As a new gun owner or somebody who has decided to purchase their first firearm, the next obvious question you need to answer is, “Where can I go shoot?”
Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the country or own your own rural getaway to have a place to enjoy shooting. Virtually every metropolitan area and many suburban areas boast gun ranges that are open to the general public. These ranges also typically offer day, evening and weekend shooting hours.
Before purchasing your first firearm, consider where you will be able to shoot that will make it easier for you to learn how to properly use your firearm, become proficient with it, and, just as importantly, simply enjoy shooting it. A number of gun shops even have their own ranges, which is a great combination as you can often rent the type of gun you’re interested in buying and see how it feels shooting it to make sure it is the right one for you.
If you are new to the shooting game, a local range with qualified instructors will be your best option. There, you can sign up for a class or have a private lesson. A good instructor can teach you how to care for and safely handle your firearm as well as proper shooting techniques and safety and etiquette at the range or in any recreational shooting environment.
Places to Shoot
- Indoor Range – Typically, an indoor range is a very practical option for most shooters. Because they are inside and can control noise, these are the types of ranges that will be most convenient for urban and suburban shooters. While many ranges can handle most, if not all, types of firearms, shooting distances are typically limited to 50 or less yards because of practical limitations in building sizes.
- Outdoor Range – Outdoor ranges can offer all types of shooting activities. From shotgun sports (clay target games like trap, skeet and sporting clays) to pistol and rifle bays, outdoor ranges can be a terrific option for all types of individuals. Many offer long-distance shooting for people sighting in rifles, muzzleloaders or shotguns that shoot slugs. They can also accommodate the shorter distances common to handgun shooting. Outdoor ranges can be a convenient option as they can be located on the fringe of suburban areas, making for a relatively short drive to the larger population of an area.
- Shooting Clubs – Joining a shooting club with diversity in range types can be a great way to make new friends with similar interests and develop a regular place to shoot that is maybe easier to schedule range time. The upfront costs of an annual membership can be higher than just paying as you go at a local public range, but if you plan to shoot frequently, it can save you costs over the long term.
- Rural Land – If you have access to land in the country, joining friends and family on the property where local ordinances don’t prevent you from shooting is a great way to enjoy the day and some fun target shooting. If you are an experienced shooter teaching a new shooter, the lack of other firearms from other shooters common to a public range can make it easier to instruct and put a new shooter at ease. Just remember, all the same safety rules apply in addition to ensuring you have a good backstop and place to shoot that does not endanger homes, people, pets or livestock on neighboring properties.
No matter where you go to shoot, in addition to your firearm and ammunition, you must always remember to take eye and ear protection so you can protect your sight and hearing when shooting. To keep everything organized and ready to go, a good range bag is also highly recommended. You may want to keep some paper targets tucked in the bag as well as you will want to shoot against new targets no matter where you go to practice.
To find a range or place to shoot near you, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has a website called wheretoshoot.org that lists ranges across the country. These ranges are searchable by city, state or zip code. The website includes those ranges that are NSSF members and those that aren’t.