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]

Newport Rifle Club

The Newport (Rhode Island) Rifle Club has “Rapid Fire” and “Fun Shoot” events on Monday and Wednesday evenings at their indoor 50′ range. These events are Bob King’s doings and, largely if not completely because of his enthusiasm and twice-a-week support, they are quite a success.

I was in Newport to teach a class, a four-day seminar, at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center during a week in July but had also prepared for my relaxation by visiting the club’s website, http://www.newportrifleclub.org, and noting the upcoming events and regular calendar. Unlike a recent trip to Atlanta where I had stayed over the weekend to shoot a 2700, my visit to Newport would be shorter but had the advantage of two weeknight evening events. This was actually preferable to a full 2700 because it fit directly into my travel calendar and required no extra nights on the road. And it would be a far sight more enjoyable than watching TV in the room of my hotel-du-jour.

So, upon arriving in the Newport area and because the club’s location like many shooting clubs was somewhat out of the way, I decided to follow their directions and find it. In due course and with no surprises, I was there, and all by myself as there was nothing going on at that moment.

Checking the front door, I found three names and telephone numbers. They were the same as had been on the website so I decided to call them in order to verify the schedule for the week.

When I explained my background and interest, my first two calls were both answered with, “Oh, you want Bob King. Do you have his number?”

Bob was the third on the list. I called and connected with Bob, and the instant I mentioned the Monday and Wednesday night events, I was invited, offered a 22 to shoot, and told that each visit would cost me about $8, or less.

“Do you need directions to the club?”

“No, thanks, I’ve found it already.”

If I had to describe Bob in one word it would be “enthusiastic“. When I arrived on Monday evening and introduced myself, he was in the midst of three jobs: He was showing another shooter how to clean and assemble her Ruger (I watched carefully, too), pulling targets for everyone for the evening, and making me feel welcome and setting me set up with a gun, ammunition, ears and having me sign the usual waiver.

Single-tasking, it still takes me 10 minutes and three attempts to re-assemble my Ruger. Bob did it doing three things at once!

So, I paid Bob for my ammo — $6 for two boxes of CCI Standard Velocity paper box (50 rounds each) — and another $1 for the first relay’s profile targets. Bob said I was his guest and didn’t need to pay the $1 guest fee that evening.

I was on the range in just a couple of minutes and under his watchful and safety-conscious eye. Bob works with newcomers as well as strangers and I appreciated his watchfulness. You can’t be “too safe” in this game.

In this picture (copied from the range’s website), the indoor range is through the two large windows on the right. Straight-ahead and through the doorway can be seen the kitchen. The outdoor range can be accessed through the door at the far end of the kitchen or by gates outside. Finally, the door on the left leads to the parking lot “out front” of the range.

The loaner handgun was a Mark I Ruger with red dot and Volquartsen guts. I have a Mark III with the same trigger parts as my backup 22 and was pleased to feel that same long roll on the trigger as I fired a few shots to warm up. I guess Bob noticed my standard Bullseye NPA stance, shot release and gun handling and decided I was safe enough to be on my own because after a couple of shots, he left the range to help others get ready for the evening’s event, the Rapid Fire match.

And after twenty rounds, I left the gun (locked open) on the bench and left the range to find out about the evening’s competition.

After meeting several of the other shooters and hearing the briefing on the competition for the evening, we went back into the range and got ready to shoot.

Monday Evening “Rapid Fire”

We would be shooting three groups of ten rounds onto profile (reduced size man-shape) targets at 50 feet. The first ten rounds would be fired standing, the next ten seated, and the final ten would be shot prone. And within each group of ten, the first five would be right-handed, and the next five would be left-handed, ten seconds per string.

From Bullseye, I’m very comfortable at only one of those six variations, standing and shooting right-handed, so my expectations weren’t too high.

I put my first five shots (standing, right-handed) into the 9-ring or better. Of the next five, left-handed, they started better than I had expected until I jerked the fourth shot several inches to the right. With only ten seconds for each string of five, I didn’t have much time to get my wits back together for the last shot which sounded simultaneously with the buzzer. Glancing at the target before handing it to Bob, I could see that most of the left-handed shots had landed to the right of center plus the one jerked even farther that same direction.

Pulling up a chair for the next target, I fidgeted and adjusted until comfortable for the right-handed string. That one went great. All 10s and Xs.

And the left-hand string also went well because two-hands were permitted as long as the left pulled the trigger. I took full advantage of that opportunity and, when the target came in, it was better than the previous “standing” target.

But prone was going to be a problem.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, I had a diving accident and injured my neck. Ever since, neck mobility has been a problem.

And I now wear progressive glasses.

And I had on my baseball cap.

Laying on the mat, the first problem was that I couldn’t roll my head back far enough. The bill of the baseball cap completely blocked my view but, since the line was “hot”, I couldn’t shed the over-the-head hearing protection to take it off. So I pushed the cap up and back as far as I could.

Then, I could see the dot except there were to of them: one through the top of the progressive lense, and a second one completely above the lense.

Since the dot shows where the bullet is going to land and because both views were showing the same position of the dot within the scope, I figured it didn’t matter which one I used. The dot above the lense, however, was decidedly clearer as I wasn’t looking through oil left on the top of the lense by my bushy, and oily, eyebrows.

I decided to use the “above the lense” (clear) dot.

Even so, I just could not get down all the way while keeping my head back far enough to shoot. I ended up slightly elevated on my elbows with the gun about 9″ off the mat. I fired both right- and left-handed strings that way but tried not to look at the target when it came in. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

The Newport indoor range has 8 bays and all were in use for the first relay in which I shot. A second group was waiting to come in when we finished but had a couple of positions open. I had another box of 50 rounds and asked if I could shoot again?

“Just pitch another buck for the targets and get ready,” Bob said.

Thirty rounds and another relay later, we were done.

Bob had me put the Ruger back in the range safe and lock it.

“Put the ears in there,” he said pointing to a cabinet in the kitchen.

I washed my hands, thanked Bob and said I’d be back on Wednesday.

Wednesday Evening “Fun Shoot”

It was hard not to arrive early.

My class had finished on time at 4:30PM, I’d had a light (fast) dinner somewhere forgettable, and had nothing to do until the competition. To kill time, I explored the countryside but found myself going past the range several times. Finally I saw some cars in the parking lot so I pulled in and stopped.

Bob was again getting everything ready as I entered and, again, I found “enthusiastic” to be the operative word to describe him.

“OK if I shoot the same Ruger, Bob?” I asked.

“Hi, Ed! Sure. You know the routine. We’re shooting a regular National Match Course tonight. Standard Bullseye. See you on the line.” Bob went back to work helping other shooters.

That’s all I needed to know.

I paid my three bucks for one box of 50 rounds — I’d just shoot the one relay tonight — a dollar for targets and a dollar as visitor and signed the sign-up sheet. The gun safe was open as was the cabinet with ears. I picked up everything and moved to the same position at the indoor range I’d used last time.

There were a lot more gun boxes on the line Wednesday than there had been on Monday.

These are Bullseye shooters, I thought to myself. I’ll have to concentrate and do this right so I don’t embarass myself too much. Shooting different guns each week does make for an added level of difficulty but the club’s Ruger felt like mine. I was hoping to shoot my Indoor Expert classification that evening.

In my first Slow Fire string, all my shots landed about an inch to the left of center. This is a chronic problem for me. I’ll get everything working and shots hitting center and then something will change and they all move left.

Lucky for me, Bob had also noticed.

He came up and said, “You have an awful lot of finger in there and that’ll push your shots left. Move it out some and see what happens.”

Sure enough, the shots moved back where they were supposed to be going!

But ten rounds later, the same thing was happening even though my trigger finger was in the new place. If I kept moving the finger farther and farther, pretty soon it would be completely out of the trigger guard and pointed toward Maine.

Something else was going on.

Bob was right about the finger position but now I’m not coming straight back with the pressure. I’m pushing it like I do a mouse button, “down” which translates to “toward the left”. I need to move it straight back, instead.

“Straight back,” was my mantra for the next string in what was by then the Timed Fire target and … the shots came back into the center of the target.

Hooray!

But that long roll of the Volquartsen trigger still takes practice. Once it starts moving, the best thing to do is just keep coming straight back until it goes, “Bang!” So I hung in there through the two Rapid Fire strings with my finger in the new position and trying to come straight back with the pressure while keeping the trigger moving through that long roll.

I’d hoped to shoot my classification that evening and I did, but just barely.

My targets were 88, 92-1 and 91-0 for a total of 271-1. The expert classification starts with a score of 90% of the maximum and, for the three target NMC, that is 270 points. With 271, I’d made it with one point to spare. (A few more Xs would’ve been nice but that’ll have to wait until “next time.”)

Regardless, I was pleased to have received a tip from an expert that had fixed a long-standing problem, to have identified another problem and its solution on my own, to have shot my classification in a strange place with someone else’s gun, and to have had a real nice evening that was much more enjoyable than flipping channels on the hotel room’s TV.

Thanks, Bob. That was great!

P.S. – Hint to other clubs struggling to keep or start a Bullseye program: Go to Rhode Island and watch Bob. He’s the secret.