By Joe Earle
Ronn Brown and Ken Kelmer say the new gun club they’re developing on Roswell Road will be a bit different from other firing ranges.
To hear them talk, it’ll be, well, nicer.
The Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range at 8040 Roswell Road will offer lockers and WiFi. People working at the club will wear uniforms. They say that when the club opens July 1, it won’t be like other places scattered around metro Atlanta that people usually must use for target practice.
“I’m trying to cater to women,” said Brown, who’s vice president of the club. “There are a lot of women in this area trying to learn how to shoot. … You soften it down a bit. You have women [working] in the facility, not just rough-looking guys. You have to have a nice appearance for them to come in. They want it super clean.”
Kelmer, a former weapons instructor in Iraq who is general manager of the Sandy Springs club, Brown and their investors think Sandy Springs is just the place for such a club.
They’re spending more than $3.2 million to convert a building that has housed a flooring company and a rental business into what they describe as a state-of-the-art firing range with pelletized rubber to capture bullets, baffles and sound-absorbing blankets to muffle sound and systems to clean the air of smoke.
“Why here [in Sandy Springs]? Population and location,” Brown said. “People here can’t shoot out the back door.”
“They have to drive an hour and a half to shoot,” Kelmer said.
“And you’d be surprised who comes in to shoot. It’s not rednecks,” Brown said. He believes his customers will include doctors, lawyers, even priests, he said. “There’s no type. It really has to do with their background, with what’s happened in their lives.
One group of customers it seems he’s likely to be able to count on is Sandy Springs police officers. The range, which will offer 15 firing lanes, will include one designed for “tactical shooting,” which means people may fire at moving targets and move down the range, rather than stand at the entrance, as they shoot.
“That was one of the things we requested and they graciously provided it,” Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sults said. “We’ll be able to handle 60 percent of our training there.”
Having a facility in town that will allow officers a place to practice and to take the tests necessary to qualify to carry weapons will save the department time and money, Sults said. Officers now must drive 45 to 60 miles to ranges in Paulding or Douglas counties, he said.
Sandy Springs police also will be able to teach gun safety classes at the range, he said.
How does the chief feel about having a gun range in his city? “I don’t think it’s a problem at all,” he said. “I think it’s actually an advantage. Those facilities are typically very secure facilities. … My guess is not too many people are going to mess with folks going into and out of that place.”
Brown said that constructing the range requires, in effect, that he build secure buildings within the existing building. Everything must be secure. “I cannot let anything get out [of the building],” Brown said. “Nothing can get out. That would be a disaster.”