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Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seen the promised land of shooting ranges. I was there all day yesterday with the guys from Tac-Con, and I’m smitten. Imagine for a second, tactical bays out to 100 yards as far as the eye can see. Pistol bays that stretch still further. A 1000-yard range with wind flags each 100 yards along the way. Trap. Skeet. And even sporting clays. Folks, I give you . . .

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ. Holy moly y’all. This is one of the largest publicly operated ranges in the country. And yes, the emphasis is important. The taxpayer dollar funds this mecca in the desert. I’ll let their main page give you the lowdown:

Founded in 1957, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, formerly the Black Canyon Shooting Range, is one of the largest publicly operated shooting facilities in the country.

Our world-class shooting range is a City of Phoenix Point of Pride. It has received a Five Star rating from the National Association of Shooting Ranges. This means that it is the best of the best at providing a quality recreation experience and is the first government facility to receive this designation.

Located on 1650 acres in north Phoenix, the facility averages more than 120,000 shooters per year. The facility offers are wide array of target shooting opportunities. This shooters’ paradise is home to a number of regional and national class competitions and other major events.
Ben Avery Shooting Facility is funded by the revenues generated by user fees and federal dollars appropriated through the Pittman-Robertson Act.

With extensive facilities, the Ben Avery Shooting Facility offers a fun and safe environment for all of your shooting needs. Men, women and children ages 5 and older of all experience levels are welcome. Trained safety officers are on the firing line at all times to oversee safety and to offer informal coaching when needed.

This range has it all. Long range, short range, and tactical bays. There’s an archery range along with clay shooting of all types. There’s also a campground for shooters looking to maximize their time at the range and even an equestrian area for those practicing their riding and shooting disciplines. All this for the princely sum of $7 per day. I’m simply stunned at how good Arizonans have it. And yes, this Texan is totally jealous.

I’m mostly impressed with how well-kept the place is. Obviously, there’s not a lot of grass growing out here, but the gravel bays are all immaculately swept for trash, the roads are super-clean, and all the facilities seem to be in top shape. Now I’ll admit that I’m here on Tac-Con’s time and they seem to have made an arrangement with the Ben Avery folks so we could have a private bay. I don’t know what being a regular Joe at this range is like, so if you’ve been here, please weigh in below in the comments and let us know what your experience has been. Also, I’m jealous. Did I mention that?

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34 Responses to Range Review: Ben Avery Shooting Complex

  1. I’ve visited for cowboy action shoots and a few Saturday morning trips with the family. It’s exactly as Tyler described: top notch facilities, lots of space, and clean. Even with that many lanes open, it can get busy during the shooting rush hour; weekends and Friday afternoons. Their cowboy action props are a lot of fun and relatively intricate.

  2. Seems you have discovered our secret in the desert! Glad u enjoyed & appreciated Ben Avery – I have been shooting there for 20+ years & have never had a bad experience & they do maintain it nicely year round. If you get chance grab a buddy & shotguns and shoot the clay course! Has I believe 40 diff station challenges & pretty cheap too. Just put money on card & swipe at each station – buddy can operate the remote. The bow course trail is fun too. Àlso u are only minutes away from lake pleasant Marina.

    • LC – You are welcome to my Sonoran anytime! Also a few miles away from Ben Avery is COWTOWN – another range with active old west city and long range sniper/rifle shooting from hilltop that is Awesome as well

    • Be careful picking out your house. The Phoenix area has surprisingly few shooting ranges given that it’s, y’know, ARIZONA.

      I grew up in one of the most anti-gun states in the Union, and there were three shooting ranges within a 15 minute drive of my house. Two of them could have been walking distance had I been so motivated.

      I live in the greater Phoenix area and I have one indoor range (i.e. $$$) about 15 minutes from my house, with another about 25 minutes away. The closest outdoor range (max 200 yards for paper, 300 yards for the gong) is 40 minutes from my house. And getting to the desert to shoot is a good hour.

      Ben Avery is a good ‘un, for sure. But…it’s over an hour from my house.

      So like I said, if you move here, be careful picking out your residence if shooting range access is important to you.

      • John – South Mountain? or are you aware of C2 Tactical off I10 and Warner (their orig range is in Mesa and still operational but small) – been open just over a year – excellent facility. Far East valley is Red mountain range. Not sure where you are in Greater Phoenix.

      • Between the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club, Rio, and Ben Avery there’s a range closer to an hour from your house. Combine that with a zillion indoor ranges and I’m not sure what more you could ask for in a huge metropolitan city.

    • From where would you be moving? If it’s CA, NY, NJ or WI, please renounce your former state at the border and refrain from speaking about how the (blank) here in AZ just doesn’t compare with the (blank) you had back in (old state). Please refrain from electing politicians like those from your former state. Other than that, welcome.

        • My wife and I moved to AZ from CT, and never looked back. Well, except for weddings and funerals. My wife, who grew up very liberal, is even starting to say things like, “The problem is that we’re not keeping a good watch on our border.” and, “I would love it if those NYC safety nazis would just mind their own business.”

          Great state to live in.

  3. The price is what amazes me most. Most Texas ranges have a fraction of the facilities, yet they charge as if they were all like Ben Avery. Want to shoot pistol? pay. Want to shoot rifle? pay again. Want to shoot some clays on one of our 3 (count em, 3!!!) rusted launchers? pay pay pay. Of course, I suppose the difference is that if you really screw your customers in a place like AZ, people can always just go find some public land in the desert to shoot on for free. Here in the great gun state, every rock and square inch of land is owned by someone. Which means we don’t have much alternative, short of buying land.

  4. My you home range since I live 15 minutes to the south. And they are always hosting some wonderful events, Winter Range , the March Outdoor Expo, trap and skeet, and the occasional idpa match.

  5. http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/basf_facilities.shtml
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIOC0L6qnag

    To use one of the specialty ranges, you need to pay $50 to create a user group and have insurance (~$300/yr) among other requirements. The silhouette ranges are impressive, one has maybe 100 targets. Haven’t used them, but there are some walking trails with steel targets too.

    The main public range part is a bit slow–there are soooo many bays for the ROs to check there is noticeable down time between shooting periods, but they do all they can do. They provide target stands and have post holes at marked distances, so you only need your paper target. Unlike a lot of ranges, they do allow drawing from a holster at the main range.

    Sumertime is a bit rough here to be outside–you need water and lots of it and have to be careful when outside. Early morning and winter are nice though. Overall, a nice place.

    • “Summertime a bit rough…and bring water…lots of it”…

      AMEN brother. Excellent advice and thanks for the info. Weather is upon us for the season of long range indeed.

  6. I’ve been to Ben Avery a few times. Its a great location, about half an hour and all highway there.

    I don’t have any experience with the pistol ranges, but I did shoot clays quite often. Its $30 for 100 clays. (You get a card with the clays loaded electronically on there). 12g ammo is always for sale, even during the panic, for $8 a pack. Havent seen any other price yet. Assuming you buy from them, which I do, its hard to go and not spend $60. I don’t know how other ranges compare. That being said, you do get to shoot skeet and trap from pretty much every angle.

  7. I’ve been a couple of times, when passing through Phoenix. An awesome facility. The best part, I think, is that indeed: The State of Arizona Game and Fish Department runs it. Tax dollars at work. Magnificent.

  8. From the range rules page: “Any firearms chambered in .50 BMG, or any round derived from .50 BMG, or producing kinetic force on par with .50 BMG is strictly prohibited”

    Bummer.

    Nice to see NFA is allowed though.

    • 50BMG and 416 Barret are allowed on the 1000 yard range and I believe the benchrest range, but I would have to double check on that. Only issue there is you need to be a part of a group to rent those ranges out, but if you try you can shoot 50BMG there.

  9. I live about 160 miles south of the Ben Avery Range, and I’ve driven up there on a number of occasions. The facilities are first class, the rates are a bargain and the level of range supervision is professional without being oppressive. I wish we had a comparable facility here in Pima County.

  10. Escaped from Phoenix 6 years ago. Ben Avery is one of the few things I truly miss — nothing up here even comes close.

  11. I live in the east valley so I have a “home” indoor range 5 minutes away. I hit Ben Avery on average once a month, but it’s starting to win me over. I find myself thinking about going there more often now that it’s starting to cool off. It’s a beautiful area in the desert.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip Tyler.

  12. i love arkansas, where i live, but when it comes to ranges like that, they are non-existent in arkansas. cutting down all the trees itself would cost more than the actual range.

  13. This is my home range. Be careful. It’s like when on vacation and you think you’ve found your paradise. (As if you can accurately evaluate a place after a day or a week.) Reality is a bit different. It can be a very good experience or a very poor one, depending on seasons, days of the week, etc.

    Other than the main range, all the other ranges are no longer open for general public use. This horrible change has been in effect for a few years now, and it sucks. Thank you, litigious Americans. You need to be part of an organized group, be scheduled months in advance (there is way more demand than facilities in the Phoenix metro area), have incredible amounts of liability insurance registered with Ben Avery, have approved safety officials that you must provide on hand for your shoots, and the list of regs goes on and on.

    Summertime shooting? That’s laughable for serious shooters, unless you are only interested in pistol range distance first thing in the morning. Temperatures start at 90 and reach 120+ at Ben Avery in summer. Forget weekends during decent weather months (Nov-April). However, if you can take a weekday off (except Monday, when BA is always closed), you can get some nice shooting in.

    Be aware, the shooting sessions on the main range can be good to disappointing, depending on the crowd and how many volunteer range “officials” are on site any given day. There is often more waiting than shooting on weekends. There is definitely an aggravation factor, as there are always characters who need serious instruction on safe gun handling, etc. Also, you should not be surprised to find other shooters targeting your bullseye if you place it past the 25-yard marker. Basically, this is a big-city range full of big-city people. In other words, expect a bit of everything, from your local pro-Second Amendment regulars to your undesirables.

    A point of clarification: The public doesn’t support this range with their general taxes. This is funded by sportsman’s taxes, and Ben Avery is run by our state game and fish department.

  14. I’ll be heading there tomorrow morning as a matter of fact ?
    22 minute drive, and a guaranteed good experience. These folks do it right out there. I always feel safe, and everyone is friendly!

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