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Gun range is popular


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POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2009

Question: I live near the Koko Head Shooting Complex. We've put up with the range because we know the police need to practice, but lately the noise has been unbelievable. Since HPD has a new indoor shooting range, I don't think they are the cause. I think it is just getting lots more public use and some of the new guns are really loud. Does anybody monitor the noise to see whether it is violating the Department of Health's noise standards? Are there any plans to limit noise from the range?

Answer: There is no agency monitoring noise levels at the six shooting ranges within Kahauloa Crater, but then again, there have not been many complaints, according to city officials.

For now there are no plans, nor any major push, to force the complex to cut its hours.

The state Department of Health's regulations don't cover noise generated from gunfire at the Koko Head ranges, said Russell Takata, chief of the Indoor and Radiological Health Branch.

For that reason, it doesn't measure noise levels at the shooting complex, he said.

What the branch does oversee is “;the community noise program,”; which includes enforcing maximum permissible levels from stationary noise sources (e.g., air conditioners and swimming pool pumps) and issuing noise permits for agricultural, construction and industrial activities.

The Honolulu Police Department enforces noise complaints not monitored by the Health Department. That includes noise from partying neighbors, leaf blowers, car alarms, noisy mufflers and, ostensibly, gunfire.

In some form or another, a shooting range has been located inside the crater since the 1930s, said Lester Chang, director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation. It became public in the 1950s.

The shooting complex is used by the HPD and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the general public and clubs.

It is the only public target shooting venue on Oahu. The public has free access—no fees charged—to the six ranges, plus an archery range, only five days a week: noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Understandably, the weekends draw heavy crowds, people sometimes having to wait for two hours to get a turn, said Range Master Mike Muramoto.

Based on sign-in sheets, he figures approximately 50,000 people a year make use of the six ranges. An additional 6,000 to 8,000 law enforcement officers also visit the site yearly.

Chang said there hasn't been any significant increase in the numbers using the range or change in the hours. Neither has there been any increase in the “;loudness”; of the weapons fired. The new ones are no louder than the ones allowed previously, Chang said. “;The range use has basically been the same.”;

HPD has access to the complex from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, although officers aren't necessarily there the entire time, said Maj. Frank Fujii. HPD does not train on weekends.

The indoor shooting range that opened in January at HPD's training academy in Waipahu remains closed because of ventilation defects. It was shut down because smoke from fired guns would not clear.

“;We can't use it until the ventilation and air quality testing is complete,”; Fujii said. It's still not known when it will reopen.

But, an indoor range has “;training limitations,”; so HPD still will need to train at Koko Head, although to a lesser degree, Fujii said.

HPD's Annual Recall Training, for example, can be conducted indoors. All officers have to go through “;ART,”; which includes night exercises, once a year. There will be less need to train at Koko Head, but nighttime training there won't be eliminated.

Also, HPD needs the outdoor range to conduct tactical training, long-distance qualifications and Specialized Services Division training, Fujii said.

Q: The Royal Hawaiian Band is a true island treasure. One of our favorite members is Gene Rowland, but he has been gone for some time. What happened to Gene and when will he return?

A: Gene Rowland Silva retired after 32 years with the band.

“;He was an outstanding member of the band and a superb singer, and we wish him well in his retirement,”; said Royal Hawaiian Bandmaster Michael Nakasone.