More and more shooters are coming to a club near Outlying Field to hone their skills.
The Central Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association, which is nestled on property on Safari Street between Outlying Field and the Island Transit headquarters campus on State Highway 20, has enjoyed a membership boom in recent years.
When the association’s current president, Lou Gunn, joined the club in 2001, it had 109 members. The current membership roll places that number at 573, Gunn said.
He added that it wasn’t until about three years ago that “we really started expanding rapidly.”
Gunn is quick to point out the features the sportsman association facility offers, which includes ranges that are between 12 and 75 yards, a bowling pin range, bays to shoot steel targets and trap shooting.
The association offers events throughout the year for the benefit of shooters from all walks.
Hunter safety courses, rifle safety courses, competitive events for trap shooters, pistol, and rifle events are offered by the club.
The Sportsmen Association also hosted the Black Powder Living History Rendezvous last month. That event provided a snapshot of pre-1840 pioneer life.
Amid the safety education classes and shooting events, the organization started a women’s group, known as the Well Armed Woman Shooting Club. The group started scheduling meetings several months ago and it is nearing 50 members.
There are several other shooting ranges on Whidbey Island, but Gunn said the Central Whidbey Club is the largest.
Other ranges on the island include the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club on South Whidbey and the North Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association.
The larger numbers of members has meant the Central Whidbey Club could improve its facilities.
“We’re upgrading because we’ve been attracting members,” Gunn said. The organization’s clubhouse was recently expanded and association leaders are looking to add another shooting range.
He added that Whidbey-based law enforcement officers and park rangers conduct training sessions at the association’s gun ranges.
Gunn said the location of the association’s shooting ranges, which is surrounded by Outlying Field, Island Transit’s headquarters and a farm.
“We’ve got a lot of buffer around us,” Gunn said, adding members also planted 275 trees on the club’s property that will eventually screen the club’s activities.
“We don’t want to be obtrusive,” Gunn said. “We want to be an asset to the community.” He noted the club is organizing a shoot, the annual President’s Benefit Charity Match, at the end of the month which will benefit Gifts from the Heart food bank. That event goes from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Tickets are $1.50 or $5 for four.
For information about the Central Whidbey Sportsmen’s Association, go to www.cwsaonline.org or call 360-678-1665.