Are Military Folks Allowed to Shoot Recreationally?


January 28, 2003, 07:39 PM
If I can't find a real job and am just plain tired of California, want to serve, learn a few more skills, build character, want a change of pace, bla bla bla, and decide to go AF Reserve, and (inevitably) get shipped somewhere...can I check out an M-16 and/or M9 and put a few downrange? Or am I only allowed to shoot when I qualify or have to kill something?

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January 28, 2003, 07:52 PM
Join as an armorer and you can play with them all you want. :)

The average Joe Blow cannot check out a M16 and head off to the range for practice on his own.

January 28, 2003, 08:13 PM
I wonder when the last time an AF reservist fired a M16 in anger was... :D


mons meg
January 28, 2003, 08:22 PM
Remember, reserve MOS choices can be limited by what type of unit is local to you (or how far you are willing to drive every month), and what needs they might have.


January 28, 2003, 09:09 PM
There's always the military shooting competitions. Participants get to shoot (practice) more often than most.

January 28, 2003, 09:12 PM
So far as I know, you can't just check out a weapon and go play on a free afternoon. Armorers, I must agree, would have the best opportunity to play with toys.

However, depending on your unit, they might schedule morale trips to a local range to play/qualify (MSO San Francisco did this).

January 28, 2003, 09:43 PM
I have to agree with Ikari. Sometimes, units have to expend their yealrly allotment of training ammunition in a hurry. That's how I got my turn with Ma' Deuce and the Big Bushmaster.

January 28, 2003, 09:49 PM
Speaking only from my own experience, to even suggest such a thing would bring most military officers to their knees.
Along the same line, most military shooting is not "fun". Sure, all shooting is fun, but it isn't anything like you taking your own guns out and shooting them. It is more like a formal match. You load when they tell you to load, you fire only when they tell you to fire, and you shoot at exactly what they tell you to shoot at. Before any live fire is done there is a safety briefing, every aspect of the whole thing is carefully orchestrated.......................
In talking to friends I would say that the Air Force does very little small arms firing. Again, from what I have been told, at most they qualify with their weapon once a year. Many Air Force vets I talked to only used an M16 with a .22lr conversion kit at a reduced range.
However, as mentioned, there are competitive shooting opportunities in the military. I have no idea what it takes to participate, but if you want to join the reserves to shoot, you need to be looking in to this aspect of it. I recently read a book, entitled The Complete Guide To AR15 Accuracy by Derrick Martin & Barrett Tillman. Derrick Martin is the owner of the company; Accuracy Speaks which is a company that makes match AR15s. He is or was also an Arizona National Guard shooting team member. You might want to give him a call and see what he has to say about competitive shooting in the reserves. I am sure he would know the players in California.

January 28, 2003, 10:03 PM
I'm not sure about the Air Force, or reserve components, but in the Marines you could not check out your issue weapon for some impromptu target practice. However, as a Marine, if you have a combat arms MOS or are assigned to an infantry unit, fear not for you will have adequate opportunity to fire your weapon. I was an electronics/computer tech assigned to 2nd Bn/7th Marines and I volunteered to act as a radio operator for every range detail that came down the pike. I also had more than a few company clerks in the line companies that owed me favors (great being able to repair a Walkman, Gameboy, Television, etc) and got me on range details with their units. (It's all about juice and hook-ups) Compound all that with your yearly qualification on the rifle range, and I was putting more than my fair share of rounds down range every year.

As a side note, the base I was stationed at also had a skeet range run by MWR.

January 28, 2003, 11:08 PM
About the closest thing overseas would be going to the local Morale, Welfare, and Recreation - sponsored "Rod and Gun Club" range during your off time, rent a house gun or use your own P.O.F. (privately owned firearm) that you stored there. Think you have to jump thru hoops in the States?
Unfortuantely, most of the host nations are getting antsy about us Evil Americans being armed and a lot of new laws appear all the time. Think you have to jump thru hoops in the States?

January 28, 2003, 11:16 PM
Mostly garnered by the MOS/AFSC that deals with shooting as their normal duty description. The CATM folks in the Air Force, which is now the same AFSC as the Security Forces, have had a lockdown on shooting competitions for some time now. Skeet still looks open to the general Air Force population, for now. The way it was explained to me, is that is just wouldn't look good for some reconnaissance flyer to go out and win, say, an Olympic pistol or rifle/biathlon event and not be one of the "chosen" career fields who are supposed to be the crack shots. I had support from my unit, the commander, and everybody until I bumped into that brick wall. Bummer.

January 28, 2003, 11:24 PM
I would say the average "gunny" civilian gets more range time than most of our soldiers out there, no matter what the branch. Unless you are Special Forces, the military just doesn't have the money in its budget to let you shoot as often as you should, or that you would like. For most folks the range time received in Basic Training will be the most they will ever get at one time. You can expect to carry a weapon, but not shoot it 99 percent of the time once you get to your unit.

In my Army career I'd venture to say I've sent more 155mm Artillery rounds downrange than I have 5.56mm M16 rounds. Go figure.

Good Shooting

January 28, 2003, 11:32 PM
This squid has shot on the government's dime only 5 times in 9 years, including boot camp.

January 29, 2003, 12:04 AM
I don't ever expect the government to pay for my RECREATIONAL shooting. But I've been able to shoot pretty much every place I've been stationed. In the States, and many overseas posts, have shotgun ranges available for everyone. I used to shoot at lunch.

In Europe I joined the local shooting club and shot with them, while at the same time shooting on the military ranges that are open weekends. Hunting is available there also, but you have to find it.

January 29, 2003, 12:24 AM
You can still own personal weapons, ya know.

My roomie is a M/SGT in the TNANG and was cheerfully blazing away in the back yard this afternoon...

January 29, 2003, 12:50 AM
Go Skunk! :cool: Always working all the angles :cool:

January 29, 2003, 01:32 AM
I do have some knowledge about shooting, since that's what I did for 20-plus years in the military. I don't know about the AF Reserve, but I do know the Air Nat'l Guard has a match shooting team for M16 and M9. They beat my team more than once. The Army Guard has opportunities to shoot competatively, but this varies greatly on the unit commander, since he has to "sponsor" your team. As for checking out a weapon and just going shooting, that generally 'aint going to happen. However, if you are a Guardsman and are on a shooting team, the commander may allow you to sign out an issue M9 or M16 for the purpose of marksmanship competition and practice. The year we won the state combat pistol title, we were allowed to do just that, as well as issued ammo , so we could practice for the nationals. Now if you really want to do some blasting and get paid for it, join an Army Nat'l Guard Infantry unit. You'll shoot alot of stuff, from the M9 up to the 25mm and TOW.

January 29, 2003, 03:50 AM
don't expect to much of any professional shooting in the Air Force........even less in the reserves.

I did 8 years active Army as a CH 47 mechanic and shot many (many) 10s of thousands of 5.56 & 7.62X51 rounds downrange. When I became a SGT I always volunteered for 'range saftey' whenever the folks from the unit(s) were to qualify with the M-60. Had to keep an eye on the morons all day, but before wrapping it up for the day three or four of us would burn-up the remaning ammo. Usually a few 1000 rounds were left if you knew what you were doing when 'advised' the range officer (wink-wink). As the folks who were in know, it's almost impossible to give the ammo back (and alot more fun to send it down-range!)

dude, going Reserves is OK............ but if you want a real change, go Active.
...................and if you want to shoot cool stuff, don't go Air Force or Navy. The Army has more aircraft that the other 4 services combined and the training if just as good.

January 29, 2003, 03:52 AM
...........and I always did lots of off-duty shooting while stationed @ Bragg because I kept some very cool personal weapons with folks from the Unit who lived off post.

January 29, 2003, 03:53 AM
The Army, Navy, and Air Force have completely different attitudes and ways of doing things. Do some reasearch, ask people who are in, and see what they have to say.

Pick which service you think is the best suited for you, and go for it.

January 29, 2003, 05:43 AM
that was 74-77 we couldn't check out 16's. Nothing to stop you from buying a Bushmaster though.

January 29, 2003, 05:53 AM
But it wasn't with gov't firearms except for training and qualification.

Did plenty of shooting on gov't property, but used my own firearms and ammo.

January 29, 2003, 09:01 AM
A long time ago, when I was the armorer at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, I shot every day. But thats because I had to test my repairs and ammo batches :D

If you were to be a tech or some other type job, your shoting schedule would depend on your higher ups. You can shoot on your off time if the base has a range and you get permission(not hard to do) but you don't get to use the fun stuff unless you own it.

I think the Reserves is a great idea. Heck, Id go back if they'd let me.


January 29, 2003, 09:06 AM
The AF doesn't have much to do with guns as we know them, Skunk. Especially a reserve unit. I thought you were going to ask for active duty army or something like that. We did have rod and gun clubs when I was in. A guy bought a Krieghoff 4 bbl O/U set in Germany. Nice!

Monte Harrison
January 29, 2003, 09:18 AM
When I was in the Army, the base I spent the most time at had a 600 yard Off Duty range. It had extremely limited operating hours, and of course, only officers and senior NCO's were allowed to use it. If you live in the barracks, you have to keep personally owned weapons in the armory. To get them out, you have to find the armorer and get the CO or 1st Sgt's permission. Not always an easy thing to do, especially on weekends, so you have to plan ahead for shooting trips. This is why most barracks rats buddy up with someone who lives off post, so they can keep the guns at their buddy's house. Just make sure the CO doesn't catch wind of this, or he'll make you move your guns to the armory, and you and your buddy will both be in trouble.

The bottom line is, the Army only wants you to have the gun they give you, and then only when they want you to have it.

January 29, 2003, 09:28 AM
We may have covered this sometime in the past, but I don't remember.

Does anyone know of someone being allowed to purchase a NFA weapon while in the military and living in/on a military installation. Looks like you could get whoever is in charge of base security to do the CLEO autograph. It could be stored in the armory when not being used.

Since military bases and vessels are federal property, state and local laws would not effect what you did on base. If you could not transport it with you when reporting to a base because they were illegal in that state, you could ship it to yourself at the APO/FPO. UPS/FedEx transport weapons through prohibited states all the time.

January 29, 2003, 09:35 AM
My Air National Guad unit has a fairly active competitive shooting program, and I compete in both military combat and NRA bullseye matches. In fact, that's how I get a lot of my "summer camp" days every year. I pick the matches I want to go to and am put on orders for them.

I know the rifle shooters can't "check out" an M16 to take home, but I have in the past been hand-receipted an M9 so I could practice at my club's range, and also have a couple of Air Force-owned match hardball .45s at home for leg matches.

It is amazing to go to a mixed-service match and see the different ways each service manages the weapons. The poor Army Guard guys don't even get them issued until just before going to the firing line, and may end up sharing or competing with a weapon they've never fired before that day. The Air Guard folks like me show up wearing the weapon holstered.

January 29, 2003, 11:19 AM
It's actually base housing detached from the main base, but still military family housing. I have a C&R FFL, CCW, and just finished doing the paperwork for an NFA Krinkov. Funny thing is, the only paperwork the Air Force required was an inventory of all firearms to be filled out and kept in my unit's orderly room. The paperwork was directed by the 4-star commander of the base's Major Command, so it's not even a service-wide requirement. The firearms themselves are just fine in the house, and all the paperwork I did went through the local police department or county sheriff's office. Now, were I to live in military family housing on the base, things would be somewhat different. The firearms could still be kept in the house, but as for the FFL/CCW/NFA jurisdiction, I don't know who would preside, either the magistrate on the installation, or they'd defer to the county sheriff. Of course, if you live in the dorms on base, either you keep firearms with friends off-base, or they get locked up in the base armory and signed out on hand receipt.

January 29, 2003, 11:29 AM

Happen to know what would happen if you were transfered to a base in a state that didn't allow your NFA yet you would be living in base housing on federal property?

January 29, 2003, 11:35 AM
My reserve unit shoots just about every month. We use the military range, but bring our own weapons and ammo. One of the nice things about this is that I can shoot my Sig while qualifying, which is technically not allowed, since it lacks external safeties.

We are lucky enough to have our own range master, and the Guard lets him open the range pretty much whenever he wants. In return we do maintenance on the range & whatever else the army guys can't do by themselves.

We also have a fairly active shooting team, which competes against other units and travels a bit.

January 29, 2003, 11:37 AM
Especially since they wanted me to take another ********** assignment, or one up near the Pentagon. Looks like the NFA weapon gets sold prior to the move, although I am researching transferring it to my father in Wisconsin. :(

January 29, 2003, 12:42 PM
I know for a fact that the local AF reserve base near town banned all private weapons on base since 9/11. Even the skeet range was shut down. Don't know where the CWP classes are held now. BTW McEntire ANG is the base.

January 29, 2003, 01:36 PM

You don't have to transfer it. You can lock it in a cabinet/locker that only you can open. You then notify ATF that you are storing them at your father's residence and provide them with the address. Leave a copy of your Form 4(s) with your father in case something happens to the locker.

January 29, 2003, 02:56 PM
A bit OT, but here's a fond memory of mine:

Way back in the mid-60s I was a dependant living aboard MCAS Cherry Point. Not being allowed to turn on the TV during daylight hours, I usually sought my own entertainment. One of these was to ride my bike to the old range there by the airstrip and hang out with the old gunny who ran the joint, a friend of my Dad's from Korea.

You could check out weapons from the locker if you were over 16 and had an ID card (dependants) or if you showed your USMC ID card. The choice was '03 Springfields or Garands. Ammo was $1 a bandolier for WWII-era .30-06.

Sometimes I didn't even have a dollar so the old gunny would put me to work sweeping out the range shack or cleaning up the butts during cease-fire. He also provided shooting instruction to anyone who asked and took particular and obvious delight in showing young men how to shoot.

Whenever you put one in the black, he'd shout: "Another dead communist!"

And to this day whenever I make a tough shot I say to myself "Another dead communist" and think about the old gunny, who passed away years ago.

I hope they still allow dependants to shoot at the range on weekends - and I hope there's an old gunny there seeing to their proper education.

January 29, 2003, 03:17 PM
Active military gets to purchase high caps and collapsible stocks just as LE does. I've talked to a few reserve guys and they don't shoot much with the reserves. You'd think the military would want all of their folks to be proficient with firearms. Well I guess it just like a great many PDs where you only have to qualify once a year.

If you want to be proficient you must practice. I know it is all going high tech but wait until someone runs into house to house fighting somewhere. Then again what the heck do I know?!

January 29, 2003, 03:24 PM
Which unit for me? Everyone seems to think the Air Force is right for me, since I'm kind of a geek, and they have lots of geek-related stuff.

I can do computers, but would rather do communications. I thought about National Guard, but as I am leaving California, I don't know if I rather sign up with the State or Feds. Not sure if I'm cut out for infantry either.

I hate flying, btw. I hate boats even more.

January 29, 2003, 03:45 PM
not everyone!

do- get out of CA (I did for the Army in 84)
don't- slight yourself (I did'ent)

.....and forget that reserve stuff, If you really want a change go Active and do reserve time later.

January 29, 2003, 03:53 PM
Active military gets to purchase high caps and collapsible stocks just as LE does.
Not for personal use on privately owned firearms. They are the same as everyone else in that regard. The government can buy them and issue them to the soldiers.

January 29, 2003, 04:09 PM

Why don't you try to get into a Army NG or Reserve in the Signal branch? You'll get to play around with high tech communications devices (fulfilling the geek factor) and probably have a LOT more shooting opportunities than in the AF. Figure out where you want to move based on locations of a Signal reserve unit.

Also, if you feel your recruiter is jerking you around at all either turn up the heat on him or find a new one that wants to work with you. Recruiters are salesmen--some are used car salesmen and some aren't. Above all--GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING THE WAY YOU WANT IT BEFORE YOU SIGN.


January 29, 2003, 04:21 PM
You know, it would be a whole lot easier to move to a state that allows NFA machineguns and buy whatever you want. :)

Somehow I just don't see the chance of maybe playing with a couple of weapons on a few weekends worth the hassles of military life (even reserves). Could even just become an auxiliary LEO and make friends with the guy that maintains the weapons and firing range for the department.

January 29, 2003, 10:38 PM
Join Jeff White's squad..

Have him lend you some toys. I visited his "toy factory" he's got SAW's, M16's big cannons with 14 mile range.. He's got toys toys toys...

Freedom in theSkies
January 30, 2003, 02:16 AM
Sure are!
We just have to supply our own Guns & Ammo...:mad:

January 30, 2003, 09:32 PM
the militia guys get to do a lot of shooting but I think that's byob (bring your own boomer). ;)

January 30, 2003, 10:11 PM
Bummer - I thought you got to rip it up in military training. Guess I understand why not.

-sven, who plays too much Battlefield 1942

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