Feb 12, 2015

New Range!

After the dismal trip to the state-run range a few weeks ago, I was eager to try somewhere new. I made time this morning to head down to Frontier Justice and check things out. It's a bit of a drive and will be even further from the house we're buying, but for an occasional trip? Worth it.

They're still in "soft opening" for a week, so there were a few pallets of "stuff" here and there, and they were still mounting signs on display cases and the like. That said ... man, what a gorgeous facility!

Big sign on the entry door, "All firearms must be cased or holstered." Fair 'nuf. I made my way to the back of the store where the range check-in is located, filled out a standard liability waiver form, and then sorted out which range I was going to: they have three.

The first range is the "rifle" range. 50yd, rated for all centerfire calibers up to 4000fps; no AP(/I/T), no steel-core. Handguns are allowed but must be "hunting" handguns with optics.

The second range is the "pistol" range. 25yd, ditto the caliber and ammo restrictions.

The third range, which I ended up on, is the "tactical" range. Also 25yd, same caliber/ammo restrictions, with the addition of auto-turning targets. Fully electronic, with timer sequences, adjustable lighting, and so forth. Want to set up the target to be at 30ft, turn towards you for two seconds, turn away, wait five seconds, and repeat? No problem, how many cycles?

Ventilation was magnificent - I was able to watch the smoke from my muzzle drift downrange as I shot.

One of the staff gave me a quick overview of how things worked and left me to my devices. They have no restrictions on rate of fire, "But you need to keep every shot on paper; sight picture..."

At some point in my time there, one of the staff came in holding a shiny-new MP5. He got our attention and announced he was testing a full-auto piece so don't be surprised by the noise... followed by a few three-round bursts and then most of a mag dump. (I just stopped shooting and started laughing.)

Price-wise, the range is a little expensive: $25 "lane rental", but they don't boot you if there's no line. I shot for almost two hours, went through most of a brick of .22, and there were still plenty of lanes available. If I'd taken more guns, I might have stayed longer. Targets are for sale, for about a buck apiece (more for shoot'n'see-style), but you're welcome to bring your own paper targets as well.

(A side note on the price: this is going to keep down a lot of the bubbas that want to fart around with their thutty-thutty, and the mall ninjas that show up in MOLLE-ish airsoft gear.)

I took the newly-threaded Ruger 22/45, and the newly-shortened and -threaded 15-22, and the Sparrow. I re-zeroed the 15-22, then played. I did a lot of double- and triple-tap with the turning targets, mostly from low-ready, did a few mag changes "on the clock", and just had FUN. The end results were nothing to write home about, but that's fine.

I was shooting Federal bulk high-velocity .22, and in the Ruger (4" barrel) it stayed subsonic, functioned fine, and with the suppressor was nearly movie-quiet. In the 15-22, the 9" barrel was enough to bring things supersonic, so there was a bit of snap to the shots - but it was still far quieter than unsuppressed. I'm looking forward to having the Savage back so I can try out the Quiet22 ammo I got!

Other things of note...
- there were multiple tubs of the D-Wipe handwipes around the range.
- there is a sticky lead-removal floor mat on the door between the range and the store.
- there is a handwash station immediately outside the range door.
- this is NOT a "lost-brass" range; you can recover anything behind the line. Forward of the line is gone.
- sweep up your own brass. There are brooms and a floor grate to catch it.
- an archery range, somewhere. Didn't see it. Rated for crossbows as well as regular bows.
- a MILO simulator range. Spendy, but perhaps a good way to try out scenarios...

And the store ... oh my, the store. All major brands represented, they are a SilencerCo/SWR stocking dealer, and it looked like everything was marked at pretty close to full MSRP. But ... beautifully laid out, lots of inventory, and plenty of accessories of all flavors. And yes, clothing and jewelry and even a café.

Will the place survive? I think yes. They're hitting an underserved niche market that has disposable income. If I were going to live closer, I'd seriously consider an annual membership ($500), as that waives the range fees. As it is, for a place to shoot out of the cold and not have an RO on a power trip screaming about rate of fire ... well, that's worth a lot too.

Wise words!

My parents gave me a book for Christmas (as is tradition). They know my outdoors habits and figured this might be a good one.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere

Tucked inside was a note:
This is an "oldie (1956) but goodie" - written back when the synthetic fabrics and high-tech electronic aids didn't exist, so what really mattered out int he woods was what you had between your ears. We first read it back in the 70's and liked it a lot, hope you might find it a fun read even now.
They were right. I am enjoying it - because when the rubber meets the road, no matter how prepared I think I am, there will be something I've overlooked. It will sit on my shelf next to the late-19th-century books (reprints) on farming and mountain men.

I've been reading it piecemeal when I have a few free minutes, and this paragraph gave me a laugh:
The sluggish porcupine is the one animal that even the greenest tenderfoot, though weak with hunger, can kill with a weapon no more formidable than a stick. All one usually has to do thus to collect a meal is reach over the animal, which generally presents the raised quills of back and tail, and strike it on the head. Being so low in intelligence, the hedgehog requires a lot more killing than might be expected.

The book is written in a fairly colloquial tone, almost a string of asides that have been organized into rough chapters. The vocabulary and style is early-20th-century and a real pleasure to read.

Highly recommended.

Feb 7, 2015

"In the woods, it's just you and what you really are. You can't pretend to be something else when it's so quiet and empty. The woods are about truth."

-- "Swords of Exodus", by Larry Correai & Mike Kupari

Feb 5, 2015

We have a pretty firm closing date for the house we're buying. Should be done by the end of the month. Then we're going to spend a week or two going through and cleaning-touching up-repairing as needed. THEN we start moving stuff in earnest.

One of the really nice features of this house is the extra-deep three-car garage. With a workbench and cabinets around the back edge. On the list of tools I want/plan to acquire are a new compressor (probably a permanent mount upright), a benchtop drill press, and a benchtop mill. Other stuff ... probably going to happen. Eventually. As with the rest, money first...

But I'm looking forward to having space to work in again.

Jan 30, 2015

Most gun owners are...

"Most gun owners are cheap bastards."

*blink blink*

That was the statement I read in a forum recently regarding a new indoor range that opened nearby.

I don't know if or when I'll go try it out - it's not a cheap range. $25 for non-members (they say unlimited shooting "unless busy"), and annual memberships begin at $500. Life memberships exist too, and are well into four-figure prices - plus a monthly maintenance fee.

They spent a LOT of money on this place. 50-yard rifle range (three lanes), 25-yard pistol range (14 lanes) and a 25-yard "tactical" range (6 lanes) with moving/turning targets. The backstop is advertised as being rated to .50BMG (don't be in the lane either side!), and word on the street is "anything up to 4,000fps" - which means most common AR chamberings, anything rimfire, and ANY pistol. (Things that are out: .204Ruger, .220Swift, .22-250, and things of that ilk... and most folks shooting those want a lot more than 50 yards to play with.)

But back to that original statement. "Most gun owners are cheap bastards." He thinks the range isn't going to do so well because it is spendy. Of course ... how many of us have the box o' holsters? I do. Not as bad as some, but there are a dozen or two holsters of various flavors kicking around my house. I boxed up part of my reloading bench this morning in preparation for a move. At last count I had about 15 pounds of powder and 12-15k primers ... plus several thousand bullets of various calibers. And let's not even get into the sagging shelf of ammo cans in the garage.

Am I cheap? No. I'm frugal. I will absolutely buy quality; I know how hard I work for every dollar and I want to get the best value I can. If the best value is a $350 Eotech sight, that's what I'll buy. If I'm putting a sight on a range toy, maybe the $150 Primary Arms sight is a better value for me.

Meantime, "boutique" shooting ranges are springing up and catering to the new generation of shooters. The ones that don't want the dark wood, nicotine stains, and dead-animal mounts of a traditional gun club. That don't want the gruff retired guy behind the counter telling them, "The little lady needs a snubby."

This is a totally new breed of shooters. They're the ones buying the designer CCW clothes. And the semi-bespoke guns. And you know what? They're the future of shooting sports. They have disposable income and are spending it left and right on their hobby. We need to encourage it.

So ... I'll be making a trip down there when my schedule allows.