“Shoot Extreme” in West Chester Part 2: Tactical Targeting for Civilians

This posting assumes that my previous article about the new indoor target range Shoot Extreme has been read.  Click here for review.  Shoot Extreme is the tactical indoor target shooting range located in West Chester, Ohio.  It is the first of its kind anywhere in the United States, where real guns can be used in the fashion that has become popular with paintballing.  While paintball can simulate combat, the weapons are unique to paintball.  The huge advantage that Shoot Extreme has over everyone else in the simulated combat training business is that their guns are real, so it allows the shooter to become very familiar with a specific weapon.  

In my trip to Shoot Extreme the genius of the concept was quickly evident. Ownership of Shoot Extreme revealed to me that in its current state, he is at phase one of a multi-phase plan.  Currently there are two lanes (mazes) of interactive targets that a shooter must engage within 3 seconds while in the course.  The two lanes are of two different difficulties, lane one, easy to intermediate, the second is the advanced lane.  The interactive targets in this case happen to be zombies, to simulate human style targets and they are cleverly positioned throughout the simulated interior of a building dressed up like a haunted house.  The lighting is challenging because it’s dim to dark in most places which accurately simulates most situations of nighttime home intrusion scenarios.  The zombie theme is wonderful because it makes it fun and much less serious since replication of human targets crosses the line for many people. 

For even experienced shooters I highly recommend lane one first because I have to admit, my first couple of shots in the course were loaded with mild anxiety at the thought of shooting at a human like target, its one thing to think about shooting at a live target, it’s quite another to actually do it.  In lane one it takes 19 shots to get through to the end.  It takes a “double tap” to kill the final two bosses which appear nearly simultaneously. Additional ammunition is available for $10.  The cost of admission gets you 20 shots and is currently $20 dollars to get two clips of ten shots, a gun rental of your choice, a tactical holster and a run through one of the target courses.  Basically the cost of shooting is a dollar a shot, and most of the guns available are traditional 9mm and .45 simi auto pistols.  Shoot Extreme provides the best training possible with a full staff available and their gun rental department is vast as they maintain many commonly used service weapons, including Glock, Beretta, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and other arms.

When I went through lane one I picked the Beretta 92F since it is such a reliable weapon and seemed like the one that would be most useful in a zombie apocalypse.  It’s a 9mm and holds plenty of ammunition.  But with a ten round clip, a reload in the middle of the course would be needed.  And this is what makes Shoot Extreme such a treasure for target shooters.  The zombie apocalypse target shoot forces shooters to keep track of their ammunition under duress, just as it would be required in an actual combat situation, which is probably the single most important tactical teaching tool that this course provides.  The second benefit is that it gets a shooter used to shooting at a target that simulates a menace. 

Typically under normal target shooting there is very little urgency to perform, and react to the target.  The shooter is in complete control, however, in an emergency, control is in the command of the aggressor.  So normal target shooting does not properly train the mind to deal with situations of aggression.  In a real hostile situation, if an intruder entered a home and a shooter was commissioned to defend their home with their own Beretta 92F they would have to overcome their anxiety to pull the trigger on a hostile, and they would have to get used to keeping track of their ammunition in low light conditions under duress, and possess the ability to determine a friend from foe while geared up and ready to fire at the first moving target they see. 

To date, only Shoot Extreme in West Chester gives civilians the opportunity to exercise these types of skills.  When a visitor enters the double doors to the Shoot Extreme building located at the intersection of Tylersville Road, and Cincinnati-Dayton Rd, a state of the art, technologically equipped lobby is there to greet. After a release form is filled out, shooters stroll into a room where they are checked by a metal detector to ensure they don’t bring live guns into the facility, so everything is tightly controlled.  From there, a shooter steps up to a counter and selects their holster, and a technician will present dozens of potential firearms converted to fire Simunition, which functions the same as regular ammunition, but fires a plastic round that could easily strike the bare skin of a human being and not penetrate.  It will sting a bit, but will not cause any harm. In fact advanced shooters at Shoot Extreme are organizing four on four matches where they shoot at each other in special competitions.  So there is no danger of death, but this is certainly a step up from paintball.  A BIG step up!  Once a shooter has their guns and holster, a guide takes shooters through one by one.  The guide hangs back while the shooter engages the targets and does not get involved unless they need to.  For instance, while I was going though, my Beretta jammed up, which is part of the shooting experience.  In a real situation, a shooter would have to solve this problem while still in danger.  My guide was able to step in and pause the action while we cleared the gun.  He was able to restore my ammunition level to compensate me for the lost rounds so I didn’t have an unpleasant experience.  The guides are also there to help in case a shooter finds themselves in a panic situation passing out due to the anxiety. 

I moved through my course rather fast and my guide stayed well behind me not interfering.  I had a lot of technical questions which he was able to answer as I thought of them, but at no time did he encourage me to slow down, or speed up.  He just hovered back there in case something went wrong, which for me was only mischambered ammunition after a series of rapid fire targets. 

The environment is decorated just like a haunted house but the thinking is opposite from that experience.  When a monster jumps out, the typical reaction in a haunted house is to jump away from the action.   In this scenario as the walls are smeared with blood, and other chaotic markings overwhelm the senses, the zombies make a bellow noise and growl at you and the must be engaged with aggression.  You have to determine where they are and kill them within the 3 second limit.  If you don’t strike them with a clean hit, within that time, they flash red to let you know you failed to engage that target.  Toward the end of the course are two bosses that require “double-tapping” to bring them down.  They require four shots between the two in about 3.5 seconds.  One is at close range and the other is in the distance and even if you know what to expect, would be a challenging shot. 

If shooters would like to get used to the idea of firing guns at interactive targets, Shoot Extreme features a traditional range that can be viewed from the lobby, and is filled with torso targets that are very similar to the zombies in the course.  I did not shoot on this course before I went through the zombie maze, and I did lose a couple of shots because I went for head shots, and head shots don’t always register completely, since the hit sensor is in the torso.  So a torso shot is the most effective way to bring down a zombie, and that can be practiced in the traditional target range for similar pricing, about a dollar a shot along with the gun rental—so it’s very affordable, and a cheap way to shoot, a really good bargain for such a non traditional target range.  I did shoot on the traditional range after my zombie hunt, because I didn’t want the experience to be over, so I was able to see how the zombies worked in lane one by studying how the targets behaved without all the zombie dressing that makes them look like monsters in a haunted house. 

Shoot Extreme is a happening place, and a palace of tactical shooting.  It is a great benefit to the community of West Chester and the surrounding areas as it gives civilians a chance to do what only military personnel has had access to in the past.  I will emphasize that every gun owner and Second Amendment supporter I know should make a regular visit to this fantastic target range.  This particular venue enhances experiences like that enjoyed at Target World.  It is not direct competition, but is an added enjoyment, and skill set that is designed to take the personal firearm skills of a shooter and elevate them in ways that can only be experienced in such tactical scenarios.  But the competition level is never intended to be intimidating.  There are not in-your-face scores to rub in the face of shooters who don’t do well.  The experience is intended to be personal, and to be done again and again until the skills are mastered, so novice shooters don’t have to be concerned about not stacking up against those who have a lot more experience. 

The time spent at the Shoot Extreme facility can be over within 15 minutes, or shooters can hang around for hours immersing themselves in the environment.  For me, it will make a wonderful business lunch visit from time to time.  There’s no better way to talk business than over lunch with guns present, so I would think once word gets out among the business community, that many such lunches will become commonplace.  Right outside of the Shoot Extreme facility is a wonderful little Chinese restaurant as well as other options that could easily be enjoyed during a lunch hour from work. 

Obviously I can only gush over Shoot Extreme.  It’s the result of a dream from an owner who represents the best in what America has to offer.  He’s an entrepreneur who was able to take his real life service experiences in tactical training and bring it to everyday people, and that is a real gift to our society, especially those who are looking for new ways to enjoy, and protect the Second Amendment.  Shoot Extreme gives shooters a chance to get over their fear of firearms that has been drilled into our society from gun grabbing politicians, and teaches how to properly use a gun in the type of scenarios that it will most likely be used under target acquisition and threat assessment.  Because of Shoot Extreme, our society is well on its way to becoming just a bit more safe, and ultimately free. 


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Rich Hoffman

13 thoughts on ““Shoot Extreme” in West Chester Part 2: Tactical Targeting for Civilians

  1. Thank you for this information! I live near Shoot Extreme and was extremely curious about the specifics of how it “works”. I am well aware that “square ranges” do not prepare one for a real life and death emergency and even competition with steel targets at various angles and distances with handguns, rifle and shotgun doesn’t compare with a dark “shoot house”. Now that you have answered my questions about where the hit sensors are located and that double taps aren’t required until targets 18 & 19, I think I’m ready to decide whether to substitute a Browning or a Sig for my preferred 1911.


    1. I would suggest you go over there today. I don’t usually get this excited about things, but it is really that cool. When you go over, ask for Kevin. He’s the owner and a really good guy. It’s a great concept, it took a LOT of upfront cost so the community needs to support him for it to fly. I went over there on Thursday, and until that time I was like you, I didn’t know anything about the place other than you get to shoot zombies. I thought it would be cheesy, but not at all. Very professional, and very well done. A perfect blend between fun and seriousness. Hard to do.


      1. The round count issue is a big one because when the ammo’s gone, all you have is an akward hammer. I’m accustomed to counting rounds from other competition and I read through the article too quickly; you clearly indicated that it’s targets 16 and 17 but I missed it at first read. Since reverting to civilian status, I have been focused on avoid, evade and fire only as a last resort. This is a completely different combat/SWAT scenario I will never encounter now, but I will certainly benefit from “forced” point shooting practice.

        I support what they’re trying to do and am hopeful that the community embraces this. Too few people are armed these days and way too few of them are trained. The best thing I can imagine that we can do to discourage crime in the area is to give Shoot Extreme enough business that they have to open more facilities in the area to meet demand before they expand elsewhere.


  2. I had hoped to try a S&W M&P but it wasn’t available, so I went with the Sig. The zombie hunt exceeded my expectations, but my performance didn’t; I have no memory of being able to see the sights and had several instances where I obviously didn’t get a solid hit. It was extremely gratifying however, on those occasions where the target dropped like a sack of potatoes. I’m going to do it again.


    1. Isn’t that cool! It is nice to see a target reacting to you. Most of that shooting is fairly close range, but there isn’t time to line up sights, just like in real life. You have to already have those basics down, and to trust yourself. I was out of ammo when I went after the last guy. I hit him once, but missed the double-tap because I had to shoot one earlier twice to bring him down. By instinct I shot the zombie in the head, which didn’t bring it down. Better to make mistakes there than under unfortunate circumstances.


  3. I of course loved that place when it was fitquest, but am happy to hear its such a cool place! Ive never considered using a gun but would think about trying it out(providing of course, the proper ear protection was provided:)


    1. Hearing protection is not necessary with Simunition rounds and eye protection is provided.
      I “never considered using a gun” either until I ended up active duty military.
      Perforating a paper target in a static line range is awfully boring once one masters the basics of stance, grip, sight alignment and trigger control and Shoot Extreme does offer basic operation training.
      I have long wished I could afford to train at one of the few live fire, “shoot houses” and very much appreciate Shoot Extreme offering a local, affordable version of this interesting and challenging target scenario.
      What they’re selling is an “entertainment” experience but I do wish there was much greater emphasis on the distinction between controlled environment sport shooting and responsible use of a firearm as a last resort lifesaving tool.


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