NRA courts controversy with 'Practice Range' shooting game for iOS

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Weeks after a National Rifle Association executive fueled controversy by blaming the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., on violence in video games and other media, the organization has released Practice Range, a 3D shooting game optimized for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

NRA's Practice Range

Practice Range allows users to shoot at coffin-shaped targets.

Developed by MEDL Mobile, the free Practice Range "instills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations," according to its App Store description. "It strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education, allowing you to enjoy the most authentic experience possible." The game includes nine firearms option, three shooting ranges and three levels of difficulty, integrates with Apple's Game Center multiplayer platform and is designed for gamers ages four and up.

Beyond its gameplay component, Practice Range is designed to serve as "the NRA's new mobile nerve center" and includes safety and training tips, news and legislation updates and educational resources.

The release of Practice Range follows NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre criticizing calls for gun control in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, in which a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, claiming the lives of 20 children and five other adult staffers. "There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," LaPierre said in response to the shootings. "Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse."

The NRA wasn't immediately available for comment.

Critics blasted Practice Range. "One week after the Newtown massacre, the NRA blamed the media for causing gun violence, now they add more salt to wounds of victims with an app designed for children," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told The New York Daily News. "This is more evidence that the NRA does not care about protecting our children. I cannot comprehend their insensitivity. If they had any decency they would retract this app immediately."

App Store user feedback is mixed. "Is this some kind of sick joke? The NRA complains about violent games and then releases one a week later," writes user Papershiponfire, while Joe in BrynMawr gives Practice Range five stars, adding "A must-have for any gun enthusiast and defender of the U.S. Consitution." As of press time, roughly 250 iOS device users have reviewed Practice Range, awarding the game an average App Store rating of 3.5 stars.

For more:
- read this BBC News article
- read this New York Daily News article

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