A New Gun Range and a Small-Town Investment

October 26, 2021
Mike Sampson

Recently incorporated, Holiday Island, Arkansas, is a small town of about 2,500 in the northwest part of the state, and it now boasts a new climate-controlled five-lane indoor gun range.

Thanks to the ideas and efforts of Brad Handley, owner of Handley Investigation and Security Services LLC, the much-needed indoor range for the area had its grand opening Sept. 11. Handley, a police veteran and instructor of 30 years who retired 4 years ago from the Eureka Springs Police Department, saw the need and made it happen.

He bought an older pavilion-type building and “with a lot of money” to the tune of some $125,000 enclosed the facility, poured concrete floors, walls and a 2-foot thick berm. He added ballistic curtains to the 25-yard range, installed a $6,000 ventilation system, and $6,000 in user-controlled electric rails for target movement. For teaching purposes he added a $45,000 large-screen simulator with a wide range of shoot-don’t shoot scenarios.

Handley said after years of teaching law enforcement personnel and having only outdoor ranges in the vicinity, the need for an indoor facility was obvious. “Everyone got tired of shooting outdoors in all kinds of weather,” he added. 

A primary goal of the range was instruction for area law enforcement personnel and to help get interested trainees ready for the police academy. Since Handley owns a national company that provides security for events, the need for a training facility was even more important, he said.

“My security company has contracts in multiple states. Our bread and butter are the big factories and warehouses.  Training is for law enforcement as well as security officers so we can provide the best trained security in the area.” Handley added.

“In Arkansas, officers need at least 16 hours of annual training, and so many of our small departments have minimal training budgets. I wanted to help fill that need.” 

Classes the range offers include beginner, intermediate, advanced, combat and more. By opening classes to the public, Handley has been able to expand his training audience.

Designing the range, he said, included personal experience, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health compliance, safety, and a HEPA filtration system to remove airborne contaminants. “Changing the HEPA filter each year costs about $1,000,” he said, so expenses for an indoor range can add up quickly. Cleaning up spent rounds and lead is a daily task.

For safety, the floor of the range drops 2 inches from the firing line to the berm, so a round hitting the concrete floor has no place to go except into the berm. “The berm alone cost $20,000,” he said. Add to that 6 ballistic curtains and multiple ballistic blocks needing replacement periodically, an indoor range requires a lot of financial planning, he added.

An additional safety feature he incorporated include side walls that are wider at the firing line and taper slightly to direct off-target round into the berm. He also plans to add steel plating on the ceiling of the lanes, “just in case.” Shortly, he will add foam insulation for additional noise control, but that has been delayed with a vendor backlog, he said.

Eyes and ears are a requirement when using the range and when the range lights go on, so does the HEPA ventilation system. Lane rental is $20 per hour and targets are $3 each. Handley offers range memberships but most people prefer the hourly rental.

The simulator classes are a “great teaching tool” and controlling scenarios from the computer console makes the simulator valuable for officer training and classes with multiple encounters such as domestic violence, active shooter, home invasion, and urban and rural incidents, Handley said.

Classes for the public are $89 for 4-6 hours, limited to no more than 5 people and needs, and include handgun safety, selection, cleaning, disassembly and reassembly. The simulator, he said, has been popular and some couples take advantage of the scenarios for a “date night” for both entertainment and learning for a $25 fee.

Handley said for one of his classes, “An 85 year-old lady showed up wanting to learn to use the Smith & Wesson 686 in .357 Magnum she had. I was able to convince her that probably would not be a good gun for her and she settled on a .380.”

The range offers handgun rentals and sales, and has ammo for sale. On the range, Handley limits usage to handguns up to and including .44 Magnum. No rifles or shotguns, but the simulator works for training on those weapons, he said.

Range hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Handley operates the range with his daughter, a former police officer, who also teaches.

The range shows how ideas and needs can create new opportunities and beneficial services, even for small communities. My neighbors and I plan to hit the range to help a new business, and to Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training, worked as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, and also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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