The people behind the counters at Bullet and Barrel in Huntsville are trying to redefine what a shooting-range experience is supposed to be by creating an environment that takes into account aesthetics, services and a personal touch.
“It’s really designed to be welcoming to people from all walks of life,” Louis Southard, Bullet and Barrel’s general manager, said. “You know, people who aren’t necessarily gun people, people who never bought a gun before, they come in and they don’t get that typical gun store experience.
“They get something much more modernized, much more akin to walking into a Verizon store.”
When you walk into Bullet and Barrel, you don’t see the one thing you’d expect to see at a shooting range – guns. Instead, there are displays of men’s and women’s clothes and accessories, along with a number of other items. They do sell guns and offer gunsmithing services, but the guns are toward the back of the store.
That’s because, according to Southard, new shooters make up one of the biggest segments of their customer base. So, one of the goals was to ease people into the guns with what he called a “soft entrance, which makes it less intimidating for customers to come in and learn about shooting sports.
Beyond the entrance, Bullet and Barrel blends farmhouse-rustic aesthetics with technology.
Touchpads are set up to log in new shooters and each lane, designed to be wider than normal, is equipped with a state-of-art target carrier system that allows shooters to set the distance of their targets. The 100-yard tunnels used for sighting rifles are decked out with high-tech feedback, as well, making it quick and easy to calibrate a scope.
“Our goal is to get more and more people into the shooting sports,” Southard said.
That’s why, according to Southard, such an emphasis is placed on customer service such as when a first-time shooter visits the range.
“Let’s say you’re a new shooter and you decide to come in a shoot with us,” he said. “Ideally, you’ll let us know at the range check-in and we’ll have a RSO there to help you out and kind of keep an eye on things like making sure the gun is pointed in a safe direction, making sure your finger is off the trigger until you ready shoot and making sure the gun is safe to shoot.”
In addition to the attention the staff pays to its guests, Bullet and Barrel offers in-house classes and has partnered with Bishop 30 Solutions – a company that offers defense training courses for civilians, businesses and churches – to expand learning opportunities for their customers at the 30,000 square-foot facility.
“That’s the kind of thing you don’t see at most shooting ranges,” Southard said. “Most shooting ranges, they do everything in-house, but Noell (Bishop, founder of Bishop 30 Solutions) has an impressive background. People learn from him. They love him, and they can take all sorts of different classes from him.”
According to the range’s website, www.bulletandbarrel.com, there are about 20 different classes that can be taken at Bullet and Barrel.
For example, there is a concealed-carry training course by Bishop 30 Solutions, which is a four-hour class that covers everything from a choosing a holster, the right ammunition, a review of basic skills and an overview of Alabama law relating to different scenarios.
Then there is a class on first aid for gunshot wounds, a ladies-only Handgun 101 class and a youth marksmanship class.
Bullet and Barrel offers membership packages and accepts walk-ins. There are also benefits such as a member’s only lounge, lane priority, free guest passes and a litany of other perks.
For nonmembers, fees run from $18 an hour for a lane rental to $18 for a half hour on the 100-yard range.
The range also offers more than 100 different firearms that can be rented starting at $10.
Bullet and Barrel, at 3252 Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, is owned by Melanie Hammer Murray and Bill Roberts. For information, call 256-384-4867 or visit www.bulletandbarrel.com.