Whether you intend to shoot for recreation, competition, or self-defense, there are three things you absolutely have to have in order to go shooting: bullets, a firearm to shoot them out of, and a safe place to do so. But your local gun range can (and should) be more than just a physical location with a safe backstop. Most communities have more than one gun range and some will, inevitably, be better than others. But there are some things you can be on the lookout for when deciding if a range or club in your area is a good fit for you.
Indoor vs Outdoor Ranges
Both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges have their purposes, there are some advantages to indoor locations. They are temperature controlled, allowing for year-round training and practice regardless of the weather. Indoor ranges may also be closer or more accessible, as they don’t require a large tract of land far from residential centers. Indoor ranges typically have some type of automated target retrieval system for each individual lane. This is important because it allows you to set and retrieve your target without having to wait for all the other shooters on your bay/range to “go cold” (stop shooting) if you need to swap targets. This equals less wasted time and more rounds downrange for however long you spend at the range. The biggest limitation of indoor shooting clubs is the limits on how far you can shoot and what calibers you can shoot. Many indoor ranges are typically 50 yards or less in length and may have restrictions on caliber or weapon type based on range construction. At Stock & Barrel, we welcome all rifles and handguns up to .50 caliber.
While this may seem slap-your-forehead obvious, ensuring that the range you frequent has proper safety protocols in place is a literal matter of life and death. Are “stop the bleed” medical supplies available in the shooting area? (Tourniquets, gauze, clotting agents, pressure bandages, etc.) Are the range rules thorough and posted clearly for everyone to see? Are their range officers or range safety officers on duty and actively observing the shooting lanes? While you may be a world-class firearms expert, there is no way to guarantee that everyone to your left and right is also. While a laundry list of range rules may sometimes be an inconvenience, there are dozens of videos on the internet showing exactly why such precautions are necessary. So make sure the local gun range you select for regular practice has a good focus on safety precautions. For a full list of the Stock & Barrel range rules – click here.
Finding a local gun range that offers firearm rentals can be incredibly beneficial. If you’re a first-time gun buyer or are helping a friend or family member choose a firearm, rentals give you the chance to “try before you buy” and get a sense of how different styles of pistol fit in your hand, the difference in recoil between calibers and the different types of trigger/operating systems. Likewise, if you are simply looking to expand your collection, or test-drive a new release, the rental case can be a good place to preview. Finally, rentals are a good way to simply expand your practical firearms knowledge and experience base with guns you don’t own or wouldn’t normally be interested in. Stock & Barrel has a host of firearms one can rent right on site, complete with ammo.
Training and Instruction
While many of us take for granted a baseline proficiency in firearms-related skills, there is always room for improvement. Finding a local gun range that offers good quality instruction is invaluable to continuing development as a shooter. Its important to properly vet any instructor you plan to spend your time and money on. If your local range has in-house instructors, don’t be afraid to request an introductory meeting with them to discuss your training needs and goals, or to review their credentials. Many local range instructors offer 1-on-1 training at the range in addition to formal group classes – which can be a boon for new shooters who may be intimidated by a group setting or for more advanced shooters who need coaching more than instructing. Stock & Barrel offers a host of group classes for beginners to advanced shooters, ladies’ only classes along with private lessons.
Competition or shooting matches are an excellent way to build skill, test equipment, network within the local shooting community, and even become more confident with your self-defense or carry a gun. The types of matches you encounter at a local gun range may vary, from informal, in-house “club” matches to national and international league matches like USPSA and IDPA. If you have any aspirations of competing on a regional or national level, having access to a local match that’s affiliated with an established league is going to be vital. But, even if you don’t have dreams of prize-table glory on a national level, weeknight club matches can be a great way to unwind, meet some like-minded folks and increase your comfort and proficiency with a firearm.
Regardless of what your shooting goals and preferences are, or how often you practice, taking the time to make a conscious decision about which local gun range to frequent can lead to increased skill, knowledge, and enjoyment of shooting, for whatever purposes you choose. To learn more about how Stock & Barrel can be your go-to local gun range, contact us today or stop into either location in Chanhassen or Eagan.
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