With traditional retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus abandoning Natick Mall, the Rte. 9 galleria has upped efforts to attract more interactive entertainment ventures: The latest to open is an indoor airsoft rifle shooting gallery dubbed Aim Point.
Through Aim Point’s storefront the view includes military imagery, assault rifle icons, and pump-you-up slogans like “Never Give Up!” Nestled between GameStop and Title City Barbers on the lower level of the mall, the indoor shooting range grabs your attention.
Natick Mall’s operator no doubt hopes Aim Point doesn’t grab the sort of attention that one at a Bethesda, Md.. mall got in December of 2019. The arcade was shut down within two months of opening, and another planned nearby was scrapped, after a gun rights-fueled battle erupted online among those in that area.
While the rifles used on an Aim Point range shoot plastic pellets, not bullets, those against the business operating at Maryland’s Montgomery Mall for those age 16-plus (those younger require adult accompaniment) felt having any sort of gun range inside a mall was tone deaf in light of past mass shootings. Those defending the arcade said it was just that, basically an indoor carnival game with imitation assault rifles used to shoot targets for $10 a game. The guns were tipped with orange to indicate they were fake and wired down to avoid anyone going rogue.
We’ve reached out to Natick Mall’s property management firm, Brookfield Properties, to ask about Aim Point.
There do appear to be a handful of Aim Point locations at other malls, such as in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, but details beyond their location is scant on any of the mall websites.
As we learned when our young associate stopped by the Natick Mall’s Aim Point, the business purposely keeps a low profile online, relying on foot traffic and word of mouth within malls.
The employee our roving associate spoke with while visiting Aim Point said the business has been open for about a month and has attracted all sorts of people. A handful of players were in the relatively barebones and quiet venue at the time, where the employee indicated an abhorrence for actual gun violence and made note of other shooting games available at the mall, including in video game packages.
Our associate was offered a free round, so took advantage of the gift. He boasted of knocking down all of the targets during his debut, recalling a rewarding “ting, ting” sound when the pellets hit their mark.
Aim Point adds to a a growing line-up of interactive entertainment options at the mall. These include Dave & Buster’s, which is back in action after a pandemic break, and Level99, an immersive gaming extravaganza planning to open this year in conjunction with a Night Shift Brewing brewpub.
Adding to the list, Natick Mall plans to welcome an outfit called Manj Trampoline Park, based out of Waltham. No details yet on its arrival date, but the project has been significantly delayed due to COVID-19 reasons, according to the Mall.
In the past, the mall has been home to other interactive businesses, such as Glow Golf miniature golf.
If Aim Point is more your speed, it’s open for business. And they’re hiring.