The picturesque waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean gently lap against the alabaster hull of the Sally T, beckoning passengers to cast a line to the abundant wildlife swimming under the water's surface. Aboard the vessel—a head boat with Coast Guard approval for ocean trips—experienced nautical leader Captain Pete grants aspiring fisherpeople a chance to land prize catches with charter trips that explore the natural beauty of the famed waterscapes. Under the captain's guidance, a friendly crew sniffs out areas teeming with susceptible targets and bestows fishing tips and gear to blossoming seafarers. Groups then practice the skills necessary to catch and clean aquatic fauna and pursue underwater booty such as croakers, flounder, and pictures of Scott Baio taped inside Davy Jones's locker.
Praised in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for designing a 60,000-square-foot facility that resembles a country club as much as a shooting range, the owners of Colonial Shooting Academy strive to "capitalize on the social aspects of recreational shooting." The multilevel shooting range's 32 glass-paneled booths turn target shooting into a community experience. The range also hosts classes for every experience level, from the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation to a tactical-training program for law enforcement. At the academy’s gun shop, which resembles a high-end sporting-goods store, a gunsmith is on hand for repairs and a gun vault lets guests store their arms and their diaries. Facilities further extend to Mosaic Café Express, where chefs turn local, seasonal ingredients into dishes on their ever-changing menu.
For frequent guests, the academy offers membership options. The constitution membership, for example, grants privileges such as seven private shooting lanes and access to the lounge that sports leather couches, a pool table, and a fireplace below a flat-screen television that displays a digital fireplace.
In the four chambers of Tactical Response Unleashed's 12,500 square foot facility, students engage in tactical training sessions, shooting semi-automatic airsoft handguns and automatic rifles at moving targets in simulated scenarios. During each practice session, participants must also duck and cover to avoid pellets of return fire. By presenting students with realistic settings and precarious situations, the training sessions aim to build situational awareness and encourage the appropriate tactical response.
Dedicated to arming students with self-defense skills, the center's staff of former and active law enforcement and military professionals also lead training sessions in firearm safety and defensive tactics. They offer a special course for women, where ladies can practice self-defense tactics and techniques. Classrooms provide the setting for concealed-carry and gun-safety courses, and instructors impart weapon-retention, disarmament, and self-defense classes in a martial-arts dojang.
Golf balls trace high arcs over the driving range or roll toward mini-golf holes at Hanover Sports Park, where guests hone power and finesse as they work on their game. Waterfalls cascade into tiny ponds on the edges of the mini-golf course, where twisting greens provide a venue for families and friends to haggle over who gets to hold the scorecard. Sixty-three artificial hitting mats line the subtly curved, two-tiered driving range, which includes 28 heated and covered hitting areas and seven natural-grass tees.
The chime of sharp line drives resonates from the center's seven batting cages, where hitters swat at everything from high-arching softballs to baseballs zipped at up to 80 miles per hour. Hanover Sports Park's staff helps guests manage their activities and special events by creating group and party packages for birthdays and corporate gatherings.
The state- and NRA-certified instructors at MMTA Firearms Training Academy put safety above all else. In accommodating students, they facilitate both mobile and onsite training in classes and private lessons. These gatherings take place at locales such as nearby ranges and hotel conference rooms, where the instructors lead courses such as the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation along with lessons in specialized topics such as rifle shooting, personal protection, and training to become a range safety officer.