New facility aims to cater to unique shooters
After nine years of military service, Brad Simon returned to Shreveport in 2011 with a dream to create a place where shooting sports enthusiasts could practice. On March 11, Simon will appear before the Metropolitan Planning Commission to get approval for his plans for the facility, called Red River Range, he wants to construct off Line Avenue in the industrial area near American Way.
Simon is a former Blackhawk helicopter pilot who said he joined the Army after 9/11 as soon as he was out of college. “I was on my last semester of college at 9/11. So I enlisted, and I [left the service] in 2011.”
If the MPC approves of Simon’s plans, he hopes to get the doors open by the end of this year. “I’ve got the land taken down. The design of the facility is done. At this point, it’s just wrap up financing and get through the city [requirements],” he said.
Simon said he did a lot of research before settling on a design for the facility. He envisioned building a location where his mother, an occasional shooter, or his wife, who shoots less frequently, would feel comfortable.
Simon said his club is not the stereotypical gun club with just men. “More of a boutique store that caters to women. They are the largest growing demographic in the shooting sports.”
Simon is a federally licensed firearms dealer and is licensed to deal in high capacity firearms and other special category weapons. “I’ve been a gun dealer for about 15 years now.” He said the idea for the new range started brewing when he was in Iraq. He initially wanted to build an outdoor range, but another company already had one in the works. “So then, I started thinking about an indoor facility.”
After traveling around the country to check out other facilities like the one he was envisioning for Shreveport, he came up with his plan and began looking for financing partners and seeking approval and a place to build.
He purchased the 10-acre tract in southeast Shreveport and approached the city for the go-ahead to begin construction. The property was initially zoned I-2. Simon learned that because he is proposing a shooting range, he had to have approval from the city’s zoning board. He also learned that in order to have a retail space in the facility, the I-2 zoning was not appropriate. He since has opted to design for a PUD, or a publicland unit development. In order to satisfy the requirements for the PUD, Simon has added a fish pond and picnic area, as well as an outdoor archery range and practice area.
Simon admitted he anticipated some opposition from people who were concerned about safety around a gun range. “I thought I’d run into problems.
‘Oh, my God, a gun range. It’s dangerous.
What are you going to do?’ So far, I haven’t seen that yet.”
To mitigate concerns about danger, Simon said he’s putting in state-of-the-art safety features. These include a granular rubber bullet trap to reduce noise and prevent errant bullets. The rubber trap is also better for the environment, according to Smith, since it reduces the amount of lead dust and particulate matter in the air.
The new range will have two eight lane pistol bays that are 25 yards long.
It will also have a 100-yard rifle bay to accommodate long gun shooters. All three areas will be constantly monitored by a range control officer.
Simon plans to use the connections he’s made in the military and law enforcement to bring in experts and specialists to teach a variety of safety classes. Currently on the class list are basic handgun safety and familiarization courses, youth safety instruction, survival classes, concealed carry permitting and hunter safety courses. Besides on the range training, the facility will have a classroom capable of instructing up to 30 students at a time, Simon said.
Anyone interested in memberships or investment opportunities can get more information at www.redriverrange.com.