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Hampton tech firm seeks to expand, open indoor recreational …

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A Hampton firm known for its “war games” and other threat simulations is expanding its business model in a bid to offer an indoor shooting range and drone racing facility.

Threat Tec, doing business as Red Moon LLC, is located in the Langley Research and Business Development Park. It seeks zoning approval and use permits from Hampton to open Gunsmoke, described as an outdoorsman’s indoor club.

The club would have a retail component and other sports activities such as archery and ax-throwing. It also would feature an indoor micro-drone racing facility and simulation center called ThunderDrone.

The seven-year-old firm plans to open the new venue on a 10.5-acre parcel on Magruder Boulevard, adjacent to its existing property at 34 Research Drive.

The Hampton Planning Commission expects to review the proposal for the mixed-use development during its meeting Thursday. If the commission recommends the project, the plan will go before the Hampton City Council for final approval.

James Crawford, Threat Tec CEO, said he sees opening an indoor firing range as an opportunity to promote gun safety and have a discussion about that topic — especially at a time when many incidents involving active shooters are dominating headlines.

“You don’t see the thousands of safe operators, the target enthusiasts, the hunters,” Crawford said. ”We think it’s important to provide a safe environment that people can interact with weapons and practice gun safety. I hope to create a better understand around gun safety.”

The proposal calls for rezoning the area from light manufacturing to general commercial and securing the use permits, according to planning commission documents.

Newport News-based James River Architects is doing the design work. Gunsmoke would be revamped within an existing building on a single floor.

The building would have the shooting range and other amenities — a cafe with a drive-thru, a gift shop, cigar shop, firearms and archery equipment sales, even a barber and beauty shop.

Gunsmoke also would have additional classrooms for training and meeting space for family-orientated activities.

“There’s a lot of different things to create a more casual atmosphere … a club house … some TV screens, a place to relax,” Crawford said.

Additionally, Threat Tec plans expansions to its existing business, bringing a new “high-tech” 100,000 square-foot multi-story building. It would house a 25,000-square-foot modeling and simulation center on the first floor, and a 75,000-square-foot storage facility and offices on the upper floors.

The modeling and simulation center would not be an arcade gaming experience, according to Red Moon LLC’s proposal, but would be designed to provide a view into the future of visualization, virtual and augmented reality simulations, and war gaming, to bring two, three and four dimensional experiences.

“We certainly expect to have military and city and state (law enforcement) using the range,” Crawford said.

According to the firm’s proposal, adding the new facility would create as many as 40 full- and part-time jobs.

Crawford is a veteran Army infantry sniper and launched Threat Tec in 2012, after an Army Training and Doctrine Command contractor asked for help on a training project.

Since, the company has launched a “threat lab” suite of mobile customized labs that can simulate anything from meth labs to homemade explosive labs to help train law enforcement.

The company is acquiring the additional acreage currently owned by Eagle Land, LLC and Hampton’s Economic Development Agency. The land is assessed at roughly $2.6 million, according to city tax records.

Lisa Vernon Sparks, 757-247-4832, lvernonsparks@dailypress.com, on Twitter: @lvernonsparks



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