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Dan and I recently spent some trigger time at Houston’s Athena Gun Club. It was clean, modern, safe, efficient and friendly. Athena is, in fact, the perfect place to introduce new shooters to guns – and keep them coming back for more. It’s a million miles away from the dungeons that typify Old School gun ranges. The recent rise of Guns 2.0 indoor shooting ranges has been both spectacular and welcome. I’d even go so far as to say that . . .

the New School ranges have had measurable impact on gun sales and concealed carry permits (where available and required). More than that, the Apple Store-style environs have changed the image of firearms for fun and self-defense. As the video above indicates, women and urbanites no longer have to face gruff OFWGs (Old Fat White Guys) telling newbies they need a .357 magnum to splatter a PCP-fuelled bad guy’s brains over the hallway walls. There’s an understanding that new shooters need to be eased into the activity with classes and [non-live fire] simulators. We can’t wait for The Range at Austin. Meanwhile, for making firearms friendly, these New Wave gun ranges are TTAG’s Gun Hero of the Day.

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  1. Those gun ranges are awesome, but my local guntry club wants 22 dollars an hour for a lane, and if you bring two shooters it’s 44 an hour for one lane, and no steel or aluminum ammo, I’ll stick to my backyard range.

  2. When you visit the DC area, be sure to stop by our local 2.0 place, Elite Shooting Sports. Friendly staff, Ladies Nite every Wednesday (with Female staff and instructors), and ammo/accessories at online prices, its a great place to take new shooters. I hope something like this comes to a location near you.

      • I can neither confirm nor deny that a facility is being considered for that area. But you are right. Fredericksburg/Spotsy need a place.

        • !!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

          Right now there is only one place to shoot indoors, ONE! And it is exactly the stereotypical indoor shooting range, dirty, old, dank, dark, run down shooting range most people think of when they picture a indoor range. I don’t like taking my wife, sister or mother there because to be honest, it’s just not a very nice place to try and teach her to handle or shoot a handgun. It’s crowded, dimly lit and small. I’d love, as well as a lot of other people in the area, to have a place like these Range 2.0’s to go to.

  3. It’s good, I mean, more choices, new money, more appealing to some. But it’s like how young and dilettante drinkers prefer clear booze while connoisseurs often move on to brown, tarry bourbons etc. I like my range nice and dank.

  4. I went to Nexus when I was in Sunrise for some work. It was a good place, clean, and I actually enjoyed the staffed shooting area. It was nice knowing that there was an extra set of eyes watching everyone to make sure things were done properly. Now, I would have liked to have kept my brass, but that was a knit-picky gripe. The showroom was nice, and damn was the rental selection more than anything I had seen anywhere else.

    • +1

      Nexus is consistently an enjoyable place to shoot: clean, well-lit, and pleasant staff. While there are some good ranges in the area, there are unfortunately others that treat customers like they’re doing you a favor just by allowing you to breathe the air. Let’s hope the Range 2.0 approach spreads.

    • I had no issues keeping my brass (granted I was using a brass catcher on my AR, so that helps). It’s a nice place with a great selection of rentals.

  5. Nice to see it’s not just a static square range. I get tired of standing in a dungeon shooting at a paper target with no holster work or movement.

  6. I love going to Shoot Smart in DFW, full disclosure: I have only been to their Grand Prairie location, but Im there once monthly at a minimum. It is the only place I will pay to shoot indoors around here, and I dont live very close.

    Great location, great prices, great staff, the private shooting lanes are outstanding and allow you to draw from a holster, shoot at whatever pace you choose and shoot your AR (even if it is a short distance) as well in the private lane.

    Otherwise, nothing beats being out in the country on some land with a good backstop. N O T H I N G!

  7. That range looks awesome!

    For those in SoCal / Orange County, Field Time Target and Training in Stanton, CA is somewhat similar. Standard range rental is pretty square, but CCW and move / shoot classes are available.

    • The biggest “fail” of most of the firearms industry is in social media and web. If you want to reach the kids, you gotta do that right, no matter how irritating it may be.

  8. Has anybody here ever shot at Los Alto Rod & Gun club range in the South Bay area of Kalifornia? Great outdoor range.
    Really don’t care for indoor ranges, I guess their OK for some dude stuck in an office all day, and used to being surrounded by for walls.
    I’m fortunate that I live in Oregon now, and there is a dandy little outdoor range just a few miles from my place. I’d drive a hundred miles to an outdoor range, before I’d go to an indoor range next door. Just me, I like the outdoors, walls suck!

    • Yes – was there about 4 weeks ago. Beautiful setting in the Santa Cruz mountains. Pricy annual membership or $20 during public hours (about the same price as indoor Valley ranges: Reeds in Santa Clara and Target Masters in Milpitas). Shaded pistol area, other areas aren’t. Attentive staff – almost too much, though not particularly courteous range officers. Clean and well-maintained.

      Pistol lanes were narrow compared to above indoor ranges and separated by relatively low rabbit wire mesh. Guys on both sides were firing hand cannons. Some brass rained into adjoining lanes; found myself timing shots to minimize concussion interference from theirs.

      Enjoyed rifle range more. Hose to fill plastic bottles / jugs.

      I prefer Coyote Clays in Morgan Hill. Restaurant + many different ranges on property. Los Altos made me feel like I was surrounded by helicopter moms. Coyote staff is helpful without being intrusive. Also like nearby produce stands on surrounding farmland.

  9. Let me know the next time you’re there. I’d be happy to join you.

    I’ve been to their retail area a few times and picked up my G19 there. Haven’t been to the range, though. The price is a bit of a turnoff. I am thinking about doing my CHL class there. Nicer facility than most places and they throw in the box of ammo and your range fee into the $100. Most of the $70-80 places want you to pay a range fee and bring your own box.

    In the area, I prefer to go to American Shooting. Outdoor range with a different pricing structure. The fee, $18, is good for all day shooting but you pay $5 for each additional gun after the first. So, I rotate what I bring, and just focus on that for the day. It is nice not having to think about how much time I have left. But it is frustrating when all you want to do is plink with a bunch of stuff. The big upside, though, is no steel, aluminum, magnetic, etc. restrictions. I think explosive and tracers are the only prohibited items.

  10. Except for a few private clubs, I’ve shot at just about every range within 50 miles of Houston. Most are small, long time owner-operated affairs. While not particularly fancy, they’re safe, clean, comfortable, and professionally run.

    There’s really only one that I would consider flat out unfit for public operation. It is just about every extreme stereotype you can think of: dark, dank, cramped, reeking of rat urine and gunpowder in a miserably ventilated space, and a front counter manned by extras from “Wrong Turn.”

    The strongest sources of light are the scattered rays of sunlight piercing the bullet holes in the walls. It feels like you’re shooting in an abandoned building, which makes sense, because for many years prior to opening as a gun range, it was an abandoned building. This is by far the exception, however.

    There are a couple of ranges, including Athena, that do offer more an Apple store feel, or what I call the Gucci gun range, but those, too, are exceptions. I don’t see such ranges opening up the shooting sports to a wider market, though. They’re expensive and cater to a dilettante clientele, as opposed to true newbies. That’s fine for a niche, but I’m not seeing a sea change there.

  11. The gun industry as a whole knows that it needs that “Apple” fit and polish to attract a younger clientele. Nexus is a prime example of that. I shoot there regularly and it’s one of the few ranges in South Florida I wouldn’t hesitate in bringing a new shooter to learn.

  12. I think a clean modern range is really important. I live two miles from a range in Austin (Red’s north) but its old, dirty, and loud. The girlfriend doesn’t like it there and I would be embarrassed to bring a newbie there. I consistently make the trek 40 min over to Cedar Park to go to a range that’s new, clean, and safe (Shady Oaks). I the the range is as important if not more than your gear when it comes to having a safe AND fun shooting experience.

    • Cedar Park isn’t too far, how long is the range? I used to shoot at an outdoor range there, I think it’s something like a car dealership now.

      • Cedar Park’s pretty good, amenities are nicer than Red’s, and I believe there’s a lighting option for your lanes, although you pay by 45-minute increments which bump the actual cost up.

  13. In Virginia we have (2) Colonial Shooting Academy. I refuse to shoot there. Yes it’s all 2.0 but they have a rule I cannot abide by. One gun on the lane at a time. I simply do not understand the logic in this. For those of us who like to shoot multiple guns in varying calibers this is just ridiculous. It sure seems to me to create the unnecessary handling of firearms on and off of the bench. Any thoughts? Does anyone else have this problem?

    • If it’s like the range I go to, there is a rule about not handling guns except at the firing line (meaning you at your club would have to put it in a rug to carry it back to your range bag, hence, no additional handling of firearms). If your club does NOT have that rule but DOES have the one gun at a time rule you describe, they are really f*cked in the head.

      I personally don’t have to follow the one gun rule but as a practical matter there isn’t room for more than two guns on that little table, by the time one throws in ammo, mags, and the pistol rugs. Of course, I can keep a third one in the holster if I really need to have all my guns right with me. (You’re allowed to draw at this range, once they’ve checked you out and seen that you don’t muzzle people.)

      (BTW I see the “no handling” rule violated a lot. One guy would have his kid walk up behind him with an open case, he’d do a 180 with gun in hand (muzzling everyone) and set the gun in the case. He probably thought he was playing by the rules.)

    • Most of the ranges I go to have this rule. You can bring multiple firearms to the lane, and switch between them, but it’s still one gun out at a time. No, it doesn’t bother me.

      • Seems like it would affect effective range time. If limited to 1 hour – can see how stowing would consume time. Then there’s the situation where two are sharing a lane & dividing between / among different firearms.

  14. I’d settle for decent outdoor range within 5-10mi. A real range not a gravel pit etc. For upscale some covered firing points would be nice.

  15. I’m a member at Modern Outfitters in Meridian, MS. It’s a very nice indoor range that hosts safety classes, is staffed by quality people, and assemble their own custom Glocks and ARs if you’re into that.

  16. I enjoy Athena for taking new people in Houston, but it’s pretty expensive compared to everywhere else. Red’s ends up being my mainstay when I’m in Austin due to ability to do both short range and long(ish) distance shooting.

  17. I’ve shot at some really nasty ranges back in the day, and seldom even saw anything resembling an “Apple store”. I’d like to shoot at a place where I was confident I wasn’t breathing in lead fumes or worse. There are 2 public ranges both over 20 miles from my home that charge $20/hour. I haven’t been to either yet.

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