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Huh. I was under the media-fed impression that the gun culture and thus business was in a slow steady slide into oblivion. You know: more guns, less gun owners. I’ve read dozens of anti-gun agitprop-inspired articles claiming OFWGs fueled the gun sales surge. As they died off, gun ownership and gun rights “extremists” are doomed. Doomed I tell you! Doomed! And now the Washington Post, a newspaper that’s to gun rights what Erin Hetherton is to anti-onanists, has an article revealing (i.e., doing its damnedest not to celebrate) the surge in upscale “guntry club” gun ranges. Check out these demographics . . .

The high-end ranges come as the $15 billion gun industry’s sales have more than doubled since 2005. Fears of regulations with a Democrat in the Oval Office have juiced much of that growth, which is now leveling out. But experts also say an industry shift away from hunting culture has helped spawn a new generation of firearms enthusiasts buying up sleekly designed handguns and AR-15 rifles for tactical shooting practice.

The average age of new target shooters is 33, while 47 percent live in urban or suburban areas, and 37 percent are female, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry. Shooters spend $10 billion a year on target shooting, including the cost of firearms, ammunition and range fees.

My forty-something GF and I recently made a financial contribution to those stats at Houston’s Athena Gun Club, cited in the article for the “gift shop’s” Apple-like atmos. Suffice it to say, Athena was more bus station bleak than minimalist chic, and what the gun store added in terms of presentation it sorely lacked in terms of selection. But point taken: this is not your father’s gun range, where dark and dank go to shoot and right wing politics take center stage.

Of course the WaPo had to find something nasty to say about gun culture 2.0’s sleek new hangouts. Look how hard they had to look:

In a discussion of Guntry Clubs on a Glock forum last year, a commenter wrote, “I couldn’t help but feel something amiss whenever you go to a boutique, fancy gun store versus a hole-in-the-wall store.” But the thought of being able to “smoke a nice cigar after some blasting does sound deliciously inviting.”

Already, shooters who used to shoot at the NRA range and other old-school ranges are showing up at Elite Shooting Sports.

“So far, I love it,” said John Lehman, 48, who was getting ready to shoot for the first time at the new range. “This is state of the art. This is awesome.”

I’ve got one word for that: winning.

[h/t JP]

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  1. I am definitely going to check out the “Elite Shooting Sports” club (Manassas VA) cited in the article. Sounds like the NRA Range in Fairfax VA, only bigger and more elaborate, and also operated by a guy who used to run the NRA Range.

  2. We often act like there are only two kinds of people:
    1) Gun owners (rabbid, pro-2A, right wing)
    2) Gun haters (rabbid, anti-2A, left wing)
    The truth is, there are a whole lot of people in this country who have nothing against guns or RKBA but don’t happen to own any guns, for various reasons. Millions of people in the US grew up and hunted in rural areas and learned a healthy respect for firearms, but now live in urban areas. They don’t own guns until some event motivates them. Anarchy in Ferguson, a violent crime that happens close to home, or a well-publicized terrorist attack.

    I am (sort of) one of those people. I have joined group #1.
    And I have joined a club with a gun range.
    Yeah. I’d call it a win.

    • Also, I would add there are many gun owners who aren’t rabidly pro-2A. They have a pistol or rifle, their interest is confined to a specific activity and only consider gun laws as it affect their specific interest. They don’t consider themselves part of some kind of overall ‘gun community’ who should look after all gun owner’s interests.

      • True. Many (most?) gun owners don’t take any particular interest in constitutional protections until a law is proposed that would affect them personally (mag size limit, assault weapons ban, UBC, etc.).

      • It used to be that way. Many people couldn’t care less about banning 30 round magazines because their hunting rifles couldn’t even use them.

        Times are changing though. Right now it seems like tactical rifles in a mild rifle caliber (.223/5.56) are way more popular than they were when the assault weapons ban passed.

      • Unfortunately many of these mildly interested gun sports enthusiasts are only mildly paying attention to the efforts of the grabbers to incrementally extinguish the protections that prevent the extinction of their gun sport activities.

        For too many of the shooting enthusiasts out there, once insidious government restrictions start to impede gun ownership and shooting sport activities, instead of investing some time and money to speak up and fight the intrusions on their constitutionally protected activities, it’s just “oh well” and they move on to some other interest.

  3. $480 yr? Wow. My club is only $100 yr and I have indoor shooting, indoor archery, outdoor steel range, eight idpa bays, outdoor archery, a 300 yd rifle range, 5 stand and skeet. A social hall and baseball diamond. I feel spoiled.

    • VIP $5000 initiation (non refundable). $200 a month for the FIRST year.
      Does that come with a hooker??

    • In CT the Blue Trail Range (old Lyman Range) is $585/yr. That includes a locker, FOUR outdoor ranges up to 200 yards. An indoor handgun/.22 range , massive pro shop and snack bar.

      Ray from Bloombergia

      • Yes, but for $585/year you get to look at a piece of plywood in your face at the bench because they are afraid of someone shooting at 45deg angle into a mountain. They have eliminated the 200yrd+ range since after the law suite, the targets are fixed distances only and they have stopped supporting events like Appleseed.

        Sorry, that $585 does not get you much compared to those ranges in the article. Blue Trail at one time was a premier place to go, now they just charge a premier price.

        Massive Pro shop? Really? How about those bathrooms where you might as well go in the woods around the range? You would think that some of the money would be spent to fix the bathrooms

        The snack shop works as a basic tummy filler at best.

        There are better options and you cannot compare it to the locations in the article.

        • I used to belong to Cherry Ridge in NJ. Nice place. All outdoor ranges. Handgun to 100m, rifle to 300m, shotgun,
          archery, rimfire silhouette, nice club house, $175+$75 initiation. However, I left several years ago because of the
          “Range Nazis” Self-important Aholes that yelled and screamed and threatened members over the slightest
          infractions of the rules. I saw, on several occasions, everybody pack up and leave after one of these RN rants.
          Weekends were the worst. I go to PA now. $30 for a year permit to use their public ranges, and no RN’s Thank you PA Game Commission.

    • In Memphis TN at the Memphis Sport Shooting Assn. I’ve been trying to convince myself to part with $700 plus.


      Initiation Fee – $400
      Dues – $240/year
      Spouse – $25
      Children 23 & Under – Free
      Background Check – $30
      NRA – $30/year

      What We Offer:

      Sporting Clays
      5 Stand
      Wobble Trap
      Action Pistol (Practical Shooting Range)
      Cowboy Range
      Long Range Rifle from 200, 300, 500, and 600 yards
      A covered line that has a 7 & 15 yard pistol range, a 25, 50, and 100 yard rifle range
      Archery Range

    • Hey John,

      What is your club and where is it? It sounds great; nothing like that in the bay area in California, the closest is Chabot gun club.

  4. For a change, I would like to use a range that had functioning bathrooms. If you want more female shooters, decent bathrooms encourage that.

    • Wife has decided weekend activities base on bathroom accommodations, and I wish I was joking.

    • One of the ranges near me is indoor, with clean restrooms, airconditioning, and many females on the staff.

    • Define decent? Ours are kept clean, sanitary and functional. But the fixtures are old and there’s some wear and tear.

      In all sincerity, although I’ve seen women an the range there aren’t a lot of them. Do you think it would make a big difference for the club to update the bathrooms? In reality, paint and new fixtures isn’t a huge cost and we’ve probably got members who are plumbers, painters etc.

      • Yes, yes it does if you want to attract more women. The cost is minimal and we have done so at the club I belong to. You can easily find carpenters, painters, plumbers etc. that are willing to help. It does not need to be a $20K renovation. New tile, paint and fixtures and keep it clean. Do not understand why that is so hard. We even installed a wash basin and supply de-lead soap to wash your hands after shooting.

        My GF, my nieces and sister in-law pretty much will not go with the guys to a range if it does not have some clean, basic bathroom facilities — my standards are pretty low, clean with working sink are good enough for me but many people would like a nicer place.

      • Good questions. For me, clean, sanitary and functional is just fine, and would be a huge improvement to my few experiences at ranges. However, Pascal’s probably right that better bathrooms may attract more women.

        I usually shoot at the ranch, but the two ranges I was taken to by instructors for my CHL qualification and re-qualification were…eww. A woman in my class asked a man exiting the port-a-potty how it was in there. He replied to her: if you can hold it, hold it. So we did, which was ok since we weren’t there very long, but I don’t want to go back there.

      • It needs to be clean and feel safe. I mean, I can take a leak against the building and I’m fine, but for female that’s a bit messy. Particularly if they’re menstruating or recovering from giving birth (which takes a while, up to a couple of months). Most women I know wouldn’t care too much if it’s a bit old looking, but clean and safe are important.

        Hell, I’ve been to a range here that actually doesn’t have a bathroom at all. And it’s a damn indoor range That sort of stuff doesn’t work as well for women.

  5. $15 billion, that’s chump change.

    I know they are attempting to make that sound outlandish, but $15 billion ain’t sh*t for an entire national industry.

    There are single companies that blow that just in marketing and advising.

  6. Average age 33, with 37% female? That doesn’t sound like “OFWGs”. Oh well, another shibboleth of the left crumbles.

  7. Interesting to note that the story was the headline/subject of this morning’s WaPo email summary, but the story itself was buried halfway down the “Top Stories” section of the mail. Anything for LOLz, eh WaPo?

  8. just like pot, when they realize how much money is to be made, they will slam the door on MDA as many are already.

  9. I’ve only been to the Athena range once, early on a couple of years ago, when it first opened. I drive by it every day, though, and they do seem to have some decent traffic in the parking lot. I’m not sure how much is true business and how much is just the window shopping crowd.

    I call it the Gucci Gun Range. I prefer my ranges safe and clean, as Athena seems to be, but also a little grittier and less pretentious than Athena.

    Not my kind of place, but to each his own, I say.

  10. Not in a gun club, but the Nexus Gun Store that opened near me is the swankiest gun shop I’ve ever seen. It really does have kind of an Apple Store feeling. And a very nice projection video range, which actual shooting arcade video games that project onto the target wall (the hit detection is pretty good, but if you get caught with HP or WC ammo they confiscate it and fine you damages to their rubber wall).

    • Nexus is a great “user experience”, on par with some of the places mentioned in the article. The crowd ranges from newbies to expert and no one casts a sidelong glance at you if you are the guy who needs help from the range officers. The retail setup is like something out of a movie. I think in terms of recruiting new POTG, Nexus has the formula down pat. Make it feel like an Apple Store or a high-end car showroom.

  11. I would rather keep shoot in my backyard. Don’t get me wrong this type of setup is great for city people but I like a environment where I know they people who are shooting just feet away. Although I wouldn’t mind having the air conditioning in the middle of summer. I may have to make some upgrades! But where do you find a helicopter to hang from the ceiling?

  12. Speaking as an OFWG NRA member: Love it. All part of our deeply secret, highly crafted approach to insinuate an appreciation of gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment into the furthest reaches of American society. I mean, a reasonably non-horrified article about gun owners in the WaPo? Clearly, our eeevil pro-gun propaganda efforts are working even in the depths of leftist hoplophobe territory.

    Ooops, let the cat out of the bag ….

  13. Some things are changing for the better. For instance, our local CA university has recently formed a “marksmanship club”. They started by coming out to the public range for some casual practice and education and have taken up “steel challenge” IDPA and USPSA competition. It has been a great boost to the energy of the entire club having young energetic new members. About half of them are female which brings even more new shooters. As far as their voting habits? We’ll be working on that…. It’s not a hard sell though, they are loving it. All of us
    OFWGs are very happy to have them on our side!
    Anything we can do to promote shooting and shooting sports to the next generation is worth the effort and any expense.

    • Funny how the old is new. Our high school (1960-65) had an indoor target range (.22s), and I was on the shooting team. Same in college (’65-’69), with an Army ROTC rifle team. People used to walk across the campus with a .22 slung on their shoulder, on the way out to the nearest gravel pit to do some plinking. No screaming, no SWAT teams, no mass murders. Of course, this was in Ohio and Indiana (aka, ‘flyover country”), and not the PRCa.

  14. This is where Walmart is helping the antis: no Walmart employee can afford a decent firearm, let alone a membership in any place where they can practice. Unless the GOP policies which are destroying the middle class are reversed, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford guns, and it will become the province of an elite.

    • Poor people shop at Walmart because they save money there.

      Democrat policies are hurting the working class and targeting the middle class for extinction. This is why the middle/working class is growing in states like TX that have huge job creation and an affordable cost of living. Every time wealthy out of touch Californians slap a climate change tax on something, more working people move to Texas.

    • “This is where Walmart is helping the antis: no Walmart employee can afford a decent firearm, let alone a membership in any place where they can practice.”

      Bullsh!t. I know a WalMart employee who is a multiple gun owner.

      Lose the statist attitude.

      My local gun range:

      A chunk of land a few miles west of Bartow, Fla. off S.R.60.

      Cost – Next to zero, at most a few rounds of whatever you’re shooting.

      Reclaimed phosphate mine property, about 300 yards total.

      Honk a few times when you pull up, let the property owner know you’re there.

      The property owner, Crazy Laura, may want to shoot a few rounds of whatever you brought.

      Let her. She ain’t called Crazy Laura for nothing.

      She’s actually nice, likes people shooting as she has had burglar problems.

      She really is not quite balanced. But she is nice.

    • HOLY CRAP! Where do YOU live Roy? In LaLa land? The only reason that I still have a gun is because of GOP policies! Your Democrats scream “Confiscate” and tax the crap out of everybody where I am from in the NE. The
      property taxes average $10k a year for an average 3/2 home, thanks to our Blue pols with ‘D’ after their names, that control everything. What do they do for the ‘poor’ Walmart workers…not a damn thing.

  15. Perhaps some of the underutilized and nearly broke golf courses around the country could be turned into firearms ranges. It would give a new meaning to the word “fore”!

    In all seriousness, we do need more clubs and time rental ranges. Even where I live, which is in a very pro-2A area, there is one range per city, some are dingy, most are not set up for rifles, and the outdoor National Forest ranges, while not bad for free, are quite a distance to get to. Private clubs here are smaller and have waiting lists.

  16. We have a nice out-door range here in Northern CA. Out in the middle of nowhere, no range master, No time limit and NO fee! Just show up and shoot all you want, anything you want. There’s a 25, 50, 100 and 300 yard berm along with 6 concrete benches. I love living in the country.

  17. I live in Northern VA outside DC. I just bought my first pistol. There are very few places to shoot. I don’t know anyone with 200 acres. If I did it would be so far out shooting would be a rare occasion. I was overjoyed when I noticed the Elite Shooting range construction sign on the highway. Held off taking the first shot until they opened. It’s a beautiful place 10 minutes from home. Nothing intimidating. I use my Walmart or Gander ammo. Right now I’m still shooting at the walk-in hourly rate. Memberships are $350 a year. From what others are saying that’s a bargain. I need to sign up. My only options would have been a gun shop outdoor range 20 miles out that I’ve used for rifle, a couple of crowded gun shop indoor ranges, or the crowded NRA HQ range. The gun shop ranges require you to buy their ammo.

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