When the state privatized liquor, brothers Mike and Andy Thielen were players in that process as they acquired a former state liquor store in Olympia and turned it into T Brothers Liquor Lodge.
But the 6,000-square-foot building left them plenty of room for another venture. They considered a coffee business, a pizzeria, but finally settled on an indoor shooting range.
Why? The market cried out for it, they said, because most gun enthusiasts have to shoot outdoors in Northwest weather that isn’t always ideal or go to a place such as the shooting pit at Capitol Forest, which isn’t exactly safe.
So they turned that additional liquor store space into a private shooting range, complete with comfortable furniture, coat rack, coffee machine, big screen TV, lockers and a cigar room. Next to the amenities is a 60-foot pistol shooting range with a 40-foot shooting distance, providing enough room for six members and a hand-washing station. It also is climate-controlled and has an air ventilation system that serves the entire range. The two brothers are aware of the health hazards posed by lead dust, so they invested in a system provided by Shooting Range Industries of Las Vegas.
The wall that separates club lounge from the range is extra thick, including three-quarter-inch steel, foam and soundproof drywall. All help to muffle the sound of the gun to little more than background noise.
There’s no walk-in business at Glacier Gun Club. To become a member, one has to fill out an application, pass a background check and watch a safety video, Mike Thielen said.
“They know that the person they’re standing next to has been vetted,” he said about the club’s members.
About a dozen people have failed the background check, while some took a pass after they learned they would be subject to a background check.
Still, business is off to a brisk start. After opening in December, they already have about 500 members, with a goal of 1,000 before they start a waiting list. They also hope to have an even split between the number of men and women in the club. Expansion plans to Hawks Prairie are in the works, the brothers said.
Two members joined specifically for the safety features offered by the club.
Mike DePalma of Olympia said safety was a big reason he joined.
“I don’t have to worry about other people,” he said.
Holly Constantine, who works in Olympia but lives in Steilacoom, said she was relatively new to gun ownership but wanted one for personal safety.
After trying an indoor range in Pierce County, which didn’t make her feel comfortable, she turned to Glacier.
“I feel confident coming here,” she said, adding that she also was able to take a gun safety class.
They offer gun safety classes to members as well as to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Glacier offers a four-tier membership plan. At the top is the “summit” membership, which charges a one-time fee of $200 and a monthly rate of $50. At that tier, the member gets access to the club seven days a week, access to the cigar room, a locker, six guest passes and charter member status, which locks in the monthly rate. They also get 10 percent off the liquor sold at T Brothers.
Members can have a drink in the club — it’s self-serve only — after they’re done shooting, but they can’t drink and shoot, Mike Thielen said. He said they’re enforcing an 8-hour rule between drinking and shooting.
They also have a regular membership plan called Rainier, as well as a senior rate called Paradise and for active-duty military, Defender.
Glacier Gun Club
Owners: Mike and Andy Thielen.
Location: 417 Plum St. Olympia.
Years in business: New. Business opened Dec. 3.
Type of business: Members-only indoor shooting range.
Online: glaciergunclub.com. You can also find them on Facebook.
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays.
Did you know? In addition to Glacier Gun Club, the Thielen brothers also co-own T Brothers Liquor Lodge — the shooting range is in the same building — while Mike Thielen is the owner of Glacier Aviation at Olympia Regional Airport. The two brothers also flirted with getting into the recreational marijuana business. After they secured a license, they decided not to open a retail site and sold the license.