hooters of the valley are rejoicing these days at the announcement by the State of Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) that Walla Walla Gun Club will receive a large matching grant to build an indoor pistol and rimfire rifle range.
Through its Firearms and Archery Range (FARR) program, RCO will provide $150,000 in matching funds for the project. That is, the gun club must raise $150,000, which the state will match on a 1:1 basis, making a total of $300,000.
As veteran readers of this column are aware, this grant has taken a long time to come about.
WWGC has been trying for eight years to build a pistol range at its Middle Waitsburg Road location.
At various times in the process, the club had been frustrated primarily by lack of a long-term lease and landlord indifference.
With the new Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Pat Reay, all that changed.
The club now has a 50-year lease and is free to apply for grants in the certain knowledge that length of lease term will no longer be an issue.
The club has big plans for this new range facility. At its heart will be new, state-of-the-art indoor shooting lanes, with HVAC and shielded steel on all sides.
No noise will emanate from the range, making this new set-up the most environmentally friendly range anywhere in Eastern Washington.
All bullets and lead dust will be trapped and collected.
This range will be a full-service shooter facility. There will be a fulltime, on-site retail shooting store, which will sell guns and ammo, rent guns for shooters to try, and provide all the shooting accessories that users will need to have a complete range experience.
At first, the range will be limited to 50-foot distance. This will allow for handgun practice as well as rimfire rifle (caliber .22) target shooting.
The latter is especially welcomed by Walla Walla High School’s JROTC Rifle Team, which will have special use of the range.
As time goes on, longer distance modules may be purchased, making it possible for law enforcement agencies to conduct service rifle drills, for example.
The range will be designed in a modular format so that new, state-of-the-art facilities can be added or amended over the lifetime of the range. This is made possible by purchase of self-contained range lanes made to order from virgin shipping containers (connex boxes).
These ranges are super cool!
They come from the factory in Las Vegas already set up (go online to www.shootingrangeindustries.com for a sneak peek at what these new ranges look like). All you have to do is level them up, plug them in and get ready to shoot.
This fact alone will save over a year’s worth of hard work and will make the range ready for use that much sooner.
This new range facility will definitely be open to the public. Tentative hours of operation are noon-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Monday and Tuesday will be reserved for group shooting, such as peace officers’ groups, Boy Scouts, etc.
This project will not be cheap. The FARR grant is only the start of a much more extensive fund raising campaign. It is anticipated that the total budget to get the doors open and bullets headed downrange will be close to $450,000.
That means WWGC still has a ways to go in its fundraising effort.
Fortunately, many community-minded people and organizations will have the opportunity to join with Walla Walla Gun Club to provide parts and pieces of this new range’s facilities.
For example, ripe for sponsorship is a planned public meeting room in the facility. This room will have multiple functions, from firearms safety classes to training classes and other meeting uses.
As fall begins, WWGC will send groups around to all the local community events and activities to inform the public of range progress, and solicit funds to complete the facility.
In addition, WWGC will seek further grants from MidwayUSA Foundation, Sherwood Trust of Walla Walla, Blue Mountain Foundation, and others.
Presently, a $4,500 grant request is pending.
Anyone interested in learning more or in offering help or in-kind services can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.