Travis Walthall isn’t sure exactly how old the former equipment was in the Law Enforcement Academy’s indoor firing range.

“But when I went to school here in 1994, it was in place then and had been for quite some time,” says Walthall, the Law Enforcement Continuing Education Coordinator and range master. “It was getting worn out to the point where when we needed a part to fix something we had to call the company who made it. A year ago, they told us they didn’t have parts for the old equipment anymore.”

The finishing touches are being put on a long-needed renovation to the firing range, which will be ready for students to use when the Fall 2018 semester begins.

Using the latest technology, nine lanes have been installed on the range, with the option to add two more down the line, says Walthall.

“The range now has an iPad-like control system,” he says. “An instructor or individual shooter can control each lane from their booth. Or, every lane can be controlled at the same time by an instructor on their iPad or from a desktop computer.

“I can build a course to do whatever I need it to do. There are so many control options, the functions are almost limitless.”

Students utilizing the range will also find improved safety guards in place.

“The old panels that separated each shooter were not bulletproof,” says Walthall. “There’s now bullet-resistant glass between each shooter.”

The old backstop was replaced, and crews performed lead abatement on the firing range.

Students at in the criminal justice and law enforcement programs aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the renovation project, says Walthall.

“There are a few local law-enforcement agencies who use the range several times a year,” he says. “The security staff at the new medical school in Joplin uses it as well, and we also teach several concealed carry classes there.”