anyone been yet? they bought a closed grocery store and converted into a premier range.
wonder what full auto guns they rent?
video of local radio guys Rick and Bubba shooting
A Hoover gun shop is expanding its business in response to a growing market for firearms used for personal protection and law enforcement.
Hoover Tactical Firearms, which opened nearly two years ago on U.S. 31, plans to relocate across the highway to a former Bruno's Supermarket, where the business will add a new lineup of features.
Plans call for indoor pistol and rifle ranges, an expanded showroom, classrooms and a deli. The company paid $2.4 million for the property and plans to invest up to $1.5 million in renovations.
A key component of the new site will be education for youth and training for law enforcement, said Peyton Zarzour, managing partner of Hoover Tactical Firearms.
There are a limited number of area shooting ranges, particularly those that are indoors, where law enforcement officers can obtain training required by the state, he added.
"We're hoping these small departments that don't have access to ranges will come in and qualify their people," he said.
At the same time, teens involved in competitive shooting events and other youth need to be properly educated about guns, Zarzour said.
"These kids are learning this stuff on video games, but there's a big difference between that video game and reality," he said. "They need to be taught that."
Zarzour spent more than 32 years in law enforcement, including stints in robbery, homicide and SWAT teams. Most of his career was with the Hoover Police Department; he also worked as a state investigator.
When Hoover Tactical Firearms opened in September 2009, he saw it filling a void in the market, since most gun merchants were sporting goods stores focused on hunting.
By contrast, Zarzour's store does little hunting business.
His products range from small .22-caliber revolvers to large .50-caliber military rifles, priced from $200 to $10,500. Handguns are among the most popular purchases.
The store also sells ammunition, knives, tactical gear and other accessories.
Customers run the gamut, from teens who come in with their parents to the elderly. Others include law enforcement officers, military personnel and gun collectors, from across Alabama.
Almost 20 percent of firearms purchases are made by women, and many of them are first-time gun owners. In 2010, the store's sales totaled $2.8 million.
Zarzour said he is seeing growing interest from first-time gun buyers who are worried about their personal safety.
And while Hoover crime rates are low compared to many urban areas, people now have instant access to national news, including high-profile crime stories, said Gene Smith, a Hoover City Councilman and an investor in Hoover Tactical Firearms.
"Perceived danger is real danger to most people," Smith said.
In the move to the old Bruno's space, Hoover Tactical Firearms is growing from about 2,800 square feet at its current location to more than 52,000 square feet. The grocery store has been vacant since it was liquidated and closed following the company's 2009 bankruptcy.
Smith said the business has been trying to buy the Bruno's space for more than a year, and the deal finally went through.
The renovation of the space is expected to begin in July, with the store's move scheduled for September.
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A detailed layout of the plans shows two separate shooting ranges, including 12 25-yard lanes for pistols and eight 50-yard lanes for rifles.
The ranges will be equipped with advanced video programs that allow law enforcement officers to use their duty weapons to practice firing in simulated high-pressure "shoot or don't shoot" scenarios.
Civilians also may use the ranges to try out guns before purchasing.
The 6,500-square-foot showroom will have a wall of rifles, and there will be an adjacent deli and seating area. There also are classrooms, where Zarzour plans to offer gun safety classes.
Because of his background, Zarzour said he understands the needs of law enforcement officers, who always want to practice with their own weapon to hone their skills. But currently, limited range facilities means traveling and setting up appointments, which can take up a good chunk of the day.
"This way, they'll be able to come in and shoot and get out in 30 minutes if they want to," he said.