Vision to Reality Chico, CA
Meet Will Clark
Will, a former Navy SEAL has served two tours in the Middle East. Will then became a police officer for the City of Chico, where he served the past ten years. He served as a SWAT Team member and SWAT Sniper. His many skills also enabled him for the the position of “Firearms Instructor” where he has and continues to teach firearm safety and proficiency to fellow officers.
Meet Steve Dyke
Steve has been a police officer for the past 14 years, serving in Corning and then for the City of Chico. He served as a SWAT Team member and Firearms Instructor. Also an avid hunter and fishermen, Steve brings the benefit of this knowledge to members, guests and students at Down Range.
The Vision Realized
Will and Steve shared a vision, one they would bring to life in Chico, California. “It started as a dream in 2012”, Will states in a letter to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. By 2014, the entire facility was up and running with all the key components for their dream business, Retail, Range, Training and Memberships. Vital to the plan was making the place welcoming to men, women and families. Also important to Will and Steve was being able to accept nearly all types of firearms including the popular AR-15 and high powered hunting rifles.Their goal has always been to show their guests a fresh, new look at the shooting sports industry, and that they have accomplished.
The Facility and Its Offerings
We pulled into the large parking lot to enter the facility. The first time I had visited Down Range, they were still in full construction of their shooting range, and everybody was working in full force. Much has changed since my first visit. These two guys have orchestrated the transformation of an old lumber yard warehouse into a 22,500 square foot indoor shooting range and training center with a complete retail center for the shooting sports industry. Two climate controlled classrooms offer space for the many classes also hosted at Down Range. Classes include Home Safety & Security, women-only classes taught by women, Archery for All, a program for the disabled, and many more. They offer leagues for archery and firearms and host International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) events monthly. The archery facility’s 12 lane, 50 yard indoor space is also a great place to host special events, leagues and tournaments. The high ceilings and high visibility lighting allow for a great shooting experience.
We walked inside the front door, right into a busy retail space where shoppers of all ages were browsing and buying. A group of young ladies were picking out GWG (Girls with Guns) T shirts. A couple of young guys browsed the wide assortment of bows. Several employees were busy helping others at the counters; some guests were buying firearms or ammunition, others checking in for their time on the shooting range. Gun rentals are also available for use on the shooting range. Firearm sales are a busy department at Down Range. With a good supply in stock, they display hunting rifles, shotguns, tactical rifles and include full size and compact hand guns. They sell all accessories for shooters and a have a good selection of gun safes. Firearm service and repairs are also offered at Down Range with two accredited, highly experienced gunsmiths onsite.
As we headed through the retail area towards the shooting range, it was as if the channel had changed. An air of relaxation set the scene in the lounge area, where many tables overlooking the shooting range were occupied. A large screen television and WiFi offered convenience to some while others in the lounge enjoyed watching those on the shooting range. There are two lounges, one on the archery side and this one overlooking the firearms range.
Memberships are not required to use the facility, however they do receive special benefits. There are several types of memberships and each has its own benefits. Some include no range lane fees, free rentals, free guest passes and discounts in the training center courses and retail stores. In their first year Down Range welcomed nearly 2,000 members and served thousands more.
Steve and Will met in 2008.They planned for a successful business as they took an underserved market in the area and filled the gap. Steve said, “We had an idea it would be successful, but it turned out a lot bigger than either of us ever imagined.” The two are feeling the success in achieving a family facility where kids and parents all feel welcome. It seems their dream has become a reality not only for Will and Steve but for shooting enthusiasts across Northern California.