Gander Mountain Virtual Range

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Perhaps the most awe-inspiring thing many of us saw at the Blue August Gun and Outdoor Conference was the facility itself; The Lake Mary Gander Mountain features a virtual range.

Ok that doesn’t sound that cool, and your mind probably jumps to a vision of a larger version of those old arcade games with light guns attached to them, but this facility had 3 different options: a simple target range, a shooting gallery, and a 360 degree situational simulator to test how you would handle high stress situations.

First up was the regular range. The guns used are real Glocks that are converted to use CO2 cartridges to cycle the slide:

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You shoot at a virtual target:

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And I had a blast! It reminded me of the game Duck Hunt for the NES, but more awesome.

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Everyone lined up to give it a go. I’ll say, this simulator would be a great way to introduce a new shooter or younger person to the hobby:

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Next up was the shooting gallery.

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Three screens are projected from the ceiling:

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We programmed a simple shooting gallery with green targets:

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And the first of our group did an excellent job while shooting what appeared to be a standing only IPSC match:

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The last and most interesting simulator was a 360 degree situational one. For this sim, you pick any one of a number of scenarios to test your abilities in a high stress environment. We chose one that presented men standing suspiciously by your car:

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A virtual man chatted with our guy who was armed with a laser Glock. About ten seconds into it another man popped out on the right and our fellow writer was then tasked with keeping tabs on two men approaching.

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In the end, our man failed because an additional guy snuck up from behind and shot. Failure to maintain full situational awareness resulted in a failed simulation.

I wish every Gander Mountain was equipped with a facility like this, because using these simulators was truly an amazing experience.

 



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • james

    I don’t know how much this would help training wise, but it looks pretty damn fun.

    How accurate were the guns? How much does it cost to use the range? Did they only have glocks? Are they planning on adding this to other stores? Are there plans to add more scenarios/different guns? So many questions! Double the length of this post with more info if you can…

    With 22 basically gone most of my play shooting is with airsoft glocks now so this seems like a fun alternative.

    • Guns recoiled like a .32acp, only had Glocks, no plans to add to other stores I know of, and I don’t know if they plan to add anything or how much it costs. Here though:
      https://gandermtnacademy.gandermountain.com/about-us/faqs#virtual-range

      • James

        Looks pretty cool. I’d like to try it out. Seems like it could be very useful for training new shooters. No more worrying about being shot after a newbie fires their first round and immediately swings around and muzzles everyone. That’s why I start with a single round until they are know to be safe and listen to the rules, but this kind of system could have very much helped that poor girl who accidentally full auto shot her instructor.

        I know this can’t replace live fire training and I doubt it was intended to but it seems like it would be a good supplement to live fire and would certainly help get new shooters up to speed on the safety skills required to actually go take a live fire class.

        Thanks for the report.

      • torn

        Glocks and Beretta 92’s, guns do recoil and there is a report, accuracy is fair. Pretty easy to do the 3 to the chest 2 to the head. There is a facility in Wichita Ks. They have the 90 dg. range a 180, and a 300 dg. range. They also have a live fire range, only 10 yds, but have seen guys cranking out Ar’s and AK 47’s.

    • Blake

      Get yourself a good airgun like an IZH-61. Match ammo costs what a brick of cheap 22LR used to cost, & good plinking ammo is &lt1ยข/rnd.

      • iksnilol

        How is the hold sensitivity?

        I heard that shooting an piston airgun with a sling can change POI (if you tie it your arm and tighten it, smallbore style). Also if you hold it tightly it will change POI. Does it affect you much? Is it good training even if you have to hold it differently?

      • Izzy is under the Russian sanction ban.

  • Jeff S

    I’m surprised they had any working to run this “range.” Worst customer service… ever.

  • 0351ata

    pass

  • iksnilol

    I wonder how much a system like this costs and where/how can I buy/make it? Also, could the guns be made to cycle with pressurized air instead of CO2?

    Also, Gander Mountain is shady as f***.

    • How so??

      • iksnilol

        Gander Mountain being shady is a reference to the “Gander Goddamn Mountain” video. Nothing serious, just a joke.

        Conversion to HPA (High Pressure Air) is usually pretty simple (though a bit expensive), and pretty practical if you have an air compressor but not a CO2 compressor. Would probably be easier/cheaper to just start with an HPA gun but CO2 guns are more varied and many are based on firearms.

        I know these systems have been around for a while. We have been using electronic scoring systems for a long while for smallbore shooting here in Norway. I am interested in more “practical” systems like the one shown in the article and the one you mentioned. What would be the best IMO would be a system like this that could simulate long distance shooting (wind, angle, trajectory, etc). But that would be way too expensive. Having a long-range shooting range that is 5 meters long and doesn’t use real ammo would be a dream come true (so cheap and practical in the long run),

        • Larry

          The company that provides the 360 Situation simulator is Virtra, or VTSI on the stock market. The military/law enforcement versions have weapons that simulate reloading and have recoil. They also have a unit that simulates your being shot. The SEAL’s put it on “10” and enjoy getting knocked on their butts. It is a growing small company that just recently got awarded a $6m contract by Homeland Security. Thanks for the plug-I’ve owned stock in this outfit for over a decade!

          • iksnilol

            That sounds really fun, I know getting shot sucks big time but it is nice to be able to simulate it in a safe environment that doesn’t involve “hey, hold my beer”.

    • The idea and execution of this type of training has been around for some time. The state had a portable system they took around to local PDs and that was in 1999. Controlled by a laptop a scenario was chosen and projected on a large screen. The officer used a pistol of choice that came with the system.
      It was really fun and challenging. The scenarios may start out the same and change in a heartbeat. Good training!

  • Dilby

    I can’t wait until I have this kind of thing in my living room projected on all of the walls with literal me person shooter video-games galore!

  • Darren Hruska

    The real question: Is it cheaper to use the simulation than to use real ammo? I love firearms and video games, but logistics. If it’s going to be a semi-authentic representation, compared to firing the actual thing, then it better save people a lot in the wallet.

  • USMC03Vet

    I’m not a fan of the electronic gun trainers. Nothing beats the real thing and that muscle memory.

    Simunition training is just tops.

  • uncle adolf

    uhh- don’t let Al Sharpton know about the “virtual man” in the bottom photo

  • gunslinger

    was that a true 360 degree simulator? or more like 180? i only saw 3 projectors/cameras and 3 screens.

  • big daddy

    Any training is better than no training. Any experience is better than no experience. Having grown up in one of the worst area’s of the USA in that time period I learned about situational awareness 50 years ago. To this day when I walk into a place I look for exits, everybody in the room I size up and sit in a corner in an uncomfortable way so I can get out from behind the table if I have to quickly. I lived like that for so long I’m always ready for action. That’s what happens living in New York City and being in barrooms since I was 16. I also drove a city bus in Harlem and the Bronx, you look like prey you become prey. And I do practice situations in my home for HD. I have things lined up and make sure I do not have anything/anyone behind my lines of fire.

  • feltonc45

    The “360 degree” simulator is actually a 300 degree simulator. The Pistol shown is a Glock 22. Ours will shoot about 40 rounds per CO2 cylinder. We also have Beretta M92’s.
    The accuracy is amazing. Good marksmen can put 15-20 rounds into one hole on the Virtual range. The virtual range and the “180” can be fun ranges to play on. The “300” is a serious training simulation that can point out weaknesses in your defense.
    Felton Corbett Instructor Gander Mountain Academy, Spring,
    Texas.

    • James

      Very cool. Hope you can make it over to east TN some day. Thanks for taking the time to reply.