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Shooting gallery offers self-protection shooters course

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On Thursday, Shooter’s Roost is more than just a firing range. It becomes a place how to learn to how to keep yourself safe – even against the “undead.”

By Todd Martin

What happens when you come home and see a window busted out, maybe a door slightly ajar or something out of place?

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Of course, you call the police, but unless you live on Main Street in Shelbyville, between 5th and 3rd streets, it's going to take a few minutes for help to arrive.

If you are a registered gun owner, especially one certified to carry a weapon, you may be inclined to investigate on our own.

And that process does not involve simply peeking into rooms to see who's there or opening fire at anything that moves. No, investigating takes practice.

That's where Shooter's Roost comes into play.

The gun shop and indoor firing range at 820 Frankfort Road, next to the Shelby County Public Schools’ bus garage, hosts a weekly competition on Thursdays that pits shooters against the unknown.

And this month, these competitors aren't only facing bad guys – they’re facing the undead.

"We shot zombie targets last night," said Earl Adkins, the owner and manager of Shooter's Roost. "You have to shoot them in the head, because you can't kill them if you don't hit their brains."

Whether you're fighting the living dead or protecting your family from an intruder, it's important to know how to handle the weapon you're using and how to think quickly.

"We started doing a conceal-and-carry class, and no one really had a place to practice with the setup of different rooms like you might encounter," Adkins said. "So we decided to divide the shooting range up with different rooms. Of course, you always have to shoot toward the back [which collects the bullets from the range].

Then, with a series of pulleys and wires, workers are able to move targets in and out of rooms, have them peek from behind doors and make you think before you shoot.

"It's not always a bad guy," he said. "Sometimes we'll have three bad guys and one good one in a room. You can't shoot the guy without a gun."

Of course, all zombies are fair game.

"The idea is to give people a chance to practice," Adkins said. "Because once people go through the class [to carry a concealed weapon], most don't continue to practice."

Participants shoot 24 rounds each time, and they go through the course three times.

"It's kind like a fellowship now," he said. "Guys come early and stay late. They'll sit around and talk guns and ammo, maybe show off something new they just got. And then when it's their turn, they go in and shoot. And there's some good-natured razzing going on, too.

"We had a guy the other night that shot a good round, so he pulled out his phone and took a picture to send to his friends."

And the fun is catching on.

Adkins said he has about 50 or 60 people that participate regularly, but maybe not every week, and it's not just guys.

"We have some ladies with relatively little experience with guns that have learned to handle them very well now," he said. "We encourage them to shoot what they might have in their nightstand to protect themselves, nothing fancy."

The competitions are about 90 percent handguns, Adkins said. But if a participant wants to use a shotgun or rifle, that’s OK.

"We just set the course up a little different," he said.

Adkins said he enjoys the camaraderie of the competitions, but it's more than that.

"What's really been lot of fun is the teaching part," he said. "It's been fun to watch people develop and their skills improve."

And Adkins has some help, too.

Tom Cypert, the firearms instructor for the Shelbyville Police Department, assists.

"He's usually here to give advice and help teach how to be safe with a gun," Adkins said.

Of course, if there are zombies present, all bets are off.