River Bend Redux

This was my second visit to the River Bend Gun Club a little bit north of Atlanta.

On my first trip almost a year ago, I had been working in Atlanta and stayed through on the following weekend to shoot the club’s 2700. I had a great time at the well run competition and looked forward to renewing my previous acquaintances as well as shooting the 2700.

This time my work had me in Huntsville Alabama for two consecutive weeks with a 2700 at the club on the sandwiched Sunday. Driving time from Huntsville was expected to be three to five hours depending on how much scenery I wanted to take in. I had all day Saturday to get there so I took the scenic and relaxed drive down back roads through the Great Smokey mountains. With all the trees budding their spring growth, it was spectacular.

I spent Saturday night at a Best Western in Canton GA — and will not stay there again. It was a warm evening and the air conditioner in the room was utterly useless. There is a Hampton Inn under construction next door so, next time, I’ll stay there.

First shot was scheduled for 10:00AM on Sunday. I planned to arrive at the range plenty early “just in case” and, boy, was that a good idea!

At 8:15AM, I left the hotel for what I expected to be a 45 minute drive. I punched up “River Bend” in the GPS and, to my delight, the gun club was listed. Wonderful!

Or so I thought.

Forty five minutes later I was at the end of a backwoods country road dead end. The GPS announced, “Arriving at destination,” but the gun club was nowhere in sight. I’d been there a year ago but this was decidedly not the right place.


I pulled out the map from the club’s website and found a nearby intersection and punched that into the GPS: Shiloh Church and Yellow Creek roads near Ophir Georgia.

The GPS said it would be a 30 minute drive.


I’d still be early but only by 10-15 minutes.

But I did say the countryside was pretty, didn’t I? At least I got to enjoy more scenery as I followed the GPS back down the same wrong roads I’d just driven.

Arriving at the club, I found a small group at the pistol range. Jim Good was expecting me — I had emailed him a couple of weeks earlier that I was going to be there — and as I pulled up to the range, he smiled and waved.

I removed my travel gun box and travel ammo box from the rental car’s trunk and headed up to the line.

Counting myself there would be five shooters plus the meet director. The weather was threatening rain and a thunderstorm which probably accounted for the small turnout.

But I was prepared with my plastic baggies for scoring pad and each gun. Indeed, I was looking forward to the rain as a good test of my preparations — the only way to be sure you’ve got everything in hand for some contingency is to actually go through it.

The matches went relatively quick but with the 50 and 25 yard walks back and forth, we didn’t finish that fast. It was a fairly normal pace. We took a typical break between 22 and Center Fire, a lunch break before 45 and then finished about 2:30PM.

Jim Good, meet director, had the scores entered, ranked and printed after each gun but with such a small group there wasn’t a lot of competitiveness. Instead, everyone was just enjoying the day. And it never really rained more than a few drips — I think we used umbrellas once but then ignored the scant drips the rest of the time. My gun and score pad baggies worked as intended so I passed my personal “rain test”.

I left for the drive back to Huntsville about 3:00PM and took the quick route, up to Chattanooga and then back down into Alabama. The GPS said I’d be there in three hours.

But the GPS didn’t know about the torrential rains and near tornado conditions I’d encounter on I-24 and US 72.

Fortunately, the traffic was light that Sunday evening and although an hour later than expected, I made it back to Huntsville without incident.

Work resumed the next morning.

Now that’s a nice weekend.

Thanks, guys!

Clubs and Ranges

My work has me on the road a lot and, when possible, I try to get in some range time. Here are the clubs and ranges I’ve visited, both here in Phoenix and while traveling.

  • Phoenix Rod and Gun Club, Phoenix AZ. My “home” range. Except in the hottest summer months, there is an authorized or registered 2700 each month, a practice 2700 each month, and the Tuesday night (6:30PM) Nighthawks where we alternate Bullseye and International targets at 25 yards, and on rare occasions, shoot a Police L-Match.
  • Usery Mountain Range, Mesa (Metropolitan Phoenix) AZ. Good outdoor range in the so-called “east valley” area. [01/07/2008]
  • Scottsdale Gun Club, Scottsdale (Metropolitan Phoenix) AZ. For a while, my office was within a couple of miles of this very nice, upscale, indoor club so I was a member and practiced regularly at this range. Later, when my office moved and it became too far, I dropped the membership. Regardless, it’s a nice place to go shoot especially in the desert summer.
  • Ben Avery Shooting Facility, Phoenix AZ (north thereof). Very nice facility with several sport-specific ranges as well as a public range. But note that public ranges can be scarey. My recommendation is to watch the shooters to your left and right and pay particular attention when they have a gun jam. Invariably, the barrel seems to end up pointed in my direction. And almost always, the gun will eventually fire as the owner struggles with it! My rule is to watch them like a hawk and get ready to yell REAL LOUD. I’ve had to do exactly that more than once at a public range. (I’ll take a bunch of Bullseye shooters over novices any day, thank you.)
  • Arizona Tactical / Arizona Shooter’s World, Phoenix AZ. An indoor range. I visited once but found it depressing and in a less-than-pretty neighborhood. (I was glad I had my guns.) [03/01/2005]
  • My backyard, Phoenix AZ. 10 M air pistol range.
  • Old Colony Sportsmen’s Association, East Pembroke (S. of Boston) MA. Fired a borrowed 22 (thanks, Ron Hawkins) at their indoor range during a business trip. Met Bill Dutton who came down from NH as well as several other Bullseye shooters. [06/15/2006]
  • Arvada Rifle and Gun Club, Denver CO. Shot two NMCs at this indoor range. Received good coaching from Steve “Slocat” Locatelli. [09/21/2006]
  • Square Circle Sportsmen, Gibbsboro NJ (east of Philadelphia PA). Shot an indoor 900 with a borrowed S&W 41 from John Gemmil, Sr. [01/21/2007]
  • Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), at their range near Kankakee (Metropolitan Chicago) IL. Fired an NMC using Jeff Battaglia’s Hammerli 208s.
  • Sunnyvale Rod & Gun Club, Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley, S. of San Francisco, NW of San Jose) CA. Very nice outdoor Bullseye range. On my first visit, I shot a Hammerli 280 loaned by Liz David and also an Ed Masaki 1911 loaned by Norman Wong (after getting a fabulous, very detailed, and customized-for-Bullseye shooter’s eye exam and prescriptions from Dr. Wong the day before). [05/16/2007] And then on a second visit, I brought my own weapons and, again, shot an 1800 at their 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month evening competitions. [04/16/2008]
  • Canton-McKinley Rifle and Pistol Club, near Canton OH. Site of the annual “Perry Warm-Up” competition, but that wasn’t when I was there. Shot two NMCs with my own S&W 41. [08/23/2007]
  • Port Malabar Rifle & Pistol Club, Port Malabar (SE of Orlando) FL. Outdoor range. Shot a Saturday AM 900 with my own guns. Met Tom Morissey who came down from Orlando to check out the club and to meet me. (Thanks for the novel, Tom. Really enjoyed it!) [02/09/2008]
  • Haltom City Rifle & Pistol Club, Haltom City (Metropolitan Dallas/Ft.Worth) TX. Brought my air pistols for an evening silhouette event. Slaughtered 4 chickens, 5 pigs, 4 turkeys and 6 rams and had a great time. [Warning: Those Texas boys are serious about their shooting!] [02/18/2008]
  • San Bernardino Gun Club, San Bernardino (far east LA basin), CA. Shot an 1800 with guns loaned by Pat Clarkson. [03/02/2008]
  • River Bend Gun Club, Dawsonville (N of Atlanta) GA. Stayed through after a business trip to shoot a 2700 with my own guns. (Hint: Get good driving directions or take a GPS for navigation.) Very nice club. Wish I could’ve stayed longer. [06/22/2008]
  • Newport Rifle Club, Newport RI. Borrowed one of the club’s 22s and shot the “rapid fire” (non-standard Bullseye) and the “fun” (traditional NMC) events on Monday and Wednesday evenings, respectively. [07/14/2008 and 07/16/2008]
  • Marlow (Berkshire, UK) Rifle and Pistol Club. Shot the club’s Gamo air pistol in open practice but was the sole pistol shooter for most of the evening. I did, however, meet the county AP coach who gave me several personal tips which should be of considerable value. [08/11/2008]