The financial side of shooting, or Am I doomed to be broke?


White Horseradish
September 19, 2004, 11:36 PM
I am a fairly recent addition to the shooting public. In fact, the first shot I fired from an actual firearm belonging to me was just earlier this year. It started small. Well, not really that small. A 91/30 Mosin is far from being small in either length or caliber. At any rate, it started cheap.

I had some money set aside from last year's tax return for the purpose of buying firearms. I applied myself and quickly added two more rifles (one for the missus) and three handguns to the stable. I found that Wolf makes pretty inexpensive ammo in calibers I need and I thought all was well. I thought that $30-40 per paycheck on ammo is easily affordable.

Then the trouble started. There are two indoor ranges on my side of town. Both allow rifles and handguns. One won't allow Wolf because of steel cases, the other because of steel bits in the bullets. So cheap ammo is out. On top of that, the range fees at both places are approximately $20 for me and $30 if I bring my wife along. It's easy to go through a couple or three boxes of ammo per person per visit. Ideally, I want to shoot at least once a week. The expected $30-40 quickly turns into $150-200 per paycheck, maybe more. That does not fit into the budget quite as smoothly.

So, what I'd like to know is if it is possible to keep shooting on the cheap how people do it. A cheaper and/or free place to shoot would be great. I keep hearing about outdoor public ranges/gravel pits that folks go to. Is there something like that on the North side of Twin Cities? Or am I stuck with Bill's and Armored Fire (and the more expensive ammo) until I move somewhere? Does shooting on the cheap even exist?

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September 19, 2004, 11:54 PM
There are alternatives to Wolf, depending on caliber. Sellier and Bellot, CCI, etc. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if 7.62x54R is even available without it being milsurp or Wolf - I mostly shoot the Czech stuff, myself.

Often people just find a place in the boonies and start shooting. Dangerous, but it works. Do you have a friend with a lot of land? ;)

September 20, 2004, 12:12 AM
Welcome to the good life, WH.

Two words: gun club. I don't know what your options are in your neck of the woods, but I can tell you my own experience here in Missouri. The local indoor range here is about as expensive as yours are, and the cheap Conservation Dept. range is run like a Nazi boot camp. I don't blame them for trying to be safe, but they just wring all the fun out of it.

I found a gun club that's an hour away, but it's about 100 dollars a year. I have a key to the front gate, and some days I'll be the only one at the range, so I can do whatever I want. If other members are there, we cooperate and have a good time. We have shooting competitions, fishing trips, and rendezvous (what's the plural of rendezvous?). The only rules are the basics that keep the place safe. Full-auto fire is allowed, too, but not by my budget! I found the place through my state shooting association, so you might want to check with similar groups in your area. If you ask at the gun stores, they might be able to tell you about places out in the boonies where others go to shoot.

God bless.

September 20, 2004, 12:27 AM
7,62x54 is available in new production, Winchester IIRC makes it. But, who wants to pay $15/box to shoot out of a $70 gun?? Go with bulk surplus, find it online for about $40/ 300 cartridges.

Edit: if you go the milsurp way, make sure to clean the gun after shooting. Hot water down the bore has worked for me.

September 20, 2004, 12:36 AM
Yeah, if you can find a club with its own range, that's the way to go. The club I'm in is $50 per year, and comes with 2 pistol ranges and a 100 yard rifle range... They also provide targets to shoot at, and you can bring things out there like TVs and pop cans. I don't think I'll be able to stand it if I move to the city and have to shoot at the indoor ranges. ick.

September 20, 2004, 12:42 AM
Think about your friends, guys you work with, etc., and I'll bet there are one or two that have some hunting land, a family farm, a remote cabin, whatever. Offer to take them shooting and if they're interested drop some hints and honestly explain what you're looking for. Can't hurt to try.

As for ammo, try buying in bulk from the online places. If you're shooting any 7.62x39, most places allow the American Eagle (Federal) stuff which is sometimes on-sale online and at Mills Fleet Farm.

And there's always learning to reload.

September 20, 2004, 01:20 AM
I just bought 800 rounds of 7.62x54R Czech at J&G in Prescott AZ for 54.00.Of course you would have shipping on it.I just drove down and picked it up.I haven't had a chance to go try it but it was in a sealed tin (and very hard to open.Had pull tabs on it) so should be good ammo.It is corrsive of course.

White Horseradish
September 20, 2004, 02:12 AM
Well, there is a grand total of one straight-thinking individual at work. Everyone else is either a crackhead, an ex-con or an anti. Sometimes all three. Unfortunately, he doesn't own any property anywhere and his family's farm is in Nebraska.

I am a geek with very few offline friends. No help there...

September 20, 2004, 03:12 AM
If you find a range with a yearly fee or a free place to shoot, then it's time to think about reloading. Right off the bat you'll save at least 50% off of new ammo prices, even Winchester White Box. It was about 13 months ago I went shooting and shot up over $50 in ammo - I couldn't take spending that everytime I wanted to shoot so I got reloading stuff and went to it. Now I even buy guns I never would have owned because of the cost of their ammo like .454, 44 Mag and 10mm.

September 20, 2004, 03:33 AM
Time to learn all about the world of the .22lr cartridge. There is no other self-contained cartridge that is cheaper to shoot.

September 20, 2004, 03:33 AM
Have to say reloading is prolly the way to go.

I so want to get the stuff to start doing it... it hurts....

just can't afford it current.

everytime i think about how much ammo costs i think thats not so bad - ever since i became jobless it got a lot harder to "have some fun" hehe


September 20, 2004, 07:31 AM
.22 LR=fun, crazy cheap

White Horseradish
September 20, 2004, 12:48 PM
Thanks for the tips on cheap milsurp. However, it's out for the same reason Wolf is - steel cases and/or bullet components. S&B 7.62x54 is range-legal, but it goes for $15 a box of 20 around here. I also use 7.62x39, 9mm Luger, 9mm Makarov and .32 ACP. 9mm and .32 I can find in brass for $5 a box or so, but then the range fee becomes equal to 200 rounds.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the ranges need to make money to stay in business. I realize they have costs (I don't want to even imagine what kind of idiot insurance they must carry. ) The main thing is, I really want to take my wife along, especially since she seems to have picked up a real interest in killing paper, but the $30 added on to the cost of ammo makes it a bit much.

September 20, 2004, 12:49 PM
There are outdoor ranges, but you'll have to drive a bit. Depending on how far you're willing to drive, Delano has a decent, albeit a short range (75 yards I think). I read about a range opening by St. Cloud also. I'm sure someone here knows the details of that range. There are a lot more available if you're willing to drive an hour or so. My annual membership to the club in central MN is $35.00 and that's for unlimited use.


September 20, 2004, 01:46 PM
For Ammo:

Ammoman (
Midway (

Places to shoot:

Where to Shoot (
NRA where to find a range (

Good Luck!

September 20, 2004, 02:10 PM

What about the Oakdale Gun Club? Is membership there an option for you? It's in the north-eastern suburbs of the TC, so it should be fairly close to you.

If you're willing to drive a little farther, there's always the Dakota County Gun Club in Rosemount. Annual dues there run $75 per year, with an 8-hour work commitment per year.

And I agree with what other have said here about reloading. If you plan on doing a lot of shooting, reloading will save you money in the long run (to say nothing of the benefits of being able to customize ammunition for a particular gun).


Bullet Bob
September 20, 2004, 02:13 PM
What Majic said; plus, there aren't any that are more fun, either.

September 20, 2004, 02:16 PM
"There are two indoor ranges on my side of town. Both allow rifles and handguns. One won't allow Wolf because of steel cases, the other because of steel bits in the bullets. So cheap ammo is out. On top of that, the range fees at both places are approximately $20 for me and $30 if I bring my wife along. It's easy to go through a couple or three boxes of ammo per person per visit. Ideally, I want to shoot at least once a week. "

1). Most indoor ranges have a membership option that can drastically bring that amount down. In my area, it range from $100 to $300 a year; I've chosen the $100 range. Shooting an average of once a week, as I do, that's only a couple bucks per visit.

2). You can make or print out your targets.

3). You can stay with cheaper calibers (.22, 9mm) and/or keep an eye out for special sales on your ammo of choice.

If you haven't already, I'd definitely check with the indoor ranges in your area and see if they have an annual membership'll save you a great deal of money.

September 20, 2004, 02:26 PM
Like many people, you might or might not save money reloading (in terms of total dollars spent), but you should be able to do a lot more shooting that way. :)

September 20, 2004, 02:34 PM is having a sale on Yugo brass-cased 7.62 x 39, 165 shipped for 1100 + rounds. Don't know the construction of the bullets, but should be good for one of your ranges, at least.
Also- get a .22. You'll be able to work on your shooting, and it's hard to beat ammo that costs <$.02/round.
Join a gun club. There must be at least one within an hour's drive.


September 20, 2004, 02:49 PM
If you think it's bad now, wait til you get a machinegun :p

September 20, 2004, 03:04 PM
Yes - and as Paul Harvey would say - "now you know the rest of the story." :D

September 20, 2004, 04:26 PM
well, not exactly the north side of the cities but have you checked out Burnsville Pistol range yet? They're pretty good and only 8 bucks for unlimited time. If you have more than 1 gun it's 12 bucks. I also saw on their website ( that they are working on a rifle range but not to expect that until next year some time. There is also a range by Mystic Lake Casino that is $12 to the public (handgun only). They have a membership for 35 I believe it is and that gets you to $8 per visit. I have shot blazer aluminum cases at both of these places without a problem.

sorry, don't get to the north side very often so bill's is the only one I know of in that area.

White Horseradish
September 20, 2004, 04:58 PM
I live in Northeast Minneapolis and work in Crystal. I wouldn't mind driving to Burnsville, if only the North-South roads in this town weren't such a mess...

Working human hours oughta help, too...

I wonder if anyone ever thought of running a 24 hour range. I'd be willing to give up a little sleep to go shooting... :what:

September 20, 2004, 05:33 PM
The Range out at mystic is Dakota (not sure if that is the same as Dakota County Gun Club).

There is North Metro Gun Club off of 35W and just north of 10, last time I was there it was pretty cheap (under $10 I think) but they may have increased recently. I'm not sure if they have the same policies as Bill's, and Armored. They also have trap shooting which is alot of fun (as if you needed another thing to spend money on). I've heard pretty good things about the Burnsville range.

I grew up N of the Twin Cities, and we used to go up to a range near Mora, Just one of those outdoors gravel pits. I keep thinking it might be worth driving out there and trying to see if it's still around.

I live in NE too, so I've been trying to find good places in Mpls to shoot, let me know if you come up with anything. I would suggest checking out North Metro.

As for Cheap Ammo, check out they are located in Fridley off of University.

September 20, 2004, 05:37 PM
what's the big problem with steel casings?

September 21, 2004, 08:22 AM
Hey, WH, check your PM's . You are always welcome to come out here and shoot, just email, or PM me to set up a time! :)

September 21, 2004, 10:38 AM
How come you don't shoot a .22? Get a .22!

Really, they are still fun even if they don't have the same recoil and noise, and they really help you on your fundamentals. And in your case, as mentioned already, you can't beat 2 cents per shot.

White Horseradish
September 21, 2004, 05:18 PM
what's the big problem with steel casings?
At Bill's they told me they recycle brass in bulk and don't feel like picking aluminum and steel out of it.

Well, taking some of the advice given to me here, I went to the Minnesota DNR ranges page ( . I looked up ranges in Hennepin ( and Anoka ( counties.

The ones in Ham Lake and Cedar are too far for me to drive on a workday. I decided to check out the closer ones. Here are the results:

Minneapolis Rifle Club, Osseo Conservation Club and Plymouth Gun Club turned out to be residential houses and not ranges at all. Either they do not actually exist anymore or they have no ranges. That really sucks. The address they have for MRC is exactly halfway between my house and work... :mad:

The MRC is also listed as being located in Minnetonka Game and Fish Club. The MGFC web page is no more, and it appears that it is not located in Minnetonka at all. It's somewhere north of Hwy 10 on 169. That is a shorter drive than to the South side of town, but that section of 169 is just about the worst road I know around here. It's a three lane highway that narrows to a street with one lane each way and traffic lights. The way to Ramsey is also over that same stretch of road. I would rather whack myself over the head with a 2x4 than voluntarily drive there.

North Metro told me on the phone that they have a 50 yard pistol range. No rifles. They are also on the outer limits of where I can realistically drive from work. Still, it's a weekend possibility.

Such is the pathetic range situation in North Minneapolis and suburbs.

Bridger, I will get a .22 as soon as I can. That still leaves the question of the place to shoot.

Entropy, thank you. I will absolutely have to set up something with you. (I've got to show off my new guns :cool: )Getting out your way does require some planning, though, because of the infernal North-South traffic.

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