I love range days! What’s that you ask? You must be new here….
Range day is when we pack up the guns and let freedom ring in a safe and sane environment. It’s where we get to try out something new, something cool, something unusual, or just hone our skills in marksmanship for personal defense and sustenance hunting.
Did I mention I LOVE RANGE DAYS????
I’m lucky to have enough property with a more than sufficient backstop to shoot anything from a bb gun to a cannon (and yes- I have friends with a cannon!). There isn’t much that a little pew-pew therapy can’t fix and sometimes getting out and plinking with just a little .22LR is incredibly therapeutic.
Group days are best. It’s like an FFL dealer sprinkled fairy dust all over the benches, magically conjuring every item capable of hurling a brass encased projectile downrange at upwards of 3500 fps. You collect an assortment of your best 2A supporting friends and they all bring a few guns and a couple boxes of ammunition. This gives you an opportunity to try-before-you-buy, and to gain proficiency with weapons you don’t already own. In a defensive situation, its possible you may not have the gun of your choice at hand; its helpful to have a basic working knowledge and level of comfort with as many as you can.
I grew up in a hunting household, populated primarily by shotguns and rifles. That’s my comfort zone, and there isn’t much more that I enjoy than picking up the biggest baddest long tall Sally in my ownership and turning skeet clays (which make a highly visible target at several hundred yards placed on the backstop) into a fine orange mist. Dad always stressed perfection; there was no purpose in shooting poorly and wounding an animal. If you were going to hunt and put food on the table, do it as expertly as possible.
Having the chance to learn the individual characteristics of a slew of new pistols and revolvers in a single afternoon is a delight. But when someone breaks out an item that immediately causes a syndrome I call Range Whiplash, everything changes.
Public outdoor ranges are a series of small tables, often with a fixed or swivel seat built in called “benches”. They are each several feet apart to give shooters space to comfortably move and eject spent cartridges without hitting the guy next to you (usually). Even at public ranges, most shooters are quite friendly and open with one another, forging new networks of People With Guns to maintain contact with. You get popular fast when you bring something unusual. When you haul out the larger calibers that make a very satisfying BOOM or flip the happy switch and light up a Little Betty Bad@$$ on full automatic fire, every head on the line immediately turns in your direction.
Such was the case one fine afternoon shooting with a known group of friends. I was told one of the crew had, after a nearly year long process, finally obtained his HK51, a weapon in a restricted class of firearms that- contrary to anti gun ownership spokefolks’ claims- is not something you can jog down to the Quickie Mart to purchase with a large slurpee. There’s a fairly long and expensive process to go through to get one. He was like a kid on Christmas.
It’s chambered in .308. , for those of you unfamiliar with ammunition, that’s each round about the size of the average index finger. It’s also belt fed, meaning the ammo is connected like paperdolls, one to another, and routed through a ‘bullet box’ attached to the gun.
He takes it out, sets it up, opens with a test shot. Boom! Repeats a few times. Boom! Boom! Boom! He flips the selector to three round burst. BoomBoomBoom! Repeats a few times. He has now acquired the interest of the closest shooters to us. He smiles, dials it to full auto and pulls the trigger.
And just like a herd of prairie dogs, SWOOSH went the line of heads in our general direction, and seconds later we’d amassed a crowd that simply wanted to be in the presence of the awesome sound of Freedom.
He handed it off to a few of our group. Then, with a grin, asked if I’d like to try it out. I swear I heard the angels singing.
Despite watching him first run through the actions of this weapon himself and observing two other shooters having their turn, I still asked for, and received, a walk through on the specifics of firing and tips on how to hold it correctly; you need to lean into the butt stock (these are typically fired from stationary stands) to keep the force of the fire from pushing the barrel up. It takes some effort.
………..did I mention I FREAKING LOVE RANGE DAYS????……………..
It was amazing.
I’ve had some pretty fun days on my own acreage too. Friends who have never fired a gun before often come here for a little first timer assistance in a non judgmental place. They can get the basics down and get to first base with someone they trust. The Romeo range has some very simple rules same as all ranges; ear and eye protection will be used, guns will be pointed down range at all times, no one past the firing line when the range is ‘hot’, and enjoy your time here. I laughed for an hour after one guest carefully set up some items his ex wife had forgotten to take when she decided she could do better (she was wrong, he’s a peach!). She’d been packing and hiding things away, shipping them off on a piece by piece basis to deceive him, and these two boxes were overlooked. He got to try an AR style rifle that day, and proudly proclaimed after clearing his targets, “Dishes are DONE man!” Much less expensive than months of counseling. Once in a while we are even joined by the local LEOs. There isn’t a lot that beats seeing a smile spread on the face of a friend who’s never done this before finding their way past the mystery of Big Scary Guns and learning the ropes.
What does? Watching my daughter listen with rapt attention as Richard explains how to shoulder a rifle, how to line up her sights, and talking her through pulling the trigger to take the shot. She beat him that day, too. Kid is a natural.
Looking for someone to shoot with? Let me know…always nice to make new range friends. Just show me yours and I’ll show you mine! 😉