Getting some trigger time with your personal defense gun is one of the most important things you can be doing to up your skills as a defensive shooter. Feeling your gun recoiling in your hands and getting back on target is a necessity to mastering your firearm.
But, this begs the question then, where do you actually go shoot your firearm to practice with it? While “the gun range” is the likely answer, there are a few different options here that can be discussed and broken down further.
Our number one suggestion isn't the gun range down the road. And in fact, it is at the bottom of the list. Since our students are always asking us for suggestions on where they should go shoot and do their training we thought it was about time to discuss the best places to go live fire shooting, and how you can find the best place for you.
First, let me disclaim that I'm a huge advocate of supplementing live fire training with in home training. It doesn't take much more than a webcam and a good laser training weapon to setup a very advanced training environment in your living room, and you really don't need anything more advanced than your empty firearm to successfully dry fire.
But this article isn't about your living room, it's about live ammunition and live fire, so let's take a look at the best places to go shooting.
GOOD: The Public Gun Range
Calling it Good is difficult. The truth is that public gun ranges scare me. The public gun range is often the most convenient solution for most of us. They are readily available, mostly affordable, and conveniently located.
It sadly has too many drawbacks for me to consider it for any firearm training needs. Almost ANYONE can shoot at the public range. It generally only requires photo ID and money.
While this can be totally fine, you don't know what the person next to you knows about guns or even if they've ever handled a gun before that day which in and of itself is enough to scare someone.
Finally, they are almost always crowded in my experience and they have far too many restrictive rules that make it hard to train correctly.
Things like practicing reloading your gun and drawing from a holster and presenting to target are absolutely necessary skills to have for defensive situations. A public range will often limit this activity to just target shooting.
BETTER: The Great Outdoors
I love shooting outdoors. I'm almost always devoid strangers and any rules that prevent me from training correctly (like drawing the weapon from a holster). In the outdoors it's also generally easy to setup some simple tactical barriers to train some advanced movements and angles on target.
Depending on the climate in your area and how close you are to a safe and legal outdoor location for shooting, this might be the best choice for many people. For me, it's generally too cold and too far away to be a consistently viable solution, but plenty of people use this as an option.
Josh, our managing editor, for example goes to someone's private property to go shooting. At this property there is absolute privacy, drills can be practiced, as can drawing from the holster. They have the added benefit of having a small Appalachian mountain as a bullet stopper.
BEST: The Private, Member Only Gun Club
Member Only gun clubs have many advantages. The first and greatest advantage is the people with whom you will associate. I have learned a lot about shooting and training from all the other smart people at my gun club.
Think about the type of people you would find there. People who are willing to pay a high annual fee, go through a safety class, and in many cases pass a background check. These are avid and dedicated shooters.
The other thing I appreciate about private gun clubs is that they tend to be far less crowded. Ask around in your area and identify the gun clubs closest to you. In many cases you may need to get on a long waiting list in order to join so get your name on that list as soon as you can.
They may have some restrictions on the general range, but many of these member only gun clubs have an area dedicated to properly training certain things like drawing and shooting. Or, shooting and reloading.
Sometimes finding a place to go shooting can be as easy as pulling up your favorite search engine and typing on the keys. Other times, it can be less than easy to find a good spot.
Selecting the best place to shoot is not only going to keep you safe, it is also going to act to encourage the habit and joy of training regularly. And, as a benefit, you'll also become more familiar with your gun and gear as your grow more proficient in how to shoot.
Where is your preferred place to go practice your live fire training? Let us know in the comments below.