NAHC Web Editor Josh Dahlke and I had the opportunity to tour the new Gander Mountain Academy in Lakeville, Minnesota. I, for one, was amazed! As soon as I stepped foot into the facility I could tell it was first-class, and all the stops were taken out when designing and decorating. The technology there is beyond belief.
Here is a brief rundown of what we experienced:
At the location we visited, they offer two state-of-the-art classrooms with seating for 24 students each, and are set up to allow any instructor in the country teach classes through video conferencing.
They offer 13 different classes, ranging from concealed carry to advanced shotgun fundamentals, none of which cost more than $99 to attend. And if you purchase a new firearm from Gander Mountain, they offer you a free 45-minute family safety course.
Virtual Range (V-Range)
The “V-Range” has the same feel as a real gun range—the staff person even gives you a pair of safety glasses and ear muffs (with holes drilled into them). You can select a target and move it anywhere from 3 feet to 150 feet away. Fire as many times as you would like, and when you’re done you can e-mail the target to yourself.
In my opinion, this would be the best room to introduce your kids, or anyone else for that matter, to guns. It is the closest you will ever get to the look and feel of a real handgun.
At this point I’m sure you’re asking yourself, How do the guns work? Gander Mountain Academy uses real guns like the Glock 22 and the Beretta 92, but they remove the barrels and replace the firing pins with infrared lasers. What about the recoil? They have that figured out, too. Because the guns are real, they modified the magazines to each fit a Co2 cartridge, so when you pull the trigger it simulates the recoil of a real handgun.
Simulator: Pro V SIM 180
This room features a 180-degree screen with enhanced marksmanship training, ranging from basic marksmanship and steel targets to competitive match targets. The marksmanship drills are a series of target scenarios that can help you improve your speed and accuracy.
When I stepped into the “SIM 180” for the first time, I was thinking, Wow, it’s like a big video game, and then I tried my hand at it. Let’s just say it’s more realistic than one would think. Check out the videos of Josh and I in the SIM 180. By the way: Josh and I had a little competition in the SIM 180, and Josh wiped the floor with me.
Simulator: Pro V SIM 300
When you step into this room you immediately get the feeling you’re in for some real action. The instructor-assisted scenarios are judgment-based self-defense scenarios, designed to improve your decision-making skills. There is a sub woofer in the floor to give you more of a realistic feel—you never know where your target is coming from or who your target is.
I tried a scenario and was totally caught off guard by someone who came into the scene from my left. By the time I was able to get my first shot off, the simulator had already fired two rounds. (In a real-life situation I would have been wounded or killed.)
After you are done with your stint in the either the Pro V SIM 300 or the Pro V SIM 180, you are able to go into a debriefing room with your instructor. The instructor then reviews video of you shooting, helping you correct mistakes in your stance, posture or shot placement. I almost forgot to mention: They can send you a YouTube link to a video of your training session.
Live-Fire Range (L-Range)
The “L-Range” (their live-fire range) offers the cleanest shooting environment you will ever find. Each morning everything is thoroughly cleaned and wiped down, and the air is filtered through a HEPA filter. You can smell the gun powder, but you will never taste it. The lanes are extra wide to accommodate a shooter and an instructor comfortably.
I would recommend Gander Mountain Academy to anyone, from a beginner to a seasoned marksman, because they offer something for every skill level. I know I’ll be going back soon with my wife and friends.
Watch a video tour of the Lakeville, Minnesota, Gander Mountain Academy below: