If you want to save money, be a better shooter/hunter, like to have fun in a gun friendly environment or host a corporate event, then you need to check out the Sportsman Shooting Center in Grapevine, Texas. Housing a live fire cinema range, among some other electronic wizardry, this is a one of a kind facility in the United States. The next closest place to get this experience is Europe.

Live Fire Cinema RangeOwned by Aimpoint, you know it’s going to have some cool technology. It’s what all the technology does for you that is so amazing. Start with a targeting system so good that it’s used in Olympic competitions. Located in the underground 100-yard range, it provides instant feedback on shot placement displayed on a computer monitor sitting right next to you. Then there is the interactive laser training center simulator and, of course, the famous live fire cinema range.

I’ve seen places kind of like this before. At the video game arcade. Seriously, this is nothing like what I, or most of you, have ever seen in real life.

Sportsman Shooting Centertsman Shooting Center Waiting AreaThe facility itself has an inviting atmosphere. Walking in, you feel like you have left the hustle and bustle of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and entered an upscale hunting lodge. With comfortable chairs, antlers on the wall, and wood all around, you could easily forget you are right on the edge of DFW Airport. The staff is friendly and there to help make sure your time is both fun and educational.

When it’s time for the real fun to begin, you will most likely start by going downstairs to the 100-yard range to zero or verify zero of your rifle. This mundane and tedious to some task is made quick and enjoyable on this range. The target is of the self-healing variety. Normally this would make zeroing your rifle impossible since you can’t see where the bullets strike. 

Sportsman Shooting Centertsman Shooting Center ZeroingEnter the electronic wizardry. Microphones at the target pick up the sound of your bullet passing by and triangulate the exact point of impact on the target. Instantly, the monitor beside you displays the target with a virtual hole. Each impact is electronically stored so you can see shot groups. Distance from zero is also shown for windage and elevation. The feedback makes for less time spent and fewer rounds fired to achieve a good zero. Printouts of your groups can then be made including all relevant load data. For those who are into precision shooting, the highly controlled environment (constant 72 degrees and no wind) makes it easy to establish “true statements” for your rifle. The air-conditioning also keeps the air clear of burned powder.

Next up in the process is 45 minutes of instruction using the Sim Target laser simulator. This is where it starts getting really fun. It’s also where you will likely learn the most. Using a replica rife equipped with an eye safe infrared (IR) laser, you shoot at digital animals on a video screen. You don’t see the laser, but the simulator does. 

Laser Simulator SSCThe animals in the simulator don’t just stand still waiting to be shot either. They and their environments are reproduced realistically. Your instructor will work with you on shot placement and shooting a moving target at varying distances, speeds and angles.

Once shots are taken and the scenario ended, your shooting is reviewed. Everything is examined. Barrel movement is tracked, point of aim, point of impact, and bullet path through the animal. Making ethical shots is emphasized. Developing skills on virtual animals translates to being able to make ethical shots on live game that otherwise may be impossible or unethical.

From the interactive laser simulator, you will move to the live fire cinema range. This is the culmination of your experience at Sportsman Shooting Center. Inside this unique live fire range, you shoot at animals on a video screen much like in the simulator, but now with real guns and live ammo. Or if you prefer, you can compete with up to three of your friends on virtual steel plates.

Live Fire Cinema RangeOnscreen real time feedback is part of the package on the live fire cinema range, so you know how you are performing. The pace can be fast and the shooting extremely challenging. Imagine a badger running for its life from two dogs through dense woods. Now try to shoot the little badger. If you’re like me, you’re head will quickly fill with malicious thoughts about that badger… 

When I tried this scenario, I watched the badger and dogs darting in and out through the trees while I looked for a decent shot.  Eventually, I took a few shots. I killed a dog and shot the badger in the ass once. Not so good on real animals, but for training and fun, it was simply amazing!

Live Fire Cinema RangeI can pretty much guarantee that when you wrap up your experience at Sportsman Shooting Center you will have been challenged. You will probably be a better shooter and hunter. You will also have a huge smile on your face and be ready to return and do it all over again. And when you do, it will be equally good because the staff is dedicated to making it so. The variety of shooting simulations available can’t be had in the real world without purchasing a lot of airline tickets and booking a lot of guides.

Does it cost something to get all this? You bet. Standard fare is $100 to $125 depending on if it’s a weekday or weekend. But you would spend much more on a traditional range with all live ammo and a shooting instructor, so the value delivered is very high. Plus you are more likely to be successful as a hunter and shooter in the real world, which can save you hours of wasted time after a missed opportunity on live game. So, go online or give them a call and book your experience. You won’t regret it!

Want to try it for free? Join SHWAT™ on March 29th for food, fun and free shooting at Sportsman Shooting Center! The only place like it in America.

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