"NRA: Practice Range," a new game for Apple mobile devices, lets players shoot at targets.

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NRA target shooting app comes after the group blamed games for stoking gun violence

NEW: The app's rating was updated Tuesday from age 4 + to age 12+

Critics say the game's release, a month after the Newtown shootings, is insensitive

"NRA: Practice Range" became available Monday in Apple's App Store

A month after the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association is taking heat again – this time for releasing a mobile video game that lets players learn how to shoot at targets.

The game, “NRA: Practice Range,” puts the user in a gun range, where they fire a variety of handguns and rifles at stationary targets and earn points for accuracy. Critics are questioning the timing of the game’s release Monday – a month to the day after the December 14 shootings – and accusing the NRA of hypocrisy because one of its leaders recently blamed video games for stoking gun violence.

“It’s outrageous. The NRA never seems to be able to amaze me,” said Joel Faxon, a member of Newtown’s Police Commission, who described himself as a longtime gun owner.

“There’s no reason that they can’t espouse safe, effective, appropriate gun usage,” he said. “Why do they have to come out with something like this at a time when the nerves and emotions are so raw in Sandy Hook?”

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“It strikes me that this is totally inappropriate,” George Ferguson, a member of the Newtown Legislative Council, said Tuesday. Ferguson said he had not seen the game, and added that he was speaking for himself, not the council. “I think video games should be part of the dialogue” about gun violence in the U.S., he added.

Requests for comment from the NRA were not immediately returned Tuesday.

The NRA’s membership has spiked by 500,000 people since the Newtown shooting, bringing its number to more than 4.5 million, the group said Wednesday.

Most criticism of the app, which is available for the iPhone and the iPad, focused not on the content of the game but on the timing of its release. In nationally televised comments a week after the slayings, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games.”

Related: NRA video game smacks of hypocracy

Gene Grabowski, a longtime crisis-management expert who has advised gun manufacturers, called the timing of the app “startling.”

“But the NRA has long ignored what anyone but its base cares about,” he said. “They are not worried in any way about what the general public or the chattering class thinks. That’s why this looks cynical, because it is cynical.

“I’m not so sure it’s a bad strategy from where the NRA sits,” Grabowski added. “If the goal is to firm up the base of the organization and to accelerate the influx of dues and support money, then the strategy is successful.”

Victims of other mass shootings also were upset about the app.

“How two-faced of the NRA to introduce a violent video game on the heels of their blame game,” said Lori Haas, whose daughter survived a mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007.