Shooting Sports In North Idaho

I shoot competitively in USPSA events, IDPA and 3-gun competition. But rarely have I enjoyed the degree of fellowship and good food that overflows at local North Idaho gatherings I attend in and around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

Right after My wife and I moved to North Idaho in 2014, I went to my client’s home and several of us shot IPSC targets. One of the best things about living in Eastern Washington and North Idaho is that you can step right out of your house and get some target practice. When it is really cold, like it was last week, some folks just open the window a few inches and shoot without leaving the warmth of their living rooms!

We were practicing on some of the same courses of fire that we would shoot at the Spokane Rifle Club on the following Sunday. The Inland Northwest Action Shooters just started shooting at SRC, which has a very well equipped indoor range and outdoor ranges that are spread out along the Spokane River. The competitors at the match raised funds for military families and INAS served great Asian cuisine from Chan Bistro on Argonne Road.

Many of the INAS shooters are also members of 3-Gun Nation which provided a Remington Versa Max shotgun for members who had previously shot 3-Gun Nation qualifiers. 3-Gun Nation has brought the sport of 3-gun to television and may be the fastest growing shooting sport around the U.S. Nothing will preserve our gun rights better than the excitement of action shooting coming into people’s homes via their big screen televisions.

3-gun matches were first held by the people that published Soldier of Fortune magazine. The sport features contestants that aim to become one man armies- or one woman armies- with shotguns, pistols and rifles shot at steel and paper at distances that go from in-your face close quarter combat distances to out beyond 800 yards.

The fact that a whole breed of high tech optics has become available for 3-gun shooting means that big prize money and media exposure are on their way.

On Saturday night, I attended a dinner and business meeting with the Fernan Rod & Gun Club at the Coeur d’Alene Inn. By the way, North Idahoans will soon be able to participate in 3-gun because it is coming to the Fernan club in April. However, much of the discussion during the club’s business meeting pertained to environmental assessments that the club is conducting for the U.S. Forest Service.

The FERNAN ROD & GUN CLUB is an Idaho non-profit organization established in 1989 in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. FRGC encourages family participation in matches and activities and is also a joint civilian, military, and police firing range facility. It is the only range with such a partnership in Idaho and one of the few of this type in the United States.

People need to think about what that means. Many residents of Kootenai County move from other places and may not appreciate how important shooting sports are to the well being of our local economy, law enforcement agencies like the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and even for the federal government.

Federal agencies like the Border Patrol (ICE) understand how critical the Fernan range is to their efforts to police our borders and keep Americans safe from an assortment of threats.

The fact that it can cost thousands of dollars to perform environmental tests and comply with so many state, federal and local requirements may not be what discouraged at least one local North Idaho sheriff’s department from acquiring land for a range.

Bob Smith, who founded the Fernan club almost twenty-five years ago, told me that what deterred the Kootenai Sheriff’s Office from developing its own range was probably urban encroachment, not necessarily environmental issues.

Pierce County, Washington recently enacted a range preservation law. Bob pointed out to me that Idaho has also had a range protection law for some time that refers to “sporting use”.

The use of such verbiage may help get such legislation passed. Nevertheless, kowtowing to political correctness means that a law enforcement range like the one in Meridian would not be protected under the language of the law because it is a training facility and not for “sporting use”.

The Idaho legislature has also made it a matter of law and public policy to support firearms related business activities. Thus, a new and improved range creation and preservation law may be a mandate that has become timely for lawmakers in Boise (and local North Idaho counties) to start campaigning!

Everyone I met agreed that it is time for the Idaho legislature and the federal government to get serious about empowering private enterprise and government agencies to create the kind of ranges that will draw big events to North Idaho and keep our citizens, LEOs and armed forces in peak form.

I am not sure what it will take to persuade bureaucrats to ease up on expensive environmental assessments and zoning impediments.

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