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Public Ranges--do you trust them?

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

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  1. Rezin

    Rezin Member

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    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.
     
  2. hueyville

    hueyville Member

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    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.
     
  3. ThePenguinKnight

    ThePenguinKnight Member

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    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...
     
  4. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Member

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    Reading threads like this makes me glad my family owns several hundred acres that I have access to for shooting
     
  5. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Member

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    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.
     
  6. Outlaw Man

    Outlaw Man Member

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    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.
     
  7. tactikel

    tactikel Member

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    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
     
  8. BaltimoreBoy

    BaltimoreBoy Member

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    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.
     
  9. Dirtpile

    Dirtpile Member

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    Are you referring to Grand River?
    Thinking about heading over there once in a while once spring comes.
     
  10. gspn

    gspn Member

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    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.
     
  11. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    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. :(
     
  12. bri

    bri Member

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    No, I don't trust people at public ranges. I'm glad I no longer have to go to one...
     
  13. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    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."
     
  14. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Member

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    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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  15. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    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.
     
  16. Kaeto

    Kaeto Member

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    Ragnar, I go to the Sharon Valley DNR range and no one hassles EBR shooters there. I have to drive to that range from the Downriver area because all the ranges around me won't allow Black Powder or all lead projectiles. And the clubs around here either are shotgun only or have 5 year waiting lists.
     
  17. ScrapMetalSlug

    ScrapMetalSlug Member

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    I used to shoot a lot at a public range. I normally would try to go early in the morning on the weekends or during the week if I had the chance to avoid crowds and a lot of others shooting. It was the type of range where guys with Ar-15s would shoot at silhouettes 10 meters away doing mag dumps and telling their friends how "sick" that was dude. No range officers.
    It is quite the luxury to shoot where you live whenever you want. I have never been a member of a "private club" although it doesn't sound like a bad idea if fees are reasonable.
    My goal is one day when I buy a house with some land to build a big berm with my own pistol and rifle range.
     
  18. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    Ahhh, no. I avoid public ranges, and have belonged to a private gun club for many years.
     
  19. T2K

    T2K Member

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    Regarding the Kyle shooting - he was murdered by an acquaintance. That could have happened anywhere. Guns don't have to be at a shooting range to function.

    I've only used one single public range in my whole life (except for a handful of occasions on private land owned by friends). Twin Ponds Range in the Francis Marion National Forest near Charleston, SC. First went there as a 16 year old in 1989 and I've been going ever since.

    There are range rules posted, but no on-site staff. Just a clearing in the woods with a covered firing line and a berm at 100m.

    I've seen one unsafe thing in all that time (and that was in ~1990) which was a guy firing a pistol round during a cease fire when I was downrange. Other shooters on the line drew weapons (didn't aim at him) and told him to ceasefire. Other than that, dozens and dozens of positive experiences, meeting nice people, letting them shoot my guns and them letting me shoot theirs.

    I've seen some people shooting 12 gauges at tin cans on the ground 20' downrange and lots of people (including me) shoot rapid fire sometimes.

    Life is full of risks. Ski slopes, driving, being in the ocean, being in bars in areas you don't know...I consider my range to be as low or lower risk than lots of other things I might do.

    Having said that, I do hope to have a private range someday. It would just make things more convenient to be able to check targets whenever you want, take things at one's own pace, teach people, host informal competitions, etc.
     
  20. texasgun

    texasgun Member

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    no public ranges for me.... just a gun club (with ballistic steel barriers between the shooters) and an outdoor range in the middle of nowhere where it's usually empty.... I've had a scary experience at an outdoor range once with a girl muzzle sweeping the entire row with a jammed Glock (and her finger on the trigger) :what: never again.....
     
  21. BBQJOE

    BBQJOE Member

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    I've never had the desire to pay money to go shooting somewhere where there's any number of people I don't know in possession of, and firing guns.
     
  22. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Member

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    I like to have the range to myself. But since I moved to the woods I can go right out back. I keep my membership to the gun club so I can be a brass rat and get cheap beer in the clubhouse. 1.05 for a frosted pint of government taxed brew tastes better than a 3.00 non frosted pint of same beer at a normal bar.
     
  23. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    When you say,"puplic range" do you mean ones with no Range officers or do you mean a Range for members only?
    If it`s the latter, mine is run with total safety in mind. The Range officials have full command of any and all activties. You mess up.....your gone.
    It`s about as safe as one can be. You don`t have to keep looking over your shoulder as the Range official does that for you. Relax and enjoy.
     
  24. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Member

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    That's exactly why I'm a member at that many. They all have a specialty range that the other's don't. My dues for all five are less than $150. And all five are within fifteen minutes of my house. The public range is within this vicinity as well. I end up at all of them at least once a week to pick up brass. But I tend to shoot at one of them the most since you're allowed to shoot at anything except glass. The stepdaughter likes plinking empty refrigerant cylinders because "they make a cool sound."


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  25. MasterSergeantA

    MasterSergeantA Member

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    Here in Arizona, you can pretty much shoot on any non-posted public land. (There are some restrictions.) And most of the state is public land. But I mostly shoot on the recreational range at Fort Huachuca. I also happen to be one of the range masters. It is open to the public, not just service personnel. We always have a minimum of two range officers onsite. And control is pretty tight. In fact, our biggest problem is the soldiers who show up and rent pistols from the range to qualify for a German military badge. Most have never fired a handgun before (this is the Army now, not my Marine Corps) and they can be a bit unnerving. But they are ALWYS taken aside and given a very thorough briefing...and PMI...before we let them near the firing line.

    I have never hesitated to throw anyone off the range for any unsafe act. The MWR management has always backed us in every case where a patron had to be ejected. A couple of young officers decided to try to argue with me; it didn't work out so well for them.
     
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