Elgin hears plans for gun shop, shooting range catering to women

Capitalizing on a growing appetite for guns among women, a retired Wayne businessman wants to open a "welcoming" and aesthetically pleasing gun shop and shooting range in Elgin.

The city's planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday about Mark Glavin's plans to open Fox Valley Shooting Club at 780 S. McLean Blvd. in a vacant 23,000-square-feet-space in a building that also holds Fusion Fitness MMA and Chan's Garden restaurant. It was previously occupied by a home health care agency.

Glavin, a self-described longtime shooter, pointed to so-called "guntry clubs" in places like Texas and Tennessee with friendly staff and nicer decor than typically "stark and gray" shooting ranges.

"Most gun ranges and shooting clubs are very bravado, macho and testosterone-filled, uninviting areas," said Glavin, who retired as vice president of the former United Recycling Industries Inc. in Franklin Park.

"I will put in a brightly lit, well-decorated, well-appointed retail establishment. If you walk into a Macy's or a Von Maur, that's what a gun range can be. A place that is welcoming."

There were 5.4 million women target shooters in 2013, a 60 percent increase from 2001, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The $4.5 million to $5 million Elgin venture will have up to 19 shooting lanes and 3-D laser shooting simulators, and will offer training for concealed carry, nonlethal self-defense and gun maintenance, Glavin said.

City staff members are recommending approval of the plan, which includes modifying a city ordinance that prohibits gun sales along arterial roads, senior planner Damir Latinovic said. The change would apply only to McLean Boulevard between Route 20 and College Green Drive.

The plan will require approval by the city council. Glavin said he hopes to open between fall 2017 and spring 2018.

Glavin's plan "has satisfied our concerns in terms of noise and, obviously, safety and security," Latinovic said. "The police department reviewed the proposed safety measures, and (Fox Valley Shooting Club) should have no negative effects on surrounding businesses and property owners."

Security will include exterior cameras and "heavy CCTV usage" inside the building, Glavin said. "Everybody will be aware that their every movement will be videotaped," he said.

The shooting stalls will be bullet- and ricochet-proof, and concrete barricades will be placed outside the windows to prevent vehicular "smash and grab" attempts, he said. "Safety is paramount," Glavin said. "Safety is the No. 1 concern for any gun range."

Glavin said his business will employ 12 to 15 people and require a federal license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

There are no retail gun shops in Elgin, only licensed gun sellers who do wholesale business out of their homes, Latinovic said. The closest firing range is GAT Guns in East Dundee, but the most similar to the plans proposed by Glavin is Eagle Sports Range in Oak Forest, which opened late last year, he said.

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