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Warren Zevon famously asked his father for lawyers, guns and money. The latter two are perpnip. If you’re carrying or holding firearms or folding, you’re a target for a violent attack. When you go to places where these items are acquired, traded or displayed, there’s a strong possibility that someone will seek to relieve you of them without asking your permission or exchanging anything worthwhile in return. To wit this from []: “Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert said 73-year-old Kenneth Payne of Wagoner [above] was shot multiple times and had at least four guns stolen around 8:30 a.m. while he was at the Fort Gibson Wildlife Management Area Shooting Range east of Wagoner on Toppers Road . . .

Payne was left for dead, but was able to call a family member on his cell phone for help, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation who was asked to help in the investigation by the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office.

There are a couple of ways to avoid a shooting range attack. First and foremost, never shoot alone. Mr. Payne’s fate is not his fault per se, but his decision to shoot at 8:30am all by his lonesome was the wrong one. Shooting at a public place is best accomplished when there’s a public with which to shoot.

Second, make sure that you and you ballistic BFFs keep a hot gun on your person at all times. Maintain situational awareness; the “brothers in arms” “armed society is a polite society” thing is not a gimme. If you see someone or a group of someones who set your Spidey senses tingling, leave.

Alternatively or in addition, make a really loud phone call to a friend. “Hey honey I’m at Fort Gibson. Yup Jack and the guys should be here any second. They were supposed to be here ten minutes ago. No, Harry’s not on patrol today. He’s coming too.”

Third, be ready to fight. If someone or a group of someones want your guns and they have a gun or guns and you’re not in public view, you, sir, are in deep shit. Have your keys ready, watch for flanking maneuvers and prepare for the worst.

But most of all, again, never shoot alone. Predators look for weakness; there’s nothing weaker than lone prey. No matter how badass you think you are, taking on a bad guy or pack of bad guys on your own puts you on a hiding to oblivion. Where’s the fun in that?

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  1. Platt and Maddox, of 1986 Miami-Dade infamy, added to their arsenal by ambushing “gravel pit” shooters, killing them and taking their weapons.
    In addition to the FBI agents who took them down, one of the heroes of that story was the badly wounded fellow who they left for dead… he crawled over a mile to get help and his description of the two helped tighten the noose around their neck.

  2. This same thing happened in Oregon 15 years ago, and at my favorite Colorado shooting pit several years before that. Don’t shoot alone: either bring a friend, or make sure there are already a few groups of shooters set up before you unload your car.

  3. Amen. We never go alone, in fact normally my stepson (a deputy sheriff) is with us as well. Another key to maintaining SA is to always have an armed “range officer” observing the proceedings without taking part himself. I normally take this task myself and when I’m pulling the trigger my stepson takes the role. If it means I get less shooting done than I’d like, then so be it.

    To be honest, I’m not as worried about someone robbing me of my guns as I am of some yahoo acting irresponsibly and unsafely at the range (not observing muzzle discipline, handling weapons behind the firing line, moving ahead of the firing line on a hot range to change targets, etc.) We are always very observant of these things and if we see them, we try to share a polite word with the violators, recommending that they clean up their act. Most of them do but if they don’t we have no problem with packing up our gear and leaving.

    Robbing someone at a range is a very high-risk activity for any criminal and most criminals are understandably risk-averse.

  4. At some public ranges it is illegal to walk around carrying, I know of one range that has a three round rule which means you could only carry 3 shots on your carry or face a huge fine.
    In general I don’t like shooting at these places, they do attract riff raff. And safety is a concern since there are no range officers and no one in charge.

    FWIW I carry concealed at public outdoor ranges despite the rule.

    • Several of the local ranges are of the mag-limiting ilk, and may be of the ilk that discourages or prohibits carry, however I avoid these ranges.

      The gun club I am a member of has no such restrictions; in fact the only restriction of note is a prohibition on full auto and bump firing — many old members of the club feel these to be inherently unsafe, and they held the majorities the last time it came up. The other issue is that it’s about a half hour away.

      That said, the negatives are certainly outweighed by the facilities — a good sized 25/50 yard rifle range, a massive 50/100 yard CMP style range, a 600 yard rifle range (with target backers every 100 yards, and some steel as well), and five variously sized pistol pits.

  5. my local state range in Missouri (Henges) is actively monitored and has range officers on duty so I don’t worry about getting jacked there. And for $3/hr, who can complain?

  6. Even when training and drawing from a holster, I still keep a loaded BUG on me. The BUG is my hot gun when I purposely run the primary pistol dry. I always keep ONE mag loaded in my belt when training.

  7. When I lived in Muncie, IN I used to take a weekday off from work now and then and got to the Wilbur Wright FWA public range with my blasters. In the middle of nowhere. All by myself. With every gun and all the ammo I brought left on the table while I walked a hundred yards away repeatedly to retrieve and reset targets.

    After I moved back to PA a friend of mine set me straight about not doing that any more. It was a “Yeah, I see your point” moment. I feel bad for Mr. Payne. I suspect he was blindsided. “Yo, howya doin’ mah man…” Wham!

    That could’ve easily been me many times. It sucks trusting your fellow human beings sometimes.

  8. Aside from having firearms forcefully taken from you, there’s a chance you could get injured.

    Where I live there have been a couple of accidents within the past two years.

    One guy was shooting alone and had a KB that injured his face and hand and had to drive himself back to town.

    Another was a guy that was missing for 2 days before searchers found him dead. He often went out to shoot clays alone. On this trip somehow his shotgun fell or he slipped and got a gut full of lead and bled out. They did rule out suicide.

    Then there’s just the old falling and breaking a leg, or getting bit by a snake, or having a heart attack. Yup, when going out to the middle of nowhere (where most non-managed ranges are) always use the buddy system!

  9. I usually shoot alone & at the crack of dawn, no other range idiots around to ruin my shooting. I always carry a loaded pistol when I’m at the range. Here in North Dakota getting attacked at the range is pretty much a non-issue since our state is lacking in the degenerate dept. unlike the rest of America(oil field trash may be changing that). That’s why I like to tell visitors to ND “welcome to ND, now go back where you came from”.

    • “welcome to ND, now go back where you came from”

      In New York City, the locals say “Welcome to New York. Now go f^ck yourself.” As the Rascals once sang, “Love is a beautiful thing.”

        • My wife & I helped a friend move to Long Island, NY last year with a 26 foot moving truck. All of the people we meant were nice. The police that searched my truck in Manhattan were nice and polite.
          I was very surprised because I expected them to act like the jerks I see in NYC in the movies. The only reason I went through Manhattan was because I was following my GPS & that was the route it took me on and I had no ideal where I was at. I am sure there are a lot of bad people in a population that huge but we were blessed to only meet the nice people. NYC does not allow concealed carry, which makes it easy for robbers but hard on law-abiding citizens. I felt naked without my gun and was glad to get back to the mid-west.

  10. Man that is horrible. Glad old dude made it through. I shoot at my department range. We can pay a fee ($3.00 a month I think) and go anytime we want. We still have to clean up after ourselves and follow all safety rules.

  11. I love the range I go to.
    Problem is when I go, I go alone. It being out in the sticks, always carry a back up.
    It is a club range, and never had a problem.
    It is more safe than a mile away in town.
    That town is the most safe in all of America/

  12. Reminds me of the story below. The murdered pastor was a frequent commenter on The High Road at the time of his death. This story rattled me as I was always going to a secluded, public lands range not far from this murder.

    R.I.P. Reverend Mark McCalla
    WAYNE, W.Va. (AP) – Authorities are investigating the death of a former Ohio minister whose body was found at a shooting range in the Beech Fork area.

    The Rev. Mark McCalla’s body was found Thursday morning. Wayne County Sheriff David Pennington says McCalla suffered a single shot to the head. Police say it’s a homicide.

    Before serving at Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington, McCalla worked at churches in Columbus, Ohio, and Corry and Franklin, Pa.

    McCalla’s body was found about an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve area housing for low-income residents.

    Pennington says authorities are not sure if the 45-year-old went to the state park by himself.


    Suspects, considered AWOL from the Army, have been arrested.By 700WLW News
    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    (Huntington, WV.) A Cincinnati man is one of two men that was arrested in the killing of a former Ohio minister. Both men were arrested in Columbus Friday night.

    First-degree murder warrants were filed in Huntington, West Virginia against 22-year old Daniel Smith of Cincinnati, and 19-year old Stephen Wilson of Virginia in the shooting death of 48-year old Reverend Mark McCalla. Smith and Wilson are U.S. Army deserters, and had been stationed at Ft. Drum in New York, but the Army says they have been gone since May.

    McCalla’s body was found about 5-miles south of Huntington, WV. at a rifle range June 19th. His body was discovered an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve housing for low-income residents. He had been shot in the head.


    Highlawn Presbyterian Church members grieve for slain pastor
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 06:09 PM

    HUNTINGTON — Though no one wanted to talk about exactly what was said at Sunday’s service at Highlawn Presbyterian Church, it was evident that it was a prelude to what today’s funeral service will be like for their slain pastor, Mark McCalla.

    The 11 a.m. service concluded at about 12:15 p.m., and people slowly filed out the doors. Many were still wiping away tears, while others embraced.

    The service was led by Richard Wilson, the director of the Pastoral Counseling Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital, said church elder Charlie Woolcock. He also said that McCalla’s family has asked that he and church members hold comments from the media until after the funeral services.

    Visitation to celebrate the pastor’s life was held at Chapman’s Mortuary in Huntington Sunday afternoon and evening. A service will be held in his honor at 2 p.m. today at Highlawn Presbyterian Church, 2814 Collis Ave. The Rev. Mike Duchaneau will lead the service.

    McCalla was found dead of a gunshot to the head at the rifle range at Beech Fork State Park last Thursday morning. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate what they’ve declared a homicide.


    Two arrested in slaying of former minister
    By The Associated Press

    HUNTINGTON — Two U.S. Army deserters charged in the killing of a West Virginia minister at a state park shooting range have been arrested in Ohio, police said.

    Stephen C. Wilson, 19, of Cincinnati, and Daniel R. Smith, 22, of Newport News, Va., were arrested without incident Friday in Columbus, Ohio, said Sgt. Dana Norman of the Columbus Police Department.

    First-degree murder warrants were filed in West Virginia against the men Friday in the death of the Rev. Mark McCalla, 48, who had worked at churches in Ohio and Franklin, Pa. McCalla had been working at Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington. He was shot once in the head at close range and dragged about 20 yards, authorities said.

    McCalla’s body was found June 19 at the Beech Fork Lake Wildlife Management Area, about five miles south of Huntington. It was discovered about an hour after he served breakfast to a group of volunteers working to improve housing for low-income residents.

    According to authorities and criminal complaints filed in Wayne County court, the two suspects told a fellow soldier they had shot and killed McCalla.

    Smith and Wilson had been stationed at Fort Drum in New York, but the Army has listed them as deserters since May, authorities said. Base spokesman Randolph Murphy said they were in Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division.

    The men had been staying at a home near Huntington with a fellow soldier they served with at Fort Drum, according to criminal complaints. The home was searched Thursday, and police confiscated about a dozen firearms, among other items. The other soldier who lived at the home has not been charged.

    Wayne County Sheriff David Pennington said police think McCalla was killed with his own gun, which they have not recovered.

    “If any, the one solace that we can take from this is that these two will cause no other family to go through what we have over the past week,” McCalla’s stepson Alan Eargle said in a statement. “We are somewhat relieved, still bewildered, and just plain angry that we will never be able to understand the motive for such a heinous act.”

  13. Why would you want to go shooting alone, anyways? Is it just me, or does it seem to be a lot more fun to have a freind with you?

    The local gravel pit (Sultan Basin) I plink at is infamous for shady stuff like that happening. And its really, really remote. As in, a forty minute drive to the nearest business, and the nearest home is probably ten or fifteen miles as the bird flys.

    Its common sense that when you’re around something that has the potential of killing you very easily to have some one with you, or, for gods sake, at least a trauma kit/blow out kit.

  14. Raymond F. Peake, the PA prison guard who murdered lawyer Todd Getgen at a PA state gamelands range for his legal silenced AR-15 on July 20, 2010, still hasn’t been tried.


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