CORNELIUS – Twelve miles separate two of the nation’s top gun ranges.
Point Blank Range in Mooresville and The Range at Lake Norman in Cornelius both boast Five Star ratings from the National Shooting Sports Foundation based on superior amenities, appearance and customer service.
They also face competition from a third gun range set to open in the Lake Norman region later this year. Cornelius resident Bob Watson expects to open Denver Defense Range & Firearms sometime in April, though he fears recent rain may trigger a minor delay.
Denver Defense Range & Firearms will not only offer 18 state-of-the-art shooting lanes, but also training classes and a 4,000-square-foot firearms retail area.
“We are putting in a 50-yard range which is the only one in North Carolina and that will attract a lot of deer hunters and people who use rifles and other items like that,” Watson said.
Watson believes the up-and-coming Denver range will prove to be a success as many people have responded positively to its development. Upwards of 50 members have signed up already with about 800 people on its email list, Watson said.
“People do not like to travel that far,” Watson said. “There are so many people on the west side of the lake that want to go to gun ranges.”
Ranges focus on technology, promotion
Gun ranges have evolved rapidly across Lake Norman.
Point Blank Range opened in July 2011. The Range at Lake Norman followed three months later.
They continue to make upgrades, staying up-to-date with technology and broadening their memberships.
“For 30 years, there was one gun range in Matthews. So as the population has grown in the area and the number of shooters has grown, it is only natural for ranges to start developing,” said Brian Sisson, owner of The Range at Lake Norman.
Sisson and his team are opening a second range in the Ballantyne area.
Alongside promotion, Sisson's range focuses on technology. Its video target system enhances customers' experience and appeals to new customers.
Sisson explained just why Lake Norman makes a prime spot for a gun range.
“There were not good firearm ranges in the area, so we wanted to start one. It was a good business opportunity at the time two and a half years ago,” Sisson said. “Mecklenburg County is in need of gun ranges. This is where we live. We want to service the Lake Norman community.”
Besides its withstanding commitment to existing members, Sisson also wants to attract new shooters.
“We want women new to the sport and kids whose parents want to introduce them to the sport,” Sisson said. “We target to a diverse target audience in hopes to recruit new members.”
Both of the existing ranges are climate controlled 365 days a year through high-quality ventilation systems and provide a family-friendly environment.
Denver Defense Range & Firearms plans to do the same for its members, if not surpass the others in popularity and expansions.
“We will try to be the best gun range around,” Watson said.