Joining a Club

I’m trying to join a private shooting club.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission has closed the public outdoor range in my county, and although I maintain a membership at at Classic Pistol, a local shooting range, it’s limited to indoors, 25 yards.  The cool thing about it, though, is you can shoot full auto, rifle, pistol; pretty much whatever you want, except for black powder and API rounds.  Their facilities, for an indoor range, are second to none in the area.

But this place I want to join is very local, and the facilities are nice.  They have a top notch trap and skeet setup, an indoor pistol range, a plinking range, and a 200 yard outdoor rifle range.  It’s available for shooting all hours.  There is a downside though.  They don’t allow magazines to be loaded with more than five rounds, even on the plinking range.

I got a letter today stating that I have to qualify, and be voted in.  Now, I totally understand qualification; they have an interest in making sure I am not a dummy, and can safely handle and shoot a firearm.   But what worries me is this part of the letter:


It’s a private club, and they can make their own rules.  But that significantly annoys me, enough to make me reconsider whether or not I want to join.  On the one hand, they have really nice facilities, and it’s close to where I live.  On the other hand, it’s shooting club, an NRA affiliated shooting club, in a state where 6% of the population is licensed to carry a loaded concealed handgun, and these guys are uncomfortable with the idea of concealed carry?

I can walk into my other indoor shooting range carrying a concealed weapon with no problem.  Their only rule is that, in the showroom, the firearm must either be cased or in a holster.  That’s reasonable.  Being a gun club, and not being comfortable with carry is kind of stupid.

I’ve been told they’ve had problems with bozos at the clubs doing things that are unsafe.  I am sympathetic to this, and understand making new potential members jump through some hoops, by requiring sponsorship from current members, having to pass a safe shooting test, getting voted in at a meeting, etc.  I think these are all reasonable things for a private club.  But I have no desire to join a club that treats its members as potential bozos, or accidents waiting to happen, and institutes rules that treat them as such.  That’s what anti-gunners do, and I have little tolerance for it.

So the question is, do I want to tolerate the rules, join, and work to try to change the club from within?  Or do I tell them to get lost, and  continue to drive an hour and a half to Lehigh County every time I want to do some clay or outdoor shooting?  I’m not sure.  I’m always a fan of trying to work within the system, but I don’t take kindly to being treated as anything other than an adult who knows how to competently handle, and yes, carry a firearm.

10 thoughts on “Joining a Club”

  1. Before making a decision, you might ask around to see if this is a rule instituted for insurance purposes. It may be nothing more than a rule designed to keep costs down by reducing the expense of liability insurance.

    Just a thought. I could be way off base, but it never hurts to ask and, if that is actually the case, may indicate that they are looking out for your financial well being (keeping membership fees down) rather than making a statement about your trustworthiness.

    If it does turn out that they just don’t trust you…does that mean you’ll be joining a shooting club with untrustworthy members? Does that speak to their vetting process? Did they decide it was easier to institute onerous rules rather than eject or otherwise “adjust” the untrustworthy member(s)?

    I think I’d have to find someplace else to shoot. Not necessarily because I’d be offended that they didn’t trust me…but moreso because I’d be a little concerned about sharing a range with shooters who seemingly require adult supervision to ensure safety.

  2. Helpful thoughts Sailorcurt. I had considered the insurance angle. But if I were running the range, I would have mentioned that as the reason for that rule. I’m going to jump through the hoops for now. We’ll see how things go. I’m always a fan of keeping it concealed and keeping your mouth shut. At worst, I stay for a year than let the membership lapse.

  3. If not insurance, they may have a general counsel that’s playing it safe. Join for a year, evaluate them during that time, then either stay on or look for a new range.

  4. Before we get all worked up, it could be that rule is only for people showing up to qualify for the first time. I’ve been to that range a lot (my dad is a member), and I don’t recall ever seeing a rule about no concealed carry. And many times I’ve walked up to the range and pulled my Glock from its holster and no one has every complained.

    I was chatting with the VP of the club on sunday (shortly before my M950 blew up on me) and he had some scary stories to tell. Like a guy who never shot a gun before and showed up to qualify with a 45 he had just bought.

    We’ll have to see if they’ll still let me join the club after bleeding all over their floor. :)

  5. If it’s a one time thing I can overlook it. Shooting clubs that are afraid of people with guns is a recurring theme in the gun blogosphere. There are some that aren’t welcoming to black rifle shooters or concealed carry. I was just hoping this wasn’t one of them.

  6. Every time people talk about ranges, I get nostalgic for the NRA headquarters range. 50 yards, indoors, shoot anything up to a .50 BMG, you could practice your draw from the booth, nice lounge area, good tables for benchresting, you name it – they had it.

    I miss that range.

  7. On monday I’m going over there to do a little show and tell about my out of battery detonation. We’ll see how they react to the M950, which is about as evil black rifle looking as you can get.

  8. Ahab,

    I shoot at NRA HQ weekly. It is my favorite place to shoot. Clean, well-lit, great target lanes, nice staff. You can carry holstered openly or concealed in there (as you should, it is the NRA after all).

    Plus, they control the boneheads pretty good. Lots of people are regulars there and they know me and my friend (we always shoot together) on sight and they trust us. I’ve seen some pretty dumb stuff done there and the staff correct it nicely but firmly. Haven’t seen someone shoot “homeby” style yet but I have seen someone use an AR-15 from the hip. He got smacked really hard for that. Another guy put a round into a target carrier at 25 yards with a Mosin-Nagant M1891/30. I heard that yell through my muffs and they gave me a dirty look for a moment (I was shooting an M-N M44 carbine at the time from the bench) before they figured out it wasn’t me.

    Great place. Best indoor range in the area. Quantico wins for best outdoor range in the area.

  9. Yes you do.

    Every time I visit the Commonwealth I try to make a trip to Fairfax just to knock some rounds downrange there.

    Although if someone is shooting a .50, I don’t recommend taking the point right next to them.

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