By RALPH BARTHOLDT
Jimmie Dorsey doesn’t shoot competitively much anymore.
The retired Marine once made the newspapers as part of the 1972 Olympic shooting team and appeared in two Pan American Games.
He was a champion of shooting pistols at targets 50 meters away.
These days Dorsey is the president of the Coeur d’Alene Rifle and Pistol Club, whose Atlas Road facility, in a piney wood across from a subdivision, is rimmed with high berms that occasionally release the sound of shots heading downrange.
Dorsey once had a garage full of trophies that he let a Washington gun club use to liven up the premises, but when the place changed owners, the trophies disappeared.
The Coeur d’Alene Rifle and Pistol Club at 6001 N. Atlas Road has its own trophies in a glass case in the facility that houses its indoor competitive pistol range.
Some of the trophies in the club’s case hearken back to 1953, three years before the club was formed, and although the club no longer turns out trophies, young shooters can earn merit badges as they bang their way up the ranks.
Every Friday night, the club plays host to a smallbore rifle shoot for kids.
Youths 10 and older can shoot at paper targets in the indoor facility, and they don’t even need to bring a firearm. It’s provided.
“It gives them a chance to learn the fundamentals of gun safety and competitive shooting,” Dorsey said. “They learn to shoot from four positions, prone, kneeling, sitting and standing … and it’s almost free.”
For $5, shooters are provided with a rifle, ammo, targets and instruction.
Although the 6:30 p.m. Friday night event starts each fall when school starts, kids can enroll any time during the school year.
“Last year we started with 15 and ended up with 55,” Dorsey said.
As they progress in their skill levels, youths earn merit badges and get a chance to shoot competitively in club events, such as the winter pistol postal matches sponsored by the NRA.
In a postal match, competitors shoot at targets at their home firing ranges. The targets are sent to the NRA for scoring and awards.
Dorsey learned to shoot because his dad, also a Marine Corps marksman, shot competitively and operated military ranges.
“I followed in his footsteps,” he said.
Dorsey was in the Marine Corps reserves from 1967 to 1994, and on active duty between 1970 and 1980.
He first started shooting pistol on an indoor range in the basement of the Spokane City Hall, where the fire department had a range that was open to the public and was also used by the police, he said.
“That’s what got me started,” he said.
As president of the local club, Dorsey oversees the main 28-bay range where members and the public can pay to shoot at targets at distances between 50 feet to 200 yards.
An auxiliary range with targets at 25 and 50 yards is open to club members for club functions, and the indoor range is open to club members usually for rimfire competitions and youth shoots.
An Indoor Winter Postal competition starts next week. It’s one of the special events open to members and the public. All the club’s outdoor ranges have covered firing lines and baffles that prevent stray rounds from leaving the area, and a range master is on duty every shooting day.
When the club was built more than a half-century ago, it was far removed from the city, but residential encroachment has resulted in shoring up the once-rural range to dampen noise and prevent bullets or fragments from peppering the still uninhabited agricultural and industrial area to the west.
Dorsey has read the club’s history and learned its 17 acres was purchased years ago from a farmer.
“He offered to sell them more acreage,” he said. “They didn’t think they would need any more.”