By Cecilia Chan, GSN Managing Editor
Gun Club 82 in Gilbert may be offering up booze and guns under one roof when it opens later this year, but the two will never mix as far as owner Rod Ghani is concerned.
The Scottsdale CEO is building the indoor, upscale entertainment venue featuring 24 shooting lanes for laser or live fire, a VIP lounge with its own bourbon bar, retail store, a rooftop bar, outdoor patio and the Ti Ammo Restaurant and Bar, which will serve burgers and brick-oven pizzas.
The 31,000-square-foot building is under construction between entertainment behemoths Topgolf and Main Event on Santan Village Parkway, south of Ray Road.
“We are no different from other places out there,” said Ghani, who anticipates a mid- to late-September opening. “Any shooting range, every one of them, next to them is a bar. People can drink and go to the shooting range and no one will ever know.”
He pointed to Scottsdale Gun Club, which is less than a mile from establishments such as Loco Patron Brewery, K O’Donnell’s Sports Bar and Grill and Habaneros Mexican Grill and to the two C2 Tactical locations in the Valley. Both indoor gun ranges are within walking distance of bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
“We are safer than anyone else,” Ghani said.
Gun Club 82’s policy calls for scanning the driver’s licenses of those who purchases a drink. Once the ID is scanned, the patron will be blocked from entering the shooting area for 24 hours.
Even if one person in a group is the only one drinking, “we will scan every ID in the group so we block out the whole group,” Ghani said.
Anyone caught trying to sneak around the policy will be banned permanently from the establishment, he added.
People will be able to bring in their own guns and ammunition or rent from Gun Club 82, which will offer a full range of firearms — from handguns to machine guns.
Guns will only be allowed in the shooting area and a retail store that will offer over 45,000 products, including firearms, clothing and accessories.
Private lockers are available for people to stow away their belongings before entering other parts of the three-story building. The locker room, shooting ranges and retail shop are separated by a wall and controlled doors from the rest of the building.
Gun Club 82 also will offer training classes for a fee, a banquet room and even a gunsmith on site who will build custom firearms and do laser engraving.
Although the concept of a shooting range offering alcohol is not new, it is the first for Arizona.
And, Ghani pointed out, what is unique about Gun Club 82 is it owns seven patented technologies.
The shooting lanes come with 5th Dimension patented scoring technology — the first reality shooting game with live fire on a projected screen.
Each lane features a user-friendly touch screen monitor loaded with shooting executrices and games, according to the company.
By the time the company opens, it will have over 30 games with more being added, Ghani said. Games include Dead Hunt Zombies, Saloon Shooting, Carnival Duck Hunting and Speed Target Shooting.
Nick Palmer, development manager, said they will monitor and get customer feedback to help improve the games.
The business also has S.M.A.R.T. technology, a shot analyzer that provides performance insights to help shooters improve their skills.
Ghani said he scouted over 50 locations before picking Gilbert. The town approved Gun Club 82 in 2017 but construction delays pushed the project to this year, according to Ghani.
“It’s absolutely the right market, the demographics – the income level, families and interest,” he said. “All of that makes this very attractive.”
He won’t speculate on the anticipated foot traffic but pointed to the over 96,000 visits to Gun Club 82’s website in the last three months.
“The interest is crazy,” he said.
The venue is targeting high-end users but mostly families and friends, according to Ghani.
Two corporations came in one day last week inquiring about membership, he said.
Gun Club 82 was a topic of discussion on Facebook, which attracted over 300 comments from people mostly in support.
“This sounds like a fun, and safe place,” wrote Arial Leah Sims. “I may not be a huge fan of guns, but learning to shoot at a gun range interested me. And the new technology that sounds similar to a video game would be a blast with the kids. Shoot first, then have some food and a drink.”
Gilbert resident Shannon Erting also applauded the project, saying it would raise her home’s property value.
A few like Margo Kendall weren’t convinced. “People will find a way around the license swiping requirement, have others purchase drinks for you, etc,” she wrote. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Wilshire Gun in Oklahoma City, which also serves alcohol, grabbed national attention in 2014 when CNN and Fox News reported on its debut.
The business has a similar lock-out policy as Gun Club 82 and employs highly trained staff and surveillance cameras to keep drinking patrons in check.
“We’re going to hit our five-year anniversary in September of this year,”
said general manager Tyler Miller, who has a military background. “In those five years we only had two individuals that attempted to get onto our range after being locked out of our system and both times we caught them.”
Miller says the reason why such establishments garner attention is it’s out in the open. Just think, he said, of how many people are on shooting ranges after they have imbibed alcohol elsewhere and no one talks about that.
“We tend to discount it because we see the alcohol here,” Miller said. “Here in Wilshire we have it out in the open and we are able to address it with a coherent policy. Customers don’t see the level of control we have on this.”
He said the public tends to get the wrong idea when it hears guns and alcohol together in a sentence.
“It’s not like we got 100 patrons in there boozing it up and running out there with guns,” Miller said.
He said Wilshire has a café that serves alcohol and the upstairs Caliber Club, which has an actual bar that is rarely used during the day.
“We would have a handful of folks, 15, who want to sit up there and they want to have a private discussion or business lunch,” he said. “Most don’t even drink during the day. When people come in they don’t even bat an eyelash at this point after five years when they see the alcohol.”
Although there are fewer than 10 such establishments currently in the country, Miller sees a growing trend.
He said he gets roughly two or three phone calls a month from folks around the country interested in opening a “guntry club” — a high-end gun range with nice leather couches and offering amenities such as a cigar lounge, food and beverages, “chasing big-spend dollars in affluent markets.”
These places are less about guns and more about social spaces, offering an alterative for people who don’t want to hang out in a country club, Miller said.
“I’m committed to open six more out of state,” he said. “We believe we are the next Topgolf.”