How we came to be the F.O.P. Range Inc.
The range was built in the mid 1970's by the FOP Lodge 58. It was designed as a Police Qualification range and only consisted of one 50 yard pistol range, the current Main Range. It has been maintained by the Lodge through volunteers who spent much of their personal time making sure it was kept operational. I was one of those volunteers. Over the years, the popularity of the range grew as more people found out about it. It was one of the best kept secrets in western Birmingham. A citizen could join FOP Lodge 58 as an Associate Member and would have the range available to them pretty much whenever they wanted it. It cost $35 per year to join the FOP Lodge 58 as a civilian Associate Member and upon joining, the member received a card they could take to the Pleasant Grove Police Department and use to check out a set of keys to the range. While they used the range, there was little or no supervision or enforcement of safety rules. It was not the best of conditions. At its peak, the Lodge had about 490 Associate Members, all using the one 50 yard pistol range.
In mid 1995 the Lodge began to discuss the problems with the range and its upkeep. A motion was made to make it a "Police Officers only" facility to cut down on the wear and tear, and the cost of operating a firing range. Pleasant Grove police officers Tony Snyder and Jon Grigsby (me) countered the motion and offered to lease the property from the Lodge to open the range as a private shooting facility. A committee was formed to explore the options available to the Lodge and in November 1995, the Lodge, Snyder and I entered into a long term lease agreement. In January 1996, the Range re-opened as the F.O.P. Range Inc..
Membership grew very quickly the first 3 months of operation with 150 new members joining almost immediately. We began construction on a much needed Rifle Range, along with several new pistol ranges. By spring, we had 7 ranges operational. We decided in our business plan that we would do everything we could to make the range as safe a place as possible. This included having onsite supervision during business hours, constructing a new safety berm along one side of our road entering the range, running water to the office building and fixing the restroom, running a phone line to the building, and designing safer steel targets to shoot at. We purchased liability insurance for the range and have received a thumbs up by the insurance company's inspector. He approached us as a "prospective member" to learn all he could about the operation of the range before telling us who he was. He was happy with what he saw and gave us a good report.
By 1997 we had 9 ranges up and running. Membership had grown to about 225 members. (We currently have over 1000 active members.) We did spend some money on advertising in early 1996 and again in spring 1997, but have relied mostly on word of mouth since then. Membership is still growing. We have plans to continue to improve our facility by purchasing new equipment every year as funds allow, and replace anything that becomes worn or unsafe.
June 1998, I bought out my business partner and made several changes to the way business was done. Each change has made the range a more desirable place to go shooting.
June of 2002, I created the Day Shooter Range. Civilians now have a nice safe place to shoot in Birmingham. The only part of the facility they can use is the Main Range as a Trial Member. To use any other range, they must upgrade to an annual membership.
The F.O.P. Range Inc. range facility is available to any law enforcement agencies who do not have their own range facility. Currently local Municipal, State, and Federal Law Enforcement agencies use the range regularly for their training and scheduled qualification of their personnel. One range, the Training Range located on the north side of the facility, is used for police qualification and training. Even with an agency using the facility, the range is large enough to provide members and the members with space to shoot.
Take a look at the range development pictures. Here is some of the best money we ever spent.