An indoor pistol range would be a benefit to the Walla Walla Valley.
And the Walla Walla Gun Club has an excellent proposal ready to go.
Unfortunately, the location’s proximity to the Walla Walla Regional Airport is now an obstacle the Gun Club must hurdle in order to get the facility built.
The Gun Club, which has been operating off Middle Waitsburg Road in the shadow of the airport since 1949, wants to build the facility at that location.
That makes obtaining approval of the federal government tricky because the Gun Club is located in the Air Operations Area, which is regulated by the FAA and TSA.
Land in that area is supposed to be kept secure and safe for aeronautical use. That includes security inside a perimeter fence and a recommendation for protection on the approach to a nearby runway.
The regulations are understandable for new endeavors. However, it’s reasonable to allow the Gun Club to build the indoor range, which is simply an expansion of its current facilities.
Last week about 30 Gun Club members and supporters of the pistol range urged Port of Walla Walla commissioners to support the proposal. The Port oversees operation of the airport.
At this point it’s difficult to say what needs to be done to get the OK for the pistol range, which can also be used for archery and rimfire guns. The concerns about the project have not been fully explained to Gun Club members. In fact, the Air Operation Area concern was brought to the attention of members only last week.
The Port commissioners seem to favor the plan.
Bob Bloch, Gun Club secretary/treasurer, said the plan has wide support since it could be used for hunter safety programs and the Walla Walla High School JROTC program as well as those who enjoy target shooting.
“We need to be able to plan. We need to be able to change with the times and provide new opportunities,” Bloch said “And right now the big deal is pistol shooting. There’s no place in Walla Walla County to go. It’s a desperate need.”
The concerns need to be resolved sooner rather than later because the Gun Club is on a time timeline to obtain a $150,000 grant from the Firearms and Archery Range Recreation Department to help fund the $300,000 facility.
The issues, once they are articulated to Gun Club and Port officials, should be relatively easy to address as long a federal officials are reasonable in looking at the situation.
The Gun Club has been located off Middle Waitsburg Road for 65 years. Adding a range that can accommodate pistol shooters and archers would not make the area outside the airport any less secure.