Out Of the Darkness | SureFire Institute Expands

One wing of 40,000-square-foot building that will house classrooms, indoor range, gun vault, and numerous SIMS training areas when it is completed.

One wing of 40,000-square-foot building that will house classrooms, indoor range, gun vault, and numerous SIMS training areas when it is completed.

Most folks are familiar with a scene from the movie Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner keeps hearing a voice in his cornfield saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Costner eventually follows his dream, builds a baseball field on his property, and is rewarded with crowds of grateful fans. I’m pretty sure Bill Murphy wasn’t in a cornfield when he was inspired to dramatically expand his SureFire Institute facilities, but after an exclusive tour of the work in progress, I am completely sure that Bill’s wish is going to come true.

Located outside Las Vegas on the way to Boulder City, Nevada, these new facilities will be on the grounds of the Pro Gun Club, over 160 acres of open land that already has an extensive sporting clays layout, several small arms ranges, and a very nice clubhouse. The new SureFire additions will make this one of the country’s premier destinations for shooters.

The SureFire Institute has been around in various iterations for many years, but the main focus was always low- and no-light training using the company’s high-intensity handheld white lights in conjunction with the usual considerations of fighting in the dark.

Murphy had been the lead instructor for the Institute for some time and a short while ago took total control of the operation. Being a real high-speed, low-drag kind of guy and a gifted trainer, Bill began to expand the course options to include subjects besides low- and no-light shooting. This led to a crush of applicants, and eventually it became clear that expanded capacity was needed.

Mountains of dirt are being moved to put in clustered ranges near training building.

Mountains of dirt are being moved to put in clustered ranges near training building.

After my tour of the in-process construction in Nevada, I can tell you that everyone is going to be happy.

I was escorted by Kristen Williams, and we surveyed the entire scene. It was a kick to watch the huge D-10 earthmover cutting in the ranges and access roads, and the whole place was a beehive of activity as they ready it for the official unveiling the day before the 2013 SHOT Show. I’m going back for that one, but I wanted to get an advance look at what was going on.

It’s a long way down a 100-yard tunnel. We actually had to bring the target up to about 70 yards so it could even be identified.

It’s a long way down a 100-yard tunnel. We actually had to bring the target up to about 70 yards so it could even be identified.

There will be a large air-conditioned training hall surrounded by several ranges, with one lane that can be used as a 300-yard rifle range. This area will also have sun cover at each range, and real bathrooms—no braving a Port-APotty in bitter cold or 100+ degree desert heat here!

Wheeled armored vehicles that will be used for training.

Wheeled armored vehicles that will be used for training.

There is an awesome indoor range with three segregated stations at 25, 50, and a full 100 yards. Fitted with industrial ventilation, heating, and A/C, not only can you get out of the heat (or cold), but you can also shoot without any interference from the wind. Bring your white lab coat.

Down below that on the slope is a 40,000 square foot warehouse that was being readied to be framed out into different floor plans to accommodate the Institute’s bread-and-butter low- and no-light SIMS training.

The second floor of this building has several more classroom areas. The ground floor holds a huge gun vault, and this is also where the 25-yard indoor handgun range is located.

The front of this building houses a large commercial kitchen that currently is available for big events, but plans are to create a need for this to become some kind of diner or restaurant.

Existing off-road experience company will coordinate and cooperate with SureFire Institute on vehicle training.

Existing off-road experience company will coordinate and cooperate with SureFire Institute on vehicle training.

SureFire shares all the features of the property, including the sporting clays, off-road/high-speed driving, and the clubhouse. In addition, you will at some point be able to shoot from a moving vehicle, unleash lead from inside an armored vehicle, and once in place, have a chance to shoot live ammo from a helicopter.

I’m not sure you could find a better spot or a better set of opportunities for LEO/Military, dedicated civilian shooters, or shooters who are looking for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For the LEO/Military contingent, it will be a valuable experience, and the Institute will list P.O.S.T. classes as they become available. The rest of you can drop off the family in Vegas (if they don’t want to come), and you’ll have the time of your life.

The Interview – With Bill Murphy

S.W.A.T.: Bill, before we talk about the incredible new facilities, let’s get the rundown on your personal background.

Murphy: I was a police officer for the Huntington Beach, California Police Department and recently retired after 31 years of service. I’m currently a parttime Deputy Sheriff working with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department—I remain a sworn officer. My wife Cheryl and I have operated our own training company for many years. Cheryl is also a retired officer, and she truly is my “good right hand.”

S.W.A.T.: When and how did you first become associated with SureFire?

Murphy: I have been a rangemaster at Gunsite for the last 20-plus years. Dr. John Matthews (owner of SureFire) was very involved with training and put together a training unit based on flashlight training to enhance the performance of full-time police officers and firearms instructors. Dr. Matthews was a great proponent of flashlight training for law enforcement use. Because of my work in law enforcement and also being a firearms trainer, it was a natural fit to work with Dr. Matthews’ research in SureFire and flashlights.

S.W.A.T.: Fill us in on how it came to pass that you have assumed control of the SureFire Institute.

Murphy: As a law enforcement officer and SWAT team member, the tactics we were developing were greatly enhanced by the use of flashlights.With my background as a firearms instructor, by using new and improved low-light tactics, we were able to further develop individual skill sets and raise the performance levels of operators. At that point, Dr. Matthews asked me to take over his training program.

S.W.A.T.: What prompted this massive and very expensive expansion?

Murphy: SureFire Institute has been training internationally since the program began. For the most part, this has been for high-level government programs. Because of the importance of this information and the skill set taught by the SureFire program, it was believed that this information needed to be taught to everyone who could find themselves in a defensive situation. We’ve successfully conducted training at Raahauge’s Range in Corona, California with our other training company, Firearms Training Associates, for 15 years, and felt that SureFire Institute needed its own location to handle local and international students. Las Vegas seemed like a great location and the Pro Gun Club is the perfect site.

S.W.A.T.: OK, now the good stuff—how about a quick overview of the facilities and the programs you will be offering?

Murphy: We have been teaching some of the most advanced courses with some of the best instructors in the world. Our goal is to bring that high level of training in low-light tactics, firearms, edged weapons, driving tactics, and general self-defense to this region. We cannot think of any course we are not teaching that is a viable asset to self-defense.

S.W.A.T.: What sort of previous training will be required for civilians to avail themselves of these programs?

Murphy: We have training for all levels of shooters, whether they are a first responder, a parent protecting their family from a violent intruder, or a high-end military operator. Our classes take civilians all the way from beginning gun safety to intermediate shooter to advancedlevel skills. We also have many classes formulated especially for high-end security and military professionals.

S.W.A.T.: Can you go into any detail about the LEO/Military only programs?

Murphy: The SureFire Institute has conducted training for all of the organizations that you hear about today. We teach our core classes to some of the most advanced students in government services. We are very honored to have instructors from those units and will continue to develop new techniques and tactics to support those operators.

S.W.A.T.: In addition to the existing shooting sports on the Pro Gun Club properties, we understand there is also an off-road experience available. Is there anyone else who will be associated with the club and your group?

Murphy: Pro Gun Club has limitless resources for us to conduct airborne operations, mountaineering, shooting from vehicles, and helicopter shooting platforms. Plans are already underway to expand the facility. We are limited only by our imagination.

S.W.A.T.: You’ve already taken a pretty big bite with this initial effort—any thoughts on what might come next? Murphy: Today Las Vegas, tomorrow who knows?

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Paul Hantke

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