The neighborhood and small-town gun shop continues to serve a vital function for American gun owners, providing information, knowledge and services that you just can’t get online or in a big-box store that specializes in everything from shotguns to groceries. But many suburban and urban consumers are desperately in need of something in between, a full-service retail establishment that is nevertheless a comfortable learning environment.

This was the goal behind the Colonial Shooting Academy (CSA) located in bustling Richmond, Virginia. This state-of-the-art shooting range impressed me from the moment I drove into the parking lot. Its large modern building was extremely neat, well marked and expertly landscaped. Safety signage was clear and prevalent outside, and the staff was professional, knowledgeable and, most importantly, friendly. Lastly, but hardly least, CSA features the largest public indoor shooting range in the country.

GLOCKs For Rent

Essentially, CSA is the perfect place to bring a first-time shooter. Similarly, it plays the perfect host to GLOCK’s Range Program, which allows public shooting ranges to purchase GLOCK pistols at discounted prices for rental use. Ranges must purchase a minimum of five pistols and hold onto them for one year, at which point new discounted pistols can be purchased and the old ones sold. Ranges also receive GLOCK signage, gear and accessories as well as one free admission to a GLOCK armorer’s course.

Providing rental guns is akin to a test drive. If you try it, you will like it, and then you will buy it. I met with Ed Coleman, the general manager of CSA, who gave me the nickel tour and explained how the GLOCK Range Program works for them. The range opened in March 2012. I asked Coleman how well they had held up and how many times they had been rented.

“We purchased 14 GLOCKs through the program initially, plus we had a GLOCK 17 we already owned that we used for rentals,” said Coleman. “In the past year these GLOCKs have been rented more than 1,500 times, and the two GLOCK 19s and G17s we have are by far the most popular, with 567 and 628 rentals respectively.”

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