Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What do you look for in a Gun Club?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by GIJOEL, Feb 25, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. GIJOEL

    GIJOEL Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Messages:
    284
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm going to visit a local private gun club this afternoon. What features do you look for in a club? Is there anything you avoid? I guess I am more interested in being accepted by the current members (i'm 26 and still getting treated like i'm an 18 year old punk) but that's another storyall together. I don't have anyone in my family with land or memberships to private clubs so I really don't have any experience with them.
     
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    34,369
    Location:
    Central PA
    There are many things which can be important in picking a shooting club, or could ruin your experience there if they aren't a good fit. Unfortunately, some of them are very unlikely to be things you can get a feel for on a first visit on a Friday afternoon. But I'd say the most basic one you can easily discern on a first visit is what the range rules and restrictions are.

    If you carry a defensive sidearm, or want to do realistic practical shooting drills, and/or practice for IDPA or USPSA or other practical shooting competition, you need to watch that you don't end up with a club which will want to restrict your shooting to "square-range," slow fire, plinking or bullseye type stuff -- or not allow you to work with a holster.

    If you collect, shoot, and/or compete with autoloading carbines (ARs, AKs, etc.), you don't want to be hampered by range rules that only allow single-loading or a few rounds in the mag at a time.

    Even more simple than this, though, is is the club set up for the kind of shooting you want to do? If you're a handgunner and this club seems mostly devoted to Sporting Clays, Skeet, and Trap, that could be a problem. The facilities might not serve you well, but you'll also generally be the odd man out who's needs the club doesn't try to meet. If you want to shoot CMP Highpower, what's the rifle range like? If it's one earth pit with a picnic table for a firing line, that's not a good sign.

    Ask what groups meet at or use the facility. Is there a local IDPA club that shoots there? USPSA? SASS (Cowboy Action)? A bullseye league? High-power or smallbore team? How often to they hold events/matches? How often do they hold regular practice sessions? How many shooters attend these events? That will give you a good idea of the club's culture and how many opportunities you'll have to participate in worthwhile activities. (Or how often you'll have to avoid the range if [strike]you're a stick in the mud[/strike] you would rather shoot alone.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  3. Nushif

    Nushif Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Messages:
    3,082
    Location:
    Corvallis, OR
    Range Rules as well as treatment of people who don't fit the standard gun owner's mold, for obvious reasons.

    Sam outlined some pretty good stuff on looking at range rules.
    As for the treatment, well, you just gotta feel this one out. Maybe take a look at whether there's any other shooters like you there at the high times? It's generally speaking a pretty good indicator if you find any one specific demographic utterly missing from the firing line.
     
  4. nofishbob

    nofishbob Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Messages:
    395
    Location:
    Copper Canyon, TX
    Sam1911 nailed it.

    One other concern that I have encountered is access times. Some ranges have different, and better, times of access for members with higher club status. This need to acquire club status has always rubbed me the wrong way. It turns into a situation where some are "in", and others are not.... mostly based on popularity and politics.

    The club I belong to has a gate code that ALL members get so you can come and go at will during the approved hours. In our case that is 7 am to dusk for rifle and handgun, and clays under the lights until 10pm.

    I would ask if there are "senior members" or "key holders" at any clubs that you are considering so that you can make an informed decision.

    Good luck!

    Bob
     
  5. BLACKHAWKNJ

    BLACKHAWKNJ Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    196
    I look for a congenial atmosphere, courtesy and civility. There's a club not far from where I live that I gave up on years ago after I encountered rudeness
    from a member there. If new prospective members are not welcome, or encounter frostiness or disdain, it's not the place for me.
     
  6. PastTense

    PastTense Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    An obvious feature is location. You will probably shoot more at a club a few minutes away than one which has substantial travel time.

    You don't need to limit yourself to one club, since dues are probably not a major fraction of the amount the average THR shooter spends on guns/ammo/etc in a year.
     
  7. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    3,152
    Location:
    Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
    Allows full-auto fire.
     
  8. Nushif

    Nushif Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Messages:
    3,082
    Location:
    Corvallis, OR
    Also, I tend to look at target distances. Since I'm really not a long range shooter I'm not so much worried about the long, but rather short distance. A target minimum of 50 meters gets me nothing when I want to practice speed.
    I'd figure with electronic locks, though, any range should be capable of at least 0800-1600 opening times, so ideally it shouldn't be an issue, right?
     
  9. mcdonl

    mcdonl Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,228
    Location:
    Southern Maine
    1 - The bathroom
    2 - Coffee Maker
    3 - Emergency Exit
     
  10. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    3,773
    Location:
    Potomac, Maryland - Behind enemy lines!!
    Sam nailed most of it.

    First things first, the club must be safe, both in the sense of physical features and, for lack of a better term, a "culture of safety."

    Next, the club has to be equipped for the kind of shooting that you want to do. For me, that means shooting bays rather than a conventional firing line. It also means that there can not be any silly rules against 'rapid fire,' drawing from the holster, shooting while moving, etc.

    Location, price, and intangibles all come after that.

    -C
     
  11. twofifty

    twofifty Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2007
    Messages:
    1,611
    In addition to all of the above, I like a well designed ventilation system. Nothing worse than feeling all gassy and toxic.
     
  12. fractal7

    fractal7 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    117
    I would say look for bullet holes where there shouldn't be any. In the culture sense, the better clubs I have seen will make it a point to have work days to fix things like target frames etc that just get accidentally shot in the course of normal use to keep things nice for everyone and take pride in the club. On the safety side I've been to ranges with bullet holes in places nowhere near the direction of "down range". Those are the places I tend to avoid because 1) no one has bothered to fix it and 2) There are some obvious safety violations that are going on.
     
  13. teetertotter

    teetertotter Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Janesville, WI
    Our Beloit Rifle Club, Beloit, WI., stresses SAFETY FIRST all the time to our 700+ members. We have a pretty complete NRA professional range including indoor which can accommodate a wide variety of events such as, Archery, 100yd High power, 50 Yard, plinking area. CMP, Trap, Metallic Silhouette, Pistol Range, Black Powder, and SASS in the back lot with 19 stations. We have a variety of groups that compete and have fun. We are lucky to have such a facility in our area. Entry/Access is via 2 electric gates. We always promote new members and always greet non members in a welcoming way. We sponsor youth day open to the public which we furnish all the equipment and ammo, County 4H youth day, Military use our facility time to time, October/November Public Sight-in days, some state competitions, .....etc. Membership annual renewal is $65.00 with 8 work hours. New members, $180.00 first year. Even with 700 members, there are only 150 that use the facility on a weekly/monthly regular basis. Members must wear their membership button badges when on the premise. I have been caught by our grounds keeper! Look up your nearest club and see what it has to offer and times they have events that might interest you. Then pay them a visit that evening as the gates should be open. Some have websites. If you have the name of the person running the event, ask to meet him/her when you visit. We have many members from out of state of which we have one on our board. People come from as far as IA to compete once a month in some of our sanctioned competitons and are not members. We welcome non members to participate in any weekly event as gates are open at those times. There is always a mentor to help you at our club. Even though I am not a Black Powder fellow, I volunteer to help out in some of their regional events which I find are really fun people to be around, just like our SASS group. Joining a club is putting into it to make it a better place for everyone.
    I joined a rifle/pistol club because I wanted to compete and have access to other competitions I might enjoy. Sometimes I hang out at their Wednesday night pistol league and a couple of them are always encouraging me to shoot with them. I might surprise them this year and try my turret scoped .22 pistol which does not meet their requirements, but can shoot with them just the same. I can invision them saying......."What is that contraption?" I will have to get the distances dialed in on my scope a head of time. This is what I mean, you can have fun with a different group of guys and make friends. I might just enjoy their Wednesday eve thing which would be practice for me for Silhouette Metallic .22 pistol.
     
  14. esheato

    esheato Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2003
    Messages:
    2,784
    Location:
    NoVa
    Proximity to my residence, accessibility (key access 24/7 or only open weekends?), price (prefer annual fee versus $10/day kinda thing), distances (definitely want more than 200 yards, prefer 600+ for rifle, carbine bays from contact to 100, pistol should be contact to 50)

    No restrictions on holster work, magazine limits, firing speed, etc. (I shoot USPSA and do pistol and carbine practice...double taps and rapid fire are part of this)

    Basically, I want to be left alone. I don't want people up in my business, I don't want range officers watching over my every move. I want just an open bay that I can do as I please whether it's pistol, carbine or whatever.

    I usually bring everything I need from water, to targets, to portable shade. All I want is a backstop.

    EDIT: I didn't mention safety, but I assumed that it is a safety minded facility.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  15. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Messages:
    18,302
    Location:
    Ft. Worth
    Pretty much as Sam describes.

    Things they must allow, even if some "test" is required beforehand;

    Rapid fire, drawing from holstered, access without needing someone else (key, padlock, etc), 7 day a week access.

    My range for example allows drawing from a holster and shooting on the move if you have a current IDPA or USPSA classification (or a badge of course) or if you demonstrate to a club officer in person that you can do it safely.

    So many ranges don't allow those activities at all.
     
  16. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    2,245
    Location:
    High up in the Rockies
    I would look for these items.

    ABOVE ALL, ALL SAFETY RULES STRICTLY ENFORCED


    1. Any type firearm and magazine allowed, specifically including full auto.

    2.Any type of safe target allowed, including silhouette and "realistic" L.E. types

    3. Shooting from holster allowed. (done safely)

    4. Range or ranges well suited to your preferred type of shooting
    (example: my club has a "plinking range" where you can shoot soda cans, balloons, etc-clean up when finished enforced)

    5. Club must have an FFL and afford members the opportunity to buy guns, ammo, and components in bulk at dealer cost.

    6. Dues paying members have right to vote in (or out) directors.
     
  17. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    34,369
    Location:
    Central PA
    Wow, that's a cool one, if your club can swing it, but it takes a lot of dedication and an extremely competent person in charge of such things to keep individuals and the club itself out of serious trouble.

    I've been involved in conversations where clubs have discussed this, but never seen or been to a club that actually decided to go that route.

    When it is sometimes difficult for the (unpaid, volunteer) club BOD, president, etc. to reliably get the grass cut, match schedule conflicts resolved, the snow plowed in a timely fashion, etc. -- and understandably so -- dealing with a FFL's bound book, ATF compliance checks, immaculate record-keeping, and so forth is a HUGE step to take.
     
  18. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    34,369
    Location:
    Central PA
    So, GIJOEL, you were going for your visit on Friday. What did you find there?
     
  19. bobbo

    bobbo Member.

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    172
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    I like my range. There's 50, 100, 150 and 200-yard ranges, with four benches for 50 and 2 for each of the rest, a trap field on the rifle range (kind of a pain, but it's a small club) and a dedicated skeet field. Oh, since it's a Rod and Gun Club, we have a stocked trout pond, too. Not that I fish, but it sure is pretty :).

    No range officers, "senior" keyholders, or anything like that. No worries about fully auto (illegal in NY for almost a century), pistols (We love pistols here), big mags (It's NY again, but nobody cares about pre-bans)

    We have 2 real rules:
    1) Don't even look through a scope when someone is in front of the firing line. Safety first.
    2) Don't put beer in the Pepsi machine :).
     
  20. GIJOEL

    GIJOEL Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Messages:
    284
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    SAM1911
    I checked out a club in Richfield, WI. They are open from 8am till dusk 7 days a week with caretakers that live on site. They have a 7? to 50 yard range, 100-200 yards range, trap, skeet, running deer range, and a 100 yard auxiliary range. I walked into the clubhouse to find about a dozen very nice people setting up for there wild game fundraiser dinner. I got to talk to the president of the club and a few other members. While they don't allow "human targets" they do allow holsters on the firing line and have an AR-15 league and 3 gun matches using 8x8 steel from 25-200 yards. They do a bunch of other stuff too, stocked pond, tones of archery, nature trails. I think I'm going to join on Tuesday, the place is really nice, while I would like a more tactical atmosphere, I understand that other people who come to the club (boy scouts, archery shooters) might not understand, and besides I have visited clubs with a more tactical "feel" and it seems to go with a rather militant attitude that I don't like being around.
     
  21. esheato

    esheato Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2003
    Messages:
    2,784
    Location:
    NoVa
    Sounds like a nice place (except for the no human targets).
     
  22. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    34,369
    Location:
    Central PA
    Well that sounds like a place you could work with. The no "human" targets thing is silly, of course, and I'd want to make sure that doesn't include USPSA or IDPA type silhouettes, but otherwise, it sounds like it meets your needs. Good to hear!

    Now you can start to evaluate the other important qualities that you can only learn in the long term. Attitudes on tolerance for other styles of shooting (and styles of people, too), safety practices and enforcement, openness, outreach and community involvement, and so forth.

    Good luck at your new "home!"
     
  23. kb2iaw

    kb2iaw Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    169
    Location:
    city of the hills Oneonta n.y.
  24. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Messages:
    3,253
    Location:
    Northeast TX
    Look for one outdoors with no supervision like my gun club. One time yearly fee and they give all members the combination to the gate. Covered, big and nice with both rifle and pistol ranges. Go and come as you please they just expect you to clean up after yourself.

    Reading these other posts I feel sooo lucky.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  25. JellyJar

    JellyJar Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Location:
    Alabama
    I would settle for just about any club. Where I live there is only one club and its membership is closed.

    The city PD here offered to let civilians use their new range but only on one day a month each month. Plus lots of other restrictions as well. And if the weather is bad that day too bad. I have not heard if anyone has signed up for this or not.

    I have to go way out into the boonies to shoot and it is not convenient. No bathrooms :eek:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page