Monthly Archives: November 2011

I'm Thankful For a Good Shooting Range

At the moment, I feel blessed to have a great range near where I live. The facilities are basic, but that’s just fine with me – and the ranges themselves are generously sized, allowing me to shoot while moving if I so desire. The longest rifle range is just 200 yards, but if I feel the need to shoot farther than that, another nearby range offers 1000 yard shooting.

While the personnel at these ranges are extremely safety-conscious, and I don’t want to give any other impression, they are unlikely to “get in your business” unless you give them a reason to. In addition, the range rules relate to safety and not damaging range property – basic stuff I would expect to find at any range.

I’m in California at the moment, and wow, do these people have it bad. After slogging through traffic for over two hours, I made it to the “Oak Tree Gun Club,” which offers an impressive array of facilities, including a restaurant (My grilled ham and cheese sandwich was excellent). The name is not hypothetical – the setting was idyllic.

The shotgun ranges were quite large, and microphones at each firing station enabled shooters to say “Pull” to a machine which would then launch clays for them. Fancy! While the pistol ranges were more basic, there were a variety of steel targets that entertained me for several hours as I waited for some friends to slog their way through traffic.

There was a large selection of rental firearms – one of the largest I’ve seen outside a place like Scottsdale Gun Club – although one of the two firearms I examined was in need of some qualified gunsmithing, and the other was well on its way to that same point.

So, what was so bad about this range? It sounds pretty good, right?

Before I go any further, I should say that my interactions with range personnel (Rangemaster and RSOs) were as follows:

- Being reminded by the rangemaster to not shoot at the closest row of steel targets with rimfire, when I had not done so even once in nearly an hour of continuous shooting on that range.
- Being politely reminded to slide my eye pro down onto my face. I truly appreciated this, because I like my eyes, and want to keep them.
- Being told (also politely) that I couldn’t fire “any more” steel cased ammo. I had yet to fire any, but I did have a box of steel cased .45 with a few rounds left in it that I had intended to shoot at some point. I did read the range rules carefully, but failed to understand that the “no steel case” rule did not only apply to the steel target pistol range.

I generally avoid breaking range rules, even if I don’t like them, but especially when I’m the guest of someone who I like and respect and is a regular patron of the “gun club.”

I want to point out these interactions so as not to give the impression that I was reprimanded, cajoled, yelled at, etc. for some gross safety violation, and that this post is just sour grapes. Also, I want to highlight the fact that almost all of the personnel who were out and about on the range were polite and professional.

I did, however, witness a few questionable actions, have issues with some rules, and safety concerns about their firearms and ammunition.

First, the rangemaster. He would constantly interrupt conversations between people at the range, ostensibly to correct behavior or to remind them of the rules, when in fact no violations of the rules had been made or were apparent. This occurred to the point of annoyance. It also seemed to occur most often when groups including one or more women were speaking to one another.

Second, the rules. They were legion, but the ones that irked me most include a ban on steel-cased ammo and that picking up your own brass was against range rules.

My brass is my property. I paid for it, and I intend to keep it. For the purposes of yesterday’s trip, I was willing to sacrifice any brass I fired. However, this alone would prevent me from ever returning.

In an ironic twist, the “pro shop” sold, among other things, reloading supplies and components. Exactly what am I supposed to reload with? Factory new brass? I didn’t see used brass for sale, but that would be hilarious. Oh, boy! I get to pay for my own brass TWICE!

Banning steel cased ammo, regardless of bullet construction, is just plain silly. I do suppose that it would be a pain for them to sort out the steel cases, since they’re keeping everything that’s fired on the range. However, that would make these mutually correcting issues – fix one, and the other goes away.

Finally, their firearms and ammunition. I’m well aware that rental firearms see heavy use – and abuse – and cannot be kept in like-new condition. However, it’s not a stretch to imagine that they would be kept in serviceable condition. Also, the store-brand reloaded ammunition they sell – which is, by the way, priced the same as brand new ammunition anywhere else – was made to no standards whatsoever.

Fully half of the .357 Magnum rounds I tried would not seat in any chamber of the rental S&W 686+. The ammunition components were clearly selected for the lowest possible production cost. Powder charges varied significantly. I don’t mind being required to shoot range-bought ammo in range-owned firearms, but I do not like being sold poor quality, unsafe ammunition. Given their hyper-vigilance regarding safety, I found this very odd.

The range personnel behind the counter were responsive to these issues, and, like the vast majority of personnel outside, friendly, polite, and professional. Although I think the locals have it bad, they hold a different opinion. The range was busy all day, and they’re clearly not going to be hurting without my presence and money.

However, I won’t be going back at any point in the future, and I can’t wait to get back to “my” range.

The Citizen's Armory Has a New Website

After a site update rendered the “shopping cart” portion of his webstore, The Citizen’s Armory, useless, my good friend “Two-Liver” had to manually create a new site, which took a week to complete. I’m happy to report that everything’s back up now, and his site looks a heck of a lot spiffier than it used to. If you haven’t seen TCA, you should know that they sell, among other things, small parts for ARs and Glocks – and ship them for very low prices.

Also, if you notice that some of the photos on his site look really good, that’s because I took them…

.22 Rimfire Comparison

Back to “ye olde format” for this video, but I’ll probably do a mix of “new” and “old” in the future.

A long time ago, I was able to shoot .22s very well, because that was pretty much all I did, all day. I hadn’t shot slowfire with a .22 in years, and decided to see if I was good as I once was. I also compared a 1/16 twist bolt action rifle with a 1/7 twist AR-15 that had a .22LR conversion. Was the 1/7 completely inaccurate, as is often repeated on the internet?

BLM Moves to Restrict Shooting on Public Land

While this might not be of much interest to my international viewers, who might be puzzled to find that Americans can simply find a desolate spot in the wilderness and shoot to their heart’s content, it should make a lot of Americans sit up and take notice.

The Bureau of Land Management, part of the executive branch of the US federal government under the Department of the Interior, wants to severely restrict, if not ban outright, shooting on public lands. Why?

Because “urban” people might “freak out” when they hear shooting. No, I’m not making this up. This extends to hunters, too, for those of you who aren’t too concerned with recreational shooting.

Around here, you can pay to shoot at a range which might be very busy, or you can shoot in the desert. One popular desert shooting spot is on BLM land, but I can guarantee you that no “urbanites” go there to walk their dogs. The only visitors are shooters, drug smugglers, and law enforcement.

The author enjoying some responsible shooting on public lands

I’m willing to chalk this one up to stupidity in BLM instead of a concerted effort by the Obama Administration to attack gun owners – but I’m not sure which one is worse, frankly.

My First Firearm Purchase in 14 Months…a Ruger SR9?

I must be out of my mind. I had a good streak going – no firearms purchases since September 2010. However, all good things must come to an end, and the vehicle of my no-buying-streak’s destruction is a Ruger SR9. I don’t know that I would ever have bought one of these, but the price was right, and it was brand new.

On second thought, since I haven’t paid for it yet (but have had it transferred to me), if I buy (transfer and pay for) another pistol before I pay for the Ruger, which one will I have purchased first?

Sig Continues Series of Embarrassing Pistol Tender Failures

Last year, Sig Sauer’s P250 lost the ATF handgun tender because of significant reliability issues. Sig’s response was to improve the pistol – no, wait, their response was to appeal to the GAO, saying in part that the ATF put too much of an emphasis on reliability. The GAO promptly smacked Sig’s claim down in a pretty embarrassing manner.

Fast forward to this year, where Sig’s big contract with the Dutch police for the P250 was pretty much the only thing the company had to crow about. Frankly, I was surprised that the P250 had won anything. Now, it turns out that my suspicions weren’t misplaced. The Dutch have rejected the P250 for unspecified issues that would place police officers in danger. To put it mildly, they don’t seem happy with Sig or the P250:

On the basis of the results of these tests I no longer find it responsible to continue with this pistol. There is no longer enough confidence in the quality of the pistol, nor in the capacity of the manufacturer to improve the quality or safeguard it. All this brings a risk to the safety of police officers on the street.

Sig wins again.

For its 236th Birthday, the USMC Wants to Buy FMF Corpsmen a Gift

In case you didn’t know, the Marine Corps was founded 236 years ago today, November 10, 1775, when Captain Samuel Nicholas was authorized to raise two battalions of Marines. Naturally, his first move was to go to a place called Tun Tavern (yes, it was an actual tavern) and start a recruitment drive. Happy Birthday, Marines! Enjoy your two beers, regardless of age.

Fast forward to today, and the USMC is looking for a company to make the already-designed Corpsman Assault Pack, as GearScout reports. Hey, we’ve only been at war for ten years. I don’t know what was so wrong with the Unit One I carried.

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