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I prefer to shoot alone, and I prefer the range to be empty when I go. I don’t like waiting for others. I want to do what I want to do. I know this seems selfish, but it’s only a preference. I’ve taught plenty of people how to shoot. But when I do, I end up shooting very little. The only way they learn is to pull the trigger; watching me more that once or twice won’t help them. My desire to shoot by my lonesome boils down to one thing: freedom . . .

When shooting with others, I feel like a certain safety and comfort balance must be maintained, and rightfully so. When shooting alone I feel free to push myself that little bit harder, without having to please anyone but myself. Your best range trips: alone, with family, a group of friends, a particular friend or with an instructor?

105 Responses to Question of the Day: With Whom Do You Shoot?

  1. I tend do agree with Sara. Being a pilot, there is a definite solitude and bliss while flying. It’s totally relaxing. There are times it’s a lot of work, but there are times, especially at night on a nice cross country flight that if find total inner peace. If you have people with you, it’s just work. The same goes with shooting. I want to crawl into my own little world and not be distracted by extraneous diversion. I want to coddle my firearm and drift into the realm of zen.

  2. I’m at Gunsmith at a local range now, & I know exactly what you mean you like to shoot by yourself. I end up at the range with a bunch of people around me and a gun will go down and of course they know on the Gunsmith there and I end up spending most of my time repairing something or fixing something to get it going again. I really prefer an outdoor setting on private property where I can do as I please maybe with my wife along side me so there’s not a lot of other guns going off so that we can communicate clearly in between shooting sessions and she can ask questions and so that I can answer them.

  3. Sometimes I like shooting with family/friends. Other times I like shooting alone. It all depends on my mood and objective.

  4. I love playing with my gun, but I usually have to wait until my wife leaves for work, and then I…

    Oh, wait, I don’t think we are talking about the same thing.

  5. Family and friends. To a person, we all have current Washington CPLs. We refuse to comply with I-594. We refuse to seek government permission to exercise our rights.

    • I’m in Spokane and as anyone in Washington with half a functioning brain knows now, I-594 was is a joke and largely ignored. It got passed in the population saturated west side Seattle area. Most other outlying counties it failed.

        • Yeah I know, that’s why I said “most”
          If you go to the state elections website and look at the break down by county, the only reason is passed were the idiots on the coast where all the money was spent. Spokane is such a backwards hick town, it’s unbelievable.

  6. The social part of me like to go with a ton a friends but in reality I like going alone too. I can really concentrate on what I’m doing, I can save on ammo (if I’m bringing a new shooter out) and I can leave or stay as long as I want.

  7. I sometimes shoot next to cops from my local PD. But don’t worry — it’s perfectly safe because I stay downrange and never, ever bark.

  8. If I want/need to get in the most training for my budgeted time I also want to be the only one shooting in some cases. I completely get that and don’t think you are really being selfish. You are doing what you want and like without harming anyone.

    I generally prefer some company over being completely alone and part of that is in case something were to go terribly wrong. I do the same for others where I set things up and am there in case of an injury so they can better concentrate and expend more of their energy on a drill for example.

    When going out to just shoot for fun I much prefer having the wife, son, friends and newcomers join me. At my current age I much prefer going out to shoot for fun as well but completely get where you are coming from.

  9. I like to shoot alone. I go to the national forest BLM land range and if its empty I can shoot rifle and pistol, move around, toss skeet shoot them then draw my pistol and mag dump while moving. Shoot my AR dry then switch to pistol. Check my targets without having to wait 30 mins for a cold range. With people around all i can do is sit at the bench and poke holes in paper. Once more than 3 people show up, I leave.

  10. I need to shoot alone to practice on my CCWs. But I do consider it a great duty and pleasure to take my kids and wife to the range. It’s the only time the missus gets time on her Glock, and I consider it good evangelism and training for my young ones.

    I also have a good group of shooters from work. We hit the range together once every quarter. That’s also a good time to rope in the curious and inexperienced.

  11. One other comment, if I may. I have noticed a strong correlation between introversion/preference for fewer people and love of shooting/libertarian conservatism/ornery independent-mindedness. Anyone disagree? Do we have any urban/highly extroverted/progressive collectivists among us?

  12. I’ve actually never been shooting alone so I wouldn’t know what it is like. I usually go with a friend. My favorite shooting trip ever was with about 12 guys, everyone that owned guns (about 8-9 of us) brought a few and we had over 30 to choose from. Shotguns, revolvers, bolt action rifles, pistols, ARs, lever guns, we had a little bit of everything!

  13. I shoot with friends, fellow servicemen & women. or folks I just met.

    The skeet range is usually pickup anyway so I tend to meet new/old shooters
    on a regular basis.

  14. Usually a friend. Mostly we need each other to release the clays.

    Went shooting with my father-in-law recently. I mentioned the site to him, so it’d be awkward to write up a contest entry. But, for years he’s been really introverted and tends to hide when family is in town. Recently, he’s become a fan of going to the range and it was like a switch. It’s something that the whole family can go do – him, the kids, the spouses. The grandkids are slowly getting into it as well. It’s made all of us really happy.

  15. I prefer to shoot alone, but that can be problematic at isolated sites near urban areas. We’ve had instances of lone target shooters being assaulted and robbed, unfortunately. I’ll always carry either open or concealed, but when you’re really focused on rifle shooting with muffs, it’s easy to lose critical parts of your situational awareness and get jumped.

  16. I tend to shoot alone for the same reason I ride motorcycles alone: people get stupid when they are in groups. Guy runs a red light to try to keep up, lane splits, whatever. Same with a gun. Unless you are in an organized competition setting with “designated drivers” that are there just for range officer duty shooting tends to get less fun and more dangerous the more people you have.

  17. I also like to shoot alone. I find it more meditative a process when I don’t have to wait for others to finish and check targets.

    Also the safety thing. I’m one of those overly responsible people who will sacrifice my own shooting time to make sure everything is as safe as it can be or that I’m not in danger if someone else is being foolish. It’s one less thing for my brain to process while I’m trying to shoot and keep track of others who might be idiots.

    Fortunately, I’m a teacher, and during the summer I can get to the range during the work week and have it all to myself for most of the day. Sometimes the guys who maintain and run the range will be there as part of their gun store jobs, so I just go to the range they are not working on. Usually it’s no bother. But it does also give me a chance to talk with them and let them get to know me too. As a result Ive managed to get on all their good sides since they see me practice well, be safe, and clean up after myself.

  18. Preferably alone. As Mark Lloyd mentioned, it becomes a pretty zen experience and the best description I can give for it is “meditative.” I’ve always been severely introverted so it’s not a huge surprise. I prefer to run alone too, my wife hates it since she is of the opinion running should be a group event. No thanks.

    I do sometimes hit the range with the wife, kids, and father-in-law but it’s always a touch on the stressful side for me. Never gave it much thought as to why.

  19. With my wife’s coworker and her girlfriend. We shoot on their property and then they provide beverages afterwards. All around, a great gig.

  20. I shoot with Dr Vino, a group of CCW holders and cops from OC, monthly or bi-monthly with the guys at work, my best friends Josh and Kris, Kimber 45, the occasional competition, with my wife and stepson in the desert, and solo at various ranges.

  21. Alone this morning right after sunup. Front sight very large. Set PR on the FBI course with G-43. Nice start of the weekend.

  22. There is definitely something therapeutic/relaxing about shooting alone. And if I want to accomplish anything (ie – reliability test, zero-in, accuracy test, practicing a technique, drills) – it’s always better to go alone. Lots of range buddies there, but they are usually doing the same thing so it works out well. But do like to take friends/family often as well, as I know they enjoy it. But as you say, much of my attention is then on them, and much less shooting time, so I don’t get much accomplished other than to have an enjoyable afternoon. Then there’s always work-days and our (just-for-fun/friendly) competitions.

  23. I would prefer to shoot alone, without any distractions or worrying about being covered by someone else’s muzzle, etc. However, should anything go amiss, I like the security of having another armed individual along, especially here in the desert Southwest, where you never know if you’re going to encounter drug traffickers or coyotes of the two-legged variety.

  24. I prefer to go to the range with the GF, actually. If she’s not around then a friend/acquaintance or two can make it more interesting.

    Usually the only times I’ll go alone is if I’ll be spending more time sighting-in the weapon or trying out a modification/upgrade and want to make sure it works before-hand.

    • ++
      I go to ranges all the time by myself, but I never bring weapons to a shoot without having someone with me.

      • FBI’s worst losses come from gunman that killed and stole weapons from a lone shooter at a secluded range.

        Chris Kyle had a buddy and his family (and we) still lost him. Doesn’t seem possible, but there’s an lesson for everyday life in there somewhere.

  25. Alone. I go with a set plan of drills and perform those drills.
    When I go with others time gets wasted and the program is deviated from.

    It’s not unlike going to the gym. I’m there for set reasons and to hopefully leave with a slightly better version of me. Not for social time.

  26. I’ve never gone alone. Probably never will. I never go 4-wheeling alone either. Even with the best of intentions something can go wrong and having a friend to help can be the difference between life and death.

    I go shooting either at a range with strangers and an RSO or out in the woods plinking with friends and my wife.

    Plinking is fun and all, that’s among the best times I’ve had with friends – but there’s something satisfying about sitting down at the range, doing your own thing, and pushing yourself to be better.

    • Story about the first time I went shooting with my AR – it was the trailing edge of a windstorm, during hunting season, and we went up in the woods, well beyond cell reception. It was me, my wife, and a trusted friend. We get out there and there’s a 20″ hemlock tree across the one-way road, there’s a two cars stranded on the other side of it and one of those guys is trying to yank the roots out with a twice-broken tow strap and an F-150. That’s not happening.

      I have an axe. We “save the day” for the family in the trunk and the east-Indian guys in an Audi – trading off turns with the axe. Once we get through it, I yank the trunk out of the way and open up the road. We get up to the shooting spot in the woods, get out of the car. My wife says “what happened to your leg?” (of my friend). There’s blood POURING out of it. He says he feels fine, doesn’t hurt, but obviously this is a concern. We shoot a few pumpkins and ice blocks and go home 15 minutes later.

      The thing is that he was injured before we ever handled one weapon. We had no idea what happened till we got home. He put an Israeli bandage on it and went to the doc – who pulled a bullet fragment out of his leg. The only thing we can figure is that he was hit by a stray bullet from a hunter when we were hacking on the tree with my camp axe.

      The point is that my first time shooting in a decade wound up with an injury before we ever even pulled a trigger. The situation could have been so much worse had he been hit anywhere else, and it really drove home the point that things can go wrong and having an extra hand can make the ultimate difference.

  27. I shoot with my wife and our friends. Tomorrow we’re taking a work friend of hers who is an immigrant from Africa to the range for his first time ever handling a gun.

    Invite someone to the range this month. It strengthens our cause.

  28. I assume we’re talking personal pleasure shooting here. Our favorite range is out of town, which entails a weekend trip. So we often shoot together, which is fine. It’s very sexy.

    With every new gun, though, I prefer to shoot alone. You never know what could happen, so I’d rather limit the potential outcomes.

    • To me the “never know what might happen” is a great reason not to exclude people, but rather to include them. After all if, you have a critical malfunction, your accomplice can call for help or administer rudimentary first aid. Maybe they’ve experienced the malfunction you have and know how to clear it.

  29. I usually go alone, but I have always enjoyed shooting with my (now adult) kids. Because they have both moved away, I probably don’t shoot nearly as often as I’d like.

    • Just the opposite Gunr , I love shooting with my wife . I love doing everything with my wife . I’m an extremely lucky man . My wife can actually shoot the lower caliber stuff better than I can , she outshoots me regularly .
      She really doesn’t enjoy it as much as I do but she has only been shooting since we’ve been together , 16 years just this week . I on the other hand have shot guns since I was about eight , almost 50 years now . I will occasionally shoot with friends when one of get a new something really cool , but I don’t really hunt anymore and I don’t ever remember really hunting by myself . I do shoot alone most of the time because I do it so often . I have a 65 acre farm and I set up a range on it years ago . I have refined it only recently with actual yardages at 25 , 50 , 100 , 200 , and 500 tags , benches and weather sheds because as I get older I find it to be one of my favorite past times . I hate golf , couldn’t play now if I wanted to . I don’t really enjoy television and I DVR everything I watch . I rarely fish and as I’ve already said I gave up hunting when my hips and back and knees told me to . I tinker around now on old tractors and garden a little , but I mostly shoot . I get on this site while I’m at office usually . To answer the question . I love to shoot with my wife but I usually do it alone .

  30. I live in the sticks in the mountains and I have never been to a range and don’t know where one is. We wander out to the back yard to shoot or go to my brother’s farm. I shoot alone at least 99% of the time and I like it that way. My wife discourages me from riding my motorcycles alone since I had a minor stroke, wrecked, found my way home bruised and bloody and don’t remember a thing.

  31. Gotta admit, when I clicked, I didn’t expect Sara’s answer to be mine at all, and for the same reasons. And some other folks in the responses, too. Glad for once I’m not the only one who likes to be a “loner” most of the time when it comes to shooting.

  32. I prefer to shoot alone. I prefer the range be empty.

    Sometimes with my son if he’s around.

    Definitely, nobody that refers to themselves as “normal” would ever be invited. You just can’t trust that sort.

  33. I’m with her… I have a good enough time shooting with friends or family, but there’s something very calming about just having the only sounds be your breathing, handling the gun/magazines/ammunition, and the shooting itself.

  34. I too prefer to shoot alone at an empty range. Coming in at a fairly close second though, I also like taking friends and colleagues with little or no firearms experience, and even friends and colleagues who proclaim to be “totally anti-gun” to the range, teaching them a bit about safety and operation, and watching them shoot for the first time. It never gets old being asked to take photos of them and witnessing how much genuine fun they experience. I’ve made believers (and even gun owners) out of some, and have helped many more at the very least rethink their previous opinions on firearms. Some of those total anti-gunners have even asked to go back and shoot again.

  35. • Sighting and maintenance: Alone

    • Benchrest: Alone or with a friends that shares the BR passion

    • Skills: A small group of friends and associates.

    • Fun: Anyone I know and TRUST to be around me with a firearm. And, yes, I do screen friends of friends before I’ll let them come out with ‘the group’. They get a no vote, they don’t come. They still show up, I leave, and the core group leaves. This has led to a bit of unpleasantness a few times, but that is just too bad. If you cannot be safe and responsible, you can suck it (/Sean Spencer).

  36. Kudos on the proper sentence structure, Sara. Thou shalt not end a sentence with a preposition. (Commandment number one from the old battleax English professor)

    • I don’t think proper grammar is going to last much longer, what with cursive no longer being taught in schools. As seen on Jimmy Falon last night “grandpa, what’s a word?”

      • Grammar is not part of the new common core curriculum . We at Common Core standards think it’s better to allow children the freedom to express themselves . …………………….. Rules , there are no rules . ………….. and everyone gets a trophy now , because we are all winners ……….. please try and understand the feelings of others and accept that they are from another culture …………………. imagine that , my son , learning to speak Arabic . se

  37. I agree with Sara on this one. Having the range to myself (especially a big outdoor range) is what I call serenity. No one else and nothing else to worry about. Just you and your thoughts… on your own schedule and pace. The ideal scenario to bring out the silencers too!

  38. I feel for you folks. The benefit of owning land is that you can shoot alone any time you like. I’ll occasionally invite friends out to shoot with, but prefer to run through drills by myself. When I consider it, I have no desire to ever have to go to a public range…

  39. Prefer alone. I always have a plan when I go to the range. Alone, I can get it done with no hassle. Nobody flinging brass on me. Nobody hogging more than their share of space on the line or on the target boards. Nobody trying to chit-chat with me when I’m obviously wearing two layers of hearing protection. No waiting to walk downrange to set or retrieve targets. Nobody piling their gear in my way. No irritation watching them break rules, and no chance of being injured by anybody but myself.

  40. I,too, prefer to shoot alone. It’s just easier to go down range to set/check targets without having to wait for others.

  41. It’s more fun when going alone, because I actually get to shoot lol.

    When I bring friends, I usually load magazines the whole time. I don’t really mind it, though. Friends that know how to shoot reasonably well are way cooler than ones that can’t shoot at all.

    “You wanna learn how to shoot guns and drive a stick-shift all in the same day?” — Me, speaking to friends.

  42. I shoot at an indoor range weekly..alone…even though the range is packed.

    I do like to go the the gun club and shoot with two or three friends. We all bring a few different guns.That way we all get to shoot the S&W 29, the Desert Eagle, and the P320 (and several others) and we also have a little friendly competition.

  43. Usually alone. I thought that might be considered weird, but reading above comments it’s evidently not. When my best bud is around then that’s fine.

  44. I enjoy shooting by myself, but I love shooting with my daughter, uncle, one of my brothers, and my nieces and nephiews. I ,unfortunately, will never shoot with my dad, my other brother, or my other uncle. Dad is never sober enough, the middle brother is still unsafe when sober, and the other uncle while not an anti thinks guns are well I don’t know unneeded uninteresting maybe unappealing?

    It’s not like I didn’t try to shoot with my younger brother it just didn’t work out. We tried shooting on private land together a couple times. One time I told him I had to move to a position ahead of the firing line about 45 degrees to the side to use an old junker as a bench to reload magazines. I know he learned the same time as me and from the same person that you don’t ever fire unless everyone is behind the line. He ignored both that and the string of profanity that found its way out of my mouth when he started shooting because in his words I was “way over there” which was 20 feet to the right of the shooting lane. I should have stopped trying to include him then but I didn’t. I went hunting with him two seasons ago (bow hunting). I still don’t understand how when we got to the stands an hour before sunrise he already had 2 beers in him. By rifle season the constant nagging and complaining (by me) had thankfully gotten him to save the beer until after the hunt, not that I was comfortable with it during bow season either. I survived the season, but I will never shoot or hunt with him again.

    In the end I would still love to be able to shoot with him or dad, but I don’t see that ever happening. I want to survive my shooting trips to much to take the chance.

  45. my ranges are all pretty vanilla so i don’t get to train when i go. Taking other shooters helps me work on my form, taking new shooters gives me pride.

  46. If a woman is packing that kind of heat at the range, I understand why Sarah wants to shoot alone. She doesn’t want half of the gun range aiming their (ahem!!) ‘barrels’ right at her!

  47. 9 out of 10 times I go to the range by myself. I can shoot the way I want to and work on skills as I see fit. But ever so often I go with my Father-in-law, a retired LEO, and we semi-seriously compete against each other. It is always fun to see who out shoots who. Plus there is always the great 9mm vs 45ACP debate going on between us. He’s a 45ACP man and I’m not. The competition helps bump up the shooting and adds to the overall enjoyment of the range trip. That being said, I wouldn’t want him with me for every trip and I’m sure he would say the same about me.

  48. Our local indoor range allows 00 buck! I also shoot .357 Mag. As a courtesy, I prefer to be near the end. The wall is no fun as far as blast goes, however. I’ve warned other shooters that I will be loud. They say they understand but 10 rounds of 12 gauge later they’re moving further down the line.
    My shooting partners still see them jump and flinch.
    Myself? I like a line full of blast and noise. Practice under stress can’t be beat.

  49. Sara that was a good question for sure. I like shooting alone for drills and sighting in. My son and grandson and his buddies are hilarious to watch and love the AR. I am also lucky enough to belong to a gun club that sponsors a .22 caliber fun shoot for youngsters. A bunch of old farts who go to a lot of work to make a fun and safe event for kids. My 14 year old daughter loves it and is doing really well with the safety issues.

  50. I also prefer to shoot alone and my club allows me to do that since it is a huge but private club (122 acres) in Palm Bay, Florida. We are responsible for ourselves and the penalties for getting caught in camera behaving stupidly are mostly expulsion and civil and criminal liabilities. It is a competition club but I practice alone for it is the only way to really relax while shooting. I do not like to waste ammo or watch others wasting it like mindless drone. Practice is a serious thing for me which leads to occasional shooting in rifle competition. I have taught others through the years, specially when I worked for USCBP and a fellow officer needed advice to improve shooting skills for qualification, but for the most part it is a waste of my time, unless I see an unsafe act. If I shoot alone, I can take my time and the is nothing unsafe since I am a stickler for safety. I also do not like the bullshit and ignorant conversations of most shooters unless they are technical good shooters, again, they waste my time, specially when they ask stupid questions which shows lack of real technical knowledge and when you answer the questions they want to argue about the answer or they do not believe you (stupid). I am not an instructor so I do not give unsolicited advice but I do know what I am talking about if asked. Now I am retired after more than 30 years of federal service as an army officer and US INS and Customs. I do not like to have my time wasted just because in theory I have more time available to me. I have no patience for bullshit, time is ticking and I want to get from shooting in before I die, hopefully at a very old age. If I need to teach someone, other than members of my family, I rather teach a woman; they do not come with preconceptions and listen to advice, plus, most women I have shot with learn fast and have good eye-hand coordination. My favorite female colleague in the USCBP used to average around 345 out of 360 points in a practical pistol course using a BER 96 in 40SW and she was a not a big woman. Practice in a group should be done with an RSO in charge and though 99.9% people in my club are very safe, there is the occasional moron who is looking to get expelled from the club for unsafe acts. We work on an honor system but there are security cameras anyway. Yes, I enjoy my time alone in the range, it is a special time for me specially in the winter, summers are brutal in central Florida for heat, humidity and afternoon thunderstorms but it still doable, specially since not as many people show up as in winter and those who do are mostly serious shooters who leave you alone and are well mannered.

  51. I don’t like to shoot at formal ranges, but shooting with others leads to improvement in skills, just like all other sports. You play up or down to the level of your mates/competition, and if always by yourself, your skills can stagnate.

    I do shoot by myself also, you gotta do what you gotta do.

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