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Indoor shooting range proposed for Cranberry

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 7:06 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Fritz Baehr (left) and Dave Gemperle survey their property along Route 19 in Cranberry Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Their proposal includes the Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy, an indoor shooting range.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Fritz Baehr (front) and Dave Gemperle survey their property along Route 19 in Cranberry Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Their proposal includes the Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy, an indoor shooting range.

Keith Pindroh said he doesn't have major safety or noise concerns with a proposed indoor shooting range that would go next to his Route 19 vehicle repair business in Cranberry.

“I'm not anti-gun,” said Pindroh, an owner of Pindroh Bros. Auto Body. “I don't have a problem with this. It looks like it'll be top-notch stuff.”

Representatives of the Ellwand Shooting Sports Academy are scheduled to present plans to the Cranberry Planning Commission on Feb. 24 for a $14 million indoor shooting range and outdoor archery range.

Dave Gemperle, 56, of Cranberry, one of the project developers through Diversified Productivity Group, said the basement shooting range would be quieter than the constant drone of traffic along Route 19.

“There's really no place for the average joe if they don't belong to a sportsman's club to practice shooting sports,” said Gemperle, a pilot with FedEx. “On weekends, every gun facility in the area is packed.”

The closest indoor ranges are in New Stanton and West Mifflin, he said.

Plans for the proposed academy show a nearly 143,000-square-foot building with the shooting range in the basement. The academy would have a retail area for a sporting goods store and space for education and safety classrooms, social events and other amenities.

The building would have sound-dampening materials, Gemperle said, and a ventilation system that would clear smoke from fired weapons and remove pollutants before it leaves the building.

“If we can lower the noise, people have a better experience,” Gemperle said.

A National Rifle Association-certified trainer, Gemperle said people using the shooting range would first have to complete an instructional orientation so they know the safety rules.

He said his group will use mesh netting to keep arrows from the outdoor archery range from flying off property.

If Cranberry's planning commission and township supervisors approve the complex, the ranges could open in a year, Gemperle added.

Gemperle said his group has been working with township officials to avoid the problems experienced by a proposed indoor shooting range in nearby Jackson that resulted in years of litigation.

The project ultimately didn't materialize.

Gemperle said Rick Everly of Butler, a retired Marine, will be the academy's vice president of operations, while Ross architect Fritz Baehr, who is working on the academy design, will be vice president for range development.

There are few properties adjacent to the proposed site on the southbound side of Route 19. One home, which sits between the property and Cranberry's fire and EMS stations, has been up for sale. It's nearly 200 feet from the proposed shooting range.

Several buildings and residences are within 500 feet of the range, though the residences are separated from the property by the auto body shop and foliage. Cranberry also has maintenance facilities on the hillside just above the 22-acre site.

Ron Henshaw, Cranberry's community development director, said no complaints have come from the community about the project so far. He noted the township has an outdoor police training shooting range located near its maintenance facility.

He said developers have been talking with township officials about the project for several months.

“We like the project,” Henshaw said. “It's a unique use. People are a very interested in this use. As long as it complies with the ordinances, we're fine with it.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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