Rock City Recoil to be Little Rock’s First Indoor Shooting Range

Despite the fact that Arkansas has the 6th highest rate of gun ownership in the United States, Little Rock does not have a single indoor shooting range, leaving fans of shooting sports wanting for opportunities to practice. Brian Martin and Jonathan Lowman are well on their way to closing that gap with the establishment of Rock City Recoil on 19909 Cantrell Rd. 

Martin and Lowman are Little Rock natives and childhood friends. They served together in the military, and upon returning to Little Rock, quickly tired of how much time it took to drive out to the nearest ranges. They began to discuss the idea of an indoor shooting range and discovered that the market was wide open.

“[Arkansas has] one of the highest gun ownership percentages per capita,” Martin said. “We have SIG Sauer, Remington and all kinds of manufacturers here, so it just makes sense. We have a huge market, it’s just unbelievable.”

“Little Rock is one of the only capital cities in the United States without an indoor shooting range,” Lowman said. “It’s a prime time, but it’s also way past prime time.”

Rock City Recoil isn’t just about having a convenient location, it’s also about bringing the high-quality facilities and service that Marton and Lowman have experienced in other states to the people of Central Arkansas. Designed by Pole Stanley Wilcox Architects in partnership with Stuart Mullen of Range Development Services, LLC, the building is planned to be approximately 15,000 square feet. It will include 15 shooting lanes, 3,300 square feet of retail space, a member’s lounge and a classroom capable of seating 32 people. 

The range itself will consist of 10 lanes at 15 yards and five lanes at 25 yards. More than just a firing line, it is designed to meet the requirements for law enforcement training contracts and can be used by officers, SWAT teams or local military members to train in dismounted or nighttime operations by blacking out the range. 

Clients will be able to rent weapons ranging from simple handguns to a suppressed MP5. This goes hand in hand with a “try before you buy” policy, where customers will have an opportunity to test out a weapon available in the retail section before deciding whether or not to buy it.

Rock City Recoil

The member’s lounge and classroom are a major part of Martin and Lowman’s determination to make sure Rock City Recoil is a part of the community and provides the best possible service.

“We’re creating a facility that’s also a venue,” Martin said. “We want it to be a part of the community where we can do all kinds of corporate events, events for families, charities, competitions, things like that.”

“We’ve already spoken to a few folks here locally about the option of women-only, women-taught concealed carry courses, introduction to firearms or introduction to pistols or rifles or shotguns,” Lowman said.

“It’s not just concealed carry; we’ll have a whole curriculum,” Martin said.

Martin and Lowman place a strong emphasis on gun safety, both at the range and in everyday life. 

“We want to welcome people, we want them to feel comfortable, and we want them to have the proper direction to function safely in a shooting range environment,” Martin said. “Because it’s not something you can just walk in and do. You don’t just inherently know what’s safe. We’ve spent days worth of hours on ranges across the world shooting, practicing, training, teaching others. Most people don’t get that and they don’t have access to that, but they could.”

“I spent five years working on the ambulance here in Little Rock,” Lowman said. “I don’t know how many times I ran on calls where people accidentally shot themselves. A lot of those were young people. It’s important for parents to safely store their weapons.

Rock City Recoil

“Right now, there are firearms being produced and sold that have biometric identification capabilities that will only work for a shooter once they’ve paired with that weapon. But on a much more common level are safes; I myself have a bedside safe with a biometric lock that I keep my firearm in. So all I’ve got to do is put my finger on it, and it’ll open so I can have access to that firearm if I need it. My four-year-old daughter, on the other hand, can’t.”

Few retailers in Arkansas carry such biometric safes right now, according to Lowman, but Rock City Recoil plans to offer them alongside other gun safety tools and education. 

Martin and Lowman expected to find opposition to the idea of a shooting range, given the current political climate around guns, but have found that most people are quite positive toward the idea of responsible shooting sports. They remain ready to hear any criticism with an open mind to ease any concerns in the community.

“Almost a year ago exactly we got full city approval in the City Planning Commission and full City Board approval,” Lowman said. “Both happened on separate days, but unanimously and without any opposition. That’s a rarity, especially with what you might classify as controversial project topics.”

“We had our development partner flying from North Carolina to be at that meeting,” Martin said. “We thought we were going to catch some opposition. We had slides, we had architects, we had a team ready to say, ‘We’re doing it and we’re doing it right.’ And then they just said, ‘Okay, approved, next,’ and we just looked at each other like, ‘That was it?’”

With the approval of the city, the land purchased and the designs completed, Martin and Lowell are hoping to begin construction in 2023 and complete it in early-to-mid 2024. 

Photo Credit: Polk Stanley Wilcox

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