Finding a range that fits all your needs in your area can be a daunting task. Asking yourself a few questions before getting started is a good idea. What are the capabilities in a range I am looking for? You can immediately separate your ranges in two categories, indoor and outdoor. Generally with indoor you will be limited by space and usually by more strict parameters on what you can and can not do. This could be a good thing! Safety is always paramount and this controlled environment might be the perfect place for learning the basics of shooting. A big factor can also be the climate. You cannot control the weather of an outdoor range and most outdoor ranges you cannot fire at night. Generalizations can get you in trouble, but usually you will find that you have more freedom in the type of training you can receive in an outdoor range. For instance, at the outdoor range that I am a member at, you can draw from the holster, shoot steel targets and move while shooting. These reasons might even be why you choose an indoor range! It is always a good idea for a novice to proceed slowly with a big emphasis on safety. This past weekend I took eight family members to an indoor range. Four adults and four teenagers, Most of whom had never fired a handgun. I found that I had much more control than I would have had at an outdoor range. In two lanes and 90 minutes later, everyone had individual coaching and grouped shots on target. Everyone was briefed on and could recite the safety rules, and had a general working knowledge of the semi automatic pistols and the AR we were shooting. The initial fear of the weapons was replaced with a healthy respect and fun was had by all!
Spend some time researching on line. To find a list of shooting ranges in your area, a great place to start would be Go2FirearmSafety.com. They have an extensive list of ranges by area and also offer firearms tips for safety and shooting. It is a great resource for everything having to do with firearms. Look for the sort of amenities that you are interested in. Check out their hours of operation and if it fits comfortably in your schedule. One thing to consider when choosing a range would be to see if they offer classes. Classes such as Concealed and Carry, Practical Pistol or Combat Shooting. The availability of these classes say much about the facility and the people who run them. Can you try and buy? It can save you a lot of grief not to mention money if you can ‘try on’ a particular weapon before you purchase one that is either too big or small for you hand. Can you draw from the holster? Many ranges will not let you draw from a holster to shoot. This is for safety reasons. In fact I would probably cut my range time short if I saw a novice practicing his quick draw in the lane next to mine. A few years ago, at an indoor range, a woman walked up asking for help with a ‘stovepipe’ jam. Not a problem except she fanned her weapon in the direction of at least 4 people including my friends and I. A friend was quick to relieve her of her weapon and cleared the jam for her. Whew! Nothing will get me off the range quicker than a loose cannon in the bay next to mine. Personally, I like to go during ‘off’ hours. When the place is not so busy. This allows me to relax more and not worry about someone doing something crazy. That being said, drawing your weapon is a necessary skill. If the range you frequent does not allow you to train in this fashion, great progress can be made by practicing your draw during dry-fire sessions at home. Make sure this becomes part of your training regimen. Some research and a few educated questions will get you well on your way to finding a good home for your training. See you at the range and stay safe!
Michael Brown is a former U.S. Marine and a Firearm Safety Instructor. He is also an instructor of Krav Maga and a 7th degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.