On Organized Ranges

Over at Tactical Tupperware:

One of the things that bothers me to no end is that my range had enacted a one shot per second rule as well as magazine restrictions. Both of these bother me because they feel like anti gun thinking. The given reason for the one shot per second rule is not that people were firing faster than they could control but that nearby neighbors would call the sheriffs department and complain that the range was “training murderers”

Same boat I’m in too. The problem is, when you sit on a board at a gun club, all you will see is a parade of people who break rules and generally don’t know the first thing about safe shooting. It’s easy to fall in the trap that your club is infested with unsafe people, and then try to tailor rules around that likely false notion. I too get annoyed when clubs adopt the rules of the anti-gun folks, but the solution is to get more involved with the clubs and do your best to change things.

One of my big fears, in the overall big picture, is that a lot of private clubs are going to have severe membership difficulties as their members die off, and younger people don’t want to join them because they tend to think of shooting more as a product they choose to purchase or not, and don’t really have the disposition, patience, and/or time to work with a shooting club from the civic organization perspective. The risk to the shooting community is that when a club fails, and has to close down, either through a lack of interest in people joining, or a lack of interest in people helping to run the club, it’s lost forever. My club is currently in no danger of this, but other clubs I know of struggle, and there’s no guarantee even my club won’t have problems in the future.

27 thoughts on “On Organized Ranges”

  1. Our club in suburban St Paul, Minnesota has adapted, favorably, over the last few years. They now allow members to practice “holster work” (drawing from holster), to open carry at the range (w/ required State permit), shooting “short” ranges (0-5yds), shooting human silhouette targets (weird, but previously not allowed), and “controlled” rapid fire.

    The “controlled” rapid fire rate is as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger, and still maintain control of his or her weapon.

    We also have USPSA setups at our club on a regular basis. They’re changing…slowly.

    Trying to get them to setup a 180 or 270 degree range now!

  2. Not my club. We have a waiting list of those wanting in. This is after going up on the entrance fee.

  3. My problem with gun clubs in my area is not their rules. It is:
    1. The cost – They have multi-thousand dollar initiation fees. I can not justify that expense.
    2. The distance to drive – I have 4 ranges with 20 miles of my home, why should I drive further?
    3. The rules to join – I have to find someone who is already a member to sponsor me.

    I’m interested in joining the clubs for their leagues and extended hours. But, they have made it extremely difficult for me to even consider joining at this point. I can go to local ranges with similar facilities, similar rules, and spend a little less in exchange for slightly more limited access. Why would I choose to join one of these clubs that act like they are not even interested in me joining?

    1. Same here … there are at least half a dozen clubs near me that have great facilities and make the membership experience sound like what I’m looking for in a club, but every one of them requires that you be sponsored by a member, and then you’re still sitting on a waiting list for what in some cases I’ve been told could be years. One club only came to my attention because I bought a gun through an FFL who’s a member.

      I wonder sometimes if this is a similar phenomenon to the dying rural town that’s surrounded by thriving suburbs just outside the city limits. You go in and find out almost all the residents are retirees who vote for policies that discourage newcomers, then wonder why half the place is boarded up.

    2. AUG, I can’t help you with Items 1 and 2, but here’s what I did for 3.

      Clubs are generally open to the public if you are participating in a sanctioned match of some sort. Take your choice. I started shooting 3Gun and IDPA at a local range and quickly became familiar with a bunch of the members and learned range practices and whether I liked the club. I did this at a few ranges in my area.

      You will have a ton of fellow competitor members more than willing to sponsor you. Even if you suck at shooting. Like me.

    3. 1. The cost – They have multi-thousand dollar initiation fees. I can not justify that expense.

      WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me? Who pays more than a $100 a year for a fee? That’s outrageous.

      1. This.

        I’m a member at a club near Lancaster PA, and the total cost for the first year or so of membership as an individual is 300 dollars — 225 initiation fee (goes straight to the land purchase account), and 75 for the first year of dues.

      2. Here’s a link to one local club’s membership application. They have a $7000 initiation fee and $85/month dues.

        The gun clubs in the Dallas area are ridiculously overpriced.

  4. It just drives me nuts how some club members will screw things up for other members. Our club almost lost its insurance because at least one member could not follow the rules and used a range in an unsafe manner. The club had to change some long standing practices, that in and of themselves were not unsafe, but that some people had taken advantage of and were using in an unsafe manner. Even after the club informed all members of the changes to comply with our insurance company’s requirements, I get a letter a few months ago notifying me a member had been expelled for breaking the rules, and who continued to break them after a club member observed them shooting in an unsafe manner and warned them of the consequences.

  5. One of our local ranges has the following rule.

    13. High power (centerfire) rifles may be loaded with no more than one round at a time.

    I won’t go there any more!

  6. I belong to one of these PA clubs that is sitting on a mountain of cash, has an aging membership, and seem to be stuck in the mindset of “if you can’t hunt with it, you can’t shoot it here”. I’ve tried to get involved with the club, it’s like trying to crack into the Bilderbergs. They have range committee members who are either: 1.) 137 years old. 2.) Don’t use the club ranges. 3.) Have no interesting in maintaining or improving the facilities. and 4.) Won’t give up their thimble of power which is the committee position, despite their total lack of motivation or interest in the ranges.

    This is the kind of crap that is killing clubs. When you have 300+ acres there is no reason to have only one small rifle range and one pistol range. There is no reason to be sitting on $100,000+ of cash when there are broken target backers, broken benches, and everything needs to be repainting.

    When you bring up these things at the meetings, you’re told that this is not a shooting club – it’s a conservation club. Whatever the hell that excuse is supposed to mean. The only hope for some of these clubs is that the membership will die off and those who have been holding the club back will the first to go. You should see what a fight it is to raise the $20 dues to $30 to raise $30,000 for facilities improvements. You might as well suggest that the dues be raised $1500 a year.

    With one of the clubs, after 17 years as member I got tired of trying to get improvements that were needed. I dropped my membership. At 37 years old, I have the time, the physical ability and desire to work on these projects. I was blown off, as were many other members. So I dropped that membership without a second thought.

  7. I have 4 ranges / clubs within a 5 minute drive of my home. I drive 45min to my club because of all teh asinine rules that exist at these clubs.

    I blame a lot of it on neighbors making up things (like pulling shotgun shell hulls from their gutter saying their house is getting shot), but a good amount is from old club members who dont want media attention or bad press because they allow things like semi-auto rifles or human shaped targets. Same sort of people who supported all the other BS gun laws that we fight today, because they did not effect their deer rifle or shotgun.

  8. Thanks for the link.

    Just to clarify I like my range I just feel that some activities don’t work there. I would love to see an area setup with a big berm and bring whatever you want and shoot it the way you want. But I also know it would quickly turn into a city dump.

  9. The rule for keeping any club going is simple. Make it fun, but try to keep it affordable. And both items are often problems.

    As a straight business deal; a range in a settled area will typically cost anything from $250,000 to several million dollars, and may have only 100 members or so. The notes must be paid and the lights kept on, so the membership fees, annual fees, range fees, and so on and on get unaffordable. To the point that if you have to ask what it costs you cannot afford it.

    And of course some think a high entrance bar “keeps the riff-raff out.” I have not found the latter to be true – some of the most offensive former members could pay a $2,500 membership fee out of pocket change; while some of those least able to afford club membership work their tails off to make up for the money they cannot afford to pitch in.

    So building a club is a problem. Keeping it going can be a headache. Despite that, it is well worth doing.


  10. This is kind of a strange thing for me to say, because I’m not a very social person, but I think a club needs people to work at making it more of a “whole” community rather than a collection of cliques who just pursue and promote their own shooting activities. (I’m not the one to ask how to do that; I just think it needs to be done.)

    Mine is a great club, in terms of facilities, and it’s cheap as such things go these days. But I very much believe the vast majority of members don’t feel they are “members” of anything, and they are just engaged in an impersonal commercial transaction where they pay their money to have a place to shoot — period. And, there very often is an “us and them” attitude between the board members and the uninvolved general members.

  11. Yeah, clubs in Lancaster County are starting to get like that. Manheim instituted a 5 round limit. Mt Joy Sportsmen doesn’t allow silhouettes or shooting under 25 yards.

    But you are right- I’m not involved in my club, and its time to change that.

  12. On the subject of club member gripes, I think a classic at my club is, a rule limiting all firearms to a maximum of five rounds loaded at one time. People have been thrown out of the club for firing three double-taps in practice. It is a somewhat arbitrary, somewhat archaic rule that dates back years, before some of the present shooting activities existed. But, being a major gripe with so many people, it has come up so often that key officers and boards of trustees have pretty much set their heels and won’t even discuss it anymore.

  13. this is a problem. Lots of the clubs around me have high-ish fees and lots of rules prohibiting the kind of practical shooting skills I’d like to practice – and am stuck doing mostly at home in a dry-fire scenario.
    Also clubs like these are not good for being a “2nd Amendment ambassador”. I love to bring new people shooting, but many clubs prohibit non members or make you spend more money to get a guest card. My wife had been shooting with me a few times at ranges and did not like the rules, the crowds, or both.
    After taking her to a slag heap public shooting area in coal country (unofficial local range) where we were by ourselves and packing in and out everything we shot – she had a great time! Being able to relax and focus on the basic safety rules really helped her learn that shooting guns can be fun. Club rules where she was left wondering, “was that too fast – am I shooting rapid fire?” or “can I shoot this caliber gun?” or confusion over other distracting rules just sucks the fun right out of it.

    I guess the best solution is to infiltrate the clubs we can and hope the fudds die off and open up the ones that hang a sign over the door, “I’m a gun owner but….”

    As a P.S. I’ll add that I feel personally responsible for introducing close to a dozen new shooters to our sport/lifestyle in the past decade – virtually all of which now own their own guns and some of which have changed their political views of guns 180* I wish that more clubs made this part of their mission, too.

  14. I belong to two clubs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. I was on the board of directors for a year at Club #1.

    Club #1 when from about 800 memberships (a “membership” may be a family, so it may be more than 1 person) to about 1300 from 2008 to the present. At the same time, the types of rifle most predominantly seen on the ranges changed from traditional sporting rifles to military-style rifles, like AR-15s and AKs.

    Additionally, we went from getting a handful of new members each month to getting 50 or 60, until we capped it at no more than 30 new members per month, and have since gone to requiring sponsorship. AIUI, we will not be accepting any new members after August until January at the earliest.

    Club #2 (which I recently joined) changed its membership rules in an effort to keep it from expanding beyond the range’s capacity. They now require new members to be sponsored.

    When both clubs were built they were in the country, but “progress” has resulted in homes being built nearby. In the case of Club #2 there are large developments of McMansions within a quarter mile. As a result, both clubs restrict rapid fire and strictly enforce shooting hours, due to noise concerns. Club #1 was actually shut down for a couple years by the township while the issue was litigated.

  15. Our closest range is much like this. I hate it because I feel these rules DECREASE safety.

    One day I had the RSO sitting and watching me load a stack of standard AR mags to ensure that no more than 10 rounds slipped into there for 5 minutes or more. While watching me, he paid ZERO attention to the rest of the line. I noticed fingers on triggers, muzzle control issues, and all sorts of GENUINE safety issues. Every time I go to this range I notice problems with safety, whether it is distracted RSOs, RSOs loving their “power” of open-carry by open-carrying a giant revolver in a cruddy floppy nylon holster that leads to the muzzle pointing at people, or all sorts of other stupid BS.

    I have no problem with rules that actually increase safety. But stupid Fudd policies that distract RSOs from real-safety issues to focus on aesthetics are retarded.

    I am now willing to drive an extra hour and pay substantially more per year to go to another place with less restrictive policies and a better safety record. Shooting time at a range IS a commodity and people will pay for what they want to get. If a bunch of stupid fudds want to enforce retarded rules invented by the anti’s that are in no way related to safety, then they can pay the dues themselves.

  16. My club doesn’t frown on ARs or the like, but we do have a magazine limitation. I’ve heard at least half a dozen different reasons why it exists, but sometimes I think clubs institute these things just to keep the “wrong kind” of shooter out.

    1. I would not love such a rule (10 round limits), but I would tolerate it — if the range is otherwise run in a safe manner.

      I have no tolerance for safety issues at a range, nor do I have any tolerance when enforcement of stupid non-safety related rules are distracting the RSOs (range safety officers).

      Luckily in my current locale there are a number of ranges within an hour’s drive so there is choice for the consumer.

      In Anchorage we have Birchwood, which is a great facility.

      1. And sorry, I never actually listed the list Fudd Rules at our local range:
        – No more than 10 rounds loaded in any weapon at any time
        – No more than 1 shot per second (often enforced as no more than 1 shot every 2-3 seconds)
        – No NFA items
        – No holsters
        – No clearing your own malfunctions
        – No more than one weapon visible at a time (as enforced, leads to people throwing multiple weapons into bags on the line — that means the RSO has no idea where the muzzle is pointed, if its loaded, etc… awesome!)

        There are some more but those are the highlights. While its not a written rule I’ve also been admonished for conducting reloads on semiautos. Apparently you are supposed to set the weapon down on the bench, gingerly press the reload button, and then carefully remove and reinsert a new magazine from the bench.

        Again, I’d be much more tolerant of these rules if the range were otherwise run in a tight, safe manner… But it isn’t. So I pay money and drive an extra 30 minutes to go elsewhere.

  17. Ugh, I had no idea it was this bad. Now I’m shoving gun club memberships into the same class that I have Home Owner’s Associations in, petty, power hungery little controling for control’s sake jerks. Stupid fudds.

    My ranges near Ft Riley, KS, let you shoot anything you want, as long as the indoor backstops can handle it(I think they top out at .30 cal, I’d have to check). I haven’t heard of any restriction at all for the on base range, other than registering whatever you’re shooting with the Provost Marshall(grrr, lists, grrr), otherwise they’re cool.

    I hope they get better, but these rules just blow my mind. I’d go once, get their list of BS, and have to tell them to stuff it and why. I don’t have a whole lot of patience, oh well.

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