New south Iowa Street gun range already expanding with plans for everything from an ‘indoor shoot house’ to a cigar bar

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Tammy Bartels and Dalton Uphaus, employees at Integrity Elite Firearms, are shown in the business' retail showroom on July 26, 2023.

You could make a lengthy list of why opening an indoor firing range and gun store in Lawrence — generally the most liberal city in Kansas — might not be a good business idea.

Then, you could make one observation about the world that could cause you to think a firearms business will work just fine in Lawrence nonetheless.

“It is not a conspiracy theory to say that things are kind of crazy in the world right now,” said Tammy Bartels, the director of organizational development for Integrity Elite Firearms, the new indoor firing range and gun store in south Lawrence.

The company has not only opened in Lawrence, but is in the process of a significant expansion at its location at 2429 Iowa St.

In other words, the business is doing well, despite any political beliefs in the community.

“Obviously, Lawrence has a reputation for being a more liberal community in the state of Kansas, but what we have found is that doesn’t necessarily equate to people not wanting to know how to protect themselves,” Bartels said.

Providing training for self-defense is a big part of the business, which is a partnership between Lawrence businessman Evan Holt, who owns the building, and Troy Showalter, who has been in the firearms business for years as the owner of Topeka’s Integrity Gun & Pawn.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Integrity Elite Firearms is pictured on July 16, 2023.

The business at 2429 Iowa St. is in the shopping center that includes Biggs BBQ, just down the road from Texas Roadhouse. The building used to be home to Shooters Gun Club, a venture that opened right before the pandemic and eventually closed.

But the eight indoor firing lanes remained intact in the building. That’s a big reason why the owners of Integrity came together to open the business. The hard work of building the specialty lanes was already done, and once Shooters closed, the city was left without an indoor firing range open to the public.

The firing lanes, each 25 yards long, allow people to fire everything from handguns to rifles. The business sells memberships to people who want to frequently shoot at the range, or it allows people to use the range without a membership for a $20 fee. People can bring their own firearms, or they can rent a weapon from the business.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A target hangs on the indoor firing range at Integrity Elite Firearms, 2429 Iowa Street, on July 26, 2023.

That’s the other part of the business — a large retail selection of guns. The business has well over 100 different firearms in stock, plus ammunition, body armor, scopes and several other items including knives, specialty sunglasses, apparel, pepper spray devices and even flamethrowers. (It is an organic way to control weeds, among other uses.)

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A flamethrower is among the merchandise at the new Integrity Elite Firearms store on south Iowa Street.

Look for the business to get bigger soon. Construction work is underway on a second classroom space. In its one existing classroom, the business hosts workshops related to concealed carry training, the basics of pistols and safety classes on how to store a firearm in a home and keep them out of the reach of children, in addition to several more technical classes, such as shooting in low-light situations.

Bartels said the training is an important part of what the business does, because the company believes responsible gun ownership involves gaining and maintaining a certain set of skills.

“Nobody is born knowing how to shoot a gun,” she said.

And once you do learn, there is a certain amount of practice required to keep those skills, she said.

“Shooting is a perishable skill,” said Bartels, who is an instructor.

One of the business’ biggest expansions is a project that will take the training to a new level. The company is building an “indoor shoot house.” That’s a specialty room that has moveable walls that can be configured in a number of different ways. Users of the space won’t be shooting live ammunition, but rather will be shooting simulated rounds, which is similar to a paintball.

The room is used to teach everybody from law enforcement officers to security guards techniques such as how to correctly search a room for an assailant. Bartels said Integrity plans to open the room up to members of the general public as well, for some specialty self defense classes. On a lighter note, the room also could be modified to be used for an actual indoor paintball course, which might be an option the business pursues for corporate retreats, birthday parties or other such functions, Bartels said.

But perhaps the most unusual addition to the business will be a cigar bar. The company is working to complete a cigar bar and lounge for patrons of the business. Bartels said the cigar bar won’t have a liquor license, but will sell a variety of cigars and provide a place for people to socialize. She said there is a certain camaraderie among many members of the firearms community, and Integrity officials think a gathering spot would go over well with the group.

Bartels said the business hopes to have those additions in place by the end of the year.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The retail showroom of Integrity Elite Firearms, 2429 Iowa Street, is shown on July 26, 2023.


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