June 11, 2012
Gun Range Looking To Host Birthday Parties For Children
Baseball stadiums, minigolf venues, and amusement parks have long been popular locations for children's birthday parties. Shooting ranges? Not so much. However, one venue in Texas is hoping to change all that.
According to Reuters reporter Marice Richter, the Eagle Gun Range in Lewisville, Texas, scheduled to open later this summer, will allow parents to hold birthday parties for children over the age of eight.
Each youngster attending the party will receive a half-hour gun safety course before being allowed to shoot either a BB gun or a .22 long rifle, and trained staff will be on hand to help parents throughout the event, Richter added.
"A lot of people don't know how to shoot a gun so we're providing education and training for shooters of all ages," David Prince, the owner of Eagle Gun Range, told ABCNews.com's Christina Ng on Friday. "They have birthday parties with go-karts and trampolines -- with proper education before going into a gun range, why not a birthday party?"
"They'll be in the classroom, walk into the range, shoot, go back to the classroom, and have cake and ice cream. There's no piÃ±ata. It's not festive like that. There are safety glasses, ear protection, and that's the only time they test the gun," he added. "A parent or guardian or NRA instructor will all be in arm's range“¦ There's no child that will be walking around with a gun at a birthday party."
Prince told Teresa Woodard of KXAN.com that the indoor gun range will have 24 shooting lanes, a pair of rooms available for birthday parties, and will be air conditioned. He also said that all kids need to be tall enough to look over the shooting table, and reiterated that safety officers would be on hand to assist parents.
The concept has drawn mixed reaction from parents in the region.
"It makes me very nervous," Dawn McMullan, described by Woodard as "a mother of two and a gun control advocate," told KXAN.com. "I think 8-year-olds, developmentally, can't tell the difference between play and reality sometimes, and also put it in a party or game atmosphere just seems to not respect a gun as much as we should respect guns."
Conversely, Austin resident Lori Benoit called it "a great idea," telling Richter, "I have three boys and they are all fascinated with guns. I would love to have a place like this close to us. It would be such a great experience to introduce shooting sports to kids at a party."
Fort Worth area realtor Jon Baker concurred, telling Reuters that he would much rather see children like his 10-year-old son "experiment with guns in a controlled environment than off somewhere in the open where someone could get hurt."