Northern Virginia: Private outdoor range to borrow?


May 9, 2003, 01:23 PM
Hey, all.

My wife and 11-year-old daughter want to learn how to shoot. My wife as been with me to the NRA Headquarters range before (to observe -- she didn't want to shoot on her first time out), so she's taken the required range-safety test, but the girl hasn't.

I don't really want to go to the NRA range, because of the number of people that are usually there, and the fact that (being as it's her first time shooting) I'd like to start her off nice and easy, with very little scary sound and so forth. So if there happened to be someone shooting 7mm Rem. Mag. a couple lanes over, she'd probably pay less attention to her learning, and more attention to the absurdly loud sounds coming from nearby.[0]

Blue Ridge Arsenal also has the "lots of people" factor, plus they don't allow rifles, IIRC, and I've bought my daughter a .22WMR bolt-gun to learn on.

What I'd like to find is someone who has a private outdoor range (or, lacking a range, land sufficient for shooting safely) who would be willing to let me use it to teach both of them to shoot, without lots of others around.

I intend to teach the Safe Gun Handling part of the lesson at home (in fact, I've already begun on that), but I don't own enough land to legally shoot on. By the time they ever get to hold a loaded gun, both my wife and daughter will (of course) know the Five Rules[1] and will have been drilled in clearing a gun and what to do in the event of a misfire. All of the good stuff.

Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks in advance,


[0] I say this advisedly, because I shoot 7mm Rem. Mag. myself, so I know how absurdly loud it is.
[1] Rule #5: It's ok to shoot your TV during dry-fire practice, as long as Diane Feinstein is on the screen at the time, and you have a good backstop. :D

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Mike Irwin
May 9, 2003, 01:45 PM
I'm pretty certain that Blue Ridge allows .22 rifles, but they may have changed.

The private range situation in Northern Virginia isn't good.

There's Gilbert's and Shooter's Paradise, or if you want an outdoor range, there's the Isaac Walton League.

May 9, 2003, 03:16 PM
Anyone have any ideas on how to go about joining? I have sent many emails and have not recieved any responses on the joining process. I live in northern virginia, and am looking for outdoor range for the same reasons as brokenpaw, a slightly less crowded, quiter place to introduce some female and new shooters including my gf, mom and sister. I too am afraid that someone will start shooting something really loud and convince them that target shooting is scary rather than fun.

May 9, 2003, 03:25 PM

Re IWL: Email me at with your contact info and I'll pass it on to my former co-worker who is an RO there.


May 9, 2003, 03:56 PM
If you live, work or own property in Loudoun County, shoot me an e-mail (, I'll be glad to co-sponsor you for the loudoun county chapter of the IWLA.

May 9, 2003, 04:10 PM
Have you checked out Clark Brothers in Opal VA?

The Plainsman
May 9, 2003, 04:12 PM
if you wanna mosey on out here to the Heart of America (and Tornado Alley), you're sure welcome to shoot at my place. You can get out to 135 yards and the only audience you'll have is about 35 head of black angus. :D

May 9, 2003, 04:44 PM
Blueridge does allow rifle's that are of pistol caliber, I've seen people shooting M1 Carbines. I'm there about once a week. Weekends are busy, as are evenings. Middle of the day is the quietest time. You may also ask the RO's to let you use the opposite side that is in use at the time. I have asked to use it when introducing new shooters.

With summer comming fairly soon you may want to wait till then and use the middle of a day opportunity. IM if you need anything or questions. NRA is a little harder and intimidating to the first time user.


May 12, 2003, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the replies, all.

Plainsman, If I ever make it out that way, I'll look you up. So far, I've only ever been in that part of the country in the sense of being about 35000 feet above that part of the country.

Biff, I've been to Clark Brothers'. I broke my new AR-15 in there, actually, because it was the only range I could find that would allow me to have cleaning stuff right at the shooting bench. Shoot-1-and-clean, shoot-1-and-clean would have gotten pretty tedious anywhere else. I'd forgotten about CB, actually. I suffer from "Northern Virginia" mindset, where places that are outside of Prince William, Fairfax, or Loudoun counties tend to fade from the mind.

So far it sounds like BRA or Clark Brothers' during the day is my best option. (Thanks for the specific info re: allowed calibers at BRA, DragonRider).

Hey, there's someone out there that makes a .223 pistol...does that mean that .223 is now a "Pistol Caliber", so I can take my AR to Blue Ridge? :D


Mike Irwin
May 12, 2003, 12:39 PM
I was to Blue Ridge over the weekend.

They're under new management, and things are looking up, except for the fact that they're still selling new S&Ws.

They've also pretty much banned lead bullets from the range with the exception of a few select calibers, including the .22 LR.

May 13, 2003, 10:54 AM
i thought blue ridge seemed just a bit different last week. new management, eh? cool.

May 13, 2003, 10:58 AM
isaac walton is probably the best place around here.

dunno, but maybe possible to persuade a range to stay open for an extra half hour after closing for a small fee? (for just you and your family)

but learning to shoot outdoors is a whole lot less intimidating. the NRA is the most intimdating place, probably.

side related topic: when I introduce friends who are anti-gun/liberal/democratic/dc-residents, i take them to the NRA range. it's the heart of the 'enemy', and they do a good job of seeming professional and like they do ALOT to watch over everything... they maintain control... including with their little safety test. this is comforting and persuading to them...

May 16, 2003, 02:04 PM
I'm with themic. I always take first time shooters to the NRA range. They take everything more seriously there, and that impresses the hell out of the guest.


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