Our number one suggestion isn't the gun range down the road… 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 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. But this article isn't about your living room… its about live ammunition and live fire.
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. 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. They are almost always crowded in my experience and they have far too many restrictive rules that make it hard to train correctly.
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 its 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, its generally too cold and too far away to be a consistently viable solution.
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, join the NRA, 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.
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.