The gals and I spent a couple of days up in northwest Ohio visiting family over Thanksgiving break. My father-in-law wanted to take us to a new indoor range that had recently opened up, so we headed over to check it out after lunch on Black Friday. It was a modern looking facility with six fifty-foot lanes and six seventy-five-foot lanes. Clean, professional looking, plenty of guns to rent and targets to shoot... and packed with folks wanting to exercise their second amendment rights.
A nice , older gentleman waited on us while we signed all the legal fodder, read and signed the range rules, watched the safety video... and then we were put on a waiting list until a lane opened up. That's when I decided to devote some time to one of my favorite hobbies better known as "people watching"... and the big windows looking in on the twelve shooting lanes provided...
Lane One... Two fellas with a brand-spankin' new Ruger SR-556c, and if ya'll know me... ya know I like my Rugers... especially the SR-556c. They were takin' turns firing at a target down by the fifty-foot mark... and not hittin' a thing. Might have been due to Troy Battle Sights... the front one was up, but the rear was still folded down.
Lane Two... Couple of twenty-something gals with a brand new Bersa Thunder and a box of .380ACP ammo. They spent most of their time reading the manual, looking at the gun, reading the manual, looking at the ammo, reading the manual, pointing the gun, reading the manual, trying all the functions on the gun, then they finally loaded a magazine. They put the magazine in the gun, then tried firing it... nothing. They read the manual, then cycled the slide. They each took a shot or two with the gun. They took the magazine out... packed it up and left. The instructor in me couldn't help it... I caught them and mentioned that they should check the chamber... we went over to the red steel tube of accidental discharging mounted in the corner and I showed them how to check the gun to see if the action was clear and the gun was unloaded... and we took that last little .380ACP out and put it back in the box. They were thankful, and I wished I lived in the area to help them, but instead suggested they check out some of the instructor business cards on the wall by the counter.
Lane Three... Mr.Hipster from that Gun 3.0 generation rapid-firing his Glock 19... he seemed very impressed with himself and the fist-sized hole he drilled in his target's center of mass at a distance of about six feet.
Lane Four...The Tactical Dancer... this young, buff tacti-cool dude had an AR with more attachments than a divorce degree on a single-point sling. He would let his gun hang from his sling, get up on the balls of his feet then dance and shake, and wriggle out his upper body like a sprinter getting ready to set himself in the starting blocks at the Olympics. Then he would plant his feet, do his best Chris Costa impression, bring the AR up, take two shots at his target set about ten feet down range, then let the gun drop and dangle from the single point sling while he started his dance routine again... still loaded without the safety on... amazingly, this fella was still able to count to twenty with all his toes still attached .. and where is the local range officer? See Lane Seven.
Lane Five... Gun season for deer must be close because there is a nice gentleman with a beautiful Weatherby in 30-06 zeroing in his scope at fifty-feet. He was giving that target holder quite a workout going back forth with each shot. I'm guessing he's from nearby Michigan where they can actually hunt deer with a rifle, unlike us shotgun limited folks down here in Ohio. He really seams to be enjoying himself, but then again it is a day before the Buckeyes of Ohio State beat the Wolverines from the University of Michigan.
Lane Six... The gentleman in Lane Five wasn't shaking things up enough with his occasional blast for a 30-06, so we have an SKS being rapidly fired by a fine young fellow with a pony-tail and more hardware hanging on his ears, nose, and face than the AR had over in Lane Four. At one point he stopped in pain as his ear gauge appeared to be rubbing on the stock a little hard.
Lane Seven... This is the safest lane at the range by far... the resident Range Officer is giving extensive (all) attention and assistance helping the cute redhead wearing the skin-tight, plunging black v-neck with a push-up brass catcher fire her S&W Shield.
Lane Eight... This is what I love to see... a dad helping his son fire a brand new Ruger 10/22... red-white-blue and apple-pie America...don't shoot your eye out kid!
Lane Nine... Another deer hunter getting ready... sighting in his Remington 870 Express with slugs.
Lane Ten... Is this a prerequisite for a shooting range? Is it required by a law I missed somewhere? Neanderthal-man in a muscle shirt is showing his very cute (OK, totally hot) and very petite girlfriend how to shoot... for what appears to be her very first time. In order to make this an exciting and successful experience... he's starting her out with a Kimber Pro Carry II with a bulls-eye target set all the way down at the seventy-five foot mark. She takes two or three shots... almost dropping the gun after the second shot... and did she hit the target? well... she hit the backstop... somewhere.
Lane Eleven... Here we have a middle-aged fella... with a Springfield XD... but he's not shooting many 9mm's downrange... because he keeps watching the very cute and very petite girlfriend in Lane Ten while picking up his brass very, very slowly.
Lane Twelve... This is the farthest lane down at the end of the range. It is slightly darker there which is the perfect place for the Operator to operate with the least amount of disturbance. He seems to really know his stuff. And if he ever decides to take off all his gear he could outfit two SWAT teams for the City of Toledo. He obviously is well trained and practices a fair bit by how proficient he is at shooting and operating. I wondered if he came in dressed in all that gear... but later on when our lane opened up... I noticed he had more molle-covered luggage and bags piled in the corner of the range than the troops coming home from Iraq.
Now I really don't mean to offend anyone with my observations, but I've been to a lot of ranges... both inside and outside... in my years... and there is a reason I often prefer our home range. I've seen some very well-managed ranges... this wasn't really one of them. It's a terrific facility and maybe they weren't ready for such a packed house on Black Friday... but at least I didn't see any holes where they didn't belong that day... but that may have been more luck than practice.
The two goofs who took over Lane Four for the Tactical Dancer were firing a Ruger SR9c and a Ruger Mark III 22/45... I'm sure someone will write a blog post about my daughter and I someday too... since we too were sucked into the... Twelve crazy lanes of range...