FOP Range Inc. OPEN but with new format for use...
The FOP Range has been designated as an essential service business. We are open.
With the new problems that society is currently facing and public health officials doing what they are supposed to do by ordering businesses to close, I made the decision to close as ordered on Friday, April 20th at 5 pm. Since then, my staff and I have been looking into ways to make the facility available to members and sustain the business with enough income to be able to make payroll and remain a viable business. I was able to contact the Jefferson County Dept of Health and discussed our operation and needs. The representative explained that we would have to employ social distancing guidelines and sanitize as needed to prevent any possible transmission of COVID-19. With that in mind, the following practices are going to be followed.
Prior to the order by the Jefferson County Dept. of Health to close, we had already adapted our operations to conform with Gov. Ivey’s order to keep people at least 6 feet apart. The office was available to one person at a time with the Range Officer directing traffic through the office. Members could sign in and out of the facility with a phone call. We were in compliance. We were as safe as possible.
One step further.
We can take this one step further by eliminating the office visit, using a reservation system that golf courses use with a “T time” for persons using the range, and handling all transactions via a phone call to staff in the office. You will have use of the reserved range for your sole use for the period of time you reserved it. Zero contact with anyone. Its like a walk in the park by yourself; a 10 acre sport shooting facility park. Shooting areas will be sanitized by range staff by hosing it down with a bleach water mix.
Each of the existing range members have received a range safety orientation and understand what they should and should not do while at the facility. Nonmembers have not been instructed on the do’s and don’ts. Members have also decided to support the facility by investing with their dues payments, ensuring our existence. Members have skin in the game. Memberships are still available.
The membership base pays dues that fund a minor part of the facility’s expenses. For example, the April 2019 membership dues renewals made up 18.9% ($4450 of the $23,540) of the income for the range. This ratio fluctuates very little though out the year. In 2002 I created a day use of the facility; the funds that it brought in allowed us to perform some substantial improvements and let us keep the membership dues the lowest anywhere. The day use or trial membership use of the facility is something that would require an office visit and as such has been eliminated until this Covid-19 pandemic has resolved. To exist we must have employees. Employees earn paychecks. Paychecks come from the range making money. Private golf clubs operate the same way. Members pay dues every year to have access. Members pay greens fees each time they use the facility. Golf club stays open.
Here is how it will work. A member wants to use the range. He will call the range office and set up a reservation (a T time) for the part of the facility he wants to use. A $25 payment for his reservation will be taken at that time. Anything extra he needs; ammo, targets, eye or ear pro will be included in this transaction and will be assembled for him to pick up outside the range office upon his arrival. It is the same as setting up a T time at a golf club. That time on that range is yours. Upon arrival at the range, call the office to check in. Go shoot. At the end of your time, the staff will call you and let you know to wind down and to leave to make way for the next member who has reserved the next period. Miss or be late for your T time? Arrive late and you have burned your time. The range fee is nonrefundable. The reserved range is yours for that period. Show up without a reservation and you will get the next available open range slot, if one is available. For your safety, we want all communication to be over a phone call, not face to face. Call the range office from your cell, 205-744-2600, and we will set you up. There will be days when demand is low and you will have more time available and days when the range is booked. We are currently booking dates for the next 30 days. Plan ahead. Grab a slot next week and the week after that.
Members have a guest card they were issued when they joined or renewed. We will honor the card but will have a limit of one guest per trip to the range. Social distancing while on the range is required by the health department. There is plenty of room to spread out.
Ammo is drying up. This period of time is like the time after Sandy Hook when everyone bought all they could, thinking that guns and ammo may be restricted by the government. This is worse. Not only are people buying all a store can sell them, the supply side is drying up. As employees get sick, production lines are closing. Employees are afraid of bringing home the virus to their loved ones and are not going to work. State and County governments are issuing business closure and stay home shelter in place orders. It will not get better any time soon. We buy our ammo from three different distributors. We have not been able to have a complete order filled for the last few weeks and what we could get costs much more, sometimes 100% more, than what we had been paying. Its supply and demand. We have a small supply of ammo on hand and more trickling in. We will use our ammo supply to support the business. We will sell ammo only to our members for use on the range at a price that will let us replace it. Because of the limited amount, ammo sales are also restricted to one box of each caliber needed. Want to shoot your 38 and a 22, we will sell you a box of each.
Our highest priority has always been your safety. Our safety record is something we are very proud of. The COVID-19 presents unique challenges to every business. Things are now very different. Change is hard to swallow at times. The changes I have outlined above are absolutely necessary for us to open. There will be a day in the future when vaccine is available to negate the virus and we can return to life as we knew it. The changes in how the range is available to its members will protect you from the possibility of an exposure to anyone contagious. It will also protect my staff from exposure. Just like a lot of you, my staff have family with compromised immune systems that would make catching the virus nonsurvivable. Bringing it home would be a very bad thing.
We do appreciate your support with your membership and hope you understand that the above measures are the only way we could reopen and are ultimately for your safety. The above procedure may have to be tweaked from time to time. There will be a day in the future when we can go back to the way things were. Feel free to call the range with any questions. The number is 205-744-2600.
The range has a Facebook page as well as a Facebook group that is very active. Like and follow the page and join the group to see updates as they happen. I do have staff at the range during this time who will answer phoned questions and provide security for the facility. Call 205-744-2600 is you need to speak to one of us.