Indoor shooting range, store and training center opened on Manchester Road Nov. 7

Home on The Range

Photographed by Brittany Freeman
Bailey Stoddard, junior, tries out her stepfather’s new gun at The Range St. Louis West on Nov. 28. “It’s a very secure place,” Stoddard said.

Growing up in Tennessee and spending seven years in the military meant being around guns was nothing special for John Henderson, Managing Partner of The Range St. Louis West. So, three years ago when the original store, American Arms, was opened as a precursor to the range, he wasn’t fazed.

On Nov. 7, the end goal was reached; The Range St. Louis West opened.

“What we tried to build here is the next generation, state of the art, indoor gun range, training center and store,” Henderson said.

With the firearm industry rapidly expanding, public support has been overwhelmingly positive. Henderson said the initial opposition within Ballwin eventually faded once he described the fresh concept his partnership had for the store.

The idea was to make any type of person feel comfortable especially with the market moving away from hunting and toward self-defense. The average audience has become more urban, more female, younger, and more ethnically diverse, Henderson said.

“We want you to feel comfortable here and get rid of the stereotypes of who gun owners are because when it comes down to it gun owners are folks like me, your mom and dad, the average person,” Henderson said.

To Bailey Stoddard, junior, Henderson achieved his goal by opening a welcoming range that makes the customer feel comfortable in the environment.

“I liked it better because the ones that I have been to are outdoors, so to be inside and away from the elements was pretty great,” she said.

Stoddard was able to accompany her stepfather and try out his new gun in a friendly setting.

“It’s a very secure place,” Stoddard said. “It isn’t anywhere that you would be scared to go in or be afraid that anything would happen.”

The shooting range is in a completely enclosed structure with lanes reaching up to 25 yards. A person must be at least 18 years old to shoot a handgun and at least 21 years old to shoot a rifle without parental supervision and consent. However, a parent can bring a child under the age of 18 if the child demonstrates an appropriate level of maturity and ability to operate a firearm.

“Safety is job one,” Henderson said. “It is everybody’s job one.”

The Range has three basic rules of safety: treat the gun as if it is loaded at all times even if it isn’t, keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire and know what your target is, what is beyond your target and only aim at what you are willing to harm.

Henderson said there is only a problem when people don’t follow the rules, much like driving. If everyone follows the rules, then there are no problems, but when someone breaks the rules, then there can be serious danger.

The Range St. Louis West is on Manchester Road.

“So, I don’t think guns are the issue,” Henderson said. “I think the issues we have with violence are cultural and not any specific item.”

Similarly to Henderson, Matt Howard, junior, has grown up in a family that appreciates firearms.

“I know how to properly use them and you have to know about gun safety in order to treat guns for what they are,” Howard said. “They can cause a lot of damage.”

It is important for people to know how to handle a gun in the right circumstances because the police can’t respond to every crime exactly when it happens, Howard said. But, in the grand scheme of things, privately owned weapons can also act as a deterrent for crime.

“There are certain things that can help ensure safety for all but if you try and start putting too many restrictions then it’s going to be the good people who have the restrictions while criminals aren’t going to follow those rules,” Howard said.