B y Lee Tugas
Once upon a time, the former Whitehall Armory contained a gun range, but it was decommissioned and taken out. Now the armory, better known as the Whitehall Athletic Club, has a basement gun range once again.
Athletic Club Owner Greg Gross said that the steel-enclosed range contains three mechanically operated targets and one manually operated target.
In either case, manual or mechanical, paper targets can be pulled backward and forward in 5-yard increments, Gross said.
Gross employs two range masters for the new shooting range. One of the range masters, Dan Herrman, has said that the Whitehall range is unique to the area, though common in other parts of the country.
Gross said he not only expects men to take advantage of the range. He believes that women, seeking means of self-defense, will also use the shooting range.
“Yes, I do think women are interested in using the shooting range,” Gross said.
The inside range, of course, will complement the existing 10-acre skeet and trap shooting range at the Whitehall Field Club, located about a mile down the road from the former Armory. The field club also boasts a six-hole, links-style golf course, a four-acre pond, and other outdoor facilities.
Multiple recreational offerings
The inside gun range, outside shooting range, golf course and pond are just one of the many recreational offerings Gross has built in the two years since he bought the Armory for $165,000.
Refurbishing the building to its current splendid state has taken time and labor.
“We used 50 gallons of paint just in the administration building,” Gross said. “All 31 electrical fixtures in the building are new,” he added.
In his time-table for renovation, Gross said he installed first a bar and restaurant that fronts Route 4. Next came locker rooms installed in the basement, and the purchase of equipment for the fitness center. Steam rooms for both men and women came next, and, most recently, the basement gun range.
Gross, an Orange County resident, failed to mention the improvements undertaken to the gymnasium, where a team of boys from Whitehall High School were seen taking advantage of the state-of-the-art basketball hoops, placing shots from various spots on the gleaming, light-drenched, hardwood floor. Mounted on a wrestling-ring-sized steel grid, suspended about 30-feet above the floor, are 24 theatrical spotlights, soon to be joined by 24 more, reported Club Contractor Sean DeLorme. More than sufficient for various entertainments.
Spectator sports a recent innovation
In the past year, Gross has also used the Athletic Club for public entertainments.
Seven professional wrestling events have been held in the gymnasium, with the November event starring Bret “Hitman” Hart. There have been three professional boxing matches, two amateur bouts, and three mixed-martial arts events.
Gross said the Whitehall area abounds in mixed martial arts fans, and he is hopeful, he said, that the state will this year approve professional Mixed Martial Arts. In the meantime, he readies the Athletic Club for professional MMA events.
History of performing arts
Gross, displaying knowledge of Skenesborough history, said he was aware that the former Armory had once been a favorite spot for jazz bands busing up to Montreal, Canada.
“Yes, I have heard that Duke Ellington and his Band frequently played at the Armory,” he said.
The businessman said that he doubted those days of cool jazz would return, since the musical groups he has booked into the Athletic Club are known for their hotter sound, from country to heavy metal.
“Jazz musicians, like Wynton Marsalis, are more studio-oriented and harder to book.”
Still, Gross, who owns a Hubbardton, Vt., farm and Killington ski lodge, said he is open to any idea. As proof, he pointed to the 15 catered events the club has held, among them weddings, and also alluded to a planned Super Bowl event.
What Gross said he most seeks in the coming months, however, “is corporate sponsorship.”