings, the former Home Depot Expo Design Center off Boulevard 26, into an indoor shooting range under a new name: Total Shooting Sports.
Brandenburg said at a March City Council meeting that the shooting range would open between October and December under the name Bodyguard Sports.
He said that after running names through a survey, he decided to rebrand the name to Total Shooting Sports.
“It took us a long time to work through the lease,” Brandenburg said. “All of that is nailed down. We’re already signing contracts, and everything is moving forward.”
When it opens, Total Shooting Sports will have a gun store, a gunsmith, a café, event space, a place to shoot lasers at video simulations, an indoor shoot house with non-lethal “Simunitions,” a five-stand sport shooting place, and two rifle and pistol bays — one a tactical bay — that allows the shooter to move forward and test his skill against multiple targets.
Brandenburg said he still plans to create a family friendly atmosphere that will cater to gun novices as well as expert shooters. Alcohol and inebriated people will be banned from the business.
Mayor Oscar Trevino said he gets asked about the gun range at church, at stores and at schools from people of both genders and a multitude of ages.
“It seems like the main question is when is the gun range going to open, and why is it taking so long,” Trevino said. “That’s the main question of anything else going on in the city… I think there’s going to be an onslaught of people sitting in the parking lot waiting for that thing to open.”
The former Expo Design Center, located between Boulevard 26 and Davis Boulevard, just north Northeast Loop 820, has been vacant since 2005 when the design center closed.
In September 2013, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a special use permit to allow what was to be called Caliber Shooting Center to open an indoor shooting range at the same location.
Caliber owners planned to add a second floor to the building, increasing the floor area from 92,475 square feet to 146,781 square feet. Other features included more than 60 live-fire shooting lanes, two 100-yard indoor rifle bays and seven classrooms.
Caliber officials said they planned to open in summer 2014, but the business never materialized. The special use permit expired Jan. 1.
On March 2, the council voted 7-0 to approve a zoning change that allows Brandenburg’s project to go forward.
Total Shooting Sports plans to use about half the building space, leaving the other half for recreation and entertainment businesses, such as a bowling alley, music venue or an archery range. Brandenburg said estimates that his $4.5 million venture will create between 27 and 32 jobs and will have about 60,000 consumers a year.
Total Shooting Sports will be within a half-mile of the new City Hall being built south of Northeast Loop 820. Officials are hoping the City Hall can attract restaurants, shops and a hotel. The shooting range is also expected to be a significant draw, officials said.