Gun range aims to be the first with a liquor license in Oklahoma

From movie theaters to bowling alleys to golf clubs, consumers are accustomed to destinations that come with a full restaurant and bar.

But what about a gun range?
A new Metro business, slated to open this spring, is taking the steps needed to serve liquor on-site.
Owners say the state-of-the art indoor gun range will make history in Oklahoma, although across the country the concept is not new.

At 40,000 square feet co-owner Jeff Swanson says Wilshire Gun will be a full-fledged destination.

"As a group we wanted to build a place, the first one in Oklahoma, where you could go in, shoot, enjoy the retail area and then go to the café," he said.

The plan calls for 24 firearm lanes, 10 archery lanes, a simulation room, classrooms, and VIP Lounge.

But it's the cafe that's raising some eyebrows. Swanson says they want to serve food and alcohol.

"I've not seen a business that does the firearms that has a liquor license," said ABLE Commission spokesperson Capt. Brent Fairchild, "but it's possible that if they apply they could be the first one."

Folks with the range insist it can be done safely. They say they're working with several ranges from California to Texas who have never had a problem.

They just have to ensure folks shoot, then drink, and not the other way around.

"Any misconceptions or joking aside, beer and bullets, guns and alcohol, they do not mix," Swanson said.

A major aspect of the safety plan includes scanning any customer's license before he or she operates a lane or orders food, alcohol or merchandise.

"Once your order a drink your driver's license is scanned and you are red-flagged and you're not allowed into any of the shooting facilities either as a spectator and certainly not as a shooter for the remainder of the day," Swanson said.

Staff will be trained in field sobriety and use cameras to monitor customers.

But folks with the agency that polices liquor establishments are still skeptical.

"I guess you could go back to the old adage where there's a will there's a way, so no matter how many safeguards you do put in place there's always someone who's going to try to get around those," Fairchild said.

Swanson says shooting complexes that offer customers more than just a range to shoot from is the way of the future.

"That is where the shooting sport is headed," he said.

And he believes they can pull it off in Oklahoma City in a way that keeps safety locked in their sights.

The City Planning Commission allowed the plan to move forward Thursday by a vote of 7-2. Those who voted against it voiced philosophical concerns about serving alcohol at a gun range.
The Oklahoma City Council will vote on the issue May 27th.
The ABLE Commission has 60 days to either grant or deny an application for a liquor license. As of Friday morning Wilshire Gun had not turned in an official application.