Gun Club 82 in Gilbert has proven it can safely host a shooting range and bar-restaurant – and overcome the unexpected challenges of a pandemic to boot.
As it nears its first anniversary next month, the club has had to weather a weapon and ammunition shortage generated by fears stoked by the pandemic and political unrest.
Initially, those fears helped business at Gun Club 82, said Assistant General Manager Sam Mastin.
But lately, he said, “it’s been a little bit of a downfall because inventory has been really shy lately. With the demand in the market right now, it’s hard for us to actually keep inventory in stock or even get it in.”
According to American Rifleman, published by the National Rifle Association, extreme increases demand in the past year have led to widespread ammunition shortages.
Top manufacturers have produced “record amounts of ammunition this year,” but the bullets are flying off the shelves just as fast, it reported.
Nevertheless, Gun Club 82 has pioneered in Gilbert an unusual combination for gun aficionados.
Patrons can practice their aim in a 24-lane shooting range, grab food and drinks at Ti Ammo restaurant and bar, buy weapons and ammunition from its retail section and learn how to use them with training courses – all under the same roof.
“We’re one of the only ones in Arizona that has an attached restaurant that you can go to directly from the retail side,” Mastin boasted.
The club maintains strict rules that forbid patrons from entering the shooting range after purchasing alcohol at Ti Ammo.
“It’s a zero-tolerance policy,” said Mastin, stressing that if one person in a group orders a drink, the whole party is barred from shooting for 24 hours “just to make sure that there’s no slip-ups or anything like that, just to be 100 percent safe on the range.”
Mastin said the rule is enforced through customers’ IDs: Restaurant employees scan IDs customers who buy a drink and gun range employees do the same to make sure a patron hasn’t dropped by the bar on the way in.
In case the technology fails, bartenders mark customers’ hands so “we still have that backup to be able to check and see if people have been over there drinking or not,” Mastin said.
To cope with the ammunition shortage, the club is limiting the number of rounds customers can buy at one time.
It also reserves ammo for use in the range, so members and gun renters “can actually enjoy it instead of having to use up a bunch of their own ammo.”
Meanwhile, the increased interest in firearms has spurred an interest in how to use them.
“A lot of the new buyers that are coming in shooting, the first thing they want to know is how to use it,” Mastin explained.
Gun Club 82 offers private lessons, beginner and advanced courses for pistols and rifles, low-light courses where flashlights are attached to weapons, home defense courses and women’s intro courses taught by female instructors.
Randy Reese of Arizona Firearms Gilbert works with Gun Club 82 to promote firearms safety through their own intro and concealed-carry classes.
He praised the club’s staff, noting, “By the way they conduct themselves and the way they handle everything, it seems like they’ve been around firearms and range settings before.”
Reese said safety lessons are important because “guns can be dangerous without proper instruction on safe handling.
“There’s a lot of people entering the shooting world,” he said. “We enjoy our shooting sports, and we want to make sure everybody entering this world is doing it safely.”
Mastin said Gilbert residents are refreshing to work with because “everyone has that willingness to learn.”
Beginner courses for pistols and rifles, as well as the women’s intro course, are $60 while advanced courses cost $100, low-light courses $150 and home defense is $225.
Low-light courses require that customers have completed the advanced course with the weapon they choose to bring. The home defense course requires that customers complete both the advanced and low-light courses with the weapons they plan to use.
Customers can become members for $89.95 up front and $29.95 each month, according to the club’s website said. Members’ benefits include no range fees and discounts on lessons. Family, VIP and corporate memberships are also available.