Jason Falconer is a former police chief in the small central Minnesota town of Albany. Two years ago he stepped down from that post to open a gun range & training center, so he could focus on equipping good citizens to protect themselves.
Falconer opened Tactical Advantage in the county seat of St. Cloud, MN. He kept in law enforcement by signing on as a part time peace officer in the little outlying suburb of Avon, MN.
On Saturday night he was doing some personal shopping at Crossroads Center mall and was in civilian clothing, but carrying his service pistol.
One terrorist entered the mall disguised as a security officer and began a bloody rampage of knife assaults on several men, and 2 women. the youngest was a 15 year old girl.
The assailant was heard evoking the term Allah and even asking if the target was a Muslim, before viciously attempting murder.
Jason Falconer confronted the crime in progress. Dahir Adan is rumored to be the lone attacker. He is identified as a Somali native and recent refugee.
Just one year ago, Gov. Mark Dayton, an ultra liberal Minnesota politician; told the St. cloud community to either accept his massive refugee program and the ultra saturation of Somalis, or "go live in some other state".
St. Cloud has the highest saturation rate of Somalis of any US city.
SCTimes wrote a preview article, just prior to Falconer's opening of his personal protection training center.
Tactical Advantage is set to open in Waite Park in April. It's a company created by former Albany police chief Jason Falconer in 2003 primarily because of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act that sent thousands of people in search of firearms certification.
Tactical Advantage has been on Falconer's mind since 1998, when he and a friend got into competitive shooting.
"We had to go down to the Twin Cities all the time and I always thought we should have something in Central Minnesota," said Falconer, a 1991 Technical High School graduate who graduated from St. Cloud State four years later.
After working for Xcel Energy, Falconer decided to go into law enforcement. Even after he became police chief in Albany, he always thought a time would come when he would go into business for himself. In late 2012, he told the City Council he was going to do that in 2013. He left in July and focused on his training business and finding a location for a range. He looked in St. Joseph and Waite Park, settling on the latter when the 7,200-square-foot Lynbrook Collision Center building became available.
"It was ideal," said Falconer, 41, whose partner in the business is his wife, Beth. "It's a concrete building from the ceiling to the walls ... We saved a bunch of money buying an existing building, and I don't think I could've designed it much better."
He and his wife will have 10-15 full- and part-time employees. The two-story building will feature high ceilings and a retail space inside the front door with firearms, ammunition, bags, purses, eye protection and holsters. A gun rental display will be behind the counter. Basic gunsmithing services will be available.
"We want to focus on law enforcement, training and competition," said Falconer, who lives in Sartell and has three children. "We're not going into competition with Gander Mountain."
The business also will have a lounge, 30-seat classroom and storage area. Each shooter will view a safety video the first time he or she comes in.
The eight-lane armored range is 75 feet long with a bullet containment system that will be periodically mined to remove the lead. It accommodates anything that shoots up to 3,500 feet per second and is rated to handle a .50-caliber rifle.
Falconer can control the entire environment with his iPad: moving targets back and forth, changing the lighting and even simulating flashing emergency lights at night. He has 99 range tests programmed, including some used by area law enforcement agencies.
"There are a lot of things we can do," Falconer said of the $12,000 system. "Who knows? Maybe we'll have a zombie apocalypse night.
"I think in the beginning, the range will be a bigger part of the business because it's new," he added. "But I think eventually the retail side will surpass it. But we're pretty proud of it. The idea is to create a welcoming space, where a lady can come in and not feel like she's stepping into a man cave. We want to make it easy for students to come in and just focus on shooting."
Tactical Advantage at a glance
Where: 521-10th Ave. S., Waite Park
When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday (opening in April)
Rates: From $12 per half-hour for one shooter (includes target).
Other offerings: Leagues, classes, rentals and memberships.