By John J. Petrolino III
USA -(Ammoland.com)- At first, walking into Lock & Load Miami, one would not think that they were at an establishment for firearm enthusiasts or shooting.
The minimalized, clean and sleek retail area greets you on the right and the lounge, training room, merchandise area and cafe tables meet you on the left.
This is not Granddaddy’s range…this is not one of the musty, dank clubs littered with gruff members. There are no old couches with cigarette and cigar burns here…
Lock & Load Miami is part of a new wave of establishments that treat the shooting sports like a high end business and their business happens to be wicked cool, machine guns!
My party and I walked in and ambled towards the counter. We were immediately greeted by Christy, one of Lock & Load’s Executive Assistants, “Welcome to Lock and Load….” Christy introduced herself to us, escorted us to the café tables and provided us with a shooting menu and appropriate legal paperwork. She explained the different categories and what to expect. On the wall adjacent to us were all the models of machine guns up for rent.
The menu is broken up into categories of popular pairings of firearms. For example, you could opt to shoot the Special Forces Israel Package and it would have the following: IMI Galil SAR, IMI Uzi, HK MP5 & Glock 18 Submachine Gun. Or you could go with The Boss Package with these options: AK47, FN Herstal SCAR 17, FN Herstal SAW M249 – Belt fed & Barrett M95 .50 Cal. I will warn you, these packages are more expensive than your standard visit to a range…I went with the Scarface Package which included the Uzi, Thompson “Tommy” Submachinegun, Glock 18 and M4.
Safety Briefing at Lock & Load Miami
Christy asked us if we were ready to order and then brought us back over to the register. We provided her with our identification cards and paid for our selections. Once we were all squared away, Christy introduced us to Albert, whom was to be our instructor and guide through this experience. Albert brought us into an ante-room, with a window overlooking the range. In the room we were given an overview of the do’s and don’ts of going full auto. With a blue gun Albert went over stance and technique. He talked about the tactical and practical advantages of how to shoulder a full auto firearm versus a semi automatic. We were given the full keys to the kingdom, he asked us if we had any questions, vested us with safety glasses, ear plugs and ear muffs and guided us to the door to the range.
On the Lock & Load Miami Range
Once through the doorway into the range the first thing that could be noticed was there was little to no smell or fumes. The ventilation on the range provided not only exceptionally filtered air but it was also cool and comfortable. The walls of the range were lined with sound proofing foam, the floor was clean and covered in comfortable rubber matting and the shooting ports were diamond plate lined. All of this could be perceived under the right amount of light in the facility…there was no squinting because it was too dark in there or looking past lingering smoke due to poor ventilation. This is a well maintained and clean facility…and every staff member was respectful and courteous every step of the way. At no point was any of us made to feel stupid or less than equal by the staff.
This is the new zeitgeist in the shooting industry, quality employees (Associates!), quality facility and quality experiences. If you run one of those dingy ranges with gruff and discourteous employees, take note, because facilities like this are going to (and should) put you out of business.
Albert brought us to shooting ports. He lined us up and one by one he worked with each of us, one firearm at a time. When he presented the firearm to us, he provided us all with a small history and technical lesson on it. He went over the function, safety features and told us what to expect. Once the first shooter was ready, Albert handed over a magazine and helped him guide it into the firearm and put the gun into battery. In the case of select fire machine guns, they were put on semiauto at first and the shooter would squeeze off a few rounds.
Once comfortable the shift was made and we went full auto. In seconds, we would empty full magazines of ammunition in rapid succession.
One by one, Albert took his time to explain everything to us and work with everyone in our party. Once we were finished, Albert presented us with a special surprise parting gift…and to find out what it is, you’ll just have to stop into Lock and Load Miami.
Lock and Load offers more than just a run of the mill day at the range, they offer an experience. Beyond their signature machine gun packages, Lock and Load offers a membership program and also allows pistol rental when done in conjunction with a package. They also have special group event experiences available with VIP room access.
A special add-on is the Go-Pro Camera rental option, which would be used to film your visit.
Before leaving Lock and Load, I asked for the manager, Franklin and it was only then that I informed any of the staff I was intending on writing an article on my visit. He was friendly, warm and receptive to my statement. This experience and ones like it are starting to take over the shooting industry in a good way. Clean, professional, family friendly, female friendly and service oriented is the shift.
Lock and Load Miami is part of a growing wonderful trend and after visiting, I invite you to check it out…you will be pleasantly surprised.
BIO – John Petrolino is an NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor. He lives under the bondage of New Jersey’s gun laws and hopes for his people’s deliverance. Follow him on twitter @JohnPetrolino