Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015 - (Page 12)
Hawaii's gun clubs are
proving especially popular
among Asian vistors who see
firearms on TV but are unable
to use them at home
BY CATHY CRUZ-GEORGE
hrough a viewing window,
Nobure Kuroiwa watched her
husband, Junbei, pull the trigger
on a Beretta handgun. The bullet
shot out of the barrel and pierced the
center of a paper target, startling their
daughter, Yuri, who was resting in a
baby carrier on Nobure's back.
Nobure and Junbei-both cabbage
farmers from Gunma, Japan-spent 10
days on Oahu this past December. This
was Junbei's third jaunt to the Royal
Hawaiian Shooting Club (RHSC) and
his family's first visit to Hawaii.
"My husband likes to play on his
PlayStation 4, especially video games
with guns, so he was excited to hold
and shoot a real weapon," says Nobure,
raising a video camera to the window
to capture Junbei beaming proudly at
his wife and daughter, who celebrated
her second birthday the next day with
Disney characters at the Aulani resort.
The video footage was like pirate's
booty back in Japan, where stringent
laws limit access guns.
Junbei was among the thousands of
vacationers who-between shopping,
sightseeing and sunbathing-patronized
gun clubs in Waikiki last year.
"Gun ranges are great in that it gives
people, who are from countries that
don't have the second amendment, a
taste of what it's like to shoot," says
Harvey Gerwig II, president of the
Hawaii Rifle Association.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention
Bureau no longer tracks the number
of visitors to gun ranges. However,
industry leaders estimate as many
as 145,000 local, foreign and U.S.
Mainland customers annually patronize
the rifle clubs in Waikiki.
Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015
Competition is fierce among the clubs.
They buy full-spread ads in Japanese
magazines and hire part-time workers
to pass out fliers on streets. They offer
packages ranging from $30 (three guns
with 26 shots) to $375 (customized
number of guns with 100 shots). They
tout stellar safety records ("no accidents in
20 years!" is commonly heard) and tether
the guns to the booths, so customers can
only fire in one direction.
GUNS IN HAWAII
* Visitors to Hawaii must register
their guns with the Honolulu Police
Department within 72 hours of arrival
to the state. Gun owners must provide
proof of U.S. citizenship.
* A record high total of 22,765 private
and personal firearms permit
applications were processed in
Hawaii in 2013, a 4.6 percent increase
* A total of 21,544 private and personal
firearms permits were issued
statewide in 2013, resulting in a
record high total of 60,757 registered
firearms in the state of Hawaii.
Customers primarily hail from Japan,
Australia, New Zealand and populated
cities in South America and Europe.
Rarely are they from South Korea,
where military service is compulsory for
men ages 18-35.
Children can shoot at any of the gun
ranges but must be accompanied by a
parent, meet the 4-foot, 7-inch height
requirement and are limited to the .22
Business can be sporadic, depending
on the season. Traffic flow is nonstop
following the Honolulu Marathon and
between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Customers tend to shoot between 3 and 7
p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to midnight.
If customers reek of alcohol or fail a
breathalyzer test, they're asked to leave.
On a midday morning in early
December, two elderly Japanese men
clad in golf shirts and slacks stood in
the sleek lobby of the RHSC, inquiring
about the number of rounds per
package. Aiko Tanaka, a manager with
a friendly, professional demeanor, stood
behind the counter, explaining each
gun's features. After 10 minutes, the
men promised Tanaka they would return
later in the week. The duo exited the
RHSC's glass doors and headed toward
the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center's
fourth-floor escalators, located next to
the viewing window from where Nobure
watched Junbei the day prior.
Tanaka says men of all ages are
drawn to the $149 Super Course
package. Included are: a Glock 17,
Beretta and 357 Magnum. Women
prefer the $120 Royal Course for its
9-millimeter and .22-caliber pistols.
"Gun shooting used to be a man's
activity, but I'm seeing more women
now," says Tanaka, who has worked at
the club for 18 years. "If you're a girl
living alone, you would want to know
how to properly handle a gun."
The RHSC is an international depot.
Employees speak multiple languages,
and merchandise bearing the club's
logo are displayed next to autographed
photos of celebrities, including Japanese
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015
Women & Their Power
HLTA’s Culinary Gala
HRA for the Holidays
When Visitors Get Sick
Luxury Limo Services
Na Poe Paahana Awards
Tips from Engineers
Women in Lodging
At the Table
Hawaii Hospitality January/February 2015