WON Landing Page November 2021

What to Look for When Choosing a Shooting Range

If you’re thinking about investing in a range membership, you may want to know what to look for when choosing a shooting range. We asked Walther pro-shooters Gabby Franco and Michelle Waldran for some tips. Here’s what they had to say.

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What to Look for When Choosing a Shooting Range

Gabby Franco

Gabby Franco is one of the premier instructors in the nation. A former Olympic competitor, “Top Shot” competitor and current Action Pistol competitor, this petite powerhouse travels the country to compete and instruct. 

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What is the first thing that you should look for when choosing a shooting range and whether it’s a good fit for you?

To me, location is crucial. However, that preference is flexible according to my training goals. I have an indoor range close to my house, which is convenient to test ammo, practice the fundamentals, and specific competition skills like drawing from the holster and quick transitions. Before I call an indoor/outdoor range my home range, they must:

  1. Allow customers to draw from the holster, yet they must have safety protocols to ensure safety.
  2. They must have a great air conditioning system (indoor range only).
  3. They must allow customers to pick up their brass.
  4. Excellent customer service. I would not go back to a range if I witnessed them treating other people poorly, regardless of how they treated me.
  5. Cleanliness. While I do not expect gun ranges to be pristine, I expect them to be clean and organized.
  6. Allow outside instructors to teach.
Gabby Franco on range Walther hat 20 Choosing a Shooting Range
Gabby Franco on range Walther hat 20

Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?

I do not have a preference. It all depends on what I want to do and weather conditions. For instance, the temperatures started to drop quickly in Virginia, and I would not shoot in the cold if I did not have to. In those instances, I prefer to go to the indoor range and practice. However, there are several limitations of what I can do at an indoor range. So I have learned to be creative on how to practice in such an environment.

Outdoor ranges are ideal for practicing shooting on the move and setting up small stages. They help me develop other skills like shooting quickly at multiple targets and improving footwork while shooting.

What are some of the extras that you’ve enjoyed at ranges?

I like when they have a seating area with enjoyable audiovisual systems while waiting for my turn to shoot if they have a busy day. I also like it when they have a good product selection. It is convenient to have a range that carries commonly used products shooters always need, like cleaning kits, tools and safety gear.

What types of classes should ranges offer?

I think it all depends on the area and their clientele. Basic shooting classes and concealed carry are often offered. However, now several states allow open carry, and I do not know of courses that teach the best practices for open carry. I also think it would be ideal if they offered some sort of competitive shooting training. I know many people would benefit from the skills they can learn in shooting and develop an athlete-like mentality.

Range coffee. How important is it?

Believe it or not. I do not drink one drop of coffee. My husband says I am the human version of an energizer bunny because I wake up at 5 a.m. and go to bed a 10 p.m. without coffee. So, coffee is not something I worry about at the range. However, I do like gun ranges that offer a small water bottle to customers who are done with their shooting sessions. I do not know of any gun range that does that. Less than fifty cents per bottle can make a customer not only happy, but appreciative of the thoughtful service.

The bathroom conundrum … again, what should they be like?

CLEAN!! I do not care if it is pretty or plain. All I care about is to go to a clean bathroom.

Anything else?

Flexibility is also essential. My home indoor range is very flexible and lets me use two adjacent shooting lanes with few customers. We make sure that my diagonal rounds are for a target I put all the way to the end (maximum distance of 21 yards) to avoid wide angles while shooting. My liability and responsibility are not waived by their flexibility. On the contrary, I am very thankful for their willingness to accommodate my needs, making me even more mindful of my training. Of course, the range only allows customers who are regular and have demonstrated higher skill levels.

Michelle Waldran

Michelle Waldran is a 3-gun competitor from Oklahoma, who also holds an NRA pistol certification, Council on Law Enforcement and Training certification and is a handgun instructor and Oklahoma self-defense act instructor. 

Michelle Waldran profile

What is the first thing that you should look for when choosing a shooting range and whether it’s a good fit for you?

I always go with my feelings. Did you feel comfortable when you walked in?  

Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?

Most definitely outdoors, especially for brand new shooters. Indoor can be very loud and makes even a season shooter uncomfortable.  

What are some of the extras that you’ve enjoyed at ranges?

Indoor plumbing! Pro shops are a plus, especially if you’re new to shooting. We all have been there and we always forget something!

What types of classes should ranges offer?

I think they should offer brand new shooters a free clinic. Covering range etiquettes, safety and rules of the range. Women’s-only classes!

Range coffee. How important is it?

Oh, I wouldn’t say it would be a deal breaker for me because I always bring my own … but, if the range is an outdoor range, it would be a plus!

The bathroom conundrum … again, what should they be like?

Running HOT water and for some reason they never have a mirror! 

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  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.

     

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