Meet Brent Hathorn, the owner of the Full Armor Gun Range located in West Houston, Texas, right off the I-10 freeway, as we talk to him specifically about the shooting range!
How long has the shooting range been a part of Full Armor?
Seven years ago we started this amazing shooting gun range & shooting club for the Houston Texas area!
How did you first in this location & what was your vision for starting a shooting range?
James originally invested in the gun store. And when the space became available, we seized it for our shooting range area expansion. Our goal was to create the top indoor pistol & rifle shooting area in Houston, Texas. We catered to a tactical shooter, while providing a shooting range for Houston beginners.
What was your experience growing up with guns? Did you shoot them at the gun range or in an indoor range?
I grew up out in TX learning to hunt deer from my father. He started me shooting when I was very young, probably about five years old or so. We lived near Houston in a pretty outdoor situation, and we shot guns out the back door, at trees, since we were basically in the country (of Fort Bend county). A great Texas upbringing for men filled with gun training experiences!
Did you shoot at other ranges in the Houston area as you got older?
No, not really. I had never really shot at a range growing up. My parents had a ranch with a lot of outdoor space. With all that property there wasn’t really a need to go anywhere else. But you recognize the challenge for city dwellers who may not have access to country property. They need a place to shoot. Oh yeah, totally. Plus, you eliminate a lot of factors with an indoor range, like situation deterioration. The weather is a factor in outdoor ranges. Safety can also be an issue because there aren’t barriers.
Can you tell us about the safety factors and differences?
In our indoor range, when someone is shooting beside you, they can’t inflict any harm to you at all. Each lane is completely isolated from the others at Full Armor indoor range. Outdoor ranges often just have a wooden shelf or something in between each lane. That’s not going to stop a firearm. We have two layers of glass. Someone could put a gun down, and it can go off. In those cases, you want to have that safety divider or else you have to hope the gun was pointed straight and not cockeyed. Some places will make the lanes very narrow to fit more people in their range to get more business. We decided to only do ten to keep the lanes wider and safer. That’s fascinating. Thank you for explaining the building material choices that your partnership made. It’s nice that you were willing to incur additional construction costs in order to design the range for maximum safety and so that small groups could be together in a comfortable setting. Your fans in Houston, Texas & Harris County cheer you for your efforts with 1000+ Google reviews!
Is there room for a sitting area or any chairs inside?
Yes, we do have some benches so that observers can sit down. Don't worry you can get your friend to point a selfie in front of our fully automatic, still firing machine gun.
Let's talk a little bit about going to the shooting range for somebody who's new to a shooting indoors. What is the protocol for an indoor shooting range?
Our gun range does have certain rules! You always need to be aware when you reload the weapon or put the gun down. The gun needs to be pointed away from any others, etc. Sometimes in groups, people may want to walk around and talk to one another or pose with the gun, and that’s just not safe to move around with a weapon, so we sometimes have to go in there to talk to them. It’s just very important to point the guns in the proper direction (at the shooting target stations). Also, choose certain clothes. Some people may wear gloves in there. Women shouldn’t wear low-cut shirts to stay safe and protected. The hot brass can burn men & women in the chest area as it ejects from the gun (especially a handgun). Those are some things that are banned. What about noise or talking?
We require everyone to wear eye and ear protection while they are in the range. We many high quality options for this, so of course when people talk to friends (take selfies), it needs to be louder since everyone is wearing ear protection in the range.
Are there lockers or any kind of storage element available in the range?
Yes, we do have storage in the range. People can leave their items with the supervision of the range attendant. You can leave your purse or phone or any personal items if you don’t want to bring it in with you.What does someone need to bring to the gun range?
We need to see license identification for every person who uses the range. So they would need to bring an ID drivers license or passport with you You have to be 21 to use a handgun in the state, so we need to verify age. We do allow people to bring their own guns and ammo, so if you wanted to use your own gun, you would need to bring that. However, we also hold gun rentals here on all days. So, you can rent a gun (your dream arms) and buy ammo to use while you’re sporting in the range. Though all of that still has to be monitored, so you would need an ID. We just put your ID in the spot where the gun is normally stored. That way, if someone walks out of the shooting range with the gun (which is a federal offense), we know who it was. Believe it or not, it does happen when people forget to return their handgun (rifles are impossible to forget)! I have had to run down the sidewalk after them before saying, "please bring back our pistol."Can a person trade out their rented gun during the session?
Yes, they can trade it to try other guns. In a way, this allows customers to try out a gun before they buy it as well. We just replace the original gun and put their ID where the one they wanted to try next belongs. Full Armor also offers full auto Friday, where you can pay 100 bucks and try out any fully automatic you want. We have a few different trial programs like that.What weapons can people choose from? Are they able to shoot or rent any gun that’s displayed at the store?
Not in the store. We actually have a lot of guns that we sell in this store that we rent in the gun range. It’s one of the things that helps us to stand out from other stores. People often want to know how a gun feels in their hand or fires before they purchase it. What we do here is if you rent a gun from us and you purchase it, we’ll actually take the price of the gun rental off of the purchase price. We carry all the way from 22 to 500 Smith and Wesson, which is about the shell size of most. We have about everything: fully automatics, revolvers, etc. We also carry accessories like the suppressors, which lowers the sound and kickback.Are there any weapons or ammo that aren’t allowed in the range?
Yes, we don’t allow shotguns. A shotgun throws out the plastic casings, so we just eliminate that. We only do brass or brass casings. No steel, no armor-piercing. It should be common sense, but not everyone knows. Are there any coupon discounts for other times of the week? I know you mentioned Full Armor Friday.
Yes, we have a ladies’ night for a discount in the range. Ladies’ night is on Monday. We also have military discounts. Police officers often head in for sports practice, and we provide a discount for them as well. There is also a shooting club on Tuesdays. Wednesdays is police training, and Thursdays is date night for couples, so you can enter indoors together and only pay the price of one. Friday, as we mentioned before, is full auto Friday. Also, each day we pick out a gun of the day that is 50% off the rental for that gun.Someone can bring their own weapon?
Oh yeah. You can bring any weapons as you want. We don't charge any additional price for more weapons. I mean, a lot of ranges actually charge you for each additional gun. You can bring in 20 different guns if you want; we don’t charge more for it.
Can someone have a private lesson at the range?
I'm glad you mentioned that. We're one of the few ranges, actually the only TX range I know that does not charge to have men or women to teach you how to make a shot. We may miss a lot of revenue from that, but this premier service brings in new customers from across the city. Plus, it’s a safety thing. If someone from the Houston area arrives who hasn't shot at a shooting range before, we have people here skilled in training new people to handle arms. They teach them how to load the gun, gun safety, etc. We also have professional shooters that share their handgun or rifle experience, you can get private advanced lessons in shooting as well. But as far as basic gun use and safety, we'll teach Houston men & women this critical training for free.Who works at the range in addition to the marshals? Are the marshals there at all times or during certain hours?
No, but we always have a cashier and backup working their jobs in the store. If something were to ever happen, we have a lot of people watching to prevent a situation.Does Full Armor offer range memberships?
Yes, we do offer range membership. It costs $699 for the year. You can come in and pay it all at once, or we will break it down over a 12-month program for you as well, to charge your card each month. Though there is an extra cost for that. So monthly or annual memberships are available?
These are annual membership, which we can charge you per month (with a slight add on) or you could pay 700 dollars upfront.And it includes unlimited range access?
Yes, the membership includes unlimited range access. You also get a discount on ammo, 5% off. You get two targets per visit, and you can bring in a guest with you as well. We also have a platinum membership for $850 per year, which includes a free rental up to $20 and 5% off ammunition. We also have a dining membership. That’s really more for big families or companies, that’s $4,000 a year. But all gun rentals are included and up to six guests can shoot for free. You get two lanes with two targets per person, concierge service, 10% off the ammo, and a personal instructor in those memberships. There is no waiting either. If you come in on a Saturday, and there’s a 30-minute wait, you will instantly be put in the front of the line.
It sounds like Saturday mornings are when the range is most active.
Saturday at lunch time is probably the busiest.Are there any times when someone could come and have a very quiet or private experience? Someone maybe who was nervous or brand new to shooting, what would be a good time to call when there's hardly anyone else around?
Probably mid-afternoons from two to four on weekdays, Monday through Thursday, would be best for that.
Are there any events or times designed for senior adults?
We don't have anything with senior adults specifically. But we love our seniors. We have a lot of them head here all the time. And we plan to include more activities specifically for seniors in the future, to help them lead an active life in the warm south climate!
What about youth events?
We don’t have any youth firearms events at this time. Really, there are age requirements for that sort of thing. Sometimes we do have younger adults visit with their guardian to learn about shooting. We may let them share a lane with their dad or whoever they come in with. If they’re below the age, it’s okay because they’re little superstar young men. And then there are some people like no way, they aren’t even close to the age requirement. But it is up to us to decide.
How old does someone have to be to shoot at the range?
And do any shooting clubs meet at Full Armor?
We have the shooting meeting on Tuesday night and the Houston police come and shoot on Wednesday nights here. Are there any food or beverages available in the range or the store or nearby? Two restaurants share our same parking lot. We have a Vietnamese place called Pho 9 and then we also have a Chinese place called Shanghai that, you know, you can hit it with the baseball next to us. And we have vending machines in our location.
Do people ever bring their food in & eat at the range?
Eating or drinking is banned inside the range. Because there’s lead powder, you shouldn't to be eating and drinking inside of a silo. We have some of the best circulation for an indoor range, but it’s still not recommended.
Is there a sitting area outside the range where people could eat?
Yes, there is a seating area with a couple of chairs. People also walk around the store as well. If you have a large party, you can call ahead, and we reserve our party room for a minimum of $250.
How do group events work?
Just call us up and let us know when you plan to head over, and we can see if the top range in Houston is available or not during your requested hours. We have different people who rent the party room for Houston LTC classes or for other parties, so just call us to reserve it.
What's a ballpark fee for a corporate event using all 10 lanes on a weeknight?
At Full Armor Gun Range can accommodate about 40 people total: four people per range lane. But small company events of up to maybe 20 people could easily be accommodated.
What about events like bachelor or bachelorette parties or a birthday?
Any kind of party like that we can do. Houston, TX we will accommodate you! No problem whatsoever. You know, we can have food. We can order from a restaurant or you can have cake in the party room or whatever.
Does Full Armor offer any archery or ax or knife throwing?
No, we don't. We don't have that to offer. There is an archery facility that’s just down the road, but we don’t offer that. We do sell different knives and axes, but we don’t have a range or training for it. Are there any competitions or leader boards that the range that people can participate in? We do have some little events that we do. Usually, just how accurate someone can be at shooting. We haven’t done one in a while, but we do it from time to time. No, that’s okay. I know you favor indoor shooting for various reasons, as we discussed. Safety in particular. I mean if you have your own track of land, I understand. But these outdoor ones that I’ve been to, I just don’t care for them personally, so I don’t want to recommend them.
How many range sessions would you say it would take a beginner to become proficient with a handgun?
That’s a good question. It just depends on how accurate someone is, you know what I mean? Some people are just naturally accurate. I mean, some people can pick up a basketball and just shoot it in there. It just depends. Some people just pick up things quick, so that’s a hard question to answer. I guess it also depends on what other skills you have. I would say that they could pick it up in a time or two. Also, most people shooting for self-defense don’t have to be accurate that far. Most situations are within two to ten yards. They’re not very far away, so you don’t have to be accurate from a location distance. Even most police officers aren’t as accurate as you might think from a distance, because they don’t practice enough.
What else should our listeners know about the Full Armor gun range? Contact Us
People like us because we are open to everyone. Some other places seem more like a country club, and not everyone likes that. We take everybody, men & women of all backgrounds and appearances. We get a large variety of people in here, and we like them. We get people from countries all over the world. People feel comfortable coming here because of how open we are, and if you don’t know how to shoot, we will teach you the fundamentals of handguns! We also speak Spanish here as well. We can actually teach pistol & rifle shooting in Spanish. We have over $1 million worth of guns to sell and over a hundred guns to rent for shooting at the range. So there is a serious variety. I'm glad to know that everyone will feel welcome at Full Armor. And I'm sad to know that, that some ranges in gun facilities are highfalutin, but we shouldn't be surprised. Well, thank you so much for giving us all this information about shooting at the gun range in TX and how it works and particulars and backstory on the range and general shooting and pricing information and events. This will provide a real thorough overview for someone who's looking for their new top gun range in the West Houston, Texas area.