Elgin gun range doing brisk business after one week
About two minutes after Elgin's new gun range, Fox Valley Shooting Range, opened on Friday morning, customers started walking in, some to wander the aisles of the store, some heading straight to shooting practice.
They were greeted by owners Mark Glavin, his wife Kitty, and their sons Brant, 22, and Mark, 19, who exuded friendliness as they offered coffee and cookies, and helped customers get set up with registration including strict checks of driver's licenses and firearm owners identification cards.
The 23,000-square-foot business at 780 S. McLean Blvd. officially opened last week after more than a year of construction. It includes 14 shooting bays and a store that sells firearms -- handguns, long guns and shotguns -- and supplies such as scopes and ammunition.
Customer Ron Nagreen of Elgin said he's been to the gun range at least four times in the last 10 days. "I think this place is going to do good," he said. "I am telling everyone I know about it."
The Glavins said they are happy that business is picking up steadily. A grand opening will take place this fall.
The relaxed atmosphere is in stark contrast to the heated debates before the gun range was approved by the city council in May 2017. The business had some supporters, but it was mostly detractors who cited concerns about noise, traffic and safety. Council members initially voted "no," then reversed themselves and gave their OK in a 5-4 vote.
Glavin said he took all feedback seriously and invested in modern soundproofing construction. On Friday morning, with five customers practicing target shooting simultaneously, the noise was well muffled inside the building and virtually undetectable outside.
The sign outside the building simply says "Fox Valley Range," as per city restrictions. There are cement barriers along the building and more than 60 interior and exterior security cameras. The shooting bays have ricochet-proof walls, meaning stray bullets won't bounce around but will embed in the wall, Glavin said. Two bays are private -- perfect for "date night" or "family night," Kitty Glavin said -- and have additional ricochet-proof floors.
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley and Elgin Area School District U-46, both across McLean Boulevard, were especially vocal opponents of the gun range. U-46 said it would leave if it opened. Their landlord, Rick Heidner, vowed to open a competing gun range if all his tenants left.
So far, Heidner's tenants haven't gone anywhere. Heidner declined to comment this week other than to say the gun range "won't be good."
U-46 has renewed its lease for one year "while we review our options for a new location," spokeswoman Mary Fergus said. Theresa Forthofer, president and CEO of Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, said the agency has no current plans to move but did "an extensive security update." The third tenant, Presence Home Care, declined to comment.
Ian Alexander of Fusion Fitness MMA, next to the range, said he and other nearby business owners agree the Glavins have brought welcome traffic to the strip mall. "I can't hear anything. We were never concerned."
Glavin had said his gun range would be "women-friendly." On Friday, he pointed to the modern decor, open spaces and easy-to-use touch-screen system in the shooting bays as proof.
"We welcome everyone here. We are looking forward to growing the business," he said.