Over the course of my life, I have probably waddled into no fewer than twenty or so indoor gun ranges. I love a quick visit to an indoor range to test a few pistols, have a short bit of fun, and get out quickly because the facility is usually either too hot or cold (depending on time of year), filled with lead particles and spent powder in the air that seems to linger forever, or be so dark and dank that at longer ranges you can barely see the holes you punch in the target. I am proud to say that on the advice of a friend of mine I got to check out what I believe may well be the finest gun range I have ever set foot inside. On Monday, May 6th I hopped on a plane and flew from Dallas to Nashville to check out this facility that I had only seen a few photos of hoping that it would be all it was cracked up to be. Let me tell you that without a doubt, it was.
Meet Gary Semanchik:
Gary is the owner of Nashville Armory, but you wouldn’t know it if you were an unassuming patron. You see, Gary says that he likes to meet all of his customers at the door with a smile taking to the Walmart-greeter method (his words, not mine), and immediately you feel welcome. This stands in contrast to some other gun shops/ranges where the staff makes you feel privileged for being allowed to patronize their establishment. You may be thinking that Gary knew who I was and what I was doing and rolled out the red carpet, but he had no idea what I looked like or what I was doing (I had my camera and equipment in an unassuming backpack). It wasn’t until I wandered around for a while that I told one of the employees (who all asked if I needed help or was interested in something) that I was with The Firearm Blog here to do an article on their new range. Quickly I was given the star treatment and Gary grabbed the general manager, Andrew Breneman and assistant manager, Kennan Sanders to answer any questions I might have about their operation and give me a tour. The sales staff was also quick to line up for a photo op (after grabbing their favorite rifles from the wall).
Now what makes Nashville Armory different you might ask? Well, I asked the very same question to Gary and he said simply this: “I wanted to set out and build to Apple Store of gun ranges; A one stop shop for firearms, equipment, classes, and training that would be family friendly and inviting”. Now that is a bold statement, but Gary has made it work and after the tour it is easy to understand how.
Nashville Armory is equipped with a spectacular training center that accommodates classes ranging from CHL, introduction to shooting, group events, and anything else you can think of.
A door from the classroom leads directly to the range, which is by far the most advanced and well-lit indoor shooting facility I have ever been inside.
Action Target of Provo, Utah was contracted to design and install what they called “the most technologically advanced range in the country”. Previous Action Target projects include ranges at the FBI Training Center, Fort Benning, and NATO installations around the world. You see, not only is the bullet trap and baffle system impressive (massive layers of AR500 steel line the entirety of the shooting range and all lead is recovered via a very innovative backstop design), but the computer technology installed on each lane allows users to set exact distances, have targets turn to show either a baddie or an innocent (what a fun game!) and even challenge your friend in the adjacent lane by programming a virtual dueling tree! I was not even aware of this type of technology, but needless to say I was impressed.
Notice how the targets rotate (hard to capture on camera)
And the computer readout-
It is also interesting to note that a large amount of the range staff is female, and let me tell you that these gals know how to shoot, and tell you how to do it right! All employees at Nashville Armory are NRA certified instructors and it shows. I was lucky enough to catch a few photos of one of Nashville Armory’s staff giving some instruction:
Other interesting things about this range are the sound dampening material and ventilation system. I kid you not, from the outside it is so quiet that it sounds kind of like a bowling ball being dropped into sand every time a shooter pulls the trigger. This material might explain why:
The ventilation system is also very, very impressive and cost nearly $500,000 to build. You see, Gary said he wanted it done the right way and he is not kidding when he says that the air coming out of the range is actually cleaner than the air going in! Like Andrew (the GM) told me, some ranges have little more than a sophisticated box fan to vent gasses into the atmosphere, but doing it the right way so customers can breathe easy requires this:
It is quite funny when you compare this to the system used to heat and cool the store section of Nashville Armory:
Now of course there is one place to sit and watch the action right in front of the glass:
Entering the range the normal route (not through the training center as I did) allows the shooter to stop and ogle the guns on display for rent:
And both lane and rental rates are reasonable:
If you are like me you saw the words “full auto” and a nice shiver went down your spine. As of the publishing of this article Nashville Armory has their SOT and is awaiting a few machine guns so they can rent them out. The guns they will have include an M10 with Lage upper, an Uzi, two M16s (one with an ARES Shrike upper!) and a TDI Kriss SMG. That being said you are more than welcome to bring in and shoot your own legally registered machine guns for a normal range fee.
While most ranges will have a typical AK or AR up for rent, the folks and Nashville Armory elected for some more unconventional offerings:
An employee showed me his favorite: An FN Herstal SCAR 16s.
Gary gravitates more towards the Springfield M1A (who doesn’t like a fine 7.62 rifle?).
One of the most unique features of Nashville Armory is its shooter’s lounge. Say you are out of ammo and your buddy is still punching holes in paper, well instead of standing around like a dope you can wander into the shooter’s lounge for some coffee, a soda, or some snacks if you are getting a little hungry. Hey, say the Titans are playing and you want to check them out? Well there is even a nice TV set that allows you to do so.
And of course they don’t call it Nashville Armory for nothing. The shop boasts an impressive inventory of over 220 handguns and 110 rifles on the floor, and if they don’t have what you want then they said that they will try their damndest to get it for you! Also while most shops have repurposed jewelry cases or simple displays for their wares, Gary had custom well lit cases built in order to really make the displays pop.
A customer was checking out an ARES AR variant, which I also had to see up close and personal.
A full line of accessories also dot the store:
For the readers lucky enough to live in the Nashville area, I would highly recommend a visit to Nashville Armory. I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it and it should serve as a model to other gun ranges and stores. With customer service and safety as their number one goals, it is easy to understand why this gem just south of downtown Nashville shines so brightly.
If you have a suggestion for an outstanding or interesting gun range or store nearby, please post a link in the comments and I will do my best to get in touch with them and organize a tour of their facility (please limit suggestions to the United States and Canada at this time).