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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Safety, innovation are key to Goshen's new shooting range

Safety and responsibility are at the core of Rocket Guns' Shoot to Thrill facility.

Posted on Feb. 3, 2014 at 12:18 p.m.

GOSHEN – Rocket Guns’ Shoot to Thrill is not much like your typical shooting range. And that’s just the way owner Greg Faubion wants you to experience the new range on East Lincoln Avenue.

The 6,250-square-foot range, built at a cost of about $2 million, operates as cleanly, efficiently and brightly as possible.

The facility features an air filtration system that keeps the range free of the usual smoke and dust that hassles shooters.

"Smart" lightbulbs have been installed throughout the range, which take a bit longer to light but are more energy efficient, Faubion said.

And every step is taken to keep lead residue from sullying the facility and those who use it.

There are hands-free toilets, faucets, hand dryers and drinking fountains. Special soap is used in the bathrooms designed to remove lead from shooters' hands.

Faubion has even bought wipes to clean the material from door knobs and handles in the building.

Cutting down on the noise was also a concern. But through wall and ceiling soundproofing, any sounds from guns are negated by the time they would travel outside.

"Nobody's complained, but we're going to make sure it's safe and not a noise issue," Faubion said. "We want to get along with the neighbors."

Faubion's meticulousness in the design and care for his new business meant it was going to take a while to get up and running.

The idea for a range first came to him when he opened Rocket Guns in 2011. Faubion received initial approval for the plan just less than two years ago from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The facility finally opened on Jan. 20, after an approximately three-year process of variances, permits and designs.

Boyd Smith, a Goshen resident and recreational shooter, has been very impressed with the facility so far.

A member of the Nappanee Conservation Club, Smith said he's been to Shoot to Thrill three times already since the range opened.

"I didn't often shoot in the winter," Smith said, noting that the conservation club's activities are outdoors. "They did it all right; they've spared no expense in building a great range."

The amenities of the new facility are sure to attract many other avid shooters.

But Faubion said he's placing a special emphasis on training for inexperienced shooters.

"Beginner shooters are what we're after," Faubion said. "If you've never fired a gun, you can come in the door and the instructor will take you out and show you completely."

Trainers and staff will go through safety training with first-time shooters before they ever fire a gun.

The range also plans to focus on defense training for women

"The female market's what we really want to stress," he said. "What we're hearing is, they want a clean and safe place to go."

"They want to learn to shoot; they want to feel safe."

A 4,500-square-foot, two-story building is being constructed next to the range and will house four classrooms that can host training sessions or simply larger groups..

But what Smith says really sets the Shoot to Thrill compound apart from other ranges he's been to is the professionalism, both of the facility itself and especially the staff.

"They've got everything," Smith said. "They didn't cut any corners when they built it."

Like with any gun-related business there are bound to be questions.

John Nafziger, another resident of Goshen, said he wouldn't necessarily like to live near the shooting range, but has little problem with the facility's existence.

"My concerns are more with why people are in enough fear to own a gun," he said. "My thought is if you own a gun, you'd better have training."

Having the range itself is not a major issue for Nafziger, who said he has little to no experience with firearms.

"I have a problem with our culture of guns, but it's here," he said. "If they're going to have one, they'd better have a place to practice."

Smith believes the safety measures Shoot to Thrill has installed should temper the reservations some in the community may have about the new range.

"It's extremely clean, very safe and they've got a great safety training program."

"Guns are a polarizing subject," Smith said, "but Goshen has an avid community of people that enjoy recreational shooting."

Shooters are not allowed in the ranges unsupervised. When a shooter enters the range, a registered safety official goes in with them. "You can't just come and go as you want," Faubion said.

Each range is also separated from the common area by an "airlock room."

The doors in and out of the room are 800-pound ballistic doors, which serves as a buffer in terms of health precautions and noise reduction, as well as safety. There are also 18 cameras equipped with infrared night-vision capabilities.

Faubion said he was not worried that there would be backlash opening the range soon after the highly publicized shooting at an Elkhart Martin's Super Market killed two.

"I wasn't concerned about it. I was sad about it," he said.

In fact, Faubion said, a brother of Rachelle Godfread, one of the victims of that shooting, recently stopped by to offer Faubion his support.

The issue really at the center for Faubion is responsibility.

"Everybody can have one, possess it, legally," he said. "We want to safely train the public how to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. It's all about safety here."

The largely favorable response to his new venture tells Faubion he's doing it right.

"Everybody that's come in has been very positive," he said. "They can't believe how clean and well-lit it is compared to our competition."

"That's what we want; we want to set ourselves apart."

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