As the editor of Bearing Arms, I’ve been able to travel to some top of the nation’s top shooting schools. Some of them have even let me past the front gate.
One of the more interesting facilities I’ve been to is tucked in behind a water treatment facility in a small town in northeastern Ohio.
Welcome to Alliance Police Training.
I went to Alliance, Ohio late last month for the one-day Sentinel Concepts Practical Shotgun class, which gave me great insights on how to shoot a defensive shotgun, and how they pattern with modern buckshot.
While taking the class I marveled at the range facility, which was unlike any facility I’ve personally trained at before.
The facility is a seemingly unique partnership between the Alliance Police Department, a supportive surrounding community, professional firearms trainers, and the wider firearms industry.
Detective Joe Weyer was nice enough to give me a tour of the facility, which started as nothing more or less than your standard PPC-focused range.
There was a single, well-maintained but otherwise unremarkable pistol bay like you might see for any small town department in America, but Weyer and the Alliance PD saw potential in the land around the range, and went to work.
Now, the compact but thoughtfully-designed range boasts facilities that are the envy of many in the industry. Beside the square range to the right is a former brier patch that has been cleared out and turned into a multi-purpose range, where trainers can bring in and place vehicles and obstacles to create various scenarios.
Ringing this range is a number of training stations designed by the department… and I’m not going to show you any of them, as brilliant as they are.
Because some of the equipment that Alliance PD rangemaster Joe Weyer has developed for this range are so unique and brilliant that I frankly think he should seek patents for them, especially the mechanical ram station he created to perfect the art of saying “knock, knock,” and the ingenious trainer he developed for breachers who use shotguns with breaching rounds, which dramatically increases the time spent training, instead of on hanging doors to shoot.
In addition to these two ranges, Alliance has a flexible 8,000 square-foot shoothouse topped by a massive catwalk running from one end to the other which gives trainers and students a birds-eye view of students below practicing room-clearing drills, day or night.
The shoot house is flexible enough to be reconfigured for different scenarios, and even includes furniture that students must navigate around as they would in a real home.
A 300-yard range is currently in development for extended carbine and precision rifle work to the left of the original square range.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the range, however, is a hand-built 747 cabin simulator built to train agencies who might be called upon to rescue or defend passengers on a plane.
But as impressive as the facility and it’s training opportunities are, how it came to be is the unique story.
This isn’t a range created by raising taxes and spending taxpayer dollars, but a complex developed over time by sweat equity, ingenuity, and partnerships with the community and the training industry. People in the community have donated time, energy, and materials, from the high-security climate-controlled weapon vault to the catwalk spanning the length of the shoothouse.
The range supports itself by offering training classes to other law enforcement agencies (local, state, federal, and international), the military, and qualified civilians, and from sponsorships from industry partners.
Alliance has attracted an incredibly well-qualified cadre of in-house instructors with military special operations and law enforcement backgrounds, and is a frequent stop for classes by EAG Tactical, LMS Defense, and Sentinel Concepts, among others.
Perhaps most important to those of us on a budget, many of their in-house classes are very affordable, and the tuition goes right back into providing more equipment and training options.
I drove up from North Carolina to train at Alliance, and plan on doing so again. If you’re anywhere within the northeastern quarter of the United States and want a good place to train, I’d suggest giving them a try.