ALTON - After two moves and five years, Piasa Armory owner Scott Pulaski said he is within a month of one of his most ambitious dreams - an indoor shooting range in Alton, which will be open to the public.
Pulaski started the brick-and-mortar business when he moved to 115 Market St. in Alton. He since moved just around the corner to have his storefront on Broadway, and most recently moved to a former car dealership, located at 3685 E. Broadway in Alton, near the border with East Alton in September 2016. Because of the spacious new location, Pulaski said the indoor shooting range of his dreams could be possible.
"We started doing work toward it in 2012," Pulaski said. "We took bids and made a business plan. The hardest part was finding a building around Alton, which could house it. All of the buildings we could find were either in bad condition, or out of our price range. This one was perfect."
His goal is to have the shooting range ready for public use within three weeks. When it opens, Pulaski said his will be the only indoor shooting range open to the public within 30 miles, with the closest neighboring ones in Illinois being in Belleville, Highland, Litchfield and Pocahontas.
When completed, the indoor range will feature seven lanes, each 14 yards long. He said he would eventually expand the number of lanes to 14 in the future. Shooters will be allowed to shoot pistols, rifles and shotguns in the indoor range as well.
"Also, shooters will be able to move their own targets here," Pulaski said. "With some outdoor ranges, targets are fixed, and everyone has to stop shooting when someone needs to change for move their targets. It's very inconvenient."
To remedy that, Pulaski said shooters will be able to attach targets to a line and move it remotely.
When it opens, Pulaski said a "person off the street" would be able to shoot for $15 an hour in the range. He said $150 a year memberships were also available, which would lower that cost to $5. Those memberships also come with special incentives - especially during the current "inaugural membership" drive. Pulaski said special plans for families, couples, active and retired members of the military and police departments, and first responders are also available.
After moving to the current location of Piasa Armory, Pulaski said as many as 20 people joined as members. Since then, that number has grown to 200, and the indoor range has yet to even open. He said everyone has been extremely patient with him while he fixed everything and installed the range.
That membership of 200 could easily grow, however. Pulaski said an estimated 50,000 shooters live within a 45-mile radius of Piasa Armory.
Besides an indoor shooting range, Pulaski said the goal of Piasa Armory is to provide education for people. He said he started the business when he was 23 and looking into purchasing firearms. He said other gun shops treated him like a child who knew nothing, which he said he was at that time. Because of how he was treated at the beginning of his enthusiasm, Pulaski said he wanted to start a gun store, which was helpful to its customers.
"I am happy to teach someone how to use something, whether they buy it from us or not," he said. "The biggest thing for us is education. It always has been. Of course, we're a business, and we like making money, but we will be glad to help someone, regardless of where they purchased their firearm."
Currently, Pulaski said Piasa Armory provides conceal and carry training, but is hoping to expand that education once the shooting range finally opens. He said an introduction to firearms may come next, as well as instructions on gun assembly and cleaning classes.
One of the most important future classes, Pulaski said, may be a first aid training class for people taking conceal and carry classes. That class would teach someone taking it the basic how-tos of first aid following an incident in which the conceal and carry right may be invoked - such as a shooting or other sort of assault.
Unarmed self-defense classes are also taught at Piasa Armory by an outside contractor, Pulaski said.
More information regarding Piasa Armory and membership plans can be found at http://piasaarmory.com/
Reporter Cory Davenport can be reached via call or text at (618) 419-3046 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.