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Old April 6, 2013, 07:58 AM   #1
stephen426
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Looking into opening a gun range in South Florida

I live in Miami, FL and I feel that we have a serious shortage of indoor gun ranges down here. There is Ace's in Doral, Stone Hart's which is near the Tamiami Airport, and Florida Gun in Hialeah. There is also Trail Glades which is an outdoor range west of Miami. For those of you not familiar with South Florida, Ace's is west, Stone Hart's is southwest, and Hialeah is northwest. The southeast and center of Miami are very under served and I feel a convenient range would attract a lot of shooters.

If there are any range owners or people who work at a range, please share any insight you might have.

Location: We are looking at sites near US1 in the South Miami Area and near where 826 and 836 meet. Convenience is key and visibility is important.

Size: Most indoor ranges I go to have 25 yard max distances. Florida Guns only goes to 55 feet. How important is a 25 yard long range? This greatly reduces the number of sites since not that many warehouses are that long. How many lanes makes sense? We are trying to strike a balance between having enough lanes to meet demand without over-building.

Features: What features do you expect? We are considering digital simulators that allow for live fire. We are also looking to do force on force training with air soft.

Pricing: We are looking to price ourselves in the mid to high range since we want an upscale range. It will deter the riffraff from coming in and improve margins. I am thinking about $15 - $20 per hour (discounted if they buy ammo from us). I am also looking at membership packages which includes range time.

Investment: So far, our projections fall in the $750K - $1 million mark. Several people have spoken with my partner and expressed an interest to invest.

Profitability: First and foremost, this is a business. While I love shooting, this is an investment first and foremost and investors expect a return on their money. This is my biggest concern as I feel ranges would only be busy on weekends and somewhat busier during evenings. Where does the money come from as a percentage? Range fees? Ammo sales? Gun Sales? Incidentals such as targets and eyes and ears? Training?

I appreciate any ideas and feedback you guys can offer!
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:19 AM   #2
BigD_in_FL
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An indoor range has one major expense over the outdoor ranges - the air handling system which can easily eat your entire budget. If you are building, don't forget those pesky city/county permits - they add up quickly as well
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:25 AM   #3
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These are total package ranges. All depends on budget. As stated outdoor range is a no air quality issue. Our range is fairly new just 3+ years old. EPA is the issue with regards to spent brass on the ground and rain mixing and causing pollution. Policing brass is a must as we have been inspected twice already. 22's are the worst to police.
Link, http://www.ais-sim.com/index.htm
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Old April 6, 2013, 09:34 AM   #4
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I like the idea of keeping the riffraff away. It would make places so much more enjoyable. Also the lighting at most ranges suck. I would NOT sell ammo. At least until the panic goes down, riffraff will come for the ammo along with half of Florida
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Old April 6, 2013, 11:59 AM   #5
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How important is a 25 yard long range?
From the standpoint of ricochets, it can be very important. Depending on design and composition of the backstop, small irregularites and warping can cause them. The shorter the range, the higher the possibility of those coming back to zap shooters.

Now, this will place higher demands on your air-handler and conveyor system, so it's a balancing act.

$750K to $1M is about right for budget. Don't skimp on the air handler, and make sure it's designed in a way that it's easy to service. You'll also want to check the type of filters they use, and take the cost of those into account.

Make sure you can secure zoning first, and the EPA and OSHA will likely take an interest. The NSSF has a wealth of resources for training employees in safe practices and lead abatement.

The last factor is safety. You'll want a full-time RSO. The general public is not us. It's folks who treat shooting a gun like riding a roller-coaster, and many have received no training whatsoever prior to pulling the trigger.
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Old April 6, 2013, 12:30 PM   #6
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I wish you success. but it is a very large gamble,IMO. Miami-Dade County is quite complex demographically.The area I live in, southwest central Dade, is heavily Hispanic. I'm 7 miles east of Aces. And although probably 90% of my neighbors are gun owners, very few go to an indoor range or any range.

My very large extended family has several target shooters and we all go to Trail Glades or Markham Park in Broward, both outdoor ranges. And our trips are minimal,perhaps 5 or 6 times a year on the average.

Even with the large gun owning population in Northwest Dade and south of Flagler Street all the way to Homestead, unlike other southern Metro areas, Miami/Fort Lauderdale is not really "gunny" territory. Most of the gun owning population has the firearm for self defense purposes only. Few are target shooters and almost none are hunters.

On the rare occasion I go to an indoor range, I meet a buddy, who lives in Pembroke Pines, and we go to cheap Big Al's in Hallandale. It's a bit grimy,the 'hood is dicey but the prices are right and the staff is decent. Most days!

And 25 yards is important to my mind. Nothing less. Lanes should be decently spaced. The number is a difficult calculation. A dozen? 15? 20?

Aces has 16 lanes, $9 a hour if you bring no ammo.$15 if you do. Big Al's has 18 lanes and is priced about 30% less,IIRC. Both are 25 yards.

If you proceed,the location should be along the line of South Dixie Highway (U.S 1) south of 57 Ave (Red Road) to S.W. 136 Street (The Falls Shopping Mall). This strip of asphalt is above average $ wise and your base clientele will be anything but riffraff.

This location,IMO, gives you the greatest chance of success. It centers you in the heart of gun owning Miami. And near me! My 43 member extended family will certainly be on hand occasionally. We all live within 8 miles of that South Dixie line.

I've been here since 1950, except for military service and a bit of wandering about the country. We do know this town and how it thinks.

Again,my very best wishes on success. Life is a gamble. As the wise man said,"Nothing ventured,nothing gained".
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Old April 6, 2013, 04:17 PM   #7
Scarletma
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New indoor range

Don't forget Shoot Straight just opened a large shop and range in Davie 595 and st road 7
New one also opening soon in Broward which is going to be state of the art.
Trail Glades is county owned and always busy. Perhaps an outdoor range with new tech involved would be a better investment. I also thought about the economics of this and decided against it due to high cost of total overhead and if you cannot get ammunition no one shoots as much. Try something like a bowling league and get members from local unions?
Good luck we will come and support you but the area you are talking about is high rent and many environmental details to be considered.
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Old April 6, 2013, 07:15 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
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The range where I shoot is an older, indoor facility. Maximum distance is 25 yards. From casual observation and occasional "duty" as a volunteer RSO, I would guess that probably 2/3 to 3/4 of the shooters pretty much limit themselves to the 25-foot distance. There are some who like to either start or end a session with some "long range" practice. I use the range for conducting gun tests for publication, and I need the 25-yard distance for gun tests. Also, the range allows pistol-caliber carbines and rimfire rifles, and the long-barrel guys ONLY use the 25-yard distance.

I can't break it down by percentages with any semblance of validity, but I would say if you're starting from scratch, IMHO it would be foolish to NOT insist on AT LEAST 25 yards as a minimum. Although I haven't shot at them, I am aware of three other indoor ranges in my area. All go to 25 yards. I have also shot at two different indoor ranges with a friend in another state, and those also both went to 25 yards.

The range where I shoot charges $35 per hour per lane (one or two people, $5 per hour per additional person) and $15 per hour for gun rentals. Maybe I'm in a different universe than Florida but, to me, $15 to $20 per hour does not seem like an up-scale rate. It seems like a super cheap rate that would be guaranteed to attract riff-raff. I also don't think you'd be able to pay off the investment with rates like that. The newest range in my area is a new facility, not a new owner of an existing range. The HEPA ventilation system for the range is on the roof, and the ventilating unit itself is larger than most people's garage. That kind of equipment doesn't come cheap. The new range charges $25 per hour per lane (up to two people ... period) and $15 per half hour.

The new range has seven lanes. The older range where I shoot originally had twelve, split into two groups of six with a 12-inch thick concrete wall running down the center to create two separate section. The first two lanes on one side have been deactivated to make them available for other purposes. That leaves ten active lanes. When it's not busy, only the six lanes on the right side are used for the public. This leaves the other four (on the opposite side of the concrete wall) for rental to small groups, or for instructors to conduct the live fire portion of classes.

Days are generally slow. Some evenings are busier than others. Thursday evenings are competition nights, and those are VERY busy. Saturdays and Sundays have always been busy and, since the first of the year, have been generally standing room only.

Hope this helps.
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Old April 7, 2013, 01:40 AM   #9
stephen426
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Thanks for all the feedback so far. I really appreciate it. My main reasoning for insisting on an indoor range is convenience. With outdoor ranges, you have to wait for the line to be "cold" before setting up, removing, and checking targets. The other thing is location. The only place to put an outdoor range is way out west or pretty far south (and west). For me, convenience is very important as it will determine whether or not I get to go shooting. The other thing is the hours of operation and the weather. We can open late since we are not dependent on day light. More importantly, you don't have to worry about rain, heat, or humidity.

I have some ideas for the back stop. I thought it was a unique idea until a friend told me that someone had already developed it. I took the idea from tank armor. The idea is to take a thick metal plate and angle it at 45 degree if less. The rounds would then deflect down into a pool of water. This makes for easy lead removal and easy recycling. I also believe that the water pool can be used to remove airborne lead and dust. As long as there is positive pressure from the front to back of the range, the airborne contaminants would get push towards the back. It is my understanding that air of their must be fresh air. The water could be used to create a cooling tower effect and cool the air rather than relying 100 on mechanical cooling.

We are most probably looking to rent a building and convert it rather than building from scratch. While starting from the ground up gives the most flexibility, it is much more expensive. The issue is the paperwork takes forever and you have to have a lease already. So basically you have to lease a place without even knowing if you will even get approved.

I will keep you guys up to date. Thanks again for the feedback and encouraging words!
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Old April 7, 2013, 07:05 AM   #10
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen426
I have some ideas for the back stop. I thought it was a unique idea until a friend told me that someone had already developed it. I took the idea from tank armor. The idea is to take a thick metal plate and angle it at 45 degree if less. The rounds would then deflect down into a pool of water. This makes for easy lead removal and easy recycling.
That's the setup at the old range where I shoot. The reason no rifles (other than rimfire and pistol-caliber carbines) are allowed is that rifle bullets either severely dent the backing plate, or punch right through it -- even though it is at 45 degrees. The "moat" is six feet deep. Lead retrieval is NOT easy. It's one of the reasons the range is split in half. It takes hours to drain it, and many more hours of back-breaking labor to shovel the lead into buckets and haul it out. Splitting the place with a concrete wall allows some lanes to be open while the other half is closed for lead reclamation.

Quote:
I also believe that the water pool can be used to remove airborne lead and dust. As long as there is positive pressure from the front to back of the range, the airborne contaminants would get push towards the back. It is my understanding that air of their must be fresh air. The water could be used to create a cooling tower effect and cool the air rather than relying 100 on mechanical cooling.
Even if the air flow does go from the shooter toward the backstop, water in a moat at floor level won't catch any pollutants, and it won't provide any cooling. You mention "cooling tower" but you apparently don't understand that in a cooling tower the water is constantly being circulated to the top of a tower made up of horizontal slats, and the cooling comes from having the water run down over the slats. You would need a similar water curtain type effect to scrub any nasties out of the air, and I doubt very much the environmental authorities would allow that. First, it probably wouldn't effectively reduce airborne lead. Second, let's say to DO remove a significant percentage of the lead from the air. Now you have a moat filled with a lead-bearing solution. How you you dispose of all that when you have to drain the moat to collect the spent lead bullets?

Any way you slice it, I think a NEW range is going to require real bullet traps, and a HEPA air handling system.

I think the NRA has a lot of information on building new shooting ranges. Have you looked at the NRA site yet?

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; April 7, 2013 at 11:28 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old April 7, 2013, 10:17 AM   #11
Don P
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We are most probably looking to rent a building and convert it rather than building from scratch. While starting from the ground up gives the most flexibility, it is much more expensive. The issue is the paperwork takes forever and you have to have a lease already. So basically you have to lease a place without even knowing if you will even get approved.
The link I provided in post #3 can and will solve your issues. Built and ready to go. Just add electric.
Why reinvent the wheel when it already exists?
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Old April 7, 2013, 12:40 PM   #12
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2 cents from Broward County.

Good luck with opening a range in the area you'd like. I dont see Aventura, Opaloca, North Miami, Miami Gardens, or the city of Miami even allowing that kind of a business in that area. However an indoor range would be most welcome.

As I said I live in Broward.... No shortage of ranges here. Outoors we have Markham park, and Pop's. Indoors we have Arizona, Big Al, American, National Armory, Shoot strait, and a brand new one at powerline road and wiles. Theres also a scary little lange off east copans in the warehouses.

The new range I mentioned is state of the art and allows ANY caliber. The National Armory is pretty much the same thing.
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Old April 7, 2013, 01:03 PM   #13
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I live in Citrus county 20 miles SW of Ocala, We are anxiously awaiting the opening of a combination indoor/outdoor range . It is under construction right now. It looks to be a state of the art facility with a store on premises and will offer memberships. The holdup now is building construction funding pending bank approval. Perhaps if you send the owners a Email they might give you an insight to the hurdles you surly will have to jump through. This facility will be a gold mine considering the ranges indoor and out that are available to us now

http://outpostrange.com/
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Old April 7, 2013, 02:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Dee
2 cents from Broward County.

Good luck with opening a range in the area you'd like. I dont see Aventura, Opaloca, North Miami, Miami Gardens, or the city of Miami even allowing that kind of a business in that area. However an indoor range would be most welcome.
He is looking at the areas south of Flagler Street, not North Dade or the City of Miami. The focus is on Coral Gables,South Miami,Kendall, Pinecrest to Cutler Ridge and Homestead.

There is presently no indoor or outdoor competition covering that huge swath of territory.

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Old April 7, 2013, 09:47 PM   #15
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Thanks for the links and the advice. I will check everything out ASAP!

@ Aguilar Blanca,
I know how cooling towers work and I also know about exhausting dirty particles. I am actually in the restaurant business and some of our locations have water wash hoods. Basically the exhaust is blasted into a cascade of water which traps the particles. The heavier particles such as lead will sink to the bottom. My thought is that the water can run over a heat sink and cool incoming air at the same time.

As for the higher powered rounds punching through the back stop, we could use heavier plates. I was even thinking of backing the plate with sand. If it is too much of a hassle, I am seriously considering going handguns or carbines only. We can also limit it to frangible ammo only. I'm not sure how many people shoot rifles indoors anyways since the shorter range isn't much of a challenge. We have looked up other types of back stops so there is no commitment to my initial backstop idea.

@ Glenn Dee,
I have NO interest of opening in North Miami or Aventura. While the wealthy demographics in Aventura are attractive, it is also pretty liberal and probably not very gun friendly. Besides, Pembroke Gun and Range and Big Al's are very close and both are lower priced. I am interested in several areas and would like to create something that can be replicated fairly easily. I think a range just south of Downtown off of US1 would attract people from Coconut Grove, Brickell, and Miami Beach. The second area is South Miami, also off of US1. I am also interested in almost anything off of SR 826 from NW 36 St. South. While the 826/836 intersection is close to Ace's, it is also central to almost everything.

My partner has already done a fair amount of research into the zoning and permitting. In addition, I just found out a friend of mine is a RSCO and we are bringing him into the group. I have wanted to open a range for a long time and I am so excited that my dream may become a reality! Thanks again for all of the encouragement!
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Old April 7, 2013, 11:36 PM   #16
Aguila Blanca
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I'm not sure how many people shoot rifles indoors anyways since the shorter range isn't much of a challenge.
Almost every time I'm at the range either I overhear the staff telling phone callers that they can't bring their ___ hunting rifle, or somebody sneaks a rifle downstairs and the RSO has to throw him out. Yeah, it's not much of a challenge but that doesn't stop them.
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Old April 8, 2013, 12:01 AM   #17
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somebody sneaks a rifle downstairs and the RSO has to throw him out.
That's another concern. Employees who sign customers into the range need to be inspecting incoming weapons and ammo. People will try to sneak in shotguns, and they'll try to sneak in tracers.

It's one of the reasons I so detest the Taurus Judge. Jim Bob will declare his .45 Colt ammo, but he'll conveniently neglect to tell you about the handful of .410 shells he's got in his shirt pocket. He saves those for the end of his session, at which point he leaves dents in the carriers and pockmarks in the ceiling baffles.
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Old April 8, 2013, 01:41 AM   #18
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Maybe I missed it,

But it seems like a lot of hassle to open an indoor rather than outdoor range. What was the purpose for that decision?
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Old April 8, 2013, 02:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Maybe I missed it,

But it seems like a lot of hassle to open an indoor rather than outdoor range. What was the purpose for that decision?
Living in Florida I can tell you that an outdoor range in southern Florida would be unbearable due to the heat and humidity from about June to September. That would be my best guess.
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:21 AM   #20
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I live in Florida (Saint Augustine) which I've heard is muggier and warmer and our range is exclusively outdoor. I don't think I would go to an indoor range. Not that I want to tell anybody they can't work their dream, but to me an outdoor range makes more sense if there's no clear reason for picking the indoor.
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Old April 8, 2013, 04:46 AM   #21
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@ dakota.potts,

There are several reasons for opening an indoor range instead of an outdoor range.

1. Location, location, location! The only place to open an outdoor range is way out west or way down south (and west). My focus is on convenience so I need to be close to my potential patrons. The closest ranges from where we want to open is about 20 minutes without traffic. The emphasis is on the traffic part! With traffic, it could easily become a 45 minute ride. I want to make so convenient that someone can go after work or at a moments notice.

2. Weather: Miami is hot as hell and humid as hell for more than half the year. It rains almost everyday during the summer. That's why We will be investing in a good cooling system.

3. Convenience: With indoor ranges, the line is almost always hot. I hate waiting around at outdoor ranges for people to set up, remove, and check their targets. It is also a safety issue if you have some idiot handling guns when the line is cold.

4. Mosquitos are vicious down here at least 9 months out of the year.

5. Hours of operation: Trail Glades is closed Monday and Tuesday. They are open from 9 am to 6 pm Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thursday and Friday, they are open from 1 pm - 9 pm. With an indoor range, we can be open late. If there is demand for it, we may go as late as 10 pm.

6. EPA and DERM don't make it much easier for outdoor ranges. You still need to worry about lead and pollution.
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Old April 8, 2013, 09:37 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by stephen426
Features: What features do you expect?
Clean bathrooms. This may seem like a silly request. However, I've been married for going on 18 years, and I can assure you that my wife will not go to a range that does not have decent bathrooms. That means that if I want her to go with me, & I do, it must be at one of the ranges that has appropriate & clean facilities.
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Old April 8, 2013, 11:01 AM   #23
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Whoa....Alright. I live in Miami, and I've been to all the ranges you mentioned. Even Big Al's in Broward County.

I don't know if you've heard of Henry's range down in Homestead. It's pretty much $15 to do whatever the heck you want.

Take Krome Avenue all the way up to 302. make a right and keep doing till you can't anymore (you need a truck). Stay on the path..it's farmland, they will shoot at you if you're on their crops. Last one to the right is Henry's. Go through the forest on the first left you see on the left after you make the right.

They're great cause it's "freedom" but too much of that is dangerous. More idiots in Miami with guns than people who are trained. (Not "hating" just pointing out a fact lol)

Something I have yet to see is this...

Both and indoor and outdoor range.

So far the best one to me is the one by Tamiami airport. Behind the Lexus dealership. Make a left on 142 and a right on the other 142. You'll see it.

They don't have ridiculous rules like Trail Glades which is also outdoor. You know the "One shot every five seconds" is the one that makes my right eye twitch into oblivion. So that's insane... the biggest one is "No grouping".....You just cut out the bulls eye, yet you can't group anywhere else on the target. Or they inpolitely tell you to stop and buy a new target. Even using your own target. You can only have one at a time. Lame..


So, just throwing out the option for indoor and outdoor. Haven't seen that before. As for rifles..since it's outdoors, they have a good rifle side and shotgun side is decent. But handguns? Forget it.

Stonehart is hands down the best one in Dade county.

Ace's...is like trailglades but indoors. I don't like them and never will.

If you want any info as far as location, PM me...US-1 would be great. There hasn't been one there for ages.

There used to be one on 8th street and Bird road..those are long gone too.

I'm blabbing..not being useful. PM me if anything!
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Old April 8, 2013, 11:13 AM   #24
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Ugh..sorry...forgot to mention.

It needs to be somewhat of a gunclub. Not just a "here shoot and get out" that's always how I feel. With the "hourly" rate crap.

Ammo shouldn't be an arm and a leg. I should be allowed to bring my own. And if I want to, I can buy from you guys and it not have the Disneyland effect.

Snacks. Even just a vending machine or two and a soda machine.

A lot of targets.

Optional training courses. Real training from real trained people. Not mall ninjas.

Gun shop as well. Buy, sell, trade guns.

Take a trip to Stonehart. They're really doing great. They may need a few things. But they're great.
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:57 PM   #25
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Thanks for the info Constantine. I have been to Stone Hart's and it is fine. Range fees of $18 per hour are okay, but not cheap. I like the target rail system. As I mentioned, it is still pretty far West.

I like the idea of a "gun club", but I need to make sure that I reach as many people as possible. As I mentioned, we expect to spend about $750K - $1 Million so we need to get some volume in there. I was thinking of a monthly membership that includes a certain number of hours. If you keep your membership current, the hours roll over. That way, we will get more money up front. We can even set up reservations which charge their account for the time they book. If they show up late, too bad. My thought is to set up a card type system that they insert to turn on the target carrier and lights for the stall.

I haven't heard of Henry's, but Homestead is a bit south for me. Besides, I don't like being shot at. I also don't like being at unsupervised ranges. I don't want to worry about getting shot in the back.
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