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Gary Bettman targeted by Vancouver gun range over NHL lockout

@BrodyHemrichThe DVC Indoor Shooting Center in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia is a haven for guns, ammo and catharsis — a safe, controlled environment where one can shoot off a few rounds and work out life's frustrations on a target across the room.

[Watch: Halloween Bettman takes all the candy he wants]

Some shooters bring their own objects at which to aim and fire. Wes Yen, the manager of the gun range, said that Canadian pop star Justin Bieber is among the more popular homemade B.Y.O.T. (bring your own target) options. (We imagine getting a bead on Biebs has become more difficult since the haircut.)

DVC also provides some target options for shooters: The standard bull's-eye; a zombie target, so you can recreate the escape from the farmhouse in "The Walking Dead"; and, most recently, one that depicts NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

"It seems to be one of our more popular targets. It's actually been a pretty big hit for us," said Yen.

It's not exactly the Bin Laden experience, but it's a way for hockey fans to express their frustration over the lockout. Albeit by pumping bullets into an avatar of a real person.

The target features a cartoon caricature of Bettman sitting at his desk, with ears the size of small automobiles and Mr. Spock eyebrows. Behind him is an NHL logo fashioned into a lock. Four targets surround him, although none are located on him.

[Also: Leafs player under fire after Halloween Michael Jackson blackface photo]

Bettman shooting targets have proven popular at the gun range during the NHL lockout, which is nearing the 50-day mark.

"He probably equals the zombie targets that we sell," said Yen, complimentary.

Thing is, Gary Bettman isn't a reanimated corpse, although that is his comportment in certain interviews. He's a living, breathing lightning rod of controversy that receives threats of violence from places other than Chris Chelios.

Twitter search "Bettman" and "bullet"; you don't find much, but what you find is jarring.

The NHL declined comment for this story.

Was there any hesitation about using a public figure on a gun range target, at a time of intense hatred for the man?

"I guess not. It's an animated target. We're not using real people. Everyone knows it's just for fun," said Yen.

[Slideshow: #NickInEurope photo diary from Moscow and Prague]

It's one of the reasons one goes to the gun range: To fire weapons that would get you arrested outside of that environment, and traffic in violent fantasies. It's as much a form of escapism as plopping down $100 to watch two teams beat the hell out of each other for three periods (you know, when they're allowed to work).

Will a DVC member firing a shotgun at Gary Bettman seek to do the same in real life? Likely not.

Is that any comfort to Gary Bettman, knowing his picture is catching bullets at a BC gun range because the Vancouver Canucks are locked out? Likely not.

Yet for Yen and DVC, the lockout hasn't hurt. Bettman's not only benefited them as a target, but as a reason for people to leave their hockey-less homes and head over to the firing range.

"It's good for my business. When there's nothing on TV, people will come down to the range and start shooting," said Yen.

s/t Brody Hemrich

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