Ready. Aim. Shoot.
It’s the routine repeated nearly every day by gun enthusiasts at the Koko Head Shooting Complex. The only public range on Oahu is home to about a dozen clubs, offering a wide variety of shooting venues from rifle and pistol to skeet and silhouette targets.
It may not be everyone’s idea of a family activity, but can 1,500 people be wrong? That was how many attended last month’s Shooting Sports Fair at KHSC, learning about the different firearms via hands-on shooting opportunities.
» Koko Head Shooting Complex (KHSC.info) 8102 Kalanianaole, Hawaii Kai 395-2992 Skeet range: Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Silhouette range: Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Rifle and pistol range: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 4 p.m.; Saturays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
» Hawaii Rifle Association (HawaiiRifleAssociation.org)
"It’s why we do the event, to let people find out if it’s something they’re interested in," said Harvey Gerwig II, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association. "If it’s not their thing, that’s OK. But many find out that they do enjoy it. It’s a fun environment.
"I started shooting when I was real little with my grandfather in the Southern California mountains. When my kids got old enough to enjoy it, it was something we could do together. Both my sons are now shooting instructors."
The HRA, the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association, is the largest club in the state with more than 1,200 full-time members.
"It’s a tremendous sport," Gerwig said. "It requires focus and good hand-eye coordination.
"We have noticed that the kids who shoot do well in school. They’ve learned discipline and concentration that carries over to their schoolwork."
Delwin Dang, a coach for the Boy Scouts Venture Crew 123 air rifle team from Honolulu, agrees.
"Some kids come in thinking it’s a macho thing," Dang said. "Shooting stresses concentration and discipline. They have to pay attention to detail. The ones who do well at it are usually serious students, too. It’s not surprising."
Dang said his favorite gun used to be the smallbore rifle. He now favors the air rifle because "it’s very challenging," he said. "It’s an Olympic sport and it really stretches the physical limits of the shooter.
"Air riflery is one of the safest sports there is. There’s data out there that shows Ping-Pong is more dangerous. For us, safety is first, foremost and forever."
Success in air riflery, a Hawaii high school state championship sport, has led to college scholarships on the mainland.
The success at the national level by the Venture Crew — silver and bronze medals in the past two competitions, two members named to the junior national team — has put Hawaii on the map. Dang said there is discussion of Honolulu hosting the 2013 NRA junior nationals.
Koko Head Shooting Range also offers venues for archery as well as a bit of whimsy. The Single Action Shootists of Hawaii (SASH) holds monthly matches that look like something straight off a Western movie set.
Not only do members compete with guns typically used in the Old West, they "are required to wear authentic period or western screen dress and adopt an alias appropriate for character or a profession in the late 19th century," according to the international Single Action Shooting Society’s handbook.
"You have to have a good name," said Paul "Cyclone Malone" Mackeeby.
On the west side of Oahu, the Puuloa Rifle & Pistol Club offers monthly matches and clinics at the USMC Puuloa Range Training Facility in Ewa Beach. The club is undergoing a bit of a reorganization, according to its president.
"There was a time the club was strictly traditional high-power rifle competition," Clifford Ramson said. "A lot of our members are retired military or are in the Hawaii National Guard, like I am.
"But we’re also getting the recreational-type shooters. We offer a 600-yard range (Koko Head maxes out at 200), so people are able to see how accurate they are at a longer distance."
Ramson hopes to give more exposure to the sport through clinics and a day dedicated to new shooters.
"It is a formal shooting sport," he said. "We’ll go over the rules and the protocol. By getting more exposure to it, the sport becomes less intimidating."
Membership or NRA classification is not required to compete at the Puuloa range. It is open to individuals 16 and older.