After more than 30 years in business, longtime downtown staple The Gun Rack will leave Richland Avenue to open not only a larger store but an indoor gun range.


“We have been hearing from our customers a general need for an indoor gun range in Aiken,” owner Chuck Scott said to a small gathering inside the Richland Avenue store on Tuesday.


The store has provided guns, ammunition and accessories for 33 years, and has been owned by Scott's family for the last five years.


The new store and gun range will be housed in a former warehouse just outside the city limits at 1563 Edgefield Highway near Reynolds Pond Road, and is slated to open in early 2014. It will include 10 indoor 25-yard lanes, a larger showroom, a classroom to offer concealed-weapon permit training and a members lounge.


“We've been looking at this for several years, trying to plan the best equipment to where we can be environmentally-responsible and very safe to make it a clean, family shooting environment for training and everything else that a gun range needs,” Scott said. “We'll be enlarging our showroom by probably 100 percent.”


The gun range will likely open a few weeks after the store opens.


There will be six lanes for handgun use and four for rifle use that can also accommodate handguns, Scott said. The shooting lanes are constructed of concrete wall dividers filled with concrete and reinforced with rebar.


“If there's an accidental discharge with the person next to you, you're still safe,” Scott said. “This is like a bank vault, as far as protection around the shooter.”


The range will also have range guards and video surveillance for security purposes.


The Gun Rack will have individual memberships, family memberships and corporate memberships. Clients can also pay a daily rate to visit the range.


“If you shoot frequently, membership is a definite benefit,” Scott said. Guns and hearing protection will be available for rental.


“If they are interested in a certain caliber, they can try several different guns in that caliber to make a more informed, better choice,” he said.


All new users will have to watch a five-minute training video before entering the range for the first time. Anyone wishing to become a member who does not have a concealed-carry permit must submit to a background check, Scott said.


Local concealed-carry instructors have expressed interest in using the classroom for their courses. The lounge will be available to host parties and gatherings.


Scott said they would miss the downtown location.


“It's a fun place, and we have friends stop in all the time to say hello,” he said. “That probably won't happen as much out there because that is a purpose-driven destination. They're talking about trying to invigorate the north side of town – we hope that's a start and other people will follow.”


For more information, including photos of the shooting range construction, visit the store's website at www.tgrofaiken.com.


Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.