Gun talk was all rosy Saturday as several hundred people celebrated the groundbreaking for an indoor shooting range on the north end of Colorado Springs.

Magnum Shooting Center, near Bass Pro Shops southeast of Interstate 25 and Northgate Boulevard, won't open until mid-November but already has 1,049 members, said Kim Shugart, one of the founding partners.

"The difference between mom and pop stores and us is that we really try to be family-oriented and a welcoming place for anybody who wants to learn to shoot and learn to be safe," he said.

The 30,000-square-foot facility located at 13372 Meadowgrass Drive will house six 100-yard lanes, two 50-yard mixed use lanes and 24 standard pistol ranges along with a classroom, conference room, lounge and retail shop. The $7 million project, not including another $1.5 million in inventory, will be built in the Bass Pro-centric retail complex on the city's north side.

"Some guys want to be elite. That's not what we want to be," said Shugart, noting the company can take up to 4,000 members and still have room for the general public to go shooting.

In addition to the 117,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop and a few restaurants already in place, the first phase of the retail area will include a resort, waterpark and smorgasbord of restaurants spanning 60 acres. The shooting center will create 30-50 full-time and part-time jobs, Shugart said.

"We're trying to bring the fun to Colorado Springs," said Gary Erickson, developer of the Copper Ridge at Northgate retail complex and part owner of the Magnum Shooting Center.

"That's what this town needs - some fun and some jobs," he said.

Some, like Charles and Vicky Elliott of Monument, look forward to having a shooting range farther north along the Front Range.

About every two months the retired couple drives to Fort Carson to shoot .22 caliber pistols and rifles.

"It's just a long way from home," said Charles.

The Magnum-member Elliotts plan to shoot more regularly with a range now 15 minutes from their home.

Members get free access to machine guns on their birthdays and priority for reserving lanes, among other benefits.

Many couples have signed up, Shugart said, emphasizing that women are interested in the range, too.

Attendees lined up at one tent to sign a petition aimed at repealing the law that went into effect last year that bans magazines with more than 15 rounds.

"I'm a gun-toting guy," said Steve Travis after signing the petition, a holstered gun peeking out from under his blue T-shirt. He brought his three kids ages 7-10 to the event.

"If the Second Amendment is gone we're going to end up losing all the rest of the Bill of Rights," said Craig Ver Helst, a retired member of the Air Force, wearing a black National Rifle Association hat.

And if there are efforts to disarm citizens?

"It'll be bullets first, I can guarantee," he said.


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