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Gun Range Owners Aim High, Well

Tue., Aug. 29, 1995, midnight

In today’s segment of “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” Commando Doug describes the sound of a Glock 9mm, semiautomatic:


Sorry, I don’t want to get too technical. I wasn’t even planning on squeezing any triggers when I wandered into the cavernous new “Safe Shooting” indoor range at 1200 N. Freya.

Curiosity drew me. I’d heard about the business and imagined a place filled with macho guys and smelling of gun oil and cleaning solvent.

Boy, did I miss the target.

Except for the small blond woman who was packing serious heat, I would’ve sworn I was in a fancy health spa or racquet club.

Only anti-gun kooks wouldn’t feel at home on this range: Oak tables, plush leather couches and Oriental rugs are scattered about. There’s even a rock fountain gurgling musically at the center of the room.

This is one high-caliber shooting gallery.

“We aimed high,” says Robin Ball, who opened the range with her husband, Steve, a few weeks ago. “We wanted to be nicer than the Spokane Club. That’s the kind of comparison we want people to make when they come in here.”

As far as I know, however, the stodgy city club has no long glass cases filled with enough lethal hardware to outfit the Militia of Montana.

This bullet boutique has the works: Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Colt, Ruger, Glock …

There are rows of new firearms as well as handguns to rent for a nominal fee. You can try anything from .22s to a .50-caliber semiautomatic that looks like something out of a “Terminator” movie.

After an annual $20 fee, shooters can work on their aim in 22 target lanes for $10 a day. Certified instructors will help or answer questions. Firearms classes are three nights a week.

Robin believes consumers should always get the right bang for their bucks. “Just because a gun feels good in your hand doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you,” she warns.

When I mention what a contrast the relaxed surroundings are to the 9mm Sig on her hip, Robin points out that the staff at “Safe Shooting” are armed at all times.

“We want everyone to know where the authority lies,” she says.

Hard to believe this mother who worked in the travel industry had never fired a gun until two years ago.

Her transformation into pistol-packing mama began one afternoon. Husband Steve, an avid shooter and a pilot for Alaska Airlines, took her plinking at a gravel pit.

The first sidearm she fired kicked like the proverbial stubborn mule. Had she quit there, it’s likely none of this would have come about. But Robin squeezed off a few rounds on a 9mm Beretta.

“I looked at Steve and smiled and said, ‘I get this,”’ she says. “It was fun.”

That’s something the half-cocked lefties can’t stomach: Recreational shooting is extremely exhilarating and enjoyable.

Firearms in the wrong hands are an obvious menace to society. Anyone using a weapon irresponsibly should be punished to the max.

But millions of American gun owners are responsible and law-abiding.

Robin became one of them by taking a safety course and practicing until she felt confident.

When rain canceled her class one day, she hatched the idea of creating a place to shoot indoors that had the kind of tennis club atmosphere that would appeal to women as well as men.

The Balls spent two years researching their project. Their stylish gunatorium is something special. “You won’t see anything like this on the West Coast,” she vows.

Yet along with the luxury is a strict adherence to rules. No weapons are handled outside the firing line. The place is monitored by video cameras.

“Safety is absolutely primary,” says Robin. “With guns there is no room for error.”

, DataTimes

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