The Range at Austin

Today marks the start of my last week at Rackspace Hosting. Writing for the biggest firearms related publication in the world has its perks, but a 401k and health insurance aren’t part of the package. [ED: Yet.] The dream has always been to work in the firearms industry, turning my passion for guns into a full-time job that pays the bills. With The Range at Austin I’ve finally found an opportunity to use my IT skills and firearms expertise to help develop the greatest indoor range and gun store in the world — and I’ll be showing you the process of building the range from start to finish. Here’s a taste . . .

The Austin, Texas area is definitely lacking in range options. There are a couple indoor operations within driving distance. While they’re serviceable for occasional practice they’re less than ideal and the experience can be so much better.

There have been a few so-called “guntry club” facilities popping up around the United States bringing the indoor shooting experience into the 21st century. They’ve improved the ambiance and the quality of the facilities, but there’s still much that can be done from a technological standpoint to take things even further. That’s where I come in.

I’ve been hired as the Director of Information Technology for The Range at Austin.

I’ll be doing the normal IT stuff — setting up the local network and managing their IT systems. The other part of that mission: design, develop, and deploy a suite of custom applications that greatly improve the shooting experience. From real-time online lane reservations to recording your machine gun rental experience on video with built-in cameras and posting it directly to Facebook from the lane, we’ll be offering features (not bugs) that haven’t been done before (or done well).

A quick note about my role here at TTAG: things aren’t changing. I’ll still be the Testing & Reviews Editor, overseeing the reviews that TTAG writes and doing my own as well. To keep from any possible conflicts of interest my compensation from The Range will in no way be tied to gun sales. In short, I don’t get paid to sell guns — and definitely don’t get paid to push specific firearms.

I’ve never been more thrilled to start a new project. I’ll be working with people I know and respect — Amy Pevear and Jeff Creamer (formerly of SIG SAUER), Grant Shaw and Alex Bosco (from SB Tactical) and many more — on a project that really excites me. We’re building a range for ourselves, a range where we would love to go every single day. Stay tuned.

50 Responses to TTAG’s Nick Leghorn Joins The Range at Austin

  1. Neat! Indoors isn’t exactly my preferred venue (I prefer old iron mine pits, and I don’t think there is an indoor range for two hours in any direction), but I’m interested to hear more about this operation from a business and tech perspective. Good luck!

      • The West Texas version are old caliche pits. Big ass holes in the otherwise largely flat and featureless landscape.

        • I’ve been in Texas. That flat open terrain is a natural gun range. In WV and eastern KY finding a flat open hundred yard streatch of ground that ain’t paved with yellow lines on it is difficult.

          Strip mines are terrible for the environment. Buthey provided an excellent place for a 13 yo kid to reach out with a 03 springfield.

        • All that flat prairie makes for good ranges, but they are all private property, constant strong winds, and have nothing in the way of natural backstops. A round that misses your steel target (or goes through your paper one) can literally go for miles, across other people’s land, and into who knows what. That’s if you even know someone who owns property out there. For someone who lives in the city, this is an awesome opportunity to shoot. Something like this opened in my city about a year or so ago, and I love it.

    • I have coal dumps on my property. the pits they left make good fishing and the berms are great backstops. I have a 500 yard range within walking distance from my couch. It is nice.

    • In Texas, or here in Nevada, an indoor range that offered the option of moving and shooting when the weather outside is in the 100+ range is an excellent idea. I hope this is one of the things The Range is working on.

  2. Hey if you guys end up franchising or expanding can you put 2-3 of these in Salt Lake City?… Oh and good luck with the new venture!

  3. Rock it out, Nick. I always say that if you can find something to do in this world that you enjoy, that you’re good at, and that somebody will pay you to do, then you’ve hit the trifecta. Sounds like you scored. Congrats, young man, and good luck on your new gig.

  4. This actually sounds like a great platform for introducing newbies to the shooting sports. I hope outreach to non-shooters will be part of your mission.

  5. I’ve done high speed video for archers. You could see forearm muscles twitch before release and how it effects arrow placement. Within 15 minutes shooters were getting much tighter groups.

    With the cost of video getting lower you may have the opportunity to compress learn curves.

    • high speed video can tell a lot, being able to slow things down and watch it happen.

      I love all the high speed shooting vids that crop up on youtube, TFM being top of that pile.

  6. Congratulations and good luck, Nick! I’m fortunate to have a “guntry club” indoor range not too far away and agree that these sorts of facilities are important if we are to make shooting available to new generations, especially in densely built-up areas. Keep us posted!

  7. Wow! That’s almost as good as being married to a blind nymphomaniac who owns an FBO!

    After they get that up and running, help them locate some property for a 1,000 yard range…

  8. Best of luck to you, Nick!

    As an idea for a possible app, maybe there’s something you can do to report wait times for lanes in real-time. So you know if it will be a 1-2 hour wait before you drive over.

  9. “Guntry Club” sounds awfully expensive. TTAG should run an expose on this troubling trend that will create a class system where only the well-heeled can use these ranges. The OPPOSITE of what we need to grow our numbers. And another noisy indoor square range? Read no work from holster, no rapid fire, no lateral or forward/back movement, no steel, no tactical practice. No thanks. Good outdoor range allows all of this. Plenty of land around Austin and some good ranges that could be improved rather than “Lexus shooting lanes”.
    Other than that, congrats on the new job. 😉

    • Different strokes for different folks… I almost joined a local indoor club a couple years ago cause it was built right around the corner from my office, the idea of being able to go shoot over lunch in all seasons sounded great. But now I work from home and have 20+ acres and can still go shoot at lunch, or anytime…

    • That depends on your indoor range.

      The one I go to allows holster work (once they’ve checked you out to ensure you aren’t one of those idiots who sweeps everyone on draw). They allow rapid fire. They HAVE taken steps to ensure you don’t hit the ceiling, but that’s sensible, even outdoors, where you don’t want to lob any over the berm.

      They even have tactical night where you can move and shoot, or even move WHILE shooting.

  10. Glad to have someone there to focus on their systems. As one of the early members, I’m counting the days until they open! As a fellow IT-focused person in my day job, I’m ready to put the systems to the test when they’re ready 🙂

  11. We have a few indoor ranges here in Central, Mi. More like lanes. Not inexpensive but not bad either. Nice to work on trigger control in an above freezing environment. I can shoot on my property out my back door to learn trigger control in a deep freeze!!! Also how different things work on the pistols in sub zero weather…. Anyone have any instant outdoor heat available???
    Congratulations on the new employment. You have found what most people never persue….employment that adds to your life…not takes away.

  12. Good stuff. Luck seems to flow to those who work hard and can take the leap into a new venture. Funny how that works. Enjoy and share as things proceed.

  13. Between this, Athena and Nardis I think South Texas is getting pretty damned fancy if I don’t say so myself. Can’t wait to check out The Range, I’ll gladly make the drive from SA one day after it opens to give it a shot (pun unintentionally wrote, but intentionally left there).

  14. Congratulations on your new job.

    An issue I have found with indoor ranges is that muzzle blast is reflected off nearby surfaces back at the shooter. If it’s not too late in the design, please consider sound absorption techniques like those used to build anechoic chambers.

  15. Congratulations! You’d do well to have the investors reach out to Greg at Elite and pick his brain if they haven’t already. http://WWW.eliteshootingsports.com He consults all over the country and knows what works/doesn’t work.
    And to those who poopoo “Guntry Clubs”, this one has brought in over 40,000 individual shooters since opening in Fall of 2014 who sent over 15 million(!) rounds down range. Women, kids, minorities all fill the range. Making something inviting and accessible means more people involved in shooting and more people supporting our RTKBA.

    It’s 27 degrees outside. You can have your abandoned stirp mine – I’ll take 72 degrees, friendly staff, and a pleasant place to shoot!

    • 40,000 members? Yikes. I toured the place soon after it opened and resolved to join once the live shoot house opened. I’ve made do at the closer NRA range in the mean time. That many members at Elite gives me pause, though. I may not want to commit to paying $35 a month for a year just to drive further to go wait a long time to shoot, even with a cafe and swanky lounge available. My free time is finite.

      The online lane reservation system that Nick is talking about sounds like a big step forward for gun ranges, just as it was for movie theaters that sell reserved seats online. Elite would do well to implement a similar system if they want to remain ‘state of the art’.

  16. Good luck with the new gig. I always heard dont make your hobby your job but what do I know. I hated most if not all of my jobs over 36 years. Now I’m retired and go shooting every other day including once a week to a 1000yd range an hour from my house.

  17. Congrats Nick!

    You are going to manage physical infrastructure as well as application development? How big is your team going to be?

    More to the point – do you have room for another IT Manager that would like to flee a slave state?

  18. Congratulations and good luck! If you can do as much good stuff there as you’ve done here you’ll be the Employee of the Month regularly!

  19. Congratulations on your move. I have known more than a few Rackers in my day (Worked at Elk Grove Village) and at a point in my life even serviced some of their gear.

    In terms of the move and what you’re doing, I think that many businesses will be affected by “weaponizing IT” as I put it and using technology to differentiate themselves. I think there’s a ton of room for this in our day and age, and that the industry probably has some catch up to do.

  20. I’ll offer my congratulations, Nick, but I’ll also offer a caveat. Making a living from the one thing you enjoy most is the dream of many people. But, and I’ve seen this happen more than a few times, turning your favorite pastime into work ruins it for a lot of people. Some people find balance in their lives by learning to leave their work at work. Trying to do that with something you enjoy doing more than anything else is deadly, often causing people to eventually leave both their job and their favored pastime behind. People who are more successful recognize that work and pastime are not controlled by an on/off switch but are, instead, just different dimensions of the same thing. That seems to work a lot better. Just sayin’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *