Illinois Gun Ranges Busy, Trying To Meet Demand

March 23, 2014

EAST DUNDEE, Ill. (AP) — Gun range owners around Illinois say they're struggling to keep up with demand as thousands of residents try to meet guidelines to get new concealed carry permits.

All permit applicants have to attend at least 16 hours of training before they can apply for the licenses. The requirements include spending at least an hour at a gun range and passing a live-fire exercise involving shooting at least 30 rounds.

So far, about 46,000 applications for concealed carry permits have been submitted to Illinois State Police. Officials expect about 300,000 applications to be filed this year.

“Some facilities have had people waiting in their cars because they couldn't get them in the building,” Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald.

There can often be a wait for range time, even at the state's largest indoor gun range, GAT Guns in East Dundee. And at J.R. Shooting Sports in Aurora, there's a waiting list to use the 10-lane indoor range on weekends.

“I don't know if we ever expected it to be this many people,” manager Taylor Roe said.

Experts said gun ranges were already getting busy before Illinois became the final state in the country to pass a concealed carry law. That's because interest in gun sports has been increasing.

“Shooting in general is more socially acceptable,” said Randy Potter, general manager at GAT Guns. “It's less taboo than it was 10 years ago. So more people are doing it, especially in these urban environments that we're living in.”

Some industry officials say there needs to be more ranges to accommodate the increased interest.

Julian Perez, a certified firearms instructor, is among those pushing to open more gun ranges. The Roselle man is hoping to open a shooting facility in a vacant Bloomingdale building. But his effort is running into opposition from neighbors and is pending before the village's planning commission.

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Information from: Daily Herald, www.dailyherald.com