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Growing up, I didn’t spend much time at official shooting ranges. We’d just go out, find some public land and go shooting. There was no range master. There was nobody coming by to make sure all the rules were being followed. When you were done shooting, you could just go right on out and change your target out or put it away.

After growing up with this, my first experience at a normal shooting range with a church group in town was downright boring. Once we got set up on one of the ranges, we waited for commands to load, fire and cease fire. Then, we had to wait for the command to go retrieve targets, then wait for everyone to be done doing that, then do it all over again. With 20+ lanes and some of the people out there shooting of very advanced age, this was a tedious and long process.

So, as you can imagine, I never went back there as a young adult.

Of course, not all ranges are like this. At many indoor ranges, there are lines where you can bring the targets in and take them out, so nobody needs to wait to change a target. You can fire when you’re ready and you don’t have to wait for anybody (assuming you aren’t part of a class or something). There are also many outdoor ranges where you can get your own action pistol bay or something and have no need to wait for everyone to be ready to check targets out.

But, at the same time, it just isn’t the same as finding a spot outdoors. You’ve got to load up, drive to a specific place, pay a fee (or pay a membership fee), and there’s usually someone there to watch out for safety. That’s a good thing, of course, but it’s never fun to have someone standing behind you scrutinizing everything you’re doing. Outdoors, you can go at any hour and go when you’re ready. There’s no need for any kind of special arrangement, and you can often find yourself out there completely alone or there with people you want to be around.

Of course, this isn’t easy for all of us. In many cities, you’d have to drive for an hour or two just to find some open land. Even then, places like Texas just don’t have much public land that’s open to target shooting at all. Some of those places have unsupervised public shooting ranges where you can get most of the benefits of shooting on public land, but many don’t.

So, at the end of the day, where you live can make a big difference in your shooting experience. Living in a place with no unsupervised ranges and no public land within a reasonably short drive means that you’ll have to find a paid or supervised range. But, if you can find a small town or live in a rural area surrounded by open land where it’s legal and safe to shoot, it’s a lot easier and a whole lot more fun!


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  1. Uh. Uhhh. Uh.

    (In my best Beavis and Butthead voice)

    Maybe we should do why i like money next? Or air.

    Sorry I guess i should at least read the article first

  2. I agree that shooting practice on public land is WAY better than supervised public ranges–for all of the reasons that Jennifer stated.

    There are additional advantages to public land as well. At the supervised public range that is closest to me, two of their rules include loading no more than 5 cartridges at a time into your firearm’s magazine and shooting slowly at all times (shots must be at least two seconds apart or something like that). While those two rules are totally fine when you are sighting in a firearm, those same two rules are non-starters if you want to verify function of fully loaded magazines which hold more than 5 cartridges or verify rapid-fire. Of course any version of “moving and shooting” is totally out of the question at my nearest supervised public range.

    I still go to that supervised public range once in a while to sight-in a firearm. Most of the time, though, I go to a friend’s rural property or public land to sight-in.

    Back to the topic of this article, the nearest public land where I can go shooting is at least two hours drive each way. And better public land is three hours drive each way. That being the case, my plan is to simply go on an extended weekend rustic camping trip to that public land and shoot at my leisure. Thus I combine recreational camping and shooting into a single trip.

    • If your rapid fire squib Kaboom Lobotomizes the poor bastard next to you, it’s YOUR problem, not theirs.

      • I suppose.

        And I also suppose that the probability of a squib load and then a “KABOOM!” and then seriously injuring the person 10 feet away in the lane next to me is vanishingly small.

  3. I agree completely! This was a family tradition out here in the West. If you or your group has not done this before, some thought, rules and preparation are in order. We had a “shooting line”, often scribed in the dirt. No one forward of that line, all firearms pointed down range of that line. No reloading action or clearing behind the line. Tables/chairs. You can buy or make target stands. I save metal coffee cans cause they bounce. If you don’t know the area and have a good back stop drive or walk to make sure there is nothing down range. Pick up everything reasonable. A magnetic pick up helps a lot. A 8×10 tarp will catch most brass.

  4. Our pasture has a sharp rise in elevation past a drainage ditch, creating a natural berm. We can set up targets to 400 yards and high shots will still safely hit dirt. The only unsafe time is during calving when young calves could be bedded unseen downrange.

  5. Shooting is a Discipline. And unless you shoot alone there needs to be a designated range master either by drawing straws, volunteering, etc. Cutting corners invites a trip to an ER, visit form the sheriff’s dept. and worse having to tell relatives there was an accident, etc.

    If you shoot at a range select the days when things are slow same with public land. If you know someone with a hunting lease see if you can chip in to use the land to shoot off season, etc. Best way is have private property setup with a bench, etc. and distant neighbors, etc.

    With bidenomics expect to spend a $100.00 or more for travel, ammo and eats for a conservative day of shooting.

    TRUMP 2024.

  6. “TRUMP 2024”

    It has gone to jury. IMO, that means his best hope is mistrial. No way a NY jury will acquit.

  7. Our range is on public land owned by the county. Damn nice set up too. No neighbors to bitch and it requires a nominal yearly membership fee and a 1 time training course to go over the rules.

  8. I like tossing empty beer cans off a bridge and blasting them.
    The beer cans give a place for the crawdads and little fish to hide.
    It’s all good.

    • Damn that does bring back some memories. Haven’t blasted a floating empty beer can in a coons age. Those were some great days and fun times. Sadly a lot of buddies have passed to that Big bonfire party in the sky.

  9. And for 90% plus of the population, it’s not a possibility.

    Even driving the hours to get there , ( non actual hunting ) shooting only allowed on designated shooting ranges .

  10. The outdoor ranges around here are open to the public except for one that requires a membership. Different places around the country do different things but I just see no distinction to ‘public land’. This is not about being public. it’s about who makes the rules if there are any. I used to go to a family members place where there was plenty of open land to work with and it was not public at all, making it much more enjoyable.

    This is simply another meaningless consideration.

  11. Normally, I would have no issues using public land to shoot, but this also means everybody can use it and I have seen a whole lot of unsafe gun handling on these public ranges. On occasion, I don’t even bother to uncase my weapons and just turned around and went home. Of course, the obvious answer would be to go when nobody else is shooting right? That is when the shifty people start to show up. They may be just interested onlookers, or they could just be waiting for you to finish up so they can pick up the brass. But remember that William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt got most of their weapons and cars by killing solitary people shooting on public lands in FL. Stick with safer locations or go in a really big group with someone pulling security duty.


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