By Paul Erland
Gun enthusiasts—and those simply wanting to learn more about firearms—can expect to get the royal treatment when they visit the splendid and sprawling Royal Range, now open in Bellevue, in the building formerly occupied by Regal Cinema.
Royal Range carries an awe-inspiring variety of firearms, ammunition, and accessories (as well as archery supplies) in its 7,000-square-foot retail showroom, including many items you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. (Visit the website to browse the full inventory.) You’d also be hard-pressed to find an atmosphere like this one—open, airy, and spotless, in contrast to the typical dark, dingy and cramped gun shop.
“We want to provide a nice, clean, safe environment that people will feel comfortable coming to,” says Anthony Folk, who, along with working partner Ian Kelly, spent years planning the enterprise. It came nearer to fruition last October, when they got a contract on the building. The retail store opened eight weeks ago; the other half of the venture, an incredible, 31-lane indoor shooting range, will be open, if all goes as planned, by Thanksgiving. The entire facility will then cover some 40,000 square feet.
The indoor range is a much safer—and quieter—option, the partners stress. The acoustic ceiling will hold the sound in—a good thing, as there’ll be 10 lanes for rifles, nine for pistols, and 12 for tactical shooting (and an additional five lanes for archery). There’ll be safety officers in each bay, and Royal Range has four certified instructors on staff. People coming by the retail store now can follow the construction progress of the range on a pair of giant overhead TV screens.
The scope of Royal Range will take in everyone from novice to expert. There’s a classroom for the 20 different classes offered (check out “Training” on the website), an event room to accommodate anything from a convention to a competition, a two-story force-on-force training house (simulating real-life scenarios), and not just one, but two gunsmiths on site. Patrons can fill out, at the store or online, an application for a Federal Firearms License, giving them an opportunity to fire a weapon on the range that they wouldn’t otherwise be given under law. A small rental fee will cover the use of in-house firearms.
Kids are welcome at Royal Range, and will be admitted to the range under parental guidance and on a case-by-case basis.
Purchasing a firearm, partners Kelly and Folk emphasize, is a well-regulated process, despite what some people believe. First, the prospective purchaser must fill out a Form 4473, required by the ATF. They must then hand over a driver’s license, from which their TBI record is attained, information which interacts with a national database of criminal history.
“The state of Tennessee does a thorough background check,” Folk says. “It’s not any easier than it ever was; the reason it doesn’t take a long time is that it’s fully automated and efficient.”
Folk credits another partner, John Russell, for buying into his and Kelly’s vision. The longtime friends opened a small gun shop on Charlotte Avenue two years ago, more or less as a hobby, as a prelude to a much larger scale of operations. The grand project entailed not skimping on anything, from the elegant cabinets and display cases, to the top-notch staff, and the idea at the heart of it was to breed good safety policies and create a positive experience for everyone.
Folk and Kelly invite everyone to come and see what Royal Range is all about. They guarantee that seasoned gun owners will be gratified (as an example, Folk points to a counter full of .22 long rifle shells, saying “People say you can’t get those”), and that the uninitiated will be made to feel welcome.
Royal Range Nashville is at 7741 Highway 70S in Bellevue, in the old Regal Cinema building. Hours of operation are 10 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week. Call (615) 646-9333, visit www.RoyalRangeNashville.com. Purchases can be made online (select the Retail/Online Sales tab) and picked up at the store.
New Royal Range Open for Business