A few years ago I wrote about Bill Edwards and his store North Raleigh Guns. It had a loyal clientele, but it was stationed in an out-of-the-way place, and even then it was clear Edwards had bigger plans. And now, like The Jeffersons, he is movin’ on up.
Ground is breaking in January on a new shooting range – a huge one. It will house North Raleigh Guns, which will get a name change, and will include 41,000 square feet, 33 active lanes and the capacity for seven more. And like I said, that is just phase one. If everything goes according to plan, two more phases could follow.
“When our entire project is done, we could have 75 lanes, but we just don’t know right now,” Edwards said.
The name of the range and the store will be Triangle Shooting Academy. You’ll be able to find it on Mt. Herman Road behind the Wal-Mart at Brier Creek.
“Our emphasis is going to be on training and bringing families and new shooters into the fold,” Edwards said.
But don’t expect just a down and dirty place to shoot guns. This range is downright fancy. They’ll host celebrations for Mother’s Day, for bachelor and bachelorette parties. You can get refreshments at the Café. For the special among you, the range will provide a VIP room. And if you’re looking for something totally different, you can even get hitched.
“It’s a big thing out in Las Vegas. We call them shotgun weddings,” Edwards said. “We’ll have an Elvis Presley with a couple of shotguns.”
Edwards has been looking at and talking with ranges around the country to get a better idea for how to set up his. He says the Triangle Shooting Academy will be one of the largest in the Southeast, and the largest in the Carolinas.
Of course, what every gun enthusiast wants to know is, “What kinds of guns can I use?” Well: pistols, rifles and fully automatic guns, if you so desire.
“They are rifle rated,” Edwards said. “That is what everybody likes to hear, because they know they can come shoot an AR-15 or a .308.”
And, as I mentioned, there’s room to grow after phase one. Edwards has 12 and a half acres and room for 100 lanes.
I talked to Edwards about how sales have been. Across the country, people rushed to get guns after the election of President Barack Obama. People were afraid his election would end up restricting their access to guns. That hasn’t actually happened, but it made for good sales at gun stores.
But it looks as though that particular phenomenon is coming to an end.
“The Obama effect has slowed down quite a bit, which is good, so we’ve been able to catch our breath,” Edwards said.
Although that doesn’t mean business is hurting. Edwards has sold, in his words, “thousands and thousands and thousands of guns” in the last three years. And business is up 35 percent this year from last year.
And soon that business is moving to Edwards’ new shooting range. And he hopes that when people come, they think of it as more than just a “range.”
“It’s all about being friendly,” he said. “We’ll want to offer Angus Barn type service. Or like a department store for firearms.”
I know there are those of you out there who disapprove of guns. To be honest, I don’t want to own one. And I think we need stricter laws. But I’ve just got to say: Shooting guns is fun. The key is responsibility. And that’s what Edwards’ shooting range is all about. Teaching responsibility around firearms. Come fall, see for yourself. Challenge your preconceived notions.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at email@example.com.