Providing basic firearm safety and personal protection training in the greater Detroit area has been my passion and labor of love for the last several years. I can't think of many activities that I find more personally rewarding and enriching than helping security-conscious students assume a more active and involved role in both their personal safety and the protection of their respective families.
Over the nine years or so since the time that I was robbed in my driveway and my subsequent entry in the firearm-training industry, I have seen many people enter the field of firearm instruction in my local area, and I have seen many of them go. Very few local trainers have demonstrated "staying power." Thus, I have reached the inevitable conclusion that if a firearm instructor's heart is not truly in the field for the right reason—an intense and fervent desire to educate, empower and protect others—they will lack the internal drive to overcome the current challenges that firearm instructors in this region face.
One of the biggest problems I must deal with as a Detroit-based firearm trainer providing safety and personal-protection educational service for local customers is the profound lack of public and commercial shooting-range facilities. Despite having a population of approximately 700,000 residents within its geographical borders, there are no public or commercial gun ranges currently operating in the city of Detroit.
The last publicly accessible gun range—commercial or public—to operate in the city of Detroit was Laney's Guns and Supplies. It closed its doors and shut down shortly after the death of its owner (local gun-rights icon General Laney) after a protracted illness in the spring of 2009, and a subsequent fire on the premises that all but ensured that all firearms training would cease in the city of Detroit. The gun range never reopened for business.
Ironically, as national, regional and local demand for firearms, related accessories and associated training has increased steadily over the last several years, no gun range developers have shown an demonstrable interest in opening a firearm-training facility within the city of Detroit. It appears range developers are content to operate on the jurisdictional borders of Detroit and to siphon off firearm training prospects to those living near the city's boundary lines, while still making their target range services available to its nearby and specifically targeted suburban customers.
Taking new students to a “hot range” isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Accordingly, firearms instructors desiring to organize gun safety training for interested Detroit residents must utilize public and commercial shooting facilities located in the surrounding suburbs. Although there are several public and commercial ranges operating in the metro-Detroit area, many of them are already inundated with customers who live in those respective nearby communities.
For many prospective urban shooters, potentially making a trip across a large city—which in this case geographically encompasses approximately 144 square miles—to venture into the surrounding suburbs to visit a crowded gun range facility with banker's hours is not a particularly attractive way for a client to spend his time.
The added burden of traveling great distances to utilize a suburban target range is a hurdle some prospective training customers predictably can't or won't overcome. Of course, credible firearm instructors routinely extol the virtues of regular target practice and coaching services to their customers, but they inherently know tasks that are inconvenient to accomplish in many cases don't get done. Marksmanship, under these circumstances, predictably becomes a harder sell. Gun owners and target shooters in the city of Detroit are woefully underserved by a lack of local target ranges.
Moreover, those gun-owning Detroit residents who are actually willing to make the trek to suburban target ranges are presumably more apt to choose firearm training instructors who are local to the selected suburban range. As such, a key consideration mulled over by prospective students when selecting a service provider is convenience of service. In a nutshell, the overall experience for the customer and the consequential convenience of a training solution outside of Detroit usually presents a hurdle for Detroit based firearm instructors.
Classroom training is essential to build good safety habits and proper positioning.
Ultimately, I would love to one day see range developers invest resources within the geographical borders of Detroit. There is a gun owning community located therein that is woefully under-served. A strategically placed "mega range" would in all likelihood address pent-up demand for firearm products and related services, and as a side-effect encourage many others to join the gun community. More gun owners and more target shooters would predictably create a better marketing environment for all firearm instructors. Furthermore, opening Detroit target ranges could make Detroit a safer place to live, play and visit. Who wouldn't want that to occur?