It can be intimidating to try to find a shooting range that’s right for you. Especially if you’re new to the sport.
Indoor ranges. Outdoor ranges. And ranges that offer both indoor and outdoor shooting. Some ranges are handguns only. Some welcome handguns and rifles. In addition to shooting ranges that are generally open to the public, there are gun clubs that typically require a membership. Maybe you don’t want a membership. Then again, maybe you do.
Arghh! So many things to consider! How do you break it all down and make a decision?
First off, ask yourself what you want from the experience. Are you solely interested in shooting or are there other features like gift shops, classes, social activities, competitions and more that would appeal to you? Next, consider the culture of the operation. Are they friendly and welcoming to shooters of your level of experience? Or do they tend to be a bit more clubby and cliquey?
Most importantly, you want to make sure you’ll feel welcome, supported and satisfied. And that the range you choose has everything you need to make the most of your shooting experience.
We should also mention availability. The sport is increasing in popularity so finding a facility near you with open times can be challenging. But with the right focus and a little perseverance, you can connect with the right place.
So where do you start?
Probably the best place to start is with a visit. Set up a tour with the facility manager. Or drop by on a weekend or during one of their busy times to get a true feel for the vibe and whether you see yourself fitting in there. Shoot some rounds. Or possibly even take a class if there’s one that’s open and appeals to you.
Here are the “must-haves” in any range you’re considering:
- Safety is a priority – Good ranges typically have a certified range safety officer (RSO) not to mention basic rules in place and on display. Make sure your range practices the basics.
- Firearms for rent – It’s nice to try different models and styles – especially if you’re new to shooting. Many ranges have a well-stocked variety of firearms for rental like Lotus Gunworks of Jensen, Florida.
- Safety equipment and ammunition – You should never shoot without the proper equipment or ammunition. A good range will have both and help outfit you accordingly. But if your range doesn’t have the ammo you need, consider finding it from a reliable source like Patriot Defense Ammunition.
- Classes – Find a range that offers a good variety of classes led by certified and experienced instructors. For example, Sharpshooters in St. Louis, MO offers a wide number of classes including ladies- only sessions, private lessons for couples and even a class on how to clean your firearm.
And here are the “nice-to-haves”:
- Patience – Your experience will be so much better if you’re dealing with individuals who understand that you may have a lot to learn.
- Group events and parties – From birthday parties to work outings and team building, your range experience can be more fulfilling if experienced with friends, family or coworkers. Check out Texas Gun Experience in Grapevine, Texas for an idea of a good variety of events to make the most of your range experience.
- Gunsmithing – Cleaning, optics, repair, refinishing, maintenance…if you own a gun, you’ll want to keep it in optimal operating condition. Some ranges, like Manchester Firing Line in Manchester, New Hampshire, offer complete gunsmithing services.
- Fun – Shooting is a blast! Make sure you choose a range that not only supports fun but encourages it.
So you know what to look for in a range. Now to find it. Probably the best and easiest way is to use a tool like Where To Shoot – a website that allows you to plug in your location to see all the range options near you.
Bottom line — find a place you’ll be comfortable with. And they, in turn, will be comfortable with you.