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Public Ranges--do you trust them?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by AJKC, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Akita1

    Akita1 Active Member

    Jan 4, 2013
    Hell (FL)
    Mostly private or at our hunting camp these days. I occassionally go to a public place called Tenoroc in Central FL because they have ex-military range captains (two at a time) who are constantly walking the ranges giving tips, correcting shooters, etc. They are VERY strict and if anyone steps out of line, they're gone (at least when I've been there). Feel safer there than anywhere else "public" I have ever shot. Sometimes the private ranges are just as scary as the public...paying more and passing a shooting test don't necessarily make people more responsible at all times.
  2. AJKC

    AJKC New Member

    Feb 8, 2013
    Thanks everyone for responding, it's interesting to see so many varied experiences.

    My "better half" goes to public range on the weekend (tries to go in morning) and often brings along newbies. I know no one is 100% safe, but I still worry (esp after Kyle shooting.)
  3. sota

    sota Member

    Dec 19, 2012
    I'm a member of a private club that is self-policing. everyone is mandated to wear their ID badges plain and visible which has big numbers on it. Normally when I go there's no one there but the few times it's been "crowded" (myself and 1 other person) there have been no issues. all it takes is a phone call to the club president (his # is on the bulletin board in big numbers) and there will be consequences.
  4. stonecutter2

    stonecutter2 Participating Member

    Jan 29, 2009
    Bloomington, IL
    I am blessed to have private land to shoot on.

    That said, i did use a public range for some time. I was always leery of those around me...either by their safety techniques (or lack thereof) or by their demeanor.

    I tried to remain polite and considerate at all times.

    Ultimately I accepted that I was willfully sharing a space with strangers that have loaded weapons. There is inherent risk in that endeavor.

    As for who I bring, it entirely depends. Some of the most senior shooters can have terrible safety practices, just like the greenest beginner.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  5. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Senior Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    IN between
    I don't do public gun ranges any more. Not since I got a private membership at a club. The last time I was at a public range was for archery. It got a little weird with a couple of guys that got really talkative and friendly. My wife was with me and we both felt something was off so we left rather quickly. It was just us, the two guys, and a really old guy. We were pretty sure it was an interview. I kept one eye on them while we packed, Thankfully nothing happen and I was armed as well.

    It's said, but I don't trust public ranges these days. Don't get me wrong, I know that the overwhelming majority of folks who visit and use public ranges are decent folks, but it's the few that ruins it for everyone. Hell, even when I go to the club, I make sure that I am well armed going down range to change targets. With the crappy economy, it is a real easy way to grab a thousand bucks of property.
  6. Rezin

    Rezin Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Bucks County, PA
    I haven't been to a public range in many years. The 1 I used to frequent, close down after locals complain. However, when we did go, we went in force. There would be 1012 maybe 15 of us at the time, so that sort of takes the safety equation down a notch, when every lane his friends.
  7. hueyville

    hueyville Active Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Blue Ridge Mountains
    Due to issues with some of my private clients, I still have to use public and indoor ranges for teaching. I have personal ranges from 75' indoor pistol range to 400 yard rifle. My farm though is located too far for most of my students. They are on limited time so we meet at ranges with good reputations that are convenient to them. I wear minimum threat level II and usually level IIIa armor at all public ranges. I will sometimes even wear it at my own range with certain students. When noticed, a lot of patrons consider me paranoid or even take it personal like I don't trust them in particular. I don't trust anyone I don't know well in a concrete room with a gun enough to bet my life on them being solid. Even professionals have lapses at times.

    In 35+ years of using ranges I have seen all kinds of weirdness. That includes local Wildlife Management ranges, indoor and exclusive private ranges. The worst accident I ever witnessed sadly happened due to a mistake by an on duty NRA certified range officer. I have worked with and seen accidents at law enforcement ranges. We are people and thus imperfect. I have personally had one accidental discharge back about 30 years ago. I had a custom trigger job done that was just a tad too crisp. Luckily I practice good muzzle control. I witnessed a top level IPSC shooter have a lapse of judgement. I have seen guns discharged accidentally in gun shops, gun shows and police precincts by folks that know how to handle guns.

    The bottom line is the more your exposed to something of potential danger, the higher the risk of involvement or witnessing an accident. Whether it is a professional carpenter hitting his thumb with a hammer, truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, race car driver getting rear ended in accident off track, chef cutting their thumb off, or police officer having his backup fall out of his pocket. In a related thread a regular poster quoted the verse "live by the sword, fall by the sword" and was chastised by people that took his statement completely wrong IMHO.

    So I choose to limit chances of personal catastrophic accident by wearing a vest at the range. Does it eliminate the chance, nope, but I will take the risk while minimizing chances of deadly consequences. After a recent incident at an indoor range my new rule is when patrons mix girl friends and class 3 weapons we step off the line till they finish. Handing a full auto Uzi to a 19 year old girl who has never held a gun is a bad thing. Not that it is a female thing, same rule applies now if some dude comes in with one of the range rental full autos.
  8. ThePenguinKnight

    ThePenguinKnight Member

    May 30, 2007
    I have used the public MO MDC ranges since I started shooting ten years ago. The manned ranges (busch) are nice, but disallow practical shooting practice (1 shot per 3 seconds, etc). The unmanned ranges can get... interesting... I have only had one or two incidents that made me truly uncomfortable; one time, a gentleman showed up and started popping off rounds while a large number of people were downrange, myself included. Otherwise, so long as I am mindful I've not had trouble. Off hours are almost always deserted, and I cant count the free brass I've scored. I've also gotten to shoot a large variety of weapons from random people I've met at the range, lots of fun there.

    I would love to join a club and get a regular group of shooting enthusiasts as friends, as a previous poster menyioned, but I am a bit short on funds for that kind of endeavor right now. Ah well, hopefully sometime down the road...
  9. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    SW Louisiana, not near N.O.
    Reading threads like this makes me glad my family owns several hundred acres that I have access to for shooting
  10. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Senior Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Arlington, Republic of Texas
    The only public range I know of within driving distance to me is Island Lake DNR range maybe 45 minutes away. I avoid going if at all possible, though not because of trust. There's a very strong Fudd atmosphere among the regulars and range staff. I go when I must because it's the only range I know of that has 25y, 50y, and 100y outdoor lanes that I can use to zero my rifles and optics. But all of my guns are scary black guns which really seem to bother the people there. No, I'm not doing anything unsafe. Just a lot of "what the hell you plannin on hunting with that, boy?" and other remarks of that sort. Having both of the safeties for the entire line standing right behind me the entire time and repeating the commands like I'm some dangerous noob. Being the only guy in his 20s with an AR10 in a line of 50+ year olds with wood bolt guns really draws a lot of attention. All in all, going there is a very unpleasant experience that I avoid if I can.
  11. Outlaw Man

    Outlaw Man Participating Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    Cleaning my guns.
    I've felt relatively safe at most of the public ranges I've been to. The majority have good range officers that are watching pretty closely. There's always the occasional yay-hoo, though.

    I'm actually more particular about who I'd bring to a private range.

    My preference is to shoot at a private range, though.
  12. tactikel

    tactikel Active Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Northeastern Illinois
    I have used public ranges in Illinois for 45 years, and have really had nothing but positive experiences. I always eyeball shooters on my line, and have helped many who: didn't know how to load their new purchase, couldn't hit paper, and didn't know what a "cease fire" meant. Every shooter I've met was an opportunity to educate, make a friend, and recruit a new member for the NRA.
    I have shot scores of really cool guns I didn't own!:D
  13. BaltimoreBoy

    BaltimoreBoy Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Like Red Tornado and Gossamer, I have been very satisfied with the public ranges here in Missouri (St. Louis area).
    Very strictly run to be sure - but necessarily so since you don't know who is coming in. Haven't seen anyone thrown out because it never gets that far.
    Some style cramping in terms of targets etc., but it is hard to beat $3 per hour.
  14. Dirtpile

    Dirtpile Member

    Dec 27, 2008
    Are you referring to Grand River?
    Thinking about heading over there once in a while once spring comes.
  15. gspn

    gspn Senior Member

    Jun 10, 2006
    I shoot at a public range sometimes...I figure it's about as safe as driving there on a public road.

    Your life is often in the hands of total strangers.

    Despite the occasional bad safety habits at the range I see far more bad safety habits on the road. Drunk drivers, texting and driving, road rage, etc.
  16. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Mentor

    Jan 6, 2011
    Hastings, Michigan
    This is what I've been doing, except my public hunting area is about 4 miles away.

    I only started going there because my neighbor turned his range into horse pasture. :(
  17. bri

    bri Active Member

    Jun 10, 2009
    Mound, MN
    No, I don't trust people at public ranges. I'm glad I no longer have to go to one...
  18. Trent
    • Contributing Member

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    Dec 6, 2010
    Talking with a buddy of mine a while back.

    Found out he caught a 50 AE ricochet at an indoor public range not long ago. Creased him pretty good.

    Man had been trying to talk his little girlfriend in to shooting it. Harassing her to no end. My friend was getting sick of it, went to pack up. She grabbed the Desert Eagle, went "FINE", pointed it generally down range and hastily fired an unaimed shot off.

    The bullet hit the floor, bounced, hit something in the ceiling just right, caused it to come back to the firing line. He caught that big projectile in the left bicep. Nasty, nasty bruise, but no blood loss.

    The range SO came running in to find out what went on, evicted the couple.

    He said "I'm not going back to that range again."
  19. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Participating Member

    Jun 30, 2011
    I'm a member of five clubs in my area. Does that answer your question :)
    I stopped going to the public range by me years ago. Last time I went there was an undesirable element, holding their pistols sideways, blasting away. Just to many unsafe practices. I've been told it's gotten better since PA requires a hunting license or a range use permit to use the public ranges. But with no range officers there is no one to make sure you have one. I occasionally use a public range in the Poconos. But it's always during the winter when no one is around.

    I only take people that either shoot already. Or are willing to listen to me. I won't take a couple friends anymore because they can't keep their fingers off the trigger. I can't deal with ceartin unsafe practices. But the majority of people that I take, or are memebers of thr ranges, are perfectly safe.

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  20. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    The funny thing about PA is there are SO MANY clubs that being a member of 5 or so makes total sense. They tend to specialize, too, so you join one club for IDPA/USPSA, one club for trap/skeet and sporting clays, one club for long-range, one club because it's just real close to your house, one club because it has a great CMP or smallbore program, etc., etc.

    Fortunately it seems most clubs have dues of less than $100 a year (often MUCH less) so it's no burden. I love it here! :)

    The state ranges are a good thing, I'm happy to support that, but they are so very limited (and so occasionally worrisome) that "serious" shooters tend to move into the private clubs pretty quickly. The public ranges act as both a stepping stone for new folks getting into shooting, or a utility range for the hunting crowd who just need to shoot half-a-box a year to make sure their deer rifle still hits the brown part.

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