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New indoor shooting range opening soon

LEADINGTON — An 11,000 square foot state of the art indoor shooting range will soon open its doors to area gun enthusiasts.

J.R. McDowell and his father are spending long days working with a number of workers who are in the process of finishing construction on the large structure that’s located on  Flat River Road in Leadington.

“We’re hoping to have Ozark Thunder open in late June or early July, said Pat McDowell, owner of McDowell Seamless Siding & Windows in Farmington. We’ve received a lot of positive comments from all kinds of people about building this. Now we’re just hoping that all those nice words will turn into future business.”

He explained that the idea for building an indoor shooting range came from his son who approached the 25 year construction industry veteran two years ago and shared his dream.

“With the economy the way it is right now, the construction business has really slowed,” said Pat. “We were looking for ways to diversify our business interests and that’s when J.R. suggested we open a shooting range.”

After a year or so, Pat said the pair got serious about the endeavor and began researching other shooting ranges to gather ideas and to make plans.

“We contacted a really nice indoor shooting range in another part of the state,” said Pat. “We asked them if they would mind sharing information with us about their business. At first their reaction was, ‘Whoa, are you guys going to be our competition?’ When I told them where we were planning to build the shooting range they relaxed and began giving us a lot of help.”

Although the building’s interior is nothing much but bare concrete walls, the sheer size of the structure is impressive. Even more impressive are the plans the McDowell’s say they have for the finished structure.

The facility will feature 12 shooting lanes, an area for gun and ammunition sales, and a training room where meetings and weapon training classes can be held.

“We’ve received a lot of support for this business from members of law enforcement in the area,” he said. “Local police departments, sheriffs and the state highway patrol have really encouraged us.”

With the large number of people living in the Parkland who own firearms, they feel the time is ripe for a high quality, indoor facility that can be used no matter the weather or time of year.

While the McDowells know their stuff about construction, coming up with a name for the business turned out to be their most difficult decision. J.R., Pat and their wives finally decided on the name Ozark Thunder.

“The name comes from a combination of the Ozark Mountains and the sounds made by the guns and cannons during the Battle of Pilot Knob,” said Pat. “It’s said they sounded like thunder.”

While the McDowell family makes their home in the Arcadia Valley, both father and son decided to construct the shooting range off Highway 67 at the Park Hills/Leadington exit. Motorists can see the large cement building from the highway.

“Our business has been in this area for lots of years,” said Pat. “This is where we wanted the gun range to be.”

Kevin R. Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or at

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