Locating a Shooting Range
Deciding to go to the range for the first time is a big decision. It involves being willing to step outside of your comfort zone to try something new. Ranges can be intimidating because range patrons go about shooting with their own little gun-lover lingo and traditions that can be intimidating to people just getting started in the gun world. Plus it’s embarrassing to shoot for the first time next to a shooter who’s hitting bulls-eyes every two seconds when you’re still trying to learn the basics. Choosing which range you attend for your first range experience can impact how the rest of your learning-to-shoot journey goes. You want to find a range that is not only willing to take new shooter’s money but is also willing to welcome new shooters warmly.
Start by asking family and friends in your area if they have any gun clubs or shooting ranges to recommend. If you don’t have any shooters in your social circle, you can try calling around to local gun shops and asking them what shooting ranges they recommend. The phone book , Google and sites such as Where to Shoot can help you to come up with a few more shooting ranges to look into as well.
Once you get a list of local ranges to investigate, go online. Look for gun forums near you and read postings about local ranges there. If there aren’t any forums specific to your area online, try a nationally-geared forum. Either on national or local boards, if you don’t see anything on ranges local to you, start a new topic. Hopefully forum members will respond with feedback. Try googling the name of the range to see if other people have posted positive experiences about that range online. Reviewing websites like www.yelp.com may have reviews posted about ranges in your neighborhood as well.
The goal is to go to a range that is getting positive reviews from fellow shooters weather they be friends and family, local gun store owners and employees or shooters you’ve met online. You can also check to see if a gun blogger willing to teach people to shoot lives near you. There is a map of gun bloggers willing to do so and their contact information at this site. These gun bloggers can recommend you good ranges to try and can even come with you when you go.
Choosing a Shooting Range
At this point, you have found some shooting ranges near you and have acquired information about them, such as how other shooters experienced their time at those ranges. Now it’s time to decide which one to go to for your first time. If you have your own safety gear or can borrow gear for the trip, you’re a step ahead. If you do not have your own gear and will not be borrowing or buying any for your first range trip, you’ll need to cross off your list any ranges which do not loan or rent safety gear.
Then, it’s time to decide if you want to shoot indoors or outdoors. Outdoor ranges tend to be cheaper to shoot at because their range fees in general are lower and they do not require special ammunition. Extreme temperatures may preclude shooting outdoors however and indoor ranges do have points in their favor. Indoor ranges can be good for first-time shooters because they may be less crowded and less noisy due to the cost factor which encourages other shooters to go to the outdoor ranges nearby. They are also more likely to be able to provide you with a private bay, which makes learning easier since you have more privacy and are better able to hear your instructor if you have one with you.
Price is an important consideration when selecting a range. Call and ask what their range fees are, if additional shooters get a discounted range fee, if you have to buy ammunition and targets there or if you can bring your own and if special ammunition is required. Make sure target stands are provided for you. At this point in your shooting career you probably don’t own any yet. Check to make sure that the range you want to go to is open to the public and does not require memberships.
No matter which range you choose to attend, be sure you know the rules there and are capable of loading and operating your firearm and posting your target safely and without or with very little help from the range staff. They are there to help everyone be safe, but they aren’t babysitters or teachers. Sometimes if they aren’t very busy they will be able to spend a lot of time with you, but that’s not their job. If you need help on your first trip, consider bringing a friend or a gun blogger with you or enrolling in a class which takes you to the range for your first time with an instructor.
Remember, it is important to give consideration to where you go to the range for the first time as a positive first time experience is more likely to lead to future shooting, but if you do end up with a bad range experience, find another range! There are plenty out there who will provide you a good experience. Don’t hesitate to shop around.