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Federal Way shooters share the love | Citizens want to build a gun range

Federal Way resident April Hiatt fires at her target Thursday at Bull’s Eye shooting range in Tacoma. Hiatt and her husband, Chad, are founding members of the Armed Defense Training Association, a new organization based in Federal Way. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Federal Way resident April Hiatt fires at her target Thursday at Bull’s Eye shooting range in Tacoma. Hiatt and her husband, Chad, are founding members of the Armed Defense Training Association, a new organization based in Federal Way.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Less than two months since its inception, the Armed Defense Training Association is starting off with a bang — and bringing dozens of like-minded Federal Way shooters together.

In one accuracy drill, shooters waited for the go-ahead before turning toward a paper target and firing two quick rounds. The scent of gunpowder soaked the room as shooters took their stations. Shell casings clinked on the floor amid a chorus of pops — and a few booms from one man's .44 Magnum. Shooters shouted conversations loud enough to penetrate their protective headphones in an atmosphere where the vibe was both friendly and educational.

The association's first live-fire event was held Feb. 17 at Bull's Eye shooting range in Tacoma. ADTA co-founder and vice president Chad Hiatt led basic skill drills for more than a dozen participants.

"I am incredibly excited about seeing so many responsible and dynamic individuals come together," Hiatt said of the promising start for ADTA. "I'm learning new things as far as techniques and methods I hadn't considered before."

The genesis for ADTA came from a December 2010 column in The Mirror titled “Federal Way needs a shooting arts center” by Mark Knapp, also known as the Firearms Lawyer. The column pondered the possibilities of a shooting range in Federal Way that could benefit both the public and police.

“There is already an indisputable ‘multiplier effect’ that results from all the retail stores in Federal Way that sell shooting equipment,” wrote Knapp, who is also co-founder and president of ADTA. The column noted that a shooting range “that is also open to the public will draw in visitors with dollars from surrounding areas.”

The column led to a meeting by a handful of Federal Way citizens who then formed the Armed Defense Training Association. Two informational gatherings by the ADTA, held Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, attracted nearly 50 attendees each.

The organization's goal is to promote responsible events related to firearms and self-defense training. At the recent live-fire event in Tacoma, attendees even kept one another in check when it came to handling weapons. Beforehand, participants received detailed instructions on safety rules and shooting exercises.

As for building a shooting range in Federal Way, the demand is there and the response has been positive, Hiatt said. For now, Federal Way shooters must travel to ranges in Tacoma, Ravensdale, Graham, east Bellevue and Kitsap County, among others.

"We think we can build something closer to home," Hiatt said. "It's something we could be moving forward on in the next six to 12 months."

Learn more

The ADTA will host a skill-building shooting event March 17. More advanced shooting drills are in the planning stages. There will also be "no-fire" seminars (without ammunition) that focus on weapon handling, trigger techniques and more. All skill levels are welcome. To learn more or register, visit armeddefense.org or email membership@armeddefense.org.

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