On the surface, firing a projectile might not seem like a lifestyle choice in The Villages, but it is.

Air gun and archery ranges in The Villages rank high as popular recreational amenities in the community. But Shooters World has them beat, and the company hasn’t even opened its permanent doors, yet, at Powell Plaza at Brownwood. 

Since the Developer announced its lease a year ago next May, The Villages retail firearms store, firing range and training center has sold around 2,500 memberships, which gives members priority access to the range over walk-in customers. 

And Bruce Kitzis, the company’s vice president of business development, can’t wait for the rescheduled Dec. 18 grand opening of this store that features the highest level of ventilation technology that reduces lead exposure.

“We’re very pleased with the construction progress,” he said. “The store is coming out gorgeous. Inside and out, it’s exactly what we wanted it to be.”

In fact, the Tampa-based company did not experience this type of response when it opened the flagship store on Fletcher Avenue, he said.

“It’s fantastic,” Kitzis said. “This is a pretty strong response. It’s because this is a unique area with a unique group of people. The response we’ve gotten from everybody has been so positive. We’re very excited about getting it open.”

Much of this success came from the company’s proactive decision to establish a small retail store at Brownwood, 2666 W. Torch Lake Drive. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

“It’ll remain open until we open at Powell Plaza,” Kitzis said.

Also: All signs point to the potential for even greater fundraising success through the VHA Country & Western Hoedown scheduled for Feb. 9 at The Villages Polo Club. “For one, we have an increase in the number of sponsors,” said Fred Briggs, the third-term president of The Villages Homeowners Advocates. New sponsors Fross & Fross Wealth Management and Properties of The Villages are joining last year’s participants, T&D Family of Cos., Galaxy Home Solutions, the Sumter County Tourist Development Council and many others. Dollars raised will benefit the VHA Foundation’s Helping Hands program, a provider of free durable medical suppliers to Villages, and The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation. “We’re well on our way. We’re starting a major advertising campaign as of the first of December and will run right up to the event itself on Feb. 9,” said Briggs, of the Haciendas of Mission Hills. The number of displays is rapidly growing and will include The Villages Grown, the Developer’s beyond-organic, farm-to-table, controlled agricultural project at the southwest section of Morse Boulevard and State Road 44; and the announced driverless taxi, a pilot program that Voyage Auto will unveil soon in the Village of Virginia Trace. But so much more is planned, including live entertainment, the popular Cowboy Stew competition, Wild West shows and the very popular Kids Zone. Ticket availability through The Villages Box Office will be announced soon, said Phil Walker, of the Village of Pennecamp, who serves as the VHA’s 2019 hoedown committee coordinator.

Also: Barring the unexpected, County Road 501 will reopen just before dawn Friday at Warm Springs Avenue. Contractors for The Villages Developer completed the road widening to four lanes and the installation of a roundabout almost four weeks ahead of schedule. When opened, the roadway will permit access to Corbin Trail west into the villages of McClure, DeSoto and Fenney. It will provide Villagers and guests with greater access to those three villages and the amenities already open and about to open. It also will permit resumed access via county roads 501 and 470 to the Florida’s Turnpike interchange from all points in The Villages.

Also: The increased connectivity also means greater opportunities for new home buyers to enjoy The Villages lifestyle, which is evident from the rapid pace of home building in the Southern Oaks region. For example, year-over-year single-family home-building permits increased by 21.7 percent in Sumter County to 1,708 during the 10 months ended Oct. 31, largely because home building in Southern Oaks.

Also: Buyer demand for those new homes, and the lifestyle that accompanies them, accounts in part for the continued increase in home values. Year-over-year home prices increased on average by 5.14 percent in September in The Villages metropolitan statistical area, according to CoreLogic’s latest monthly home price index report. That’s almost an average 1 percent month-over-month increase in home prices, according to the Irvine, California-based real estate data and analytics firm that supports the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index.

Also: The continued increase in Sumter’s documentary stamp taxes, a tax on transferred property, shows strong buyer demand. In October, year-over-year doc stamp tax collections increased by 10 percent to $1.24 million. But recent buyer demand grew at an even greater rate, with month-over-month doc stamp tax collections increasing by almost 28 percent in October.

David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.