Sharp Shooting Indoor Range is a locally owned and operated business, a staple of the Spokane community, and an essential service to new and experienced gun owners. Over 19 years ago, Robin Ball had just left her job in the airline industry, she had no previous experience with firearms, and she was working on getting her degree.
Sharp Shooting opened in 1995, and was started over a discussion between Robin and her husband. Robin was working on a paper for her degree and her husband, Steve, made a remark that the old armory was for sale. In a sarcastic reply, Robin said, “That’s what I’m going to do when I finish this stupid degree!” A few minutes later, after some deep thought, Steve replied, “That’s what you should do when you finish school, open up a shooting range.”
Robin gave into her husband’s goading and starting looking into the idea more seriously, despite not knowing anything about the firearm industry, shooting ranges, or how they operated. At first glance, the insurance would be burdensome, the building was not up to code and needed to be renovated. Severe water damage had accrued in the basement over several years of neglect and had to be treated. The shooting range in the basement had pillars that held up the rest of the building and those were filled with bullet holes. It seemed like the more she looked into the prospect, the more unlikely the business venture would be possible.
Robin continued to move forward and look for more likely candidates to house her idea for a business. At the end of 1994, she had all but given up. One day, on her way home from a shopping trip, she took a route that she had never gone before. On her way down Freya, she spotted a building that was the right size and layout for the business. Robin moved in on April 1st, 1995 (April Fools day).
“The only reason we are here is because it’s a sexy business,” says Robin, “We see that 47% of our new people coming in are women shooters. You know, there’s a joke that women never do anything alone. That is very true. They don’t shoot alone either so they come in in groups, and it’s great, we have great fun with that.”
While the volume of women shooters has gradually climbed over the course of time, during the last 5 years, Robin saw a sharp increase in interest. While many women haven’t seen shooting as a hobby, they are starting to regard it as a necessary skill to know for self defense purposes.
Knowing unarmed self defense techniques is important because there are several locations or events where carrying a firearm is not allowed, so knowing what to do when you don’t have access to a firearm is an essential part of self defense. Sometimes, learning how to shoot a gun can feel intimidating. This is a barrier which is difficult to overcome, but the best way to break though is to learn the basics in a safe and welcoming environment. Introductory classes explain the mechanics of how firearms work, how to handle and store them safely, as well as knowing under what conditions firearms should be used. Shell Giesy, an employee of Robin’s said,
“I used to go with my husband shooting. He was going to train me and I really didn’t see the point of it. I didn’t really enjoy it until he brought me in here and I shot with Robin. She used to have a ladies night where we could shoot and we could have fun, and she showed me how learning to shoot properly, and everything that you need to do correctly, was actually making it more fun. We had a great time.”
Sharp Shooting offers lots of different classes, there are introductory classes that are co-ed, a women and guns class that is specific to new women shooters, advanced tactical classes, unarmed self defense, chemical (pepper spray class), kubaton and empty hand class. Just about anything on the self defense spectrum, you can learn at Sharp Shooting. In addition to classes, Sharp Shooting holds several events such as competition shooting, date nights for couples, and industry sponsored sales.
Sharp Shooting has contributed to the greater Spokane community in several ways. Every year, Sharp Shooting contributes to ‘Tom’s Turkey Drive’ (an event sponsored by local news affiliate, KREM 2), fundraises for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, supports pro-gun candidates in the area, and has instituted a ‘Round Up’ program for a new local charity every month. This month the charity is Second Harvest food bank, and for all funds raised by customers, Sharp Shooting will match that donation. Providing a safe and controlled environment for gun owners in the region to practice, learn gun safety, and self defense greatly contributes to the community as well.
Watch this youtube video to see Robin Ball talk about her experience training women to use firearms:
For more information, you can call them at (509) 535-4444, visit their website at http://www.sharpshooting.net/, or go there in person to 1200 N Freya Way, Spokane, WA 99202