Gander Mountain Gun Academy Coming to Lakeville

This summer, the company plans to open its first Gander Mountain Academy in Minnesota-which will feature both live and virtual firing ranges, simulations in which students respond to "real-world" scenarios, and a long list of training courses.

The Gander Mountain store in Lakeville will soon be home to the company's first firearm training facility in Minnesota.

The Lakeville location will be the third Gander Mountain Academy-the company's new venture into firearm training, featuring live and simulated firing ranges, as well as classroom training-adding to the existing sites in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and Lake Mary, Florida.

Chris Juelich, director of the academy program, told Twin Cities Business in a Monday phone interview that the Lakeville store is currently undergoing renovations, and the academy will occupy about 10,000 square feet on the north side of the store.

An exact opening date hasn't yet been solidified, but Juelich said the company hopes to open the academy sometime in July and has slated a grand opening event for early August.

The training facility will comprise four main components: a live firing range, a virtual firing range, simulated “real-world” scenarios, and classrooms.

In the virtual simulations, students are surrounded by high-definition video that is meant to replicate scenarios in which they would need to properly react under stress. The simulations use laser technology, and the firearms mimic the recoil of live weapons. The scenarios range from witnessing a convenience store robbery to trap shooting. To learn more about the virtual technology-which Juelich says is unlike any simulation previously available to American civilians-see this video.

The facility will also feature a live firing range overseen by Gander Mountain instructors, as well as virtual target practice, where students can share their digital results via e-mail.

Everyone who buys a new firearm from Gander Mountain is eligible for a free safety course involving the safe handling of a weapon, proper storage, and other fundamentals. And the academy will feature a long list of more in-depth classes-ranging from “ladies-only” handgun basics to family safety and basic rifle instruction to courses for obtaining concealed carry permits.

Juelich said that as the company continues to remodel its Minnesota stores, it will consider opening additional academies, although no plans are set in stone. The company does have plans to soon open an academy in Madison, Wisconsin.

Gander Mountain operates 116 stores in 23 states-including 12 locations in Minnesota. It is among the state's 20 largest private companies based on revenue.