Alberta Newspaper Group
Rocky Rutledge has heard the complaints. But as long as it’s OK with Alberta Health Services, Canadian GunHub will remain open for business.
The shooting range and store have been considered essential since they serve hunters and individuals who need to be recertified to use guns annually. Rutledge says complaints have been filed claiming that GunHub is operating outside the COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the province, but he’s doing everything he’s been asked in order to keep patrons safe.
“We definitely expected it,” said Rutledge, the owner. “(AHS) said it’s OK, hang posters all over the building, follow these steps and we’re subject to random inspection, too.
“They can come in here anytime and make sure we’re following the rules.”
GunHub did close its range March 17 as a reaction to rules stating that all non-essential business needed to close, but reopened April 14 after getting the go-ahead from AHS. Business and range use is only done by appointment, with every other range lane left empty and rental firearms no longer available, as they couldn’t be properly cleaned between uses. Only licensed members are allowed.
Walking in, there’s hand sanitizer and signs detailing all the rules in place to prevent virus transmission.
“We’re very heavily ventilated, we have hand sanitizer available for everybody. We have to wipe down the lane, and even though we wipe it down we close that lane for the rest of the day, then we clean again,” said Rutledge. “You can’t use washrooms either.”
Since the initial round of complaints, things have died down and Rutledge hopes he’s done enough to stay open through a traumatic time for many.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact the Medicine Hat Rifle and Revolver Club chose to close its range as of March 21. Rutledge notes keeping tabs on people at the outdoor range is a different set of issues as compared to his indoor location, which has special ventilation in place that exchanges air 14 times an hour in the building.
“Monitoring of members alone is a full-time job,” he said. “We have to make sure they’re not bro-hugging out there. We use every other lane, and there’s also dividers.”
Rutledge is also aware he’s lucky to be open, given so many businesses aren’t considered essential.