Amid Shortage, Gun Shop Opens Ammo-Free Range

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

It’s incredibly important for gun owners to keep up with their training, but it can be tough with the current ammunition shortage. One local gun shop not far from where I live is doing what they can to help gun owners gain proficiency with their firearms by opening up a new ammo-free gun range.


Black Target Firearms in Appomattox is changing the way you practice shooting on a range. You can practice shooting using their laser range.

You can either use the laser with your own firearm or with one of their laser-ammo-specific guns.

The laser slips right into the barrel. Then, you just shoot.

The range is a large indoor room with a computer and a projector. It’s essentially one big technology hub that’s all connected. After loaded in a gun, the laser works when it hits the scenario range projected.

The software picks up where the laser bullets hit each time. It’s not physically cutting through anything– the computer system just makes it look like it is.

“It is more sophisticated, but it’s kind of like a videogame for adults,” says Gene Riffey, a regular at the laser range. “There’s obviously a little bit of a difference, but the firearm is very similar to the one I use. I don’t get the blowback or kick that I get with the real firearm.”

This is a pretty smart idea on a couple of levels for Black Target Firearms. Appomattox (and my home base of Farmville, which is about 20 miles away) is in the middle of a range desert. In order to shoot indoors gun owners in the area have to either drive an hour west to Lynchburg or an hour east to Richmond, and if I had the money I’d build a range right smack in between.


Building an indoor range is even more expensive than buying ammo, however, and the folks at Black Target have done the next best thing with their laser simulation range. I especially like the fact that the shop allows you to use your own gun with the laser trainer, which to me is a much better training option than having to use a rental.

“We have multiple scenarios. Competition, steel plates or going through different courses of competition,” says [firearms instructor Gloria] Krauklis. “There are also targets you can place around the room and practice your aiming and speed and accuracy.”

Krauklis says the idea for a laser gun range started after seeing it demonstrated at a gun show in Las Vegas.

But it took a pandemic and national ammunition shortage to finally pull the trigger.

Shooting with a laser costs $20 for a half-hour or $30 for a full hour. Once you’re set up and shooting, the laser has an unlimited number of shots.

I was planning on doing a little plinking this weekend, but with rain in the forecast I may just drive down to Appomattox on Saturday morning instead. Saving my ammo supply for another day while getting in some training time in a warm, dry space sounds pretty appealing, especially when the other option is burning through a brick of .22LR in the cold February rain.


Hopefully we’ll see more gun shops begin to offer options like this. As Krauklis says, laser training will never completely replace live-fire range time, but it’s nice to have that choice with ammo both scarce and more expensive than it was a year ago.

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