By Errol Castens
ABBEVILLE – The Range at TGC Outdoors was almost shot down before it began, but now its first set of pistol lanes is open for paying customers.
The range, the first of at least three commercial shooting venues planned for Lafayette County in the near future, opened earlier this month.
In addition to walk-in rates and monthly, annual and lifetime memberships, Gregory is offering active-duty military and law enforcement discounts.
“If your job is to protect me, I want you to be good at it, so I’ll give you a discount to get you to practice,” he said with a chuckle. To encourage family participation in shooting sports in a safe environment, children under age 18 will be admitted free with a parent, he added.
Gregory’s plan includes three more pistol ranges, including some reactive targets.
“We’re working on putting a rifle range in and a steel-target range so we’ll have some reactive targets to shoot,” he said. “We’ll have some training ranges with barricades to work around, and with those we’ll be able to host competitions like (International Defensive Pistol Association) and (International Practical Shooting Confederation).”
Gregory had to be persuasive to get approval for his range, despite an absence of any county regulations against such a business.
Both the county’s Board of Supervisors and its Planning Commission wavered on the decision after neighbors voiced concerns about safety and noise. Told initially to build a six-foot fence around the property – a nearly $50,000 cost that would make the project unviable – Gregory and his attorney Reed Martz reminded both bodies that the county’s own training range is not fenced.
A majority of supervisors eventually accepted that earthen berms exceeding national standards would provide reasonable safety and approved the project.
Two indoor shooting ranges in Lafayette County – the Range of Oxford on Highway 6 East and a new Hunter’s Hollow on Highway 6 West – are in early stages of construction and are expected to open next year.