LaGRANGE, Mo. -- A new gun range opened July 1 in LaGrange. However, as owner Robert Havermale likes to point out: "This isn't a normal gun range."
Indeed, the Practical Tactical Plus indoor range is unlike anything found in the area.
Havermale built the state-of-the-art range to appeal to the 34 law enforcement agencies within a 50-mile radius that need a convenient, year-round training site where officers can hone their tactical shooting skills.
He also hopes to entice many other gun owners -- including a growing number of people with concealed carry permits -- who want to sharpen their shooting skills and learn how to use their weapons safely.
"There's probably 20,000 shooters within a 50-mile radius of here," Havermale said. "There aren't any indoor gun ranges around here. The closest is in St. Louis. Where are they going to shoot at?"
He hopes they'll check out Practical Tactical Plus, a 9,000-square-foot facility Havermale built not far from the NEMO Manufacturing plant he owns and operates in the LaGrange Industrial Park along Route C.
The indoor shooting range features five rifle lanes and eight pistol lanes, all equipped with high-tech targeting systems offering "live-fire simulators."
Targets move up and down the lanes on computer-controlled tracks attached to the ceiling. Some targets are programmed to turn at various points to reveal threatening or nonthreatening scenarios. Some video-based screens display multiple images that require the firearm operator to make shoot/no shoot decisions while standing at a firing line or advancing down the lane.
"You have to identify if there is actually a threat," Havermale said.
Shooting at targets skewed sideways can be risky in a conventional indoor gun range with exposed concrete walls.
"When you shoot, that bullet is going to ricochet," Havermale said.
But not at Practical Tactical, where the walls are lined with 2-inch-thick ballistic rubber panels. Bullets simply fall to the ground harmlessly when they hit the panels.
"You can literally shoot point-blank right into this rubber and not get hurt," Havermale said. "That rubber keeps the bullets right where they are."
Unlike an outdoor range, where noise and errant bullets can be a concern, Practical Tactical "is a controlled environment," Havermale said. "No rounds get out of this building."
The range also is equipped with a sophisticated air-handling system that pushes 200,000 cubic feet of air per minute through a multitude of fine-particle filters to remove any gun smoke or lead from the air.
"This is cleaner air than a hospital," Havermale said. "You will never see any gun smoke in here. You will never smell any smoke. You're never going to have any lead residue laying around. It's a very, very clean facility."
Havermale is a Quincy native who has been an avid hunter and fisherman all his life. He has long seen a need for a high-quality indoor shooting range to serve residents.
"I like to shoot, and there's no place to shoot indoors except for St. Louis, and it takes you two hours to get down there," he said.
Havermale said St. Louis has three gun ranges, "but they're not like this."
He said Practical Tactical stands apart because "this is the only place around where you can actually tactically train."
Havermale said training at a gun range is vital for law enforcement officers who need to keep up their skills to receive certification, but it's also important for other gun owners to sharpen their skills.
"You have to practice," he said. "It's no different than golf. You can learn how to swing that club in one day, but unless you get out there and play rounds of golf, you don't get any better at it. You still suck. It's the same thing with a gun."
Practical Tactical Plus offers daily memberships and different levels of annual memberships that vary in price depending on how often the member wants to use the facility.
The range also offers concealed carry classes for Missouri residents, special events for law enforcement officers and even occasional "ladies nights" for women only.
More information is available at practicaltacticalplus.com.