Gander Mountain opens their new virtual training range this weekend, the first of its kind in the nation. I took the tour today, and I decided that it is great.

There is an indoor shooting range that is absolutely state of the art, with ranges out to (I think) 75 feet. Calibers up to .300 Winmag can be fired. The live fire is not the best part.

They have a virtual shooting range. Upon entering the virtual half of the training facility, everyone must pass through a magnetometer to ensure that no live weapons or ammunition enters the virtual training area. This is to prevent accidents. There are virtual shooting simulators, and the last thing anyone wants is an ND with a live weapon. The store employees will store your weapon in a locked room for the duration of your time inside the virtual facility.

All of the virtual weapons are Glocks. They are CO2 powered, and when you fire them, they recoil like the real thing. A computer records your hits and misses.

There is a shooting range that uses virtual weapons. It is set up like a conventional shooting range, with shooting lanes and video reproductions of cardboard targets at varying ranges.

There is a 180 degree and a 300 degree simulator that can place you in shooting scenarios like clearing a building, a convenience store robbery, and various other confrontations. Sometimes you are called upon to shoot, sometimes you cannot shoot. When you are in the simulator running these scenarios, there is always a certified firearms instructor with you.

The instructors are all former police firearms instructors, and the prices for the academy run from $40 to $75 per half hour session. considering that there is no time wasted loading magazines, changing targets, or money spent on ammo, this should be a pretty economical training tool. As soon as I go for an actual shooting session, I will report on how it was.

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