Friday, February 26, 2010

Bellevue's West Coast Armory Range

Recently there has been some anti-gunners protesting a new gun range in Bellevue.

So, as suggested by the good blogger at Insights, I emailed the people listed and told them that:

  1. This is my range and I support it.
  2. I use it to train to safely and effectively carry the gun I'm licensed (by the King County Sheriff BTW) to carry (such a name dropper I know).
  3. They are a lawful and legitimate business that should be supported, especially in a time like this.
A few days later I got a reply from the Land Use Directors. She forwarded me a word document with a management brief prepared for the City Council.

Here is the text of the reply:



February 24, 2010


Mayor Davidson and Members of the City Council


Carol Helland, Land Use Director 452-2724

Development Services Department


West Coast Armory

The Council has received several dozen e-mails regarding the newly established shooting range called West Coast Armory. Some of the e-mails have been from residents of the Woodridge neighborhood who expressed concern about the recent opening of the shooting range in the Richards Valley light industrial district. Other e-mails are from gun enthusiasts who expressed their appreciation for the new recreational opportunity that is now available to them in Bellevue. This memorandum describes the shooting range use, its location, the operational limitations placed on the use, and the permit process that allowed the range to be established.

Project Description: West Coast Armory (WCA) is an indoor shooting range with associated firearms training and incidental retail. This use is characterized as a “recreation activity” for the purpose of applying the Land Use Code, and falls in the same use category as bowling alleys and gymnasiums. This use was first characterized by Bellevue land use staff in the early-1990s when Wade’s Gun Shop and Shooting Range was established in the Bel-Red light industrial district. Retail sales are prohibited at the WCA location, because miscellaneous retail trade is not an allowed use in the light industrial district. Incidental retail (such ammunition, eye and ear protection for use at the range) is appropriate.

Location: 13216 SE 32nd Street. The shooting range is located on the access road to the Factoria Transfer Station. Please refer to the attached location and zoning maps. Uses located in the vicinity include a PSE service facility, warehousing, bulky building material sales, and other recreation activity uses (including gymnastics, dance, and martial arts instruction). There are limited infrastructure improvements in the area of WCA (no sidewalks or curbs); and like most light industrial districts in the City, the pedestrian environment is inhospitable. The streets in this area of Richards Valley are not part of an integrated transportation grid. As a result, access to this area is generally limited to individuals destined for one of the businesses located there.

There was a shooting range that used to be located on SE 30th Street. Weapons Safety Inc. was located at 13215 SE 30th Street (a short distance to the north of WCA), and operated at that location from 1994 to 2003. The West Coast Armory range seems to have replaced that use in Richards Valley after the prior range was abandoned. The WCA use likely came to the attention of residents living in the vicinity of Richards Valley

in late January when the owner employed a “sign handler” to stand on Richards Road and advertise the newly opened use. E-mails from Woodridge residents opposing the use began to arrive in the Council Office shortly thereafter. Support for WCA appears to have emerged more recently in response to leaflets being placed on cars in the Factoria area urging people to oppose the shooting range use and to contact the Bellevue City Council to voice their opposition.

Required Review: Recreation uses such as this shooting range are permitted outright in the light industrial land use district, and there are no applicable design guidelines in these districts. As a result, land use approvals including notice (such as an administrative conditional use permit or design review) are not required. The establishment of this use required a tenant improvement permit and a business license, which were both applied for and received prior to the business opening.

Operation: Like other recreation activity uses located in a light industrial land use district, WCA is restricted to incidental sales only. Miscellaneous retail sales are not permitted, and this restriction was included as a condition of the required tenant improvement permit. Other recreation activity uses provide illustrative examples of how incidental sales are conducted. For example, the gymnasium located in the Richards Valley light industrial area sells a limited supply of leotards to its students and members. But the leotards are available to the individuals who are otherwise already on the premises for a class or competition. The limited sale activity conducted at the gymnasium does not constitute a miscellaneous retail sales use, and is appropriately incidental to the recreation activity use.

With regard to the regulation of firearm purchase and sales specifically, the State of Washington, by enactment of RCW 9.41.290, has preempted the entire field of firearm regulations. Under RCW 9.41.290, cities may only enact ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law. State law authorizes cities to enact ordinances restricting the areas in their respective jurisdictions in which firearms may be sold, but cities may not treat a business selling firearms more restrictively than other retail businesses located within the same zone.

In response to the communications received by the Council Office, I conducted a site visit on February 2, 2010. The purpose of my visit was to confirm that the operation was being conducted consistent with the conditions placed on the tenant improvement permit. The owner is in the process of making changes to the lobby area of the premises in order to comply with the conditions of permit approval and ensure that retail firearms sales do not occur at the Bellevue WCA location, and that operations include only sales that are appropriately incidental to the shooting range recreation activity use as required by the permit. These corrections are being made through the temporary certificate of occupancy process and are required to be completed by no later than March 18, 2010.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now that is funny...

Some NSFW language, but this post just about make me spit out my diet coke.

Disguised Weapons Wanted

Sunday, February 7, 2010


For the past year I've been in learn mode.

I do this every time I get into something new. When I started shooting seriously, I began looking around at places from which to absorb things. This is my modus operandi and I love it.

I joined the NRA just to get the American Rifleman (I'd grown up on it at my Grandpa's place).

I subscribed to a bunch of gun blogs. Say Uncle, Gun Nuts, Breda, Smallest Minority, etc.

I subscribed to a bunch of iTunes podcasts - The Gun Dudes, ProArms, and the Handgun podcast. The gun dudes are fromUtah, so I get where they are coming from and they're a hilarious bunch.

After over a year of reading/listening I've learned a whole lot, even though I tend to tune out the right-of-center politics for non-gun related stuff.

Its been an interesting year of learning, growth and challenging my own assumptions. I guess whomever said that only the smart people realize how little they know was onto something.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Taking a New Shooter to the Range

Recently I took my wife and friend of hers (plus her husband) to the range for a friday night date. The range is new and was very slick - the reinforced barriers between each bay were reassuring.

So here are a few tips from my experience:

#1 If you were a jerk teaching them to use Email, a stick shift or their phone, just stop now. Hire a pro. Seriously, you'll do more damage than good. Patience and understanding is a must in this game, so if you don't have it, just move along.

#2 Work on the 4 rules of safety. Be serious - no joking around. Make sure they know them well. I did this *before* we went to the range, in my kitchen as I taught my wife how to load, unload and take down the gun. With snapcaps. NO ammo in the room.

#3 Start with something small. I like the 22, as do most people for a first time shooter. Teach them to load one round in the mag/cylinder. You don't want them sweeping you with extra rounds after shooting it. Repeat for awhile. Go over the proper grip, trigger control and sight picture.

#4 This isn't about accuracy. Not even close. Set up a target at a nice 3-5 yards at most to start with. Just shooting is the important part at first, not hitting the bullseye.

#5 Praise.

#6 After they get the feel for it, you can add rounds to the magazine and let them do multiple shots. Stay close by to supervise and remind them of the finger/trigger rule every chance you get. They may even thank you.

You may even want to end here. We didn't. They wanted to try something bigger so I changed back to the 9mm upper and we shot a box of that. They were amazed at the increase in recoil and that it was eminently controllable. They even got some Zombie targets for the last magazine or so - lots of fun.

After about an hour at the range, we were done. Time to wash up and go out for dinner where went over what we'd learned and I answered any questions. It was a very good night. We all had a ball.

Big success.

Friday, February 5, 2010

So where you been?

I know, I know. Busy doing other stuff. So lets get caught up on where I am as of today.

My last post was in September of last year. Wow. Time flies.

Since then I've done a few things and purchased a few new guns and sold another.

1. Glock 26. Wanted it for two reasons: first to replace my daily carry gun while it went to Kel-Tec for some fixing. I figured while I was at it I might as well get a bigger gun for winter carry. I did a lot of thinking/researching/spreadsheets on the different 9mm options out there.

What I really wanted was a Kel-Tec PF9 but those are impossible to find round these parts. I narrowed it down to the Glock 26, a Walther PPS and a Kahr MP9. In the end I went for the Glock because it would work with my nice stockpile of Glock magazines, which is pretty cool. I'll probably get a PF9 when they become available again because they're so cheap. I love my Glocks for simplicity, reliability and flexibility, and the 26 has not disappointed me. The only issue is thats a pretty thick gun.

2. Marlin XSL in .308. I need a gun that can reach out and touch things from a distance. But I don't like rifle shooting that much, so this was a nice compromise over my annoyingly high-shooting Mosin Nagant. Got it on sale at Cabelas and it shoots like a dream. I popped a illuminated Tru-Glo scope on it with some nice rings and I can shoot a quarter size hole at 100 yards easy enough.

Like I said, I don't like rifle shooting as much as pistols, but its good to have.

I bought a quad rail front end for my Kel-Tedc Sub2000, and it works pretty well, although I noticed on my last range trip it was loose and needs tightening (and probably some loc-tite). I was trying to sight in a red dot that I put on a quick-release platform (the gun folds, so the red dot has to come off) and ended my quest right there.

One thing that bugs me is that I found the Kel-Tec is one dirty gun - after shooting a few rounds of S&B 9mm FMJ - I noticed that the rounds in the magazine were filthy. As in covered with black residue. Not sure if that is normal, but it was disconcerting.

Another big advance for me was that I got my wife to the range. But there is a backstory there too.

I've been going to the local (and cheap) outdoor range close by, but its a bit of a drag in that you can't draw from the holster and the range is pretty basic. I like it, but wanted something more. I dislike the guys at Wade's guns in Bellevue, so I was happy to see that West Coast Armory was opening a new range close by. Its a dream.

Its brand new, has a pro shop and several different bays. I bought a lifetime membership (ouch) and get special access to the LEO bay that will let people move and shoot without the bays in the other two ranges. Its going to be cool. They'll also do IDPA in there I hear. In the regular bays, each is protected by bulletproof dividers, so chances of getting hit by and ND is much lower. That and I'm in the upper membership bay, so that limits who goes in there some.

So I went to check out the range, got a tour and signed up. Once I got over the pain of the initial payment, its going to cost the same as the outdoor range with alot more plusses. Awesome.

Anyhow, back to my story. I have mentioned to my wife I wanted her to learn the basic mechanics of the handguns. I took out the Bersa Thunder 380 and Glock 17 and safely showed her the various parts and how it works (no ammo in sight, snap caps for training). She liked the Glock alot more and felt she'd be confused with all the levers on the Bersa.

Then we recruited a friend and her husband to go on a date night to the range and had a ball. We started slowly, using the 22 upper kit for the Glock and walked slowly thru each.

I did alot of research before hand on how to teach people to shoot, and followed it to a T. But more on that later.

Overall it was a great experience and we'll be doing it periodically with contests to see who can shoot the best.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I'm carrying on a daily basis

Hey folks. Been Mr. Slacker with the blog already. I do a few other blogs and I'm very good with those. This one? Not so much.

I saw an interesting post on several other gun blogs about what people carry daily, so I decided to add my own.

My wife pretty much thinks I'm nuts for carrying all this, and I can see why. So here is my pictorial assemblage for my on-person carry stuff:

Lets go clockwise from the firearm...

1. Glock 26. I bit thick, but it works and I can use my other Glock 9mm magazines (including my 33 rounders if needed). My Kel-Tec P3AT is in for service and I wont see it for a month or more. It was not doing a good job of feeding the first round.

I carry this glock with the pants clip IWB at 5 o'clock. I carry it without a round in the chamber for obvious reasons. I have one of those trigger sheath things on order, but have no experience with it.

1 Extra 10 rounder magazine. Both full of 124 grain +p Remington Golden Saber hollow-points.

2. Wallet - self explanitory

3. Paracord bracelet - carry 6-7 feet of paracord with you at all times. Useful for alot of stuff and can be undone is seconds.

4. Lockpick kit (red) for picking when I lock myself out or lose the key.

5. SOG Flash II knife - compact, sharp and was pretty inexpensive.

6. Ferro Rod Flints - these things rock. I forget which model this is.

7. Leatherman Juice XE6 in purple - the girly color makes it easy to find when I drop it on the ground.

8. iPhone in case - for running Surefire's shot timer, of course

9. Uzi Tactical Pen - ha ha I know. Its new and goofy. But its a great kubaton and writes stuff too.

10. Flashlight - iTP A3 EOS Upgraded - 90 lumens on 1 AAA battery - in a very small package. I don't like the controls for this, but have yet to find another mini flashlight that is so bright. With lanyard in orange for finding it. Bought at as well

The leatherman, flashlight, flint and lockpick kit go in a belt holder. The knife in my left pocket (opposite the firearm) and the extra magazine goes either in my pants pocket or a belt holder.

Ah, and I forgot to put my keys in there. They are the standard keysets on a locking carabiner with an REI aluminum whistle and Photon squeeze flashlight.

I've also added a set of latex examination gloves to the mix.

My vehicles all have an extended Bug Out Bag with much more...