Remember the days when you could go way out in the country and practice shooting your firearm? It wasn’t the safest practice, but it was all you had at the time. Though that’s still a possibility for some, the majority of people buying firearms for safety and sport find that gun ranges are their best shot at getting real experience.
The Powder Room Shooting Range & Training Center, owned and operated by The St. Joe Company, opened last December and has rapidly become “the” place to turn for training, to improve accuracy, and to learn more about all types of firearms. Managed by Joe Preston, the facility is on Hwy 98 at Griffin Blvd., in Panama City Beach, and is open seven days a week. Preston is certainly no stranger to firearms having served in the Walton County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years.
“I grew to appreciate and respect firearms quickly as a result of my job. I also observed all too often that people just hadn’t been properly trained in how to handle, use and maintain their firearms,” said Preston.
The Powder Room is a 13,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility. In the firing range portion of the building, there are nine pistol lanes and five lanes for rifle shooting. As more and more people show an increased interest in firearms, visitors to The Powder Room will have 3,000 square feet of retail space to shop. “We were very gratified to have been named by Sig Sauer as an Elite Dealer for their product line. There’s fewer than 15 such dealers in the country,” Preston shared. This association provides the range with exclusive product releases only available to Elite Dealers, priority allocation of product, training events featuring instructors from the Sig Sauer Academy and other promotional and sales events.
In addition to the firing range and retail store, The Powder Room offers a number of classes ranging from novice to experienced. For those just purchasing their first firearm, there are classes that teach proper handling, safety and maintenance of the firearm. “We find that these courses are even helpful to the most experienced gun owner because they serve as a gentle reminder of what should take place,” said Preston. More and more people have taken an interest in obtaining a concealed carry permit, which in Florida requires that the applicant meet a strict set of criteria including a prescribed training course.
The training courses are designed to progress the participant along a path to proficiency in all aspects of gun ownership. What begins as a series of classroom lectures and hands-on demonstrations will ultimately lead to the range, where instructors thoroughly orient the new gun owner in the proper etiquette while in a controlled environment.
For the more experienced gun owner, The Powder Room has a simulator room that can produce six hundred different scenarios. “This type of simulation has been in use by law enforcement for many years. It teaches the students how to react to many different situations. In doing so, they become better acquainted with a multitude of things as they encounter the simulation,” Preston said. The simulations are “real life” and as such, the participant feels very much a part of the scene.
Don’t own a firearm? The Powder Room has a variety of brands that can be rented to use on the range. Drop by anytime and meet the team. They would love to show you around.