The New NRA Range

15-Jul-10 – 12:00 by ToddG

My “home range” has been at the NRA Headquarters since they opened in 1996. I even worked there for a couple of years as both a range officer and an instructor. When it first opened, the NRA Range was truly a state of the art facility. Over the past decade and a half, parts of the range have been updated and improved, and it has subsequently become one of the busiest and most popular ranges in the country.

But over the years, technology has improved… and now under the leadership of Range Manager Greg Wodack (who also happens to be an IPSC Grand Master), the target system has been completely revamped.

The target system is the brainchild of Target Worx owner Eddy Esworthy (who also happens to be a former USA Shooting Team member) and was developed specifically for the NRA Range. More than a year in development, the innovative system has many great features.

First, the entire system is incredibly rugged. From the fully armored carriers to the heavy steel I-beam that serves as a rail, it was built to handle the incredible workload of a full time public range like the NRA without the normal problems of broken cables, damaged rails, stuck carriers, etc. This is especially important with a 50-yard indoor range because hits to the rails and ceiling are very common downrange. Lanes don’t break. Lanes aren’t closed for service. More working lanes means shorter wait times and more customers getting onto the range.

Second, new technology makes the operating interface user friendly. The entire thing is run from a large touchscreen in each of the fifteen individual lanes. Context sensitive screens control the distance of the target, timed edge/face capability, and even the brightness of a personal light mounted to each carrier and aimed at your target.

One unique feature of the system is that the turning target system works on a resolution of tenths of a second instead of full seconds. In other words, you can have the target appear not just for one second or two seconds, but for 1.3 seconds or any other fraction from 1.0 up! Based on my stopwatch, the timing is perfect.

It may seem like a small thing — no pun intended — but it opens up completely new possibilities in terms of both teaching and practice. For example, if your draw is faster than two seconds but longer than one, what do you do? With the new Target Worx system, you can push yourself in the small increments that make for real long-term improvements. And the turning system works incredibly fast compared to most target arrays (including the NRA’s old one), as you can see in this video showing a one second exposure:

(click image to view movie in new window)

I’m particularly happy about this feature, as it was something I first suggested to Eddy more than a year ago and something I mentioned (badgered, harassed, plagued) every single time I saw him as the system was being developed. “Have you changed the exposure time to tenths?” Over and over again… And after spending Wednesday night using it, all I can say is: It was worth every second (or is that tenths of a second?) of badgering, because it’s awesome.

How accurate is the timing? From the videos I took, it appears somewhere between 0.06 and 0.08 seconds are needed to turn the target. In the 1-second run above, total time from when you can detect movement (face) to being completely edged is 1.09 seconds. As I understand it, the “face time” is measured from when it starts to turn toward you until the time it starts to turn away. So if you don’t count shots that traverse the target laterally (hit as it was turning away), you’ve got almost perfect timing accuracy.

There are all sorts of other refinements that most customers will never need or appreciate but are genuine technological improvements. For example, two separate systems within the brain of the carrier-robot check its distance from the firing line. When you tell it to go to 21ft, it goes to exactly 21 feet… and every single carrier lines up perfectly. If you’ve ever tried to teach a class on such a range, you know how unusual that is.

If you’re anywhere near Northern Virginia, the NRA Range is a must-see. For those of us who are lucky enough to live nearby, these new improvements reclaim the title of state of the art and the NRA Range is once again without question the premiere shooting facility in the Capitol region. Hope to see you there!

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 20 Responses to “The New NRA Range”

  2. so how much to do my indoor range? seriously.

    By Rob Engh on Jul 15, 2010

  3. YES!

    I’ll be there tonight after work.

    By Chris Rhines on Jul 15, 2010

  4. Robbie — I’m not sure. Can’t speak for Target Worx, but my guess is $10k+ per lane.

    By ToddG on Jul 15, 2010

  5. (added a paragraph to the original post based on some video analysis of the target’s turn speed)

    By ToddG on Jul 15, 2010

  6. Okay, that is dead sexy.

    (And mad props to whoever keeps that double-wide clean, too. I know how hard that is.)

    By Tam on Jul 15, 2010

  7. Tam — The range is 50yd long and about 25yd wide, plus a fairly big loitering area behind the booths. A cleaning crew comes in every night to remove residue (and brass) from the floor, wipe down the booths, clean the bathrooms, etc. A more thorough cleaning gets done on a regular basis, too.

    It’s an absolutely incredible place to shoot, and I credit much of my personal development as a shooter to the availability of such a fantastic facility.

    By ToddG on Jul 15, 2010

  8. Very impressive.

    By Will on Jul 15, 2010

  9. can’t wait! I was hoping to stop by tonight, but the website says not open until Sunday…

    By lindertw on Jul 15, 2010

  10. lindertw — It opened last Sunday.

    By ToddG on Jul 15, 2010

  11. uh, that would be last Sunday (RIF)… maybe I can go tonight :)

    By lindertw on Jul 15, 2010

  12. Excellent – look forward to the next Practice Session there.

    By JSGlock34 on Jul 15, 2010

  13. Wow! What a range. Amazing. A far cry from the rural piles of sand. Maybe one day I’ll be able to visit. Thanks for the look at the range!

    By Christian on Jul 15, 2010

  14. Just returned from the range – that Target system is stupid easy to program and really does take the self-training up a whole new level. I was able to build up on speed shooting the FAST test clean in 0.5 sec increments until I hit the time limit – each time I saw something more in my mechanics because the target turns were consistent, plus I could preload the timer to repeat the sequence for as many runs as I had loaded mags. Very cool!

    By Pk14 on Jul 15, 2010

  15. We have a range around here that has this type of system and for self defense training and comfort, it can’t be beat.

    By MrBfromD on Jul 15, 2010

  16. First time back at the NRA range since they installed the new target system. Like Pk14 said above it’s really easy and intuitive to program. Much better than the old setup. I’m anxious to get back there and start running some drills to push my accuracy @ speed.

    By Tony on Jul 16, 2010

  17. I used the new system last night for the first time. It’s a very big improvement over what was there previously. Very simple to use!

    By Robb Jensen on Jul 17, 2010

  18. Shot there today. It is very nice and intuitive. Make that simple. Figured it out without and instructions.

    Still didn’t keep the dude in lane 1 from shooting the wall over and over. (No not me).

    By MichaelH on Jul 19, 2010

  19. So no idea on cost?

    By Rob E on Jul 19, 2010

  20. Thanks for the kind words Todd. Cost will vary depending on the number of lanes, location, access, etc. Anyone interested can contact me directly.

    By Eddy on Jul 26, 2010

  21. The cost depends on MANY factors (see a partial list below). To answer your question…from experience and a quote I received last week… a turning target / programmable system with the latest technology will run about $14,000 (that’s only for the controller, target, carrier and rail). Does not include the stall walls, trap or the baffles.

    Cost of property (existing building to renovate or land / ground-up construction)?
    Cost of construction or renovations as the case may be?
    Features of construction to mitigate noise pollution (who are the neighbors of the range?)?
    Type of bullet trap (wet, dry steel, rubber)?
    Type of stalls (high-end)?
    Type of target system (down and back, programmable turning, reactive, running man, etc)?
    Length of lanes?
    Static or tactical lanes?
    Heated facility…or heated and cooled facility? (there’s about a $10,000 difference per lane)

    By Range Development Services on Jan 27, 2012

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